Hi-Performance Boat Operation – Part 2: Rigging Fit & Function

Spring is a great time for newbie and veteran performance boaters alike to get familiar with their craft. For starters, you should review your owners manuals — really, you should — and review the key components of your new boat.

The 300XS is very popular for singe and multiple engine applications.
The 300XS on this Hydrostream features a 20-inch mid section and Sport Master gearcase.

Performance boats vary widely in propulsion and size. Outboards come in 20, 25 and 30-inch drive shaft lengths to accommodate a variety of applications. Mercury (and other brand) outboards are fitted with a standard gearcase for most applications. Hulls that can take advantage of the high power-to-weight ratio of a 300XS may benefit from its wide range of gearcase options. Similarly, Mercury Racing offers a variety of sterndrives for differing power capacities and hull types.

Mercury Racing’s high styled Zero Effort Digital controls.

Mechanical control: High performance outboards are usually rigged with with dual steering cables, a shift cable, throttle cable and fuel line. With performance sterndrives, throttle and shift are accomplished with cables, but steering is hydraulic. These include 600 SCi  and 700 SCi Mercury Racing packages.

Digital control: On Digital Throttle & Shift compatible outboards, such as the 400R and sterndrives including the 520, 540, 565, 860, 11001350 and 1550 mechanical throttle and shift cables are gone — replaced with a single electronic cable. Steering is either electric (Verado) or hydraulic (MerCruiser).

Quad 400R MTI center console.

OpiMax 300XS models feature a heavy-duty swivel/clamp bracket and trim cylinder to endure the rigors of extended use in rough seas. The trim cylinder is actuated via a remotely mounted pump. A majority of today’s outboards feature trim systems mounted within the swivel clamp bracket assembly. Verado outboards come equipped with integral power trim and steering. OptiMax outboards come standard with mechanical steering.

Two steering system types are available: Full Feedback and No Feedback. With Full Feedback, steering loads from an outboard or sterndrive are continually transmitted to the steering wheel. This is the preferred system used by tunnel boat drivers for “feel” of their craft while driving at the limit. One disadvantage: steering forces increase as engine or drive height or trim is increased. The steering wheel must be secured at all times to maintain control.

A view of the helm of Cigarette’s 565 powered 38 Top Gun 90+ MPH. Photo credit: Cigarette Racing.

With No Feedback, steering torque is only felt when the steering wheel is turned. This system is more forgiving and best for a recreational performance boater. If you relax your grip on the steering wheel, the boat will continue on your selected course. It is important to have minimal free play or steering “slop” in any performance boat steering system.

Bravo One XR Sport Master ITS drives on the Cigarette 38 Top Gun 90+ MPH.

Mercury Racing sterndrive packages are equipped with power steering. The system requires actuation of external hydraulic steering cylinders.  Our Integrated Transom System (ITS) provides external power steering for Bravo One XR, Bravo One XR Sport Master and Bravo Three XR drive engine packages.  Power trim and steering cylinders are integrated in the M-series transom plate that comes standard with all engine packages featuring  NXT1, NXT6 and M8 sterndrives.

A view of a tie-bar connecting a pair of Mercury Racing M6 drives on this 388 Skater. Photo credit: Naplesimage.

Performance boats with two or more outboards or sterndrives are rigged with both external power steering cylinders and tie bars. These components work together to minimize steering backlash and enhance drive stability.

Here is a good view of twin outboards with tie-bar and external power steering on this Spectre catamaran.

The units tied together (outboards or sterndrives) should be adjusted parallel to each other, at rest, where play in the steering can be adjusted to zero. Always be sure to have a qualified professional check to ensure your outboards or sterndrives and all related components are mounted securely.

A great view of M6 drives and 380S K-Plane trim tabs on this Statement vee bottom. Photo credit: Naplesimage.

Most larger outboard and sterndrive performance boats feature hydraulicly actuated K-Plane trim tabs. Tabs are used to assist getting the boat on plane and for hull attitude adjustments in varying seas. They can be used independently or in conjunction with outboard or sterndrive trim adjustments.

In Hi-Performance Boat Operation – Part 3,  I’ll interview Brad Schoenwald from the Tres Martin Performance Boat School. Brad and I will discuss basic performance boat operation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Hi-Performance Boat Operation – Part 2: Rigging Fit & Function”

  1. My dad sent the email below to Greg Abbott (TX Attorney General.) We continue to search for non-ethonal fuels. We have gotten down to one last fuel station in Winnsboro, TX. This station stated the refinery will not provide any more Premium (non-ethanol) fuel anymore. What are our options now?

    I have a 2005 Mercury 250XS by Mercury Racing and my father has a 1982 Mercury 200 Black Max. We have taken great pride and spent a great deal of money driving further distances to guarantee using “non-ethanol” fuels in these. We are running out of options. We utilize Quick Kleen and Quick Care on a normal basis and we both have water separators installed. Are QuicKleen and QuicKare the best additives for ethanol fuel? Is there an aviation fuel that would be safe to use? Aviation fuel currently has an exemption from the ethanol requirement. Just trying to preserve my investment in this phenomenal outboard! Thank you for your time. Stephen Kralik

    Email to Greg Abbott:
    Ethanol in fuels across Texas and our nation is costing everyone who drives, 20% less gas mileage, plus the added expense of producing ethanol, plus doing NOTHING for the environment. Ethanol laced fuels kill older 4 stroke (every car) and 2-stroke engines – outboards and all lawn equipment – no warranties anymore. Even though the subsidies have been discontinued (8¢ down to 4.5¢ to 0), oil companies or producers are still receiving tax credits for ethanol. Therefore very few stations are carrying conventional fuel. Most of the general public in the large cities are stuck with this.
    Even though the State of Texas has filed a lawsuit against the EPA (January 2009) for falsifying emissions data, EPA continues to mandate adding ethanol to gasoline. Now nationally they are pushing to go up from 10% to 15%!
    The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has now also filed a lawsuit against EPA to halt ethanol in gasoline because of the destructive effect on all two-cycle engines.

    We need to see non-ethanol fuel readily available in our state and put EPA regs on hold/suspension until their lies can be examined. Stop adding ethanol at our refineries and produce conventional gasoline.

    Recent experience is showing mileage is reduced by about 20% using 10% ethanol fuel, so you are burning more fuel to go the same distance to work or daily tasks you did before ethanol.
    Gasoline produces 119,000 Btu, energy that goes toward spinning your car’s drive wheels. Ethanol produces only 80,000 Btu!
    Therefore, it takes more Ethanol-laced gasoline to drive the same distance.

    Considering the manufacturing cost for ethanol, and reduced mileage, emissions are NOT reduced – as advertised by environmentalists.

    Ethanol:
    1. Is hydroscopic – it absorbs water from the atmosphere much more quickly(1.5 weeks) than conventional fuels. Once water levels exceed .5% in suspension, the water/ethanol drops out of suspension (phase separation). This water/ethanol mix is then immediately pulled from the bottom of the tank where the fuel pickup is, into the engine’s fuel system causing severe engine damage. Think about lawn equipment that sits idle during winter/off season or vehicles stored for short times…
    2. Is corrosive to fuel system parts – fuel lines, rubber seal/gaskets and fuel injectors – destroying 2 and 4 stroke engines.
    3. Does not produce as much energy as conventional/traditional fuel, resulting in inefficient combustion, decreased performance, and poor fuel economy.

    So, who really benefits from Ethanol?

    1. Stephen, your 2005 OptiMax should run E10 without problem. Your dad is not so fortunate. Water seperators are a good start, but not sufficient – especially for older engines. Water in ethanol will go right through a water seperator. However, a seperator will catch phase seperation gunk.

      Attached is a link to Boat US where they consulted with Frank Kelley and Ed Alyanak from Mercury’s staff regarding older engines and ethanol fuels. Hopefully this will answer some questions:

      http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/ethanol.asp

      Regarding aviation fuel, I think there are some legal implications due to lead content. Also, the additives in aviation fuel are completely different (anti-foaming, etc) than regular gasoline. I don’t know of any data on ramifications of those additives in a 2 stroke.

      I have looked into QuicKleen and QuicKare. (I’m embarrassed to admit I was unfamiliar with these Mercury products before your question.) QuicKleen is Mercury’s carbon cleaning additive. It does a great job reducing carbon deposits, but nothing for ethanol. QuicKare targets ethanol. It helps control corrosion, gum and varnish build-up, and phase separation due to ethanol’s presence in blended fuel. However, no additive is 100% effective against ethanol’s nasty habits. You’ve done the best you can with the fuel you have available. Keep using QuicKleen – and especially QuicKare for ethanol blends. If your dad has avoided E10 blends so far, QuicKare should dramatically extend his engines’ life when he can no longer get 100% gasoline.

      With either boat, on its first load of E10, make it as large a gas tank fill-up as possible. That way the ethanol will pick up and pass as much latent water from the tank as it can. Watch the filters like a hawk. They’ll catch the gunk that ethanol has dislodged along the fuel storage and delivery path and plug up more quickly. And carry extra fuel filters on board. Replace the Black Max’s fuel lines if they’re older than 10 years. Your mechanic may wish to “rich up” the mixture as the ethanol may cause Max to run leaner.

      Thank you for your activism on the evils of 15% ethanol. Your knowledge is refreshing. It is dumbfounding – the ignorance and unwillingness to listen of many of our legislators and regulators on the topic of ethanol fuel blends and the harm they can do. I’ll soon add a blog post on ethanol. Thanks for the inspiration. (It’s already too late for my lawn mower. R.I.P.)

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