View Full Version : cat 3208
11-21-2006, 02:57 PM
I am boat shopping and alot of the boats I look at have cat 3208 engines. I am not a diesel guy, so I figured I'd ask for ya'lls opinions. I assume diesels are like outboards, you got your suzuki guys, your evinrude guys, and sometimes even your merc guys.......so the more opinions, the better.
11-21-2006, 03:32 PM
When originally built the 3208s were considered “throw away” motors. Most heavy duty diesel engines you can replace the cylinder walls during a major, not with the 3208’s which was one reason they were called that, they can be sleeved but that is not the same as a replacement.
Second issue they had (at least with the tubos), there was some kind of small spring that was used in the timing of the engine, it would break and basically grenade the engine. Cat may have solved that problem, this was back in the late 90’s.
Third issue is that Cat no longer makes the 3208, although there are tons of them out there, OE parts support may be on the down side.
Basically they were not a bad engine but not a great one either, big heavy engine, better than the 454 gas motors but not much. HP to weight was not great. They worked better in their original application which was medium truck market. That is all I know.
11-21-2006, 10:13 PM
The 3208 rated at 210 hp is a bullet proof engine that will run for 10000 hours. Just keep clean filters and fluids in it, put the throttle to the stops and let it run.. Best engine Cat ever made.
Add a turbo and an intercooler, rated at 320 hp and you better keep your fingers crossed that the Hobbs ever see's 3500 hours.
Rated at 425-435 hp I recommend you have the transome of you boat re done in smoke colored gelcoat.
I don't think I know anybody whose 2nd new boat was Cat powered.
The new electronic Cat engines are designed to legally take all your money away from you and put it in the local Cat distributors pocket.
I've owned to many of them, and my last one.
The Morgan 31 I just sold had a 1989 3208 boosted to put out 375 HP. The engine gave out and needed a rebuild after 5600 hrs of hard service. I bought after the rebuild, and put a few hundred hrs on it... the engine ran like a tank; always started the same second I pushed the button... never let me down.
My engine would never smoke under normal conditions; only when you ran it too hard; like short burts at WOT, or when the bottom was really dirty.
The only problem I had was that it developed an intermitant knock that would come and go randomly; annoying and frustrating, but never interfered with performance or reliability while I owned it.
11-22-2006, 12:10 PM
Thanks for the replies guys. I went and looked at a boat last night with a 3208 turbo (375hp I think). It was a 1983 with 800 original hours. I would have to pull the engine, sandblast it, paint it, replace hoses, belts, and a few other things.
The engine runs great, but I would want everything perfect. The hull is exactly what I want, and the price is good, even after figuring the work needed, now I just gotta think about it.
11-22-2006, 12:39 PM
Since no one else is giving you any worthwhile advice, I will. Save your money and DONT buy a boat. If you just want somewhere to dump all of your extra money, then I will give you my address and you can send me a check whenever you get a little extra.
11-25-2006, 03:30 PM
good cat engine, can be resleved, only problen ever had,head gasket at 6000 hrs (port)head gasket 5000hrs (starbord) injectors port & starbord.
o yea.....sk8rpj is correct.pm me i will give you my address :cowboy:
11-28-2006, 12:15 AM
when you sea trial the boat make sure and pull some oil for analysis after 20 min or so of 80% power. send it off to the cat guys and have them do the interpertation for you it will cost $25 per sample (can do the transmissions also)
and if the guy lets you check a couple of the zinc pencils. they are great engines but almost never got broken in yet. make sure they are runing cool (less than 200). the one thing about them is they don't do well if they have colloing problems and galvanic corrosion is a real issue here if the prior owner didn't keep up
11-29-2006, 06:52 PM
For what it's worth, for the same price you can send oil to Blackstone Labs. I've used them for several years and they give a nice report and will discuss results with you if you're unsure of what to make of them. I used my local CAT dealer once also because I didn't want to mail the sample off, and got what appeared to be an erroneous report (as confirmed by another lab with the same sample). I don't know if different dealers each have their own arrangements for sending oil out or if it all goes to CAT, but Blackstone is well-respected and are nice people to do business with. If you're in a hurry, they will hurry too.
EDIT: Joe, I have never heard that you need to run high throttle before collecting the sample. As long as the oil is up to temp and has been circulating, I am not sure what difference it would make. Do you know why it matters?
12-01-2006, 12:12 AM
cat engines are designed to run at 80% full power according to the mechanics. i have had 2 sea trials with engine survey by certified mechanics. and fell out of escrow on another boat based on the oil analysis alone. a proper engine survey always includes the sea trial during which the boat is run at wide open throttle briefly to see if the engine is poperly loaded (proped out correctly) then you want to run the engines at 80% of max RMP to get a read on all the other components (ie coolant temperature, water leaks, turbo leaks ect). at that point taking an oil sample can give you meaningful info if it comes back high in sodium (or with a positive glycol test) indicating a collant leak which again goes back to the concerns about galvanic corrosion in a boat thats been sitting a while
12-01-2006, 10:26 AM
I had a fresh water cooling elbow failure, due to galvanic corrosion, on my 3208 that did serious damage. It went from normal running temp to buy a new one, way-to hot in a matter of seconds.
This happened to me about 3 days after I had paid Ringhaver $1500 or so to do a cooling system and fuel system walk through,check everything service.
After I pulled the elbow off the motor, one of the guys pushed a screwdriver blade through the aluminum pipe just to show hot rotten it was, and when I showed it to Ringhaver to plead my case, they told me I had sabatoged my own engine to get out of paying the service bill! Unbelievable!
They of course denied any responsability, denied any warranty coverage, and hung me out to dry with my burned up 3208.
Yanmar and Cummins owners locally seem to have no such horror storys to tell, (I have others)but I'm sure there are some out there.
PS... There was no instalation place for a zink to protect the fresh water embow. Another F'd up cat design flaw. I'm still smoking mad about this and it was 15 years ago.
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