OK, so we bought a really old sailboat, and the engine worked fine for months, but one day I noticed that she was dripping oil at a rapid rate into her bilge pan. I tried mirrors and phones and video cameras, but I couldn’t find the leak. The engine would always start right away, but it died 4 times and each time I had to sail back to the slip – often single-handed and once in a blow. I knew the engine needed a ton of maintenance: mounts were loose, belts were worn, leaking oil. I knew I should probably do an overhaul that involved sending the head out for valves, and that I had to fix what was probably a rear oil seal leak, which meant removing the transmission and bell housing. Lots of effort with rusty bolts and working in cramped spaces. Or remove the whole engine and take it home and really do a rebuild.

But I have a family. And a job. So the question occurred to me: how much would it cost to simply get a rebuilt engine and swap it out? Turns out I could scrape it together…

I bought the replacement Yanmar 2GF two-cylinder from Trans Atlantic Diesel (TAD), and it would be a pretty close fit for the Universal M-15 that was there (originally the Cal 29 came with an Atomic 4 gas engine). I briefly flirted with some sort of electric or hybrid, but just wasn’t going to pour that kind of money into this old boat.

I pulled the old one (thanks Matt, Rolf, and Sim!), replaced all fuel lines and filters and water lines and exhaust. Had to put wood rails in for the mounts because the engine was a slightly different size, but it wasn’t too difficult. Even managed to paint the compartment and clean things up a lot. The shift linkage needed a bunch of work to get it right, so I left it wrong: now forward gear is reverse and reverse is forward. But it runs. Every time.

Old one out, new one read to go in. I’m skipping over all the swear words here 🙂

Had to fiberglass up a frame around the control panel to mount in the cockpit. Came out nicely.

And she just ticks over. New instruments and wiring… oil pressure and temperature gauges and alarms. I couldn’t be happier!