I am considering buying a 1988 376 with the original Volvo 2003T engine showing 2900 hrs. I would welcome comments / advice from owners with this engine. Is there anything in particular I should look out for / be aware of ?
The 2003T puts a lot of punch into a small package, but it has a few "known weak spots":
- The spline connecting engine block and gearbox may wear and fail (fail means complete loss of traction)
- The turbo can suffer wear and overheating (especially if somebody forgot to bleed the coolant after change)
- In addition to the heat exchanger, there is an oil cooler that sometimes corrodes and that is difficult to check (failure means oil mixes with water)
At 2900 hrs, it has been running for quite a while, so check if any of the above-mentioned matters have been addressed.
Spare parts for those are quite expensive unfortunately. Also otherwise, this is a point for major checks (e.g. compression test, possibly piston ring replacement, injector nozzle check for pattern and opening pressure).
I do not want to scare you, but I would recommend planning-in the starting of a "replacement fund".
Engine replacement naturally has its cost, but otherwise it is pretty much a "standard job" and thus easy to source, so if the boat is in nice condition otherwise, I would not consider this a show-stopper but rather something to take into account in valuation.
Note that for the MD2003 (T), overhaul kits are available and quite cheap (around 270 €).
Naturally, the cost for taking the engine out, tearing apart and reassembling is much higher than that if outsourced to a professional mechanic.
Also, such a kit does not include the heat exchanger, oil cooler, turbo and gearbox spline parts (which are the expensive ones).
For the overall picture, note also that the MD2003T rotates clockwise, thus engine change often includes prop change (this is of significance mainly with expensive folding props).