About Ms Bettencourt

Ms Bettencourt is a Swedish built 25-foot trailerable trawler. Her hull was completed in 1971, No. 1117 of about 2500 built. The boat is named for my wife Dia, whose maiden name is Bettencourt.

This little vessel came to me as a gift in 2004. Before then she had been abandoned about 12 years on the Savannah River near Augusta, GA. I have repaired and refitted the boat extensively, and I have cruised her along the East coast of the US, from Cape Lookout, NC, to the Florida Keys. I dream of taking her to Havana some day.

This blog started in 2011 to chronicle the building of a hard top for the boat to replace leaky canvas. Since then the blog has become an Albin-25 boatkeeping and cruising journal.

Monday, January 12, 2015

She runs!

Ms. Bettencourt's 1980-something marinized 3-cylinder Kubota power plant may not look like much, but when it has clean fuel without air it runs like a clock.

Such was the case this afternoon after I reassembled the fuel system and bled air from the on-engine fuel filter and the injection pump.

The last time this engine had been running was December 26, 2014. Despite having been sitting cold since that date, she turned over and started easily with only 15 seconds of glow plug help.

This close-up (below) presents an opportunity to point out a bit of marine engine historical trivia.

Take a look at the black label on the air intake tube. If you click the photo at right to enlarge the picture you may be able to read the legend:

Atomic Diesel

In spite of the label, this engine is beyond a doubt a 1985 or later Kubota D-1101 tractor motor. Kubota was using them in its L-245 DT tractor in the 1980s.

Universal was a very successful marine gasoline engine manufacturer that had sold about 40,000 of its Atomic-4 sailboat engines between 1947 and 1984. Then, suddenly, sailors and sailboat builders quit using gasoline engines. Small diesels had become more reliable and were much safer than gasoline engines in marine environments.

Universal needed a diesel product, so they bought a bunch of Kubota tractor motors, painted them gold and sold them as Universal Atomic Diesels. But, they didn't move fast enough. Universal lost market share to other engine firms and ultimately went out of business.

It is still possible to buy Universal labeled parts for these engines, but the smart money avoids the premium price on this stuff and buys most needed parts from the local Kubota dealer.

It is said that these engines, when well cared for, can go about 10,000 hours before needing a major overhaul. Ms. Bettencourt's engine has about 2,500 hours on it.

Newer marine diesels are lighter and quieter that this old piece of iron, but some would say they are more complicated and somewhat less reliable.

But, of course, all of this motor trivia begs the important questions: Have I or have I not found the elusive air leak in the old Kubota's fuel system?

Please stay tuned for test results to come.

UPDATE 1/14/15 Cold engine started easily and idled smoothly. Temps in the low 40sF.

UPDATE 1/16/15 Another easy start and smooth idle.

UPDATE 1/18/15 Started easily. Ran smoothly. Changed oil and oil filter. Declared victory. Awaiting arrival of Spring in full readiness condition.


  1. I realize your last post on this blog was over 2 years ago, but just to note, I am a fellow traveler, owner of 1971 Albin 25 hull #736 "La Dolce Vita" out in Phoenix, AZ. Our boat is powered by a Yanmar 3GM30F, and over the past 3 1/2 years since taking ownership of our boat (formerly named "Nowell's Ark") from previous owner up in Idaho we have trailered over 13,000 road miles from Arizona, twice up to the Pacific NW, first time in 2014 racking up 280 NM in 42 days on water in San Juan islands of WA state & Gulf Island in BC Canada, then in 2015 trailered to East coast for 5 days & 110 miles on Erie Canal, then to Rhode Island coast for a couple day trips on Pawcatuck & Thames rivers in CT, then trailered down to DE for 2 weeks & 300 NM on Nanticoke River & Chesapeake Bay. 2016 was back to Washington state for 46 days on water, San Juans & Gulf Islands again up to Nanaimo, BC & across Georgia Strait to Sunshine Coast & 45 NM up Jervis & Princess Louisa Inlets to Chatterbox Falls, 573 NM cruising in all. This year just returned from circumnavigating Santa Catalina Island off SoCal coast, launching from Huntington Beach, CA. Total engine hours in that time since purchase in March, 2014, 400 hours for average fuel economy of 0.39 GPH, mostly at 6 to 6.5 knots, 2100 to 2350 RPM. Check out Albin Owners group at albinowners.com/aog

  2. Steve: Thanks for the comment. Sounds like you have been getting a lot of pleasure out of #736. I'm still working on #1117, but have been greatly slowed by some health problems. John


Questions and comments are sincerely appreciated: