The Rise of Very Powerful Outboard Engines

A conversation among Whalers
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The Rise of Very Powerful Outboard Engines

Postby jimh » Sun Nov 24, 2019 1:55 pm

In reading an interview with the head of an inboard marine engine building company, I came across a most interesting comment: the exhaust gas emission of outboard engines is allowed to be significantly higher than marine inboard engines under EPA regulations. This was unknown to me, and to be honest, I have not thoroughly researched that to be a fact, but I immediately thought that if this were true--and I very much suspect it is true--then this regulatory influence may account for the very recent rise of outboard engines into the greater-than-300-HP category.

The inboard engine builder said that including catalytic convertors and other emission-related components added significant costs to making marine engines, not only from the manufacturing cost but also from the mandatory testing for emission compliance. He felt the original EPA limits for outboard engines were written with the notion that an outboard engine might be only 100-HP, and not a 450-HP beast as we are seeing today. At one time a 250-HP engine was the most powerful outboard, at at that same time 250-HP engine was about the least-powerful inboard. Now 450-HP outboard engines are competing with inboard engines of the same power range, but with an unfair advantage of less-strict emission regulation.

If anyone has an informed opinion on the emission regulation or just a comment about the rise of the very powerful outboard engine, please comment.

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Re: The Rise of Very Powerful Outboard Engines

Postby Chris70 » Sun Nov 24, 2019 7:44 pm

That info regarding the emissions requirement differing between the two engine types is interesting. I wasn’t aware of that.

I believe a major contribution to the rise of the larger outboards is the rise in popularity of large center console boats for offshore fishing purposes that require such outboards. Years ago offshore fishing for Pelagic species was a game only played by the owners of large express / sportfish boats. These large vessels are typically much slower and more costly to run and maintain . The average large sportfishing vessel would have twin inboard Diesel engines,hot water heaters, elaborate water systems, air conditioning, generators, etc. In other words a ton of $ in maintenance and storage costs. I fished with few guys earlier this year aboard a 36 foot center console with triple 300’s and we covered the 120 miles to the canyons in less than 3 hours in 3 foot seas quite comfortably and we fished for tuna ... made it home before dinner time. Many offshore fisherman in the this area of the NorthEast have traded in there 40 ft Vikings and other such boats for the more efficient and faster “ run and gun” center consoles.

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Re: The Rise of Very Powerful Outboard Engines

Postby Jefecinco » Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:35 am

This post is semi-on topic.

I believe the [exhaust emission] restrictions [imposed] on small boat marine engines of any type are only very marginally justified. Consider the average operating hours of these engines and overlay the operating parameters of the engines annually. Then consider how many recreational power boats are operated for 100 or more hours per year if that data is available.

Balance the total potential harmful emissions resulting from recreational boating against the cost of installing emissions controls on all new engines.

I wonder how much harmful emission is produced by recreational boats with emissions controls compared to the dairy herds in the US.

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Re: The Rise of Very Powerful Outboard Engines

Postby quickenberger » Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:08 pm

While I know nothing of the emission regulations I am amazed by the innovation coming from companies regarding outboards. 7 Marine being one of those companies. Taking a GM LS engine and converting it to outboard that produces over 600 hp is amazing.

I think there are a lot of innovations that have yet to become mainstream, like OXE Diesel outboards and 7 Marine having the F-N-R transmission immediately under the powerhead and away from the lower unit. OXE has the engine mounted horizontally and is belt driven from the engine to the transmission, then from the transmission to the lower unit.

With CNC machining becoming more available I can see some entrepreneurial individuals combine the billet engine block world and marine outboard world. Would it be too much to imagine a future open source outboard where fab shops would be able to download the cad files from the interweb and make the major components needed to build their own? Would that be a disruption to the brick and mortar outboard companies where efforts to create that open source model would be resisted? I don't have answers to these musings but look forward to others' thoughts.