T&T: Outboard trawler
lrzeitlin at aol.com
Sun Apr 5 14:56:59 EDT 2009
Gas or diesel - who cares. It's the nature of the power train that
makes the difference. The older I get, and the more I work on old
diesel engines crammed into a tight motor compartment, the more I
appreciate the virtues of the outboard. It is time for trawler
designers to incorporate outboard power into small trawlers, say
those less than 40' in length. Think of the advantages. The engine
will be easy to get at. It can be removed as a unit and worked on in
the spacious area of a garage or workshop. It can be easily replaced
when worn out. And, judging by the prices at my local boat dealer, it
will cost a fraction of a comparably powered inboard.
Sure most trawler engines are diesel. And there are advantages in
fuel safety. But diesels are heavy, smelly, and expensive. An
outboard, if it leaks fuel, leaks overboard. All it would take for
current 4 cycle outboards is a new lower unit with a higher gear
ratio capable of turning a bigger prop. It would be nice if an
outboard engine manufacturer produced a diesel outboard, but it is
My current boat, a Willard 30 uses a Perkins 4-107 driving a 13' long
shaft, supported by two bearings, to get a measly 36 HP to the prop.
My son has a small motorboat driven by a 90 HP Mercury 4 cycle
engine. The engine is half the weight of the Perkins and puts out
almost three times the power. The cost of the outboard was one third
that of the diesel. In fact the diesel drive shaft alone cost more
than the entire outboard installation.
The price of diesel and gasoline are on a par in my area. You
probably get better mileage with a diesel but I don't cruise enough
in one year to make up a tiny fraction of the price difference of the
power train. I could replace the outboard four times over for the
price of one diesel replacement. The upper limit of outboard power is
no barrier either. Big 400 HP Tregurtha "outboards" are used to move
barges in the oil patch. Dual outboards could overcome most power
limitations and, of course, offer the reliability of two engines.
Won't one of the brilliant yacht designers who read the T&T design a
36 ft. outboard powered trawler. It could be my next boat.
Now I feel better.
More information about the Trawlers-and-Trawlering