Worship Your Universal M-Series Diesel With the Marinized Kubota Block

The post-War replacement for the gasoline Atomic 4 uses a hell-for-stout Kubota tractor engine that runs well with a plenty of parts availability. Beware newer engines from Universal/Westerbeke that are locked into the Westerbeke supply chain and price sheet.


The Universal name resonates with many of us as one of the best sailboat engines available. Despite Universal Motor Corp. no longer being in business, I plan to work on many more Universal engines in my time as a marine mechanic. Aboard my own boat, my little Universal M-series diesel has 8,000+ hours on it and it doesn’t (and probably won’t!) skip a beat. Yes, every small recreational diesel will have its flaws and quirks, but they all have one thing in common: they will keep going as long as we take care of them!

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Meredith Anderson
Meredith Anderson is a marine engineer and heavy diesel mechanic who owns Madame Diesel, LLC in Washington State, where she specializes in marine diesel engines and AC/DC Electrical. Meredith attended Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where she gained the foundation to become a marine engineer aboard commercial vessels from 120ft. – 554ft. She currently works full-time running her own business, traveling the nation with her training engines and fixing engines onboard her clients' boats. She uses her limited free time to work as a USCG 100-Ton Captain and Port Engineer onboard the Brig Lady Washington, teaches marine engineering part-time at Seattle Maritime Academy, and writes educational diesel engine articles for 48 Degrees North magazine and Practical Sailor. Her goals are to educate sailors and help them to complete the repairs needed for safe and happy sailing anywhere they want to go. https://www.facebook.com/meredithsmarine


  1. I’m in the process of rebuilding my 1982 M-30. Other than cleaning the injectors and rebuilding the water pump, the engine was in great shape – with all 3 cylinders having 520# compression. Looking forward to another 40 years out of the rebuild!

  2. Thank you for the history lesson Meredith. Although I have a Beta Marine, it too is built around a dependable Kubota block. For those of us that enjoy (mostly) the pleasure of maintaining our own boat and various systems, simple and reliable are the features we most value.

    I think I’ll change my oil tomorrow.