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Author Topic:   Trim tabs: hydraulic or electric?
kingfish posted 01-07-2001 06:15 PM ET (US)   Profile for kingfish   Send Email to kingfish  
I am going to install trim tabs on my Outrage 22' this winter, in fact I am just about ready to order them. Problem is, I am caught between the tried and true hydraulic type that have been installed about a gazillion times and are, at least for me, a known quantity, but require all the hydraulic lines, and the space lost to a hydraulic pump, etc., etc. on the one hand, and electric tabs on the other hand, that are self-contained and only require a couple of wires to be run to a power source and to the control switch on the center console, but don't seem to carry with them as large a reference file.


Does any body here have electric tabs, know anybody that does, and/or have any data or opinions to share about them?

Much appreciated-


Dick posted 01-07-2001 07:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
Go for the tried and proven hydraulic tabs.
The less electrical equipment you have in a damp enviorment the better off you are.
kingfish posted 01-11-2001 10:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Thanks for the response.

Bringing this back up to the top to see if there are any other opinions-



bigz posted 01-12-2001 01:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Kingfish-er --- aside from they try to eat all my young trout in the pond sort of cool birdies ---

I already emailed you my opinion but might as well throw it out here and see what others have to say-- see you're getting a lot of feed back, could be very few have these contraptions ---

I am throwing out my Bennett's and going with Lenco -- Electro-magnetic -- no more sticking hydraulics for me --- had it with them --- now that could just be that they are old and worn out or that they spent a good hunk of their life in salt water --- not sure. We worked on them this Spring until blue in the face -- thought they were ok -- then darn if the starboard didn't start to leak again and hang up in the down position on occasion --- so they go to trim tab heaven before we launch the 27 again --

Just my two cents worth --- Tom

Backlash posted 01-14-2001 09:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for Backlash  Send Email to Backlash     

I've got Bennett's on the 21 which I installed myself. Haven't really had a problem with them except the pump went out while still under warranty and Bennett promptly replaced it. I had originally installed it in the bilge area to keep the hydraulic lines as short as possible and although I don't think it was ever "submerged", it was in a damp location. The failed pump showed no signs of corrosion or water damage. I installed the new pump in the helm area.

If you do decide to go with Bennett, get the correct size tabs for your boat. Mine are 9" x 12" and I have considered replacing them with their 12" x 12" tabs. Cut both hydraulic lines to the same length to insure both tabs travel at the same speed. My kit came with 3" long brass nipples that screw into the actuators. After drilling thru my transom, I discovered it was 3˝" thick so I had to rush out and buy 4" long nipples. This is a very straight forward installation, just time consuming. John, as always, measure twice and drill once!

Good luck, can't wait to see Outré again!


kingfish posted 01-14-2001 07:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Good to hear from you, Steve! Your comments this past summer were the seed that has grown into this project.

I have talked with Bennett Marine, Chuck Bennett at BW, Louis Kokinis and Stacy Mohr on the subject of size and location, and you have just sealed my conclusion: 12"x12" is what they will be.

I am really strongly leaning towards the Lenco electric units - there is simply *no place* on Outre' where I want to give up space for an hydraulic pump. I have sent Lenco a request for information, and depending on what they send back to me about 12"x12" options, I hope to order something this week. If I am not comfortable with what I hear from them, it will then be Bennetts, I'll hide the pump somewhere (in fact, now that I think about it, I'll be I could install it up high on the aft wall of my "live well" under the front deck) and your comments will be invaluable.

"...measure twice and cut once..." reminds me of an old saw (sorry) that I used to hear on construction sites when I was an apprentice carpenter 30 years ago - "...I've cut it three times, and it's still too short!"

Anyway, thanks to all, and stay tuned-


DIVE 1 posted 01-14-2001 08:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for DIVE 1    
A friend of mine has had a set of the elctric trim tabs on a 20' Shamrock for years. I asked him about them and he loves them. He has had no problems with them and his boat also has a no-free-space problem.

BW rigged DIVE 1 with 9x12 trim tabs for the government, but they were too small and we changed the tabs to 12x12. 3" made a big difference in the boat trim.

kingfish posted 01-14-2001 08:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Thanks - given the shape of the transom of my Outrage 22', I can only use a 12" width, and then the tabs have to be mounted so far outboard (virtually to the gunwales) that they will follow the deadrise angle, but have to mount right across the chine. I wondered if, with a 9" chord, there would be much effective planing surface at all on the outboard half of the tabs. The extra 3" inches of chord in 12"x12" tabs looks pretty important for my installation.

Glad to hear another positive reference for the electrics...


DIVE 1 posted 01-14-2001 09:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for DIVE 1    
The extra 3" of chord made a big difference on our boat. DIVE 1 is very heavy in the stern area with 800lbs. of engines, 130lbs. of batteries, 2 oil tanks, and 130 gallons of fuel. Our trim tabs fit like the diagram displayed on Bennets web site for twin outboards. The tabs run on the deadrise angle only-up to the chine area. They do cross the uppermost lift strakes.
Backlash posted 01-15-2001 09:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for Backlash  Send Email to Backlash     
I've noticed that BW tends to undersize the trim tabs installed at the factory, probably due to liability concerns.

Jim, my 9 x 12 tabs work fine, I just wish they would respond a little quicker and I think the 12 x 12's would solve this problem. Thanks for your comments.

John, good luck with which ever brand you choose to install. I don't think you can go wrong with either one and I'm confident you'll be amazed at the additional boat trim options available to you. Now if we can just get LHG to install them on his 25...been trying for 5 or 6 years!


kingfish posted 01-17-2001 07:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Well, the fat is in the fire---I've ordered Lenco (electric) 12"x12" tabs---I'll keep y'all posted.

Thanks for the input-


bigz posted 01-18-2001 12:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Who's Fat What Fire did I miss something??

The kingfish must be a cook'n again ---

OOPS --- did you read the fine print on those Electro thingies Kingfish??? --- ya
going to need a mighty long extension cord from the dock --- heh heh --- Z

kingfish posted 01-18-2001 02:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Yeah, well, I'll always know my way Hansel and Gretel and the breadcrumbs - run out of gas??--just start reeling in the extension chord!!
kingfish posted 02-10-2001 08:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Tabs arrived from Lenco (couple of weeks ago, actually) and look great! 12 x 12's that taper to about 10" at the trailing edge, about a 1" bent vertical stiffener on both sides and rear, and heavy SS stock. I trimmed the upper inboard corners off the hinge plate on both tabs so I could snuggle the tabs right up to the thickened portion of my transom on both sides; when in place, I've got close to three inches now from the outboard edges of the tabs to the respective gunwales. Better than I had hoped.

Very simple installation and operation - now if they work as well when the boat is in the water as they do when it's on the trailer, I'm all set!

The rest of the project now is the hardest part. I'll be opening up the hull from both sides right above the bottom, right at the corners where the gunwale and transom meet to dig out some foam and to epoxy in some solid wood backing and "mash" where the hinge plates screw into the transom, and performing a similar operation through the top of the gunwale to provide solid purchase for the top mounting brackets for the actuators, although my current plan for the actuator brackets is just to use the mash with no wood.

As luck would have it, the actuator brackets fall naturally against the transom such that they are half on the thicker, reinforced area of my transom and half on the thinner, non-reinforced area. Consequently besides the internal reinforcement, I'll have to fabricate (probably out of teak) a couple of aesthetically pleasing pads so the entirety of both upper actuator brackets have common plane surfaces to attach to. We'll see just how well old John has learned his fiberglass repair and gelcoat lessons before this is over...

I'll keep y'all posted...


lhg posted 02-10-2001 10:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
John: You never did tell us in this thread why you think trim tabs are necessary on your 22. What are the performance characteristics of the 22 you don't like and are trying to improve? I am curious, since on the Whaler Drive versions of the 22 & 25 it is not even possible to add these. It does seem like a lot of work to install, considering the transom configuration of these Outrages. Mine would be even worse with the pair of 3" transom drain scuppers to work around. As you know, Steve has been trying to get me to install them also, but I think my 25 handles just fine without them, inspite of it's being heavier in the stern than yours is.
kingfish posted 02-11-2001 08:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

I thought you'd never ask! (just kidding)

Reasons more or less in current order of priority:

1. I want to be better able to adjust for differential side trim (weight, wind, etc.).
2. I want to be better able to get "bow-down" under strong head sea conditions, etc. without necessarily trimming the motor against the gunwale.
3. I want to be better able to trim out level at lower speeds.
4. Because Steve Farnsworth says it's a good idea.
5. Because it's winter in Michigan and a) I need something to do to keep myself occupied and b) I want to fuss around with the boat.
6. Because I've never installed trim tabs before.

Hole-sawed, trimmed, gouged out, formed and epoxied the first actuator bracket transom re-inforcement last night. When I get back from my riding lesson later this morning, I'll relate the experience. To properly prepare for reading about it, conjure in your mind the mental picture of the addled scientist whose experiment went awry leaving him standing in a debris-strewn laboratory with his clothes sort of ragged and his face covered in soot with his hair singed, and a look of curious amazement on his face. Maybe not quite that bad (it ended OK), but that's the picture that went through my mind when I was in the middle of it.


bigz posted 02-11-2001 03:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
John, what is a "actuator bracket transom re-inforcement"? Why did you need it? Doesn't Outre have solid plywood across the entire stern?

The reason I ask is after reading the Lenco instructions (looking at my current Bennets which they will replaced and were factory installed by BW) the installation appears to only need the tab hinge screwed and sealed to the hull and the same with the actuator bracket which takes a 3/8" hole for the wire and 3 screws for the mount --- I must be missing someyhing if you say you need reinforcement --


lhg posted 02-11-2001 04:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Tom: To the best of my knowledge, none of the Classic Whalers, from the 11 all the way to the 27, have plywood across the entire stern. The wood is only in the raised exterior section of the transom. But I would agree, in looking at my CPD catalog where trim tabs are often shown, they usually mount the top of the piston to the non-wood section of the transom. Whether it's re-inforced or not they don't say. JCF may simply be making sure of a solid installation or implementing his reason #5!
kingfish posted 02-11-2001 04:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Nope, Outre' does not have solid plywood across the entire transom. There is an area in the center of the transom, probably makes up about 2/3 to 3/4 of the total width that is solid from top to bottom; it's wide enough to mount twins. Outboard of that area the aft side of the transom steps in 1/2" to 3/4" and in that "thinner" section I can now tell you unequivocally there is no plywood. Louis Kokinis warned that I should check with BW before I assumed the entire transom was solid, Chuck Bennet at BW confirmed it was not, and I have now seen with mine own eyes that it is not. Thus the need for reinforcement behind the actuator brackets and behind the hinge plates. I think there are installations out there that just rely on the thickened glass on the back side of the transom to do the job, and are doing just fine, but I decided to go the whole nine yards-


DIVE 1 posted 02-11-2001 08:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for DIVE 1    
On a CPD transom, the trim tabs are mounted on the non-wood part of the transom. The glass is thicker in a CPD transom, but there is no additional wood backing for the upper trim tab cylinder mounts. BW felt the additional thickness of the fiberglass was all that was needed.


kingfish posted 02-11-2001 10:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

I just spent about half an hour recounting my experience with epoxy last night, then accidently hit the "clear fileds" button and lost the whole thing - don't have the energy to do it again tonight.


Louis Kokinis is also of the impression that the CPD transom on a 22' is solid enough that it does not need any further reinforcememt (though I believe he said he thought there was wood all the way across on his), but Chuck Bennet of BW told me that the recreational 22' did need further reinforcement, and went on to tell me one way he has done it in the past.

I am gratefull to both those guys for their help!


kingfish posted 02-12-2001 11:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
OK, here goes with the hot epoxy saga again - this time I'll try harder not to hit the "clear fields" button when I'm done...

The good news about my actuator brackets falling half-on and half-off the thickened area of my transom is that the teak pads I fabricated to give the unsupported halves of the brackets full support back to the stepped-in transom, are big enough to completely cover a 2-1/4" diameter hole-saw cut. I cut through the transom glass and the foam right to the aft side of the fiberglass of the motor well then enlarged the openings from the back side so that the two bracket screw holes that fell off the reinforced transom and the hole for the power cable all could be drilled well inside the solid epoxy once I filled the voids and it cured, and I made sure that the void was bigger towards the motor well. Finally, using a 1" hole saw, I bored a chimney down from the top of the transom to the highest point of the void to allow for filling the void once I formed over the opening on the aft side of the transom.

Next I blew out the void and washed it with acetone. While it was drying, I formed up a temporary cover and got it ready to wedge into place over the aft opening. I completely wetted out the void with West epoxy and hardener (105 and 205) and formed up the rear opening. I had previously cut up a bunch of fiberglass tape into 1" squares, then unraveld them to make my mash with. I mixed up about 12 oz. of 105 and 205, mised in some high-density filler, and the chopped fiberglass. Talk about a goopy, stringy mess! I had doubts about my ability to herd that stuff into the 1" hole in the top of the transom, but soon found that by carefully tipping the mixing pot a little at a time over the hole, and sort of tamping and guiding the mash as it went in, things went pretty well. I used up the entire 12 oz. and mixed another 4 oz. (in the same mixing pot, without cleaning it; herein may lie a clue to my upcoming dilemma, methinks!). I coaxed the 4 oz. of mash into the hole, it finally filled up, and I had about a tablespoon left over. The time span here, from initial wet-out to toppng off, was about 10 or 15 minutes, max.

So I started to put things away and turned to see that the mix was rising out of the chimney. As I moved towards it, an air bubble came up through and the mix settled back down so I wiped the duct tape clean again that I had used to cover the transom. About this time, the goop started to rise out of the chimney again, and this time it just kept right on coming - the mash was expanding! And that wasn't all - it was getting hot. I mean really hot. It got so hot that I was worried about spontaneous combustion! (Headline: BOAT TRANSOM EXPLODES WHILE MAD SCIENTEST OWNER RUNS FOR HIGH GROUND!) I used the smaller mixing pot that I had wetted out with to keep up with the expanding mix by scraping the stuff off the top of the transom into the pot as it squeezed out of the chimney hole. By now (five minutes downstream from the initial eruption; no more) the mash in the center of the hole was setting up, like a core, and the expanding stuff had to squeeze around it, getting looser and looser and slower and slower, until the mash in the chimney opening set up completely and the oozing stopped. I had captured somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of the volume of mash I had put into the transom in the mixing pot. The stuff inside the plastic mixing pot was so hot that when I set it down, it melted right through the bottom of the pot.

No more than another ten minutes at most, probably less, had now elapsed since I had finished filling the void. Twenty five minutes at most from wet out, into panic, and back into cleaning up again.

The next morning I found that while the cured product wasn't as dense as I had planned for it to be, I could drill and tap it for machine screws for the actuator brackets.

I am now about ready to form and fill the void on the other side, and if there is any one left standing out there after reading this odyssey that might have a clue as to what in the world happened here, and/or what I did wrong, please fire away! I would be plenty obliged to have an understanding as to how to avoid something like this a second time.

Think I'll keep my day job-


DIVE 1 posted 02-12-2001 11:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for DIVE 1    
I hate to be the bearer of bad news. When West System cures too fast and boils out of the cavity it is no good and will crack apart with time. You have to start over. Remove all of the honeycomb cured epoxy. Use the tropical slow set hardener. Tape bags of ice around the repair area to slow the curing process. Keep you mixing bucket inside of another bucket filled with ice. Air temperature should be 65 degrees max. When you fill a large cavity with West Systems epoxy the chemical reaction is very fast and heats up rapidly until it boils. Well enough said, you just learned the hard way as I have, more times than I care to remember.
kingfish posted 02-13-2001 09:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Jim, you won't believe this - I have the boat stored in an "instant garage" (a coverit shelter)in my driveway, unheated, so it's dry inside, but short of the extent to which body temperature might affect things, the temperature inside the shelter is about the same as the ambient temperature outside. Thinking that temp's in the 20's and 30's were too cold for the epoxy to set up properly, I set up a double halogen work lamp about two feet away from the work area on the hull and let it heat the area up overnight before I began the filling. I'd guess the surface temperature around the patch before I started filling was easily 75 degrees, probably more. Thought I was doing the right thing.

It sounds like I'd have been a lot better off if I'd left things alone and worked in the natural, lower temperatures...(might even have worked properly??)

Thanks for the insight, Jim-


lhg posted 02-13-2001 02:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Now I know I'm why going to continue to completely ignore Backlash's trim tab recommendation for another 5 years, and not install them on my recreational model 25 Outrage!

JCF, sorry to hear about your difficulties, but I know you'll get it worked out. What about simply through-hull bolting the top of the actuators with fender washers on the inside to distribute the load.

kingfish posted 02-13-2001 04:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

That would be too easy, and, anybody could do it - doesn't appeal enough to my self-imposed Calvinistic value system: no pain, no gain!! (Although I have to say, the pain kind of got away from me on this one...)

I will prevail though, and when I'm done, those furshlugginer trim tabs will look like they GREW out of the transom.

DIVE 1 posted 02-13-2001 09:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for DIVE 1    
I didn't realize that you lived in Michigan. If I were in your place, I would warm up your boat tent to about 45 degrees inside. Mix up a batch of West Systems repeating your previous recipe and apply in the same manner. Check on the hardening process after about 2 hours. If the epoxy is not starting to set, raise the ambient temperature about 10 degrees and check again in 2 hours. I would not raise the ambient temperature above 60 degrees because of the size of the cavity that you are filling. I have made extremely large repairs(2 gals. resin and yards of matting)in confined areas and found that at 45 degrees, I had about 1-2 hours of working time. I used 105/205 with good results. GOOD LUCK


FISHNFF posted 02-14-2001 01:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for FISHNFF  Send Email to FISHNFF     
Where did you guys purchase the electric trim tabs? From Lenco direct or is there a place to get them at less than list price?


bigz posted 02-14-2001 05:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Fish ---

Shoreway Marine in NJ mail order Lenco dealer/distributor
call them for a catalog Tom

kingfish posted 02-14-2001 09:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
I bought mine directly from Lenco - went through their website:


bigz posted 02-14-2001 09:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Hmm John, Lenco 12x12 -- Lenco price $515 which is their "retail" price -- did they include shipping or discount this price John? -- Shoreway price $445.50 plus shipping depending on UPS rate to ship location.


kingfish posted 02-14-2001 05:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Mine are 12x12E's, a little heavier, higher performance, $510.00 all day (shipping was included). I think your name has to start with kingfish to get a deal like that, though... ;-)


FISHNFF posted 02-14-2001 10:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for FISHNFF  Send Email to FISHNFF     
Thanks for the info. I am looking at a 9x9 racing tab. They are tapered. Is the 9" the widest part ie. the mounting plate width?
kingfish posted 02-15-2001 09:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Yes - if they are tapered, they are widest at the hull and narrowest at the trailing edge. My 12x12E's are tapered symmetrically 1" each side, so they are 10" wide at the trailing edge, and they have a 1" turned up (vertical) edge on both sides and on the trailing edge.
kingfish posted 03-21-2001 08:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Installation is complete (has been for a while, now), and I am very happy with the results - they will get a sea trial near Savannah in less than two weeks!!

Lenco's are now advertised and sold in the new Overton's catalog (wouldn't you know, *NOW* they have a position indicator switch available - I hope they will extend to me a full trade-in on my current, unused simple switch).

kingfish posted 04-22-2001 09:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

I'm back from nearly two weeks of Whalering centered around Tybee Island, GA. I covered 50 miles North and 50 miles South, 12 or so miles offshore, and probably 20 miles inland, and found I used the trim tabs *all* the time, in *all* conditions.

That was a surprise to me, but I liked the ride and general attitude of the boat better with at least a touch of stern lift even in smoothe waters, and found that with any windage or uneven distribution of weight (there's almost always at least a little of one or the other, if not both)I could tweak Outre' back level side-to-side, and she just felt to operate better that way. I liked the ride better trimmed in rougher seas also, and found the ride to be better with the tabs down in both head and following seas. The only thing I haven't yet tested is whether I'll use any tab at all at higher speeds (35-50); I suspect not, but I'll give it the college try before long.

The Lencos really performed well; I couldn't be happier with them. Outside of not needing a hydraulic system and the consequent space lost to a pump, I understand that these Lencos are more responsive than hydraulic units. They move immediately, and when I needed to tweak for windage, usually a virtual touch to the correct switch was all it took. And outside of some initial down trim on the motor until Outre' came up on plane (which, with the tabs down, is a much more controlled event), I found I could trim the motor to it's optimum angle and forget about it.

The work was worth it - thanks to all for various contributions, and especially to Steve Farnsworth for planting the idea in my mind to begin with; trim tabs had never crossed my mind before he talked to me about them during the North Channel Rendezvous last summer.


kingfish posted 05-31-2001 03:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
bringing this up to the top for DuckDuckGoose reference-

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