Veteran Yachtsman Repowers 40’ SF with Yanmar - 03/18/2009

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.

40' Tollycraft Yanmar 6BY2-260
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.

Sacramento River Delta
The Sacramento River Delta is a popular cruising destination.

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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