The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

A conversation among Whalers
jimh
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The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby jimh » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:22 am

The era of high-horsepower (200-HP or more) four-stroke-power-cycle outboard engines began about 16-years ago. Around 2002 you could find the following outboard engines available:

--Honda BF225
--Mercury 225 FOURSTROKE (actually a Yamaha engine)
--Yamaha F225

The weight of these engines was considerably more than the conventional 200-HP two-stroke-power-cycle outboards of that same era. As buyers showed a very strong interest in owning and running four-stroke engines, boat design began to be influenced by that reality. Boat hulls were changed to accommodate higher engine weight.

If we consider that most boats designed and manufactured after c.2002 were being designed for the greater weight of four-stroke engines, it suggests that we are, perhaps, entering a new market for outboard engine re-powering.

Using my own boat as an example, the hull was designed in the 1980's and manufactured in 1990. This boat is now 28-years-old and its hull design is probably more than 38-years-old. The boat has already been re-powered with a new engine (in 2009). Based on this example, it seems reasonable to project that most boats that were designed in an era when outboard engines were all lightweight two-stroke engines have probably already been re-powered at least once.

Looking into the future, we have to ask what percentage of the total market for outboard engines will be represented by these older boats designed and manufactured before the era of high-horsepower four-stroke-power-cycle outboard engines, and, correspondingly, how import in the decision to buy an engine for re-powering will be the engine weight?

What I see is that re-powering of boats that were designed more than 38-years ago is going to be a dwindling market. Outboard engine manufacturers already know that the percentage of their engine sales that go to re-powering old boats is small. The percentage of total outboard engine sales that will go to re-powering boats that must have lightweight outboard engines of 200-HP must be an even smaller percentage of the already small re-power market.

Based on this, I can anticipate that further reduction in new production outboard engine weight is not going to be a primary concern for the manufacturers. I suspect that outboard engine weights won't be getting much lower than they are now. We can even see a trend in the other direction in Evinrude's E-TEC G2 product line. The G2 engines that replaced the legacy E-TEC engines are all heavier models. If Evinrude considered that the market for their engines to be used to re-power boats more than 28-years-old were a significant consideration, I suspect that they would have put more emphasis on reducing engine weight.

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Dutchman
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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby Dutchman » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:43 am

Good analysis and a pity, but not all boats with OB engines last as long as our Boston Whalers so we probably will get to an era where rebuilding is the only option as I did have to do with some of my old Chris Craft inboards.
We live in the US the home of the "throw-a-way society", not much was/is built to last 20 years or more.
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msirof2001
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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby msirof2001 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:30 pm

Good analysis. Another thing I noticed, and around the time you mention, is the reduction in fuel tank capacities. The four-stroke-power-cycle outboard engines, even the ones of the 2002-2005 era had better fuel economy than the two-stroke-power-cycle outboard engines of the late 1990's - early 2000's. A 1993-1997 21 OUTRAGE had a 122 gallon fuel tank, a 1993-1997 24 OUTRAGE had a 195 gallon fuel tank, and the Offshore 27 (1993-1997) had optional capacity to approximately 315 gallons. Today, the Dauntless 21 (similar specs. to 1995 21 OUTRAGE) holds 75 gallons, Outrage 230, similar to 1995 OUTRAGE 24, holds 110 gallons, and the Outrage 280, similar to the Offshore 27 holds 186. My 2017 Everglades holds 184 Gallons. More weight amidships, less on the transom back then, less amidships more on transom now. Similar range over time. Are there legal or liability problems involved? I.e., if you provide too much fuel capacity and allow too much range, someone will travel too far and get themselves in trouble? When I repowered my 1995 21 OUTRAGE with a Yamaha F200 XB, I had 122 gallon fuel capacity combined with miles-per-gallon in the low-mid 4's. The range was incredible and unforeseen in 1995. I'm betting some of the fuel capacity reduction is to accommodate heads in smaller boats. However, the 1995 24 OUTRAGE had a head and 195 gallon fuel capacity.

Interesting discussion as these older classic boats like the Whalers, Grady's, etc., get older, many get repowered. But these were the exception and the masses went for cheaper boats and few if any are still around. Are there any 1995 Bayliner Trophy's around? Would anybody spend $16+K to repower it? Probably not. Maybe the market is for the Mercury's. Repower more recent purchases with other stuff.
Current: 2017 Everglades 295cc, Previous1: 1995 Boston Whaler Outrage 21, Previous2: 1974 Sevylor Caravelle 3-man liferaft.

jcdawg83
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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby jcdawg83 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:12 am

Like most all problems involving consumer products, the free market, if left to its own devices will solve all the problems associated with outboard engine weight. Outboard manufacturers are going to build what they can sell most at the most profit, as it should be. I would imagine the re-power market makes up a very tiny slice of total outboard sales. It would be foolish for any outboard manufacturer to focus on the demands of any market that makes up a very small percentage of its sales.

Going forward, if the demand grows for lighter weight outboard engines for re-powering or for new boats, the manufacturers will respond to that demand by building lighter outboards. If the current demand is unmet, another provider will step in to supply that demand. The other option may be rebuilding. Or it may be a new smaller outboard manufacturer with lower overhead that sees an opportunity in supplying lower weight outboard engines.

It seems to me that classic Whalers are not the only boats that would benefit and do benefit from a lighter engine. New aluminum hull boats, shallow water skiffs, and bay boats would also seem to benefit greatly from a lighter engine. In fact, I can't think of any type boat that would not benefit from a lighter engine that produces the same power.

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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby Don SSDD » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:46 am

Boats and cars are all adding "bells and whistles" and each new thing adds weight. Everyone seems to be buying SUV's and pickups with ever increasing weights, but there is a trend to reducing weight in cars and trucks (F150's with 6 cyl turbo instead of a V8) via smaller turbo blocks, adding aluminum to body panels, that sort of thing. Much of this push to better fuel economy is being driven by the government requiring it, not by consumers, they are buying big heavy pickups and SUV's.

Boston Whaler boats have certainly gotten heavier. too, so they need more engine power to achieve the same performance. Maybe there will be a trend to lighter outboards. I'd say fuel tanks have gotten smaller to reduce weight and make room, and maybe because fuel economy has improved and bigger tanks are not needed.

The trend seem to be to bigger boats, heavier boats, and lots of engine power, and fuel economy takes a backseat. There doesn't seem to be much incentive to reduce weight for boats and outboards.
1986 Outrage 18 with 2001 Honda 130 HP
Former Owner 1991 Guardian 19 with 1994 Evinrude V4 140HP
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jimh
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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby jimh » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:23 pm

Regarding what engine models produce what share of sales, see my recent article highlighting the Brunswick CEO Mark Schwabero's remarks, viz.:

If you look at the two-hundred-plus horsepower category, it is now the largest category, and it's also the one that is well beyond what it was pre-recession. And the second bullet point...the fact that almost 20-percent of the [outboard] dollar market today is three-hundred-plus horsepower engines--which didn't even exist in 2006.


Cited in: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2869

For boats using 300-HP or higher outboard engines, their weight is not much of a factor.

Wweez
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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby Wweez » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:43 am

Smaller simpler boats generally see more use.
That is not the direction we are seeing in the power boat world. The big outboard obsession was created by the FFG and EPA. Once an engine is approved by the gods, let us use it a lot, because that approval is very expensive.

Downsizing boats means less comfortable rides and more spray. Most will not do this.

The party atmosphere which is prevalent across the economy demands bigger so we can take the entourage along. You know dogs, cats, nephews, several new and necessary friends for each; the wife and two of her best rivals for show, as well as every tow toy known.
You have seen these parades on the docks and they are of epic and hilarious proportions. They will continue however and result in bigger and more expensive everything.
Selling bigger boats is much more profitable, so that will continue.

Repowering is truly a nitch. I guess it always has been.

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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby Mambo Minnow » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:17 pm

The new Mercury V6 FOURSTROKE 225-HP engine weighs 475-lbs. That is 30-lbs lighter than my 505-lbs Optimax V-6 DFI two-stroke--amazing advancement that will make re-powering to four-stroke technology a simpler decision.

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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby jimh » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:32 pm

In 1992 OMC was making a 225-HP engine that weighed 455-lbs. I am not sure that in 2018 to make a 225-HP engine that weighs 475-lbs is "an amazing advancement."

It is perhaps more fair to say that in 2018 making a 225-HP engine that weighs 475-lbs is a regression to almost the weight levels of 26 years ago.

Further, as I set out in my initial article, the design of new boats since c.2002 has taken into account much higher engine weight. This means that boats from 2002 and newer are not as likely to be constrained in engine choice by weight.

Inasmuch as 2002 was 16-years ago, lighter engine weight is more influential in re-powering boats more than 16-years-old. Among the total population of outboard boats more than 16-years-olds that need a 225-HP engine, you'd have to give some consideration to several limitations.

First, just how many boats are there in this rather niche category of boats 16-years-old or older and needing a 225-HP engine?

Second , from that population of boats 16-years-old or older and needing a 225-HP engine, how many have not yet already been re-powered? Certainly many of those boats have already been re-powered. Let's say that a boat with a 225-HP engine is re-powered every 20-years. That suggests that the total market suddenly opened up by a lighter weight 225-HP engine is primarily boats between 16-years-old and 20-years-old. How many boats fit that category?

Finally, it is not like the Mercury V6 FOURSTROKE at 475-lbs represents a gigantic breakthrough in engine weight. As Mercury itself points out in their own literature, their engine weight is less than a competitor's engine by only 10-lbs.

What is the influence of a weight saving of 10-lbs on a boat that uses a 225-HP engine? If we consider a typical boat to be a Boston Whaler boat, we might say that a typical Boston Whaler with 225-HP can hit 45-MPH. From that we can estimate the boat weight (with Crouch's method) to be about 3,600-lbs. A change in total boat weight of 10-lbs in a 3,600-lbs boat is really insignificant; the addition of 10-lbs is a change in boat weight of 0.03-percent. Who would ever alter a decision on what engine to buy on the basis of a change in total boat weight of 0.03-percent?

The right time for any manufacturer to have introduced a 475-lbs 225-HP engine would have been some time soon after c.2002. A reduced weight, modern 225-HP engine at 475-lbs would have been very popular then. Now in 2018, having slightly lighter weight than competitors' engines is an advantage, but not nearly as much as it would have been 16 years ago.

In terms of the market for re-powering, the Mercury V6 FOURSTROKE at 475-lbs does put it into consideration, but sales into a small re-power segment will not be the principal focus. The vast majority of new engines to on new boats.

There is irony in the notion that a 475-lbs engine is "an amazing advancement." It becomes more likely to be called that only if you compare the new engine weight to Mercury's other 225-HP FOURSTROKE, the VERADO. That engine weighs 635-lbs. Now you'd have a 160-lbs difference, and now that is something that might alter a re-power decision.

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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby Mambo Minnow » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:56 pm

Jim, not a great advancement comparing to 2 stroke engine weight, but most Gen 1 four stroke engines exceeded 600 lbs. Considering a four stroke has more moving parts and weight, this is a significant achievement. Many folks never believed a four stroke V-6 could ever weigh less than its 20 year old two stroke predecessor.

I hope you are correct about not many old hulls not already repowered. That would mean less of a wait for me! Talked to my classmate in New England and he’s the second Mercury mechanic to tell me he has orders placed already! I think there is more pent up demand than many realize. I wonder if the Edgewater factory is already installing on new hulls?

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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby jimh » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:21 pm

I agree that among boaters with a strong preference for the Mercury brand, the new V6 FOURSTROKE is a godsend. For replacement of an older Mercury engine, this new V6 FOURSTROKE is a far better suited than the L6 FOURSTROKE VERADO. You need only look at how many older boats have been re-powered with an L6 VERADO FOURSTROKE: almost none.

But this thread has a TOPIC: the market for outboard engine re-powering. As I have tried to point out--apparently without success--the market for repowering boats that are about 20-years-old is not exactly a prime target for a new engine design. Boats 20 to 60-years-old have, for the most part, already been re-powered.

The prime re-power market now is for boats less than 20-years-old, and most of those boats were designed for heavy engines.

You can take a hint from Evinrude: since 2003 they have had the re-power market more or less to themselves with the E-TEC, a much lighter weight option than most four-stroke engines. Their latest re-design, the E-TEC G2, moved the engines to HIGHER weight. I think they KNEW that the re-power market for lighter-weight was small and already saturated; the real major market is for new boat transoms. And new boats don't need the absolute lightest weight engine on the transom. They have been designed for 600-lbs of engine.

Foulweather Jack
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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby Foulweather Jack » Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:19 am

Interesting discussion. I have a 2007 Conquest 235 with a Mercury Verado 250 with 600 hours, maintained yearly by the dealer. I’m wondering at what point should I consider repowering. Fortunately, my boat was, I think, designed in the modern era with heavy 4 stroke outboards in mind.

If I were to repower, I could get another Verado (either a 250 or 300), each of which of course is supercharged and tips the scales at 635 pounds. Or, I could consider the new Mercury Fourstroke 225: less power, of course, but the motor is a normally aspirated V6 (to my mind possibly more reliable than a supercharged motor), and, at 450 pounds, is almost 200 pounds lighter than the Verado series, a significant difference.

Have any Continuouswavers repowered with the new Mercury Fourstroke? If so, I would be curious to hear their experiences.

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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby Jefecinco » Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:21 pm

According to VeradoClub discussions well maintained Verados are good for several thousand hours. Not that they don't have items that wear out and break but that the basic engine internals seem not to have had enough failures to damage the Verado reputation for durability. In fairness the same applies to all modern outboard manufacturers with the possible exception of Yamaha which has had difficulties with exhaust system corrosion. However, even Yamaha's exhaust corrosion difficulties have been limited to external parts.

At your current usage rate a replacement Verado may not, or even probably not, be available.
Butch

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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby dtmackey » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:03 pm

Foulweather Jack wrote:Interesting discussion. I have a 2007 Conquest 235 with a Mercury Verado 250 with 600 hours, maintained yearly by the dealer. I’m wondering at what point should I consider repowering. Fortunately, my boat was, I think, designed in the modern era with heavy 4 stroke outboards in mind.

If I were to repower, I could get another Verado (either a 250 or 300), each of which of course is supercharged and tips the scales at 635 pounds. Or, I could consider the new Mercury Fourstroke 225: less power, of course, but the motor is a normally aspirated V6 (to my mind possibly more reliable than a supercharged motor), and, at 450 pounds, is almost 200 pounds lighter than the Verado series, a significant difference.

Have any Continuouswavers repowered with the new Mercury Fourstroke? If so, I would be curious to hear their experiences.


Mercury just released this motor 12 days ago at the Miami and I have not heard if they are shipping to dealers yet, so finding someone that has repowered could take some time.

The 4 strokes are nice, smooth and quiet, but lack the down load "grunt" or torque of a DI 2 stroke or the supercharged Verado. The multi-valve 4 strokes seem to make their power and torque in the mid to upper RPM ranges and tend to feel softer in the lower RPM range.

D-

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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby Mambo Minnow » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:45 am

I went to a fishing seminar sponsored by the local MarineMax dealership last night. He stated these motors were specifically introduced to replace the L4 Verado 185 and 200 that were known to be nowhere near as smooth and refined as the excellent L6 Verados.

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Re: The Market for Outboard Engine Re-powering

Postby Jefecinco » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:50 am

Nothing very surprising that the Verado L6 is smoother running at idle than the L4. An advantage of the L4 other than size and weight is that it does not need the very expensive electric power steering used by the L6 series. At engine speeds above idle I'm unable to discern any difference in NVH between the L4 and L6.
Butch