Yanmar 6CX Series Powers Entire Torres Pilots Fleet


Torres Pilots decided to re-power their fleet with Yanmar

After repowering one of their pilot vessels in 2013 with a Yanmar 6CX GTYE, Torres Pilots now has their entire fleet powered by the exceptional Yanmar 6CX series of commercial marine diesel engines.

The Torres Pilots fleet is based on a common, purpose built hull design; a heavy duty 13.21M alloy hull which displaces a solid 14.5 tonnes. Each of the five vessels in their fleet is powered by dual Yanmar 6CX engines running shaft drive propellers.

The first two boats in the Torres Pilots fleet were powered by a US brand engine. However, when these reached the end of their life, Torres Pilots management decided to re-power with a pair of Yanmar 6CX GTYE engines.

Impressed by the performance of the new Yanmar engines, the decision was taken to progressively power the fleet with the Yanmar 6CX series engines. The PV Alpha was the next to be repowered. Thereafter the Arden, Adolphus and Albany, all new builds, rolled out of the shipyard with Yanmar as original equipment engines on board.

With a common engine used across the fleet, Torres Pilots is enjoying the very significant benefits of commonality. Servicing is easier with a storeroom stocking the fast-moving parts for just the one make and model of Yanmar engine.

While the original Yanmar engines installed were the Yanmar 6CX GTYE model, this was upgraded with the release of the Yanmar 6CXB-GT. This model engine was installed in the new builds of Arden, Adolphus and Albany.

According to Glen Allitt, Cairns Manager at Torres Pilots, Yanmar took the original 6CX model and made it even better with the 6CXBM-GT.

“The new Yanmar 6CXBM-GT is a tougher more robust engine than its predecessor,” Glen Allitt said.

“It has better torque at lower RPMs where we do a lot of our work. These engines are easier to work on and maintain. The filters are easy to access as is the fresh water pump.”

“Because we operate principally in a very hot and humid saltwater climate, the Yanmar engines have to work tirelessly in a very harsh environment. They really cop a pounding, but they’ve never let us down.”

Yanmar’s 6CXB engine is commercially rated, IMO Tier 2 emission compliant and weighs in at only 856kgs. The new generation 6CXB series, with 4 power outputs available from 360 mhp (265kW) to 509 mhp (370 kW), comes from a proven pedigree with the earlier 6CX series already establishing an excellent reputation with many Australian boat owners, both in Pleasure Craft and Commercial applications.

The Yanmar 6CXB is a mechanically governed, freshwater cooled, in-line purpose built six-cylinder marine diesel engine displacing 7.4 litres. It has a shrouded dry turbocharger, cylinder block inspection hatches, and is equipped with Yanmar’s own proprietary fuel injection equipment. A dual cylinder head design, combined with front mounted filter positions makes for easy servicing.

In an operational sense, all the Torres Pilots vessels operate on a 24/7 basis. At any time of the day or night, and sometimes severe weather and sea conditions in this cyclone affected tropical zone, Torres Pilots is required to drop-off and pick-up a pilot from seagoing ships.

The PV Albany stationed at Cairns typically logs 110 engine hours per month, while the Adolphus in the Torres Straits logs 140 hours per month. Downtime and failures at sea are not tolerated. Nothing short of 100% reliability is the norm, and Yanmar has performed without fault.

Operating from their base at Cairns Marina, the PV Albany makes a round trip of 1 hour and 30 minutes to drop or collect a pilot. Such a trip uses about 110 litres of fuel. Under normal operational conditions, the Yanmar 6CXB engines tick over at a comfortable 2100 rpm for a speed of 19 knots. During sea trials, the maximum performance was achieved at 2700 rpm for 27 knots.

“We’re really comfortable operating at 2100 rpm,” said Michael Cox, skipper of the PV Albany. “But it is also comforting to know that there is a lot more Yanmar power there for when it is needed.”

Operating in Far North Queensland from bases in Cairns, Thursday Island and Coconut Island (Torres Strait), the Torres Pilots vessels frequently operate in very remote and environmentally sensitive areas.

“Reliability is everything for us, especially in the harsh tropical conditions in the Torres Straits.” said Michael Cox.

“That is one of the reasons we are using Yanmar engines in general and the 6CXB specifically. If ever we have a problem at sea, the crew have to be resourceful and manage the situation themselves. The Yanmar 6CXB engines depend less on advanced electronics for the fuel management system and that allows us to better manage problems at sea. Operating electronic engines in the remote regions has proven to be more difficult.”

The key of course to dependability is a good preventative maintenance program and Glen Allitt at Torres Pilots has an exceptional schedule in place. The Yanmar specified 500-hour service schedule is rigorously maintained. Oil samples are taken and sent away to the lab for analysis.

Then every 7000 hours, the Yanmar engines are physically removed from the vessel and given a major service by the Cairns Yanmar Dealer, K & G Mechanical. The injectors, heat exchanger, intercooler and transmission oil coolers get special attention. All of the boats in the Torres Pilots fleet are designed and set up to make engine removal and replacement a simple task.

‘We are obviously a very happy Yanmar customer,” said Glen Allitt.

“Our entire fleet is now powered by the Yanmar CX series engines and we find them ideal for our application. Fuel consumption at 74 litres per operational hour is very good for twin installations. The support which we get from both Power Equipment and our local Dealer is excellent.”

“Parts supply is first rate, even here in distant Cairns, and that is very important for us. To achieve the excellent performance results which we record is in part dependent on having genuine factory back up and support.”