As you read this (on Wednesday March
18) two Yanmar 6BY2 260-hp diesels are being lowered into the engine room of a 19-year
old Tollycraft at Collins Marine in Bethel Island, California. This is the latest
project for a man who has sailed across the Pacific and ranged from Panama to Alaska
in powerboats of all kinds. His name is Lee Simpson and he loves living aboard and
cruising wherever he may be – and he does it for less money than most people. His
latest boat is a 40’ Tollycraft that he is repowering.
Watch Captain Rob's video about the 6BY 260.
This 1990 40’ Tollycraft
sistership was one of just a handful built before closing down in 1996.
The 6-cylinder Yanmar
6BY2-260 diesels replaced twin 454 Mag 340-hp gas engines.
In 2004, Simpson launched a 62’ Bruce Roberts-designed
power trawler that he and two other men built of steel on a raisin ranch in the
Stockton, California area. After the boat was finished, Lee Simpson and his wife
Diane set off for Alaska where they both lived aboard for the next five years cruising
the pan handle and British Columbia. Lee and Diane are both now back home in the
Delta, but their 62-footer is still in Petersburg, AK.
The Sacramento River Delta is a popular cruising
Wanted: A Cruising 40-footer
Simpson wanted a boat at home that he could take down the Delta and all around the
San Francisco Bay area on 3 and 4 day cruises. He wanted two cabins and a decent
amount of room and he was looking for trawlers, mostly. Then he found an old Tollycraft
that was in good shape. The boat was well-built and actually had more room than
the other trawlers he was looking at.
Gas Engines Were the Problem
The trouble was that it had 19-year old gas engines -- 454 Mag gas engines rated
at 320-hp. With them the boat would go about 25 mph, reports Simpson, but they burned
far more fuel than what he was used to, and anyway he didn’t need to go that fast.
Simpson figured that if he could repower this boat with brand new diesel engines
he could not only get the speed and fuel consumption that he wanted, but he would
protect his investment because when he went to sell his boat, he would have diesel
engines 19 years newer than other 1990 Tollycraft 40s on the market.
Because he wanted to cruise the boat and not run out to the offshore canyons to
fish, Simpson did not need to go 30 knots, which allowed him to go with lower horsepower
engines than are usually put in this size boat. There was a 40’ Tollycraft on the
market with old Detroit Diesel 250-hp diesels claiming to cruise at 15 knots, so
Simpson zeroed in on about 260 horsepower.
Shopping the Diesel Aftermarket
Before settling on Yanmar, Simpson shopped around for his best diesel repower option.
He looked at one brand of slow-turning diesels, but it was too expensive. Another
brand had a higher rpm, but it, too, was more than Simpson wanted to pay. One brand
was 56% heavier for exactly the same horsepower. Finally, Simpson took a ride in
an old Stephens that had been repowered with the Yanmar 6BY series and he was amazed
at how quiet they were. “They were as quiet as gas engines,” he said.
That settled it. Simpson contacted his local dealer and ordered a pair of 6BY2-260
Yanmar diesels. The pair cost about $50,000 ready to install.
Simpson tells us that it will take several weeks to get all of the fuel lines hooked
up, the shafts aligned and the engine room ready to roar. By that time it should
be warming up in the Sacramento Delta and Lee Simpson will do some speed and fuel
consumption runs. We’ll pass them along when we get them.
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