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Author Topic:   Implications of HP in Excess of Rating
David T posted 07-21-2003 12:53 PM ET (US)   Profile for David T  
What are the issues/implications of putting more HP on a boat than the rating plate shows? Beyond the weight/physical strain on the transom, that is. Since I am talking about putting a pair of 125s or 135s on an Outrage 22 instead of the nameplate max of 2x115, this really wouldn't be an issue, IMHO.

Do you need some kind of special insurance rider?

Will some shops sell/mount motors bigger than the plate while others will not?

I have also been told that on boats greater than 21 feet, the max HP becomes a "recommendation" rather than a rule (to the extent that it is a rule), but I can't come up with any kind of documentation to back this up.

Sal DiMercurio posted 07-22-2003 10:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
You wont find any registered tech to mount any engine thats larger then the max recommendation.
Thats 20' not 21'.
The reason is, if theres an accident & the lawyer finds the boat is rigged with more hp then the max recommendation, they go after the person who mounted the engines on the transom, & the liability stays with that person as long as that or those engines remain on that boat, even if it's been sold 10 times, it all comes back to the guy who mounted it.
Most insurance companies allow 10% over max recommended hp, others don't care.
The Coast Guard cares less & they don't write you up for it.
In some states the local law enforcement will pop you for it.
I seriously doubt you will get any flack by going with a pair of 125s over a pair of 115s, your only looking at 20 hp over max rating.
I'll tell you one thing, your boat will perform like never before when over powered.
A pair of 125s on a 22 will do it all.
I would recommend a pair of Stiletto 13.25 x 21s for props & you should run in the 50s
jimh posted 07-23-2003 08:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here is some factual information from the Coast Guard:

While uncited reports of mechanics being sued, etc., are often mentioned (as above), and reports of such action have been mentioned in connection with this issue before, I have never seen anyone contribute any citation of a sucessful legal proceeding against a mechanic for installing an engine that exceeded the rating plate.

If anyone can cite any regulation that prohibits mechanics from installing an engine in excess of the rating plate limit I would be very glad to publish it.

If anyone can cite a case and a common law decision in which a mechanic was found liable as a result of installing an engine in excess of the rating plate, I would be very glad to publish it.

It would be best if such a citation were available in an online format.

I am not a lawyer nor a jurist, nor have I researched the common law or the regulations of all fifty states, so I cannot offer any recommendation regarding the liability that a mechanic might assume if he installs an engine in excess of the rating plate, but I would like to see some evidence or citation of such a ruling before continuing to publish warnings about it.

I will try to provide you with a citation of the source of the federal regulations regarding horsepower ratings, but I don't have the time at this writing to do that research. I think they are in CFR 133.

The operation of a vessel is subject to many layers of regulation, including the published regulations of federal, state, and even a local municipalities. You will need to research the laws that affect you on various bodies of water.

It is probably good advice that your insurance policy have explicit mention of the horsepower used on your boat so that it does not become a source of "wiggle room" should you need the insurer to cover a liability. There are a number of participants in this forum who are insurance industry professionals who may be able to provide more informed opinion.

jimh posted 07-23-2003 09:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Regarding federal regulations over horsepower ratings, I think you will find that the URI I have provided below will link you to the source of the law that governs this.

I also suggest you search your state and local regulations thoroughly to see if they have regulations regarding this.

jimh posted 07-23-2003 09:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here is a good index that is useful for searching for federal regulations regarding boats:

Dick posted 07-23-2003 10:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
I have been in the marine business for 38 years and can cite no regulation preventing a mechanic from over powering a boat. About all I can say is that it wouldn't have been done anywhere I have worked.
As far as I am concerned the max HP plate is just that "Max HP", if I install a higher HP motor I am probably going to be hauled into court if there is an accident.

I am not against over powering, just stating that it wouldn't be done in any shop I have worked at.


jimh posted 07-23-2003 08:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As far as I can tell from searching online, my state (Michigan, home to a million registered boats,) does not require that someone who hires out their labor as an installer of outboard engines have special "license, registration, certification, approval, authorization, permit, appointment, and/or accreditation."

I infer that from the contents of this website:,1607,7-122--60358--,00.html

Now it may be true, as Dick comments, that as a matter of their own policy, that certain boat sales and repair businesses may have decided to not perform the installation of a motor that exceeds the rating sticker on a boat for a customer. This may be due to their own perceptions about product liability and exposure to risk.

An individuals who possess a "license" in a particular area may be reluctant to perform such an installation. I believe they may perceive that since they are licensed they might be held to a different standard than an unlicensed installer.

I wonder how many states require marine installers to be licensed?

Dick posted 07-23-2003 10:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     

I have worked in the marine enviroment in Arizona, Alaska and Washington. None of these states license marine repair facilities, I don't believe any others do either.
In the marine industry technicians are "Certified" not registered or licensed. Certified means that the person has been trained by the manufacturer to service their engines.

If you take your car into Goodyear, they install the wrong tires and you have an accident: Law Suit against the shop.

If you bring your boat into a shop, certified or not, and they over power it and you have an accident: Law Suit against the shop.

With this sue happy society it is to much of a risk. I have more important things to do than spend time in court defending myself against a suit that I probably won't win. When I lose I pay my deductable my insurance company, hopefully, pays the rest. Now they raise my rates and I raise my shop rate to recoup the loss and now you won't bring your boat in for service because my shop rate is to high. I would rather turn down a $1,000.00 install job than get caught in that whirlpool.


Jamie 20 outrage posted 07-23-2003 11:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamie 20 outrage  Send Email to Jamie 20 outrage     
My shop will never excede the rated horsepower. Common sense has to be used here. I believe my boat has a 200 that I believe is beyond what the plate said [its gone]. I plan on repowering below the 180hp rating.[ficht 175]
Whalerdan posted 07-25-2003 05:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whalerdan  Send Email to Whalerdan     

In one of the links Jim provided was another excellent link to the laws in all 50 states. It might be something to add to the reference section since so many of these typ of questions have been coming up lately.

Over the LINE posted 07-25-2003 08:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for Over the LINE  Send Email to Over the LINE     
Good thing Louisiana shops don't know nothing 'bout no stinkin' Max HP plates, or I might have had to mount my own engine.

When shopping for a new motor, at a boat show, and then actually having it installed, noone seemed concerned with the overpower. The dealer mentioned that he thought it was a lot of motor for the boat, but took my money without question.

GlennGlenn posted 07-29-2003 02:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for GlennGlenn  Send Email to GlennGlenn     
In one of the links Jim provided was another excellent link to the laws in all 50 states. It might be something to add to the reference section since so many of these typ of questions have been coming up lately.

Regarding the overpowering issue, I went to all the sites and NOTHING seems to indicate a penalty for overpowering a BOAT. I cannot find any case law nor statue either under that prohibits this as well. I guess many of these issues are settled. before trial. But first things first, who is to define what is overpowered and who SAYS that the overpowering lead to the accident. If the boat flips at 30 MPH with either a 50 HP or a 75 HP, whats the difference if the load factors and assuming weight are equal. A 150 HP Merc Optimax weighs identical to the 175. What if you change the powerhead or the ports or timing to make 175 HP out of the 150. I am sure it can be DONE without changing the engine(help me out here techies). So, if the cowling says 150 HP and the serial # says 150 BUT the propshaft HP is 175, is this then overpowered??? I submit to you it is NOT given the current law, CFR and Coast Guard regs on this issue.


jimh posted 03-21-2004 10:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
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