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Birchwood 330 challenger


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I was with some friends at the weekend on a fishing trip (sort of :) ) when we thought we would have a look around NYA at Brundall.

We had a look at some nice boats but a Birchwood 330 challenger caught our eye so we decided to have a look around the boat.

Once on board I could not believe how much room there was for a 33ft boat ?. It had A full size or maybe even bigger master bed in the bow with reasonable storage, a very good size bathroom, a double mid cabin, a decent galley, comfortable seating for 6 in the saloon, a good size cockpit and a good size flybridge.

The boat has Yammar 230hp diesels with a top speed of 28 knots.

As we looked around the other boats of the same sort of size, it looked to me that this boat was light years ahead of the others.

Does anyone have any knowlege of owning one of these boats or know someone who has as I would like to know if they have any downsides.

cheers Barry

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Can't speak for the boat but Perry has lived with a Yanmar 230 (240) in his boat since new, they are a great motor and apart from having to poke the stop solenoid with a stick from time to time it's been a cracker and quite economical, I'm sure he'll say more. Bits are even more wallet harming than Volvo Penta though.

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Hi Baz - and greetings from my sunny winter retreat

The guy who owns that boat is called Tony and he kept it down on the medway and apart from minor bits and bobs that popped up from time to time, had no major dramas with it. The black window striping needs re-spraying in and as far as Im aware its pretty much a similar designed hull to mine. The flybridge is alot more rromy thanthe equivalent sealine 330, but, do you really want to change what you have? :grin:

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Think they are the 4LHA engines David,

One thing that did concern me a little was that although we couldn't hear the engines running (something to do with the steering ram being disconnected ready for change and he had been advised not to start it) the owner is saying that one engine has had a rebuild and that both engines sound, in his words, "like a London taxi at tickover". He claims that is why he had the one engine rebuilt but then found out that this is normal for the Yanmar 4LHA, apparently they are fine once they have any revs on.

Any thoughts?

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I guess it depends what he means by sounds like an FX4 on tickover, that's quite subjective. I assume that the steering ram and roominess comments means they are O/Ds so the sound insulation is probably not as good as a shaft driven boat. Perry's is ultra quiet outside the bay but like most, including my D4 is a bit rattly up close on tickover. Any suspicions I would have French Marine do a proper engine report as an adjunct to the standard survey.

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As David has alluded Kiki has a Yanmar it is a 4LHA STP 240HP.

http://www.quantumboats.com/downloads/4LHA-INBOARD.pdf

This are reputed to be amongst Yanmar's best engines quiet, economic and reliable a Google search will come up with plenty of information. I would not describe this engine as sounding like a London Taxi but then if you are used to Petrol ;)

I am pretty sure the engine is based on a Toyota block as per fitted to the Land Cruiser; the 6BY is based on BMW and there have been some issues with this one.

Ours has almost 400 hours on and has never had any issue (touching wood as I write this). They are relatively easy to work on as they are not fly by wire, parts are readily available.

If you are interested I have a full workshop manual in PDF form if you want to look in more detail - PM me if you need it

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Hi Gav, how is the Holiday going?

Baz is part of a consortium trying to convince me to buy a Birchwood 330 over a Sealine 330.

Have to say I did like a lot of this boat.

Plus points,

12'4" Beam makes it feel very stable at rest.

virtually the whole hull is waterline with the bathing platform cut in rather than added on.

Shore access is better than the Sealines, both from the back and side.

Flybridge is better by far.

On shafts instead of Drives.

Bad Points

Fit out is no where near as nice as the Sealines with tons of bare GRP on show.

Stairs take up a lot of the cockpit so even though the boat is over a foot wider there is less floor space in the cockpit and not enough to put a half decent table in.

Biggest issue is that they didn't sell many in the first place despite making them, from what I can work, out for 8 years. That has to beg the question, WHY?

Above point leads to my biggest concern in that the Sealine 330 is probably the most saleable boat on the market but should I need to sell how much am I going to have to discount to get a quick sale.

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David and Perry, thanks for the feed back, sorry about the posts popping up randomly, part typed it then got distracted by bloody work. :naughty:

V Drives did concern me a bit as I have heard varying story's but then are they better or worse than Volvo DPs which according to many are the Devils own spawn.

have to say if V drives have a reputation for being anywhere near as expensive to maintain as DPs then I would go for the outdrives and get the fuel efficiency.

The London Taxi bit concerned me as this chap has had diesel boats before and why would a 2000 engine need a rebuild? plus if that one did, what state is the other.

All the feed back on the 4LHA points to it being a great engine and what I have picked up on the 6BY's being not so good, including the fact that they are disposable blocks at 10k a piece, due to no liners and no chance of being bored :o

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The major issues with V drives stem from the accessibility for routine servicing rather than anything else, I have seen and heard stories of mega bills for replacement and service work, It's probably worth looking to see if all the services, fluid change, filter changes etc are possible without a trained weasel then at least you can be reasonably confident that the things have been looked after.

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Hi Baz - and greetings from my sunny winter retreat

The guy who owns that boat is called Tony and he kept it down on the medway and apart from minor bits and bobs that popped up from time to time, had no major dramas with it. The black window striping needs re-spraying in and as far as Im aware its pretty much a similar designed hull to mine. The flybridge is alot more rromy thanthe equivalent sealine 330, but, do you really want to change what you have? :grin:

Hi Gav hope all is well.

It's not foor me as you can see. but we were looking at a sealine 330 and the birchwood and im know expert but the birchwood was a thousand time's better . It had a lot more space you could sit around the table without banging you head (not like the sealine) the sides of the superstructure did not push in and out when pushing it with your fingers as on the sealine (whats that all about) and in the sealine when i stood on it well it nearly fell over :o .

cheersbar see you soon enough Barry

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Hello all again!!

Yes I see that Ian is looking! Well this 330 - I really dont know much more about it than what I said..I know we looked at it and for alot of reasons chose the commando. I must say that the hull is great at sea, and I certainly see alot of differences between the equivalent sealine. The 330 statesman I now notice has been sold - I wonder how much for? as we all know its history and I wouldnt have expected that to go for much more than mid 50's although the owner was keen to get top dollar (Originally it was up for 75 then dropped to 70 minus a few pennies!

Just for the update - the weather here nice and hot during the day but bloody cold at night! The locals are very welcoming and put on regular firework displays unfortunately and Im looking forward to getting back in the early summer! - Will try to log on from time to time and say hi!! :)

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Had a good chat with an Ex Birchwood dealer today,

Prefer to get the information from those who should actually know but won't post the outcome here, it would be unfair on owners of the said mark.

One thing though it was very entertaining to get the full history of Birchwood from when they entered the wilderness years to their final demise and a good mad axe man story to be told over a beer or two. Good news for a couple is that the TS37 was a great boat. as were the Birchwoods over 44' many are still made today around the world with different windows and tweaks.

Also good to get his take on what the big 4 do well, and not so well, was surprised at some of the Sunseeker story's but suffix to say, Sealine owners have little to worry about. And before you ask no he is not now a Sealine dealer but is still an active new boat dealer in Dutch Steel, he is also an active broker but prefers to specialise outside of the big four.

Other good news, he rated the Yanmar engines as the best he has come across.

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Reading between the lines then Ian are you saying our beloved commando is pants - I disagree, accept the window engineering needed re-thinking!!! Did you know they are stillbeing made under license and are made from 37 to 53 feet?

Did he comment on the Falcon 34 though (Like for sale at NYA) as this would have been produced, literally 'as-is' and would have been called the Birchwood 350? Good fine engineering there... and I would love to know what he said about mine as my Birchwoo insider said that it was probably one of the best boats they had ever designed and build as long as you get the right engine package as they made some hideously over-powered versions with twin 360' hp's - it bankrupted them - literally.. oh and my Birchwoo insider is now a Failrline broker!!

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Hi Gav,

Did not talk specifically about the commando but a lot of the problems were to do with engine positioning rather than engine type.

I am sure that your engines will be in the right place and as you have experience of your boat you don't need to worry about the handling.

Most of the negatives are centred around the boats following sea performance and stability due to engines being set too high in the boat down to the severe shallowing of the hull to the stern, as yours is a lot lower overall you probably won't be affected by the issues.

There is also a limitation on the speed the hull is happy to run at which confirms your sources over power theory.

He did give me a list of boats affected worst and yours wasn't on it.

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Gav, Just to add,

There are some good boats in Birchwood's late line up but there are also some very bad ones, add to that the variable build quality of the era and even a good model can be a bad boat.

Hunt hard enough and you can find very good boats within the range that will survey well and perform perfectly but due to the problems with some models and consistency of production the price you pay has to be a long way down on the equivalent boat from the big four.

If you compare what you paid for yours against the same age Sealine F37 you can see the difference, it means you bought a good boat at the right price.

Problem is that when you get to the Birchwood 330's v Sealine 330 they are asking more for the Birchwoods when the real sale price is 25-30% less, adding to the rumour that you can't sell a Birchwood. In truth you can't sell anything if you try and sell it for 50% more than the market value.

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Engines too high Ian - Yes I have heard this before regarding engines that are 'back to front' - is that how the V drive works? I know mine are right down the bottom driving a nice pair of 290 legs and it has already proved to be exceptionally stable in rolling seas, following seas and a fairly tough beamy sea so chuffed to bits with it - like all boats it has a few issues but these are getting ironed out bit by bit.. apart from that I have a good half a foot headroom throughout the boat spare and it will run in displacement mode rather happily as well as great fun on the plane to 34 knots so wahay!!!! See you all soon!!! cheers

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