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Adding an engine

I'm looking to buy my first canal boat and have fallen in love with a very very old one that is a liveaboard but has never had an engine. Unfortunately I don't have a horse to pull it along like they used to so I was wondering if it is ever possible to just *add an engine*? If not I will try my best to get a bit more realistic. Thank you boaters.

Asked by: sazzlef  | 6.48pm, Friday 28 August

WW says:

If the boat is 'very, very old' and has no engine as you say, I wonder whether it is an old working boat or 'butty' as it would be known. If so, it will have had considerable use, probably resulting in a lot of wear. This will need to be assessed, repaired and maintained well in the future to ensure that it does not deteriorate further.
It is possible to add an engine to a butty but this is usually not an easy thing to do and, therefore, expensive. One way is to drive a small propeller fixed to the helm using a hydraulic system powered by conventional diesel engine in the boat. The other is the Hotchkiss cone system which has a cone shaped impeller set into a tunnel in the base of the boat. This, again, is driven by a diesel engine in the boat. It is difficult to predict a cost for these but either could very well exceed the purchase price of the boat.
As a newcomer to boating, there are many things you need to discover and master and starting with a boat like the one you describe does not sound like a good way to do this. My advice would be to look around to find a more modern boat with an engine to cut your teeth on and, possibly, go for something a bit more 'interesting' when you have gained some experience.
If you do decide to go ahead with your first love, it is essential that you get the boat surveyed out of the water by a qualified surveyor so that you know what the likely expenses will be.

Graham Booth  | 11.13AM, Saturday 29 August

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