- Published on Wednesday, 02 February 2011 17:30
Take a deep breath...
With the legislation and regulation that was imposed (most significantly) by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), on manufacturers of engines of all types, 2 stroke and 4 stroke gasoline engines and diesel engines, new technologies and designs had to be developed to meet the mandated emissions levels. Otherwise the manufacturers would be forced to stop selling their products.
Well, there's an incentive!
All the engines have now come under the emissions driven legislation and the result is that the air is indeed getting cleaner.
The route to cleaner air has been universally the same; increase combustion efficiency so that little or no pollution from unburned fuels remains.
Gasoline engines are made in huge numbers for automotive use and were already being "cleaned up". Their carburetors gave way to electronic fuel injection and their simple distributors and spark ignition systems were replaced long ago by computer modules to gain the combustion control needed.
Diesel engines by the nature of the efficient diesel combustion process, produces virtually no carbon monoxide and they have long employed fuel injection to function. Even a normally aspirated diesel compresses the incoming charge of air to such an extent that the air is heated to more than 700 degrees while the newest common rail, electronic diesel engines are far higher than that and now inject diesel fuel at over 20,000 pounds per square inch pressure for great efficiency. We are a long way from seeing diesel replace gasoline engines but in the future, there is a chance of that happening.
In marine applications, we are seeing more and more diesel engines. Many have power to weight ratios that are much more like gasoline engines of comparable power and the "drivability" is excellent.
DYNAMIC NEW DIESELS
Some diesels like the Nanni Diesel line based on Kubota engines and the Vetus engines are suitable for regular inboard drives, sail drives and also mate nicely to stern drives like MerCruiser's Bravo drives. Horsepower levels from as little as10 hp to the mid-200 range are available from those companies.
Yanmar has a wide range of light weight, high output diesel engines and they have just introduced the lightweight 54 hp diesel, the 4JH4AE. This fuel-efficient diesel engine provides a more compact design and better overall performance with improved fuel injection, filtration accuracy and a new fuel pump. The new engine is available with a selection of drives, including an SD50 Saildrive.
At the other end of the horsepower scale, Caterpillar has a marine diesel line that starts at 355 hp and goes up over 3,000 hp for a single engine! As long as you are powering a yacht, Cat has power for you.
In diesel power for larger boats, Volvo Penta took a huge chance on introducing a totally new type of drive; their IPS system that installs through the hull bottom instead of through the transom or via stuffing boxes, shafts and struts. They gambled that boat builders would invest in the new designs. Those who did were rewarded with impressive gains in economy, performance and handling.
The latest news from Volvo Penta is that they now can execute triple and even quad installations of the Volvo Penta IPS drives.
The IPS350 and IPS600 models were recently added to the original IPS 400 and IPS 500 models, so this means that the Volvo Penta IPS range now comprises a total of four engines, all of which are available with the new "joystick" control feature for super easy docking.
The IPS system pod drives are being accepted and integrated into new boats at a faster rate than originally anticipated. Understandably, the IPS product has attracted the attention of other engine companies.
Cummins MerCruiser finally unveiled their new Zeus Drive – the real thing and in the water running at the Miami Boat Show this winter. It is a pod drive like the Volvo Penta product but a significantly different design.
With up to 550 horsepower, the Zeus 3500 and Zeus 3800 offer plenty of power, an integrated trim control system, an accessories water system, and SmartCraftTM networking.
In a ceremony held during the 2007 Miami Boat Show, Cummins MerCruiser Diesel's Zeus Propulsion System received Motor Boating Magazine's "Best of the Year" award in the category of Advanced Propulsion for the marine industry. Watch for these pod drives to simply revolutionize big boat handling while the new generation diesel engines become the gold standard in performance.
That is not to say that gasoline engines are falling behind. They already run quietly, smoothly and make lots of power for their weight. The economies of scale in gasoline engine production make gas inboards and stern drives, probably the best overall value for many Canadian pleasure craft boaters.
Inboards driving shafts through stuffing boxes and struts may seem old-fashioned, (and they are) but they are rugged, reliable and deliver big thrust. Water ski and wakeboard boats have made inboards a hot item again.
The Pleasurecraft Engine Group (PEG) has the 2007 Captain's Choice line-up of Crusader gasoline inboards that were ranked highest in customer satisfaction with gasoline inboards (ski/wake) in the 2006 J.D. Power Marine Survey.
The Captain's Choice Series begins with a multi-port EFI 5.0 that makes 275 hp and runs up to the 8.1HO that makes 425 horsepower. The new development for 2007 is that all Captains' Choice engines feature Sync-N-Cruz, a computerized engine management system that provides Engine Synchronization, single throttle control of both engines and Fully Integrated Cruise Control.
Expanding their stern drive line-up, Mercury Marine introduced SeaCore. It is a MerCruiser sterndrive package that delivers comprehensive corrosion protection for the engine, transom and drive. SeaCore is designed for owners boats operated or moored in salt water. SeaCore models are available with MerCruiser's Bravo sterndrives and fuel-injected engines between 220-425 horsepower.
An especially interesting new MerCruiser product is Vazer™ – a new sterndrive system designed for some boats traditionally powered by outboards.
Vazer is a 100 hp sterndrive engine built with a compact design. It uses an innovative and patented approach to reduce engine height by tilting the engine 50 degrees, allowing it to fit under seats, platforms and decks of a variety of boats, including pontoons, fishing boats and runabouts. The unique design of Vazer allows boatbuilders to utilize more space for passengers and gear, and provides improved access to the water compared to traditional sterndrive or outboard engines.
Vazer is based on the GM Vortec® 1600 4-cylinder SOHC engine mated to an all-new compact stern drive.
Volvo-Penta seems to be getting all the press for their diesels but they continue their well established line of stern drives with gas engines from 135 to their 8.1L V8 at 420 hp. Volvo Penta was first to introduce the Duo-Prop drives and their efficiency has attracted other companies to offer counter rotating props on one shaft – witness the new pod drives. They all feature this design element.
So take another deep breath! Then, look for these new engines in boats at your dealer's today.