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Author Topic:   E-TEC v. OptiMax v. HPDI
LHG posted 09-20-2004 05:54 PM ET (US)   Profile for LHG  
Recently, someone here mentioned they were anxiously awaiting the larger E-TEC engines, especially the 150.

Not being real familar with DFI engines in general, I have two questions to ask:

1. Other than acheiving a 3-star rating, why is an E-TEC 150 going to be better than a 2-star Ficht 150. Except for the DFI technology, it appears the basic engine (block, midsection, lower unit) are all the same.

2. DFI 150's are really not new. Mercury and Yamaha have had good, reliable versions out for many years now, and have sold thousands of them. So far, the Ram/Fichts have not had much success in capturing significant market share. Will the new E-TEC 150's, for instance, offer a 150-HP engine that is superior to the Optimax or HPDI in overall performance, top speed, etc? And what about 150-HP 4-stroke competition from Mercury (Verado), Yamaha and Honda

TexasWhaler posted 09-20-2004 06:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for TexasWhaler  Send Email to TexasWhaler     
I am one that is waiting, here's my reasoning,

1. The tried-and-true 2-stroke power and performance with emissions that are even less [than] ALL 2-strokes and even lower than some 4-strokes.

2. A low emissions outboard that weighs MUCH less than the 4-strokes.

3. The only outboard that may even come close to E-TEC performance is the Verado--a supercharged 4-stroke. The only other ultra-low emission outboard that can compare.*

*Ultra-low emission (rating) outboards consist of only one 2-stroke model (E-TEC), and all 4-stroke models.

3a: These things are hogs as far as weight goes.

3b: The jury is still out on supercharger reliabililty. I worked for a marina for years, and, after being around many supercharged and naturally aspirated V8 setups, one thing is for sure: forced induction enigines are NOT as reliable as naturally aspirated engines. Anytime you increase the cylinder pressure by using a supercharger or turbocharger, rings and head gaskets do not last as long, no matter how "beefy" they are. Mercury is really rolling the dice on the Verado line, if you ask me.

Joe Kriz posted 09-20-2004 07:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Joe Kriz  Send Email to Joe Kriz     

Here in California it is all about 3-Star or higher ratings. PERIOD...

Many other lakes around the country are changing their Outboard emission standards and also some states. I believe the E-TEC will be a great choice for people who don't want a 4 stroke.

I am also one of the ones waiting for the E-TEC 150's as I am still not sold on 4 strokes..

As you know, I am also not a Mercury fan but I would never knock them either, I just don't prefer to own one.

andygere posted 09-21-2004 02:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I took a look at a recent Trailer Boats magazine 90-HP outboard test article. The E-TEC was both the fastest and the lightest of all the low emission 90's tested, including the Optimax, Suzuki, Honda, and Tohatsu. In addition, they are magneto driven so they don't depend on a strong battery to run. If Bombardier can match that combination in the 150-HP class, I think it will generate some interest.

The on-line version of the magazine discusses both the E-tec and the Verado motors this month. Pretty good information on both.

Peter posted 09-21-2004 10:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
1. Besides the several user friendly improvements, such as self winterization, which make the E-TEC more attractive to the consumer than the prior generation of FICHT/DI, as Andy notes, I think E-TEC fixes a weak link in the FICHT/DI and I believe other DFI engines, namely, dependence on battery condition. I believe that a lot of the early trouble people have experienced with DFI motors was caused by poor battery condition or improper battery size. I've had batteries just quit without warning and with a motor that relies on battery condition, that always has caused me some concern. Thus, to overcome the concern, you have to carry more battery power than is really necessary. For example, in my old 18 Outrage powered by a carbureted 150 Johnson, I only needed one battery, and I really didn't need it, it was simply a convenience in starting the motor. When the battery unexpectedly quit, the motor could still be started by hand with some effort. So a dead battery would never leave you stranded. The E-TEC seems to bring that self-reliance/containment back to what it was during the carbureted era.

2. I would expect the performance of the E-TEC 150, for example, to be at least as good as the current DI 150. I have not read any reports that suggest that the current DI 150 is not just as good a performer as the Optimax or HPDI or any of the 150 4-strokes. But if and when you compare 150s at the 3-star level, the OPTIMAX and the HPDI completely drop out of the running, leaving only the 2-stroke Evinrude to beat up on the much heavier 4-strokes. No one yet knows what the 150 Verado will do or weigh but if it is anything like the 6 cylinder Verado, it will be heavier than a comparable 2-stroke and have poor fuel consumption at WOT as compared to the normally aspirated 4-stroke or 2-stroke DI, which I think should be important to the bass boat market.

With regard to success in the marketplace, I think you can't judge success by looking at one market region. In my area, Evinrude has done pretty well to capture marketshare over the last couple of years given that the brand had a major set back in 2001.

What is neat about all of this competition is just keeps raising the bar and the consumers, whether of the 4-stroke or 2-stroke persuasion, will be able to get good products in the flavor of their liking.

LHG posted 09-21-2004 04:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Regarding the 2-star (which is also EPA 2006?) vs 3-star California rating, the Mercury Optimax 135 has had the 3-star for years now, and until E-TEC, was by itself in that category.

What is curious is whether Yamaha and Mercury can or will bring the 150-HP and up DFI engines to 3-star. Mercury now has the 3-star 2008 California market covered across the board, with conventional 4-strokes, mid-range Optimax, and now Verado, I wonder whether they will just abandon that one market with 150 Optimax and up? For the rest of the country, only 2-star is required for the forseeable future, so the 150 and up Opti's would be fine.

It will be interesting to see if Yamaha loses the California 2008 market for HPDI also, in favor of 4-stroke technology

jimh posted 09-21-2004 08:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The E-TEC™ engines should be better than the Ficht-RAM DFI engines in a couple of regards:

--lower fuel consumption;

--lower maintenance requirements;

--lower sound levels.

The electrical power management also seems to be better engineered with the E-TEC. They do not need much battery power to start or run. This is in contrast to the Optimax, which needs significant battery power to operate, so much so that I believe the standard recommended installation for them is two, large, Group-28 batteries.

The Ficht engines also need battery power to start and run. In fact, I notice that they have a large electrolytic capacitor under the cowling to store some engery and stabilize some voltages during starting.

jimp posted 09-21-2004 09:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
My 2003 225 Optimax Service Manual calls for a battery rating of:

1000 (minimum) Marine Cranking Amps
750 (Minimum) Cold Cranking Amps
105 (Minimum) Amp Hours

I'm using a single Group 24 battery without difficulty. When I first got the Opti last year, my dealer gave me a battery rated at 575 MCAs and it wouldn't start the Opti twice. Over the winter he replaced it with the larger battery.


jimh posted 09-21-2004 11:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
With regard to starting, what I found impressive in the E-TEC literature was the discussion of the very short time needed for the engine microprocessor to become active during starting. Even when self-powered by the engine's magneto, the microprocessor can wake up with the application of voltage, boot its operating system, and begin to fire a spark plug in about one revolution of the crankshaft. That sounds like some tight code.

The remarkable simplicity of the E-TEC engine also speaks to its favor. There are no belts driving pumps or alternators. There are no dual overhead camshafts. There are not four valves per cylinder. There are not triple cam lobes for the intake valves and double cam lobes for the output valves for each cylinder. (That is five cam lobes per cylinder, times six cylinders, plus the hydraulic linkage to activate them = Variable Valve Timing as used on the Honda four-strokes.)

The only danger with the E-TEC--and this applies to all of the two-stroke low-emission engines--is the potential for lean burning in the combustion chamber to drive cylinder temperatures too high. And without an oil sump and circulating oil cooling to draw off some of that heat, there is the potential for damage to the piston from too high cylinder temperature. But this problem looms with all the low-emission two-strokes. It is one area that favors the four-stroke engines. Their emission control has been already engineered by automotive engine builders twenty years ago.

Bombardier says they have new metal alloys for the pistons to operate in higher temperatures.

Really, all these new technologies look great on paper. In a PDF-document they all work perfectly. What remains to be seen is how the E-TEC works on the transom. Will it run with that low oiling rate of 1:100? Will it go three years without scheduled maintenance?

The VERADO is in this same stage. A year from now we will all know more about the actual performance of these engines in actual use. Thanks to the internet, it will be no secret.

Peter posted 09-22-2004 07:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Jim, current 4-stroke outboards' emissions control is not quite up to the level of the automotive world so I'm not so sure that 4-stroke has taken advantage of it or will be able to.

If I understand some of the arguments I've heard correctly, to get the 4-stroke CO and NOx emissions levels down to what they are in the E-TEC using XD-100, the 4-strokes may need to use an automotive style three-way catalytic converter. So is that where the 4-stroke is headed if and when the emissions noose on CO and NOx is made tighter? If so, where will they put it? How will they keep it hot to do its job and yet protect against injury? How much more bulk and weight will it add to the 4-stroke?

A fair number have adamantly called the 2-stroke a dinosaur and have already put it into history books like the buggy whip. However, I think the jury is still out deliberating on this one.

Hoosier posted 09-22-2004 08:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Peter raises an interesting point, what's next? Do you think the Coast Guard will allow catalytic converters so close to the fuel system? How about this as an option: special fuel for outboards. There are a small, but noticeable, number of propane powered vehicles. Brazil has alcohol powered cars, why not boats? To run on pure ethanol the engine's fuel system would have to be made with alcohol resistant material, not a big deal since the new ones are already. With the proliferation of DFI, a simple program change would take care of switching from gasoline to ethanol. I think BRP is already making a multi-fuel engine for the military.
jimh posted 09-22-2004 09:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Catalytic convertors on outboard motors sound farfetched. I cannot imagine that being workable.

Alternative fuels for outboards? Never. You can hardly find decent gasoline (without alcohol, water, or lead substitute contamination).

Peter posted 09-22-2004 09:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
I most certainly agree. However, to dip into the warehouse of automotive emissions control technology developed 20 years ago, as you have suggested, would seemingly lead to the use of catalytic converters.

macfam posted 09-22-2004 05:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for macfam  Send Email to macfam     
I think your comments on the E-tec & Verado were exactly right.
I couldn't agree more with your assessment.
It will be interesting to watch.
Sal DiMercurio posted 09-22-2004 10:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
LHG, unless I'm mistaken, Merc & anyone else just went to DFI from EFI in the last 2 years.
The only DFI was the FICHT.
If you get a chance Larry, e-mail me as I don't have yours.
seahorse posted 09-23-2004 03:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     
Both Merc and the then OMC came out with DFI motors for the 1997 model year, Merc with a 200 and OMC with a 150hp. Merc "pulled" the first production models off the market after a short time, then came out with an improved model called the OptiMax.
Perry posted 09-23-2004 04:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Perry  Send Email to Perry     
Didn't Yamaha come out with their HPDI around that time too?
LHG posted 09-23-2004 06:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
No, Yamaha came out much later, '01 or '02. As they say, they wanted to let OMC and Mercury take the hits on early production problems, so didn't develop theirs until they could learn from the problems OMC and Merc had. Very clever (Note JimH's Miami Boat Show photo showing Yamaha doing same thing with Verado) . With both EFI and DFI, they were way behind Mercury in development (probably working on 4-stroke instead), and OMC never did offer EFI (huge mistake). Yamaha brought out EFI (OX66) about the time Mercury was introducing the first DFI Optimax
Peter posted 09-23-2004 08:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
The 150 and 200 HPDI were introduced to market in model year 2000.

Note: Competitors take pictures of and look at each others products that are out in public view all the time. Sometimes they actually buy one of their competitor's products, take it back to their facilities and behind closed doors they give it to men and women wearing white coats to take to dissect (how horrible). You need only get concerned when they come or sneak into your factory or R&D facility and take pictures of everything with their spy camera without your permission. The rest can be taken care of with patents, and if not, then it is free for public consumption.

mfrymier posted 09-24-2004 10:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for mfrymier  Send Email to mfrymier     
I'm also waiting for the ETEC 150. I'm thinking that this will be a great engine for the classic OR-18. Lighter than the comparable 4 strokes (Honda/Yamaha/etc.), quiet, clean, and then I can take my boat to Tahoe / Donner / etc.
After riding around in RatherWhalering's Montauk with the ETEC 90 on the back, and experiencing the quiet, reliable, and power of the ETEC (love that 2 stroke throttle response!) I am sold on the ETEC. I actually think the "mid power" ETEC's will be even quieter as the smaller engines are 3 cylinder -- assume the 150 will be at least a four which should run a bit smoother.
LHG posted 09-24-2004 11:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Well, with mfymier's post, this thread has come full circle back to my original question. Short of plain old BRAND LOYALTY and COLOR PREFERENCE, which I, of all people certainly understand, I would assume that all three of these DFI 150's, E-Tec, Optimax and HPDI, will continue to be V-6 2.5/2.6 liter engines, and all excellent.

So what makes one or the other stand out from the crowd, TECHNICALLY, and performance wise? We already indicated that we think the E-tec will be 3 star, but it's not even available yet? Currently the Ficht, Opti and HPDI are all 2 star. By the time the E-tec finally does appear, will Mercury and Yamaha bring their DFI 150's up to 3 star? Or will they just rely on the Verado supercharged 150 and F-150 to carry that rating?

Peter posted 09-24-2004 12:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Larry, for a couple of items, go back and read Item No. 1 in my post. I promise, no bait in there.
Hoosier posted 09-24-2004 12:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Jim, it's starting to look like we need an "Outboard Technology" forum.

What's the difference between EFI and DFI in both 2 strokes and four strokes? As I understand it, EFI injects the fuel into the intake manifold and DFI injects into the cylinder. So, EFI can get by with fewer injectors whereas DFI needs one per cylinder. The Mercury 115 4-stroke is EFI and the 115 Suzuki is DFI. How does EFI in a 2-stroke work?

Peter posted 09-24-2004 01:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
My 225 Yamaha Ox66 EFI had six injectors. In a simple sense, the injectors replaced the six carburetors that the non-EFI engine had. EFI injects fuel into the air stream to form a combustable mixture. That mixture flows into the combustion chamber. In contrast, DFI injects fuel directly into the combustion chamber, air travels into the combustion chamber via the same old route. The combustable mixture doesn't get formed in the combustion chamber until the intake and exhaust ports are closed off. That's why the the DFI's combustion efficiency is much better than the EFI's in a 2-stroke and its emissions are lower. In theory, there are no uncombusted hydrocarbons exiting the exhaust port like there would be in the case of an EFI 2-stroke.
jimh posted 09-28-2004 08:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The suggestion of an OUTBOARD TECHNOLOGY forum is a good one!

Some other considerations in the modern two-stroke:

--fewer moving parts than a four-stroke;
--lubricating oil is always fresh oil, not recirculating sump.

On the other hand:

--two-stroke cylinders have ported walls, which reduce bearing surface.

The big question--and this is a really big question: can the modern low-emission, 3-star compliant two-stroke demonstrate long-term durability?

Although the four-stroke engines are much more complex mechanically, this technology has been proven in automobile use to be highly reliable. The track record of four-stroke outboards has, so far, been very good. There are literally no accounts of bad valves, bad cam shafts, bad lifters, etc., from four-stroke owners.

2manyboats posted 09-28-2004 08:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for 2manyboats  Send Email to 2manyboats     
The oldest 4 strokes are not very old. Wonder if there will evey be a post here asking about a 30 year old 4 stroke ?
Sal DiMercurio posted 09-28-2004 10:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
Well, about 45 years ago there was the Bearcat 55 hp 4 stroke with a crosley engine.
I still see one around now & then but they were only made for a few years.
2manyboats posted 09-28-2004 12:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for 2manyboats  Send Email to 2manyboats     
And since I own one of the newer four strokes I hope they will indeed last as long as the low or no tech 2 strokes.

But just as in the auto industry outboard mechanics will be replaced by outboard technicians.

Progress ? maybe

I guess the first outboards looked awful fancy comared to a paddle.

Hoosier posted 09-28-2004 01:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Since I've opened the can of worms with the "Outboard Technology" idea, here's a technical queston that I haven't been able to find the answer to. Are two-stroke outboards reed valve or piston ported engines, or something else? And what is the effeciency/performance difference between the two designs?
Perry posted 09-28-2004 02:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Perry  Send Email to Perry     
2manyboats, Honda has sold 4-stroke outboard motors in the U. S. for thirty years. My friend has a 9.9 that he has had for over twenty years and it still runs great.

jimh, you made a good point about a two-strokes ported walls. While 2-stroke engines rely on gas or air to carry a thin oil film to critical components, four-strokes bathe every internal component in oil under constant pressure. Ports in 2-stroke cylinders and pistons accelerate piston and ring wear. But there are no intake and exhaust ports in a 4-stroke cylinder or piston, so they can run with tighter tolerances for longer life.

bsmotril posted 09-28-2004 03:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
I regard pressure lubrication vs misting as a negative. Pressure lube has many potential points of failure. Blockage or dirty oil can quickly starve a critical bearing of needed lubrication. You bathe all the components only if all the oil passages in the lube galleries are clean and open. On the other hand, it's pretty hard to keep the gas/oil/air mix out of a two strokes bearings. The tighter tolerances on a 4 stoke are much more succeptible to damage from surface corrosion or contamination. On a two stroke, you have really two failure points in the lube system; you forget to mix oil in gas, or your oil injection fails. On a 4 stroke, you have the oil pump, pressure relief valve, every single oil passage/gallery, and the integregity of each bearing. If one of those plain bearings fails, you pressure drops to zero immediately and your other bearings are at risk unless you shut down right now. There are plenty of old two strokes from the 60s and 70s running strong that relied on simple oil mist lube. And those needle bearing in those engines will typically last longer than babbet or plain bearings in our stroke motors. Overheating, lean running, or both, is what kills two strokes, not the lube system. I count pressure lube as a negative in the 2 vs 4 stroke shootout. It violates the "keep it simple" principle. BillS
Perry posted 09-28-2004 04:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Perry  Send Email to Perry     
I don't know of anyone who has had an oil pump or pressure relief valve fail on their 4 stroke outboard. I'm not saying that it can't happen but it is rare. If you change your oil regularly, the oil passages in the lube galleries should remain clean and open.

My Honda and all of their mid range outboards are based on their autmotive engines. I've never had an oil pressure related problem on any of my automobiles ever. Have you?

I have, on the other hand, had several problems with the simple oil delivery systems on my 2 stroke motorcycles and outboards in the past. Simple is not always better.

2manyboats posted 09-28-2004 05:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for 2manyboats  Send Email to 2manyboats     
Perry I too have a friend that owned a small Honda four stroke . His was old, rare , heavy, and hard to keep running.

I hope that the new four strokes out today will be as dependable as the car engines they copy. But in the marine enviroment, salt water especially , there may be problems on the way . The other problems may come from lack of use.

Most people would not be surprised if there car would not start right up after sitting for months. But when their outboard will not start right up , they say well it ran fine year before last.

JMARTIN posted 09-28-2004 05:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
We have a 1998 Evinrude 70 four stroke that has run hard in salt water all of it's life. We have it serviced once a year by a marine technician/mechanic, what ever you want to call them. No problems so far except for the tilt trim set up. The problem is that it is as big as a barn, and as heavy as two barns. We have it on a 1984 Sport 15. I miss the 1984 Johnson 70 that it replaced. John
jimh posted 11-16-2007 12:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
This thread was dormant for several years until recently revived. I moved the recently appended articles to a separate discussion. This one is now closed.

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