Monday, 31 October 2011

Outboards for sale review: Tohatsu outboards 50hp TLDI review part II

So last week we had run in the tohatsu 50TLDI at loch Lomond and we were just about to start testing, we were moored at Inchmurin island and had a full day of watersports to look forward to, the seapro 500 divemaster RIB was ready to undergo some serious stress testing!! I thought I would ease the engine in gently so my son William was first up on the kneeboard, he was a newbie so I held the board in the water whilst my wife Caz helmed the boat with an experienced observer at her side, the engine pulled the boat out of the water easily and the speed was controlled to perfection, no flat spots at unwanted times like old school carburetted 2 strokes. After Will had his fill I decided to try the double ringo’s these should test the torque of this little lightweight 2 stroke to the max. So with me at the helm, one observer, and 2 adults in the rings (20 stone in the boat and 22 stone behind) I gunned it, the engine labored under full load at 3500 rpm, I thought this was too much for the engine, and I thought I may be about to regret not fitting a new mariner 60hp 4 stroke from our inventory of new outboards for sale, but the little plucky 50hp from tohatsu outboards kept on pulling and after 20 seconds or so the rings had emptied their sluices and up they popped. I was suitably impressed! After this stress test we decided to take some speed readings and I will tell you about this and fuel consumption in the next blog.

Mariner outboards 125hp optimax review part II

Ok so in my last post I was up to the running in period of the new mariner 125L optimax outboard engine that I had fitted to my 6m seapro rib. The fitting process had gone well and we were in anglesey running the engine in. All went smoothly, engine sat nicely on the transom and the boat sat well in the water, I think 125hp is the perfect choice for a 5.5-6m rib, balancing weight with power. Once the new mariner outboards engine was nicely bedded in (this takes around 3 hours to do properly) we decided to take a trip up the straits from Menai bridge to puffin island, I asked the helmswoman (my wife Caz) to open the throttle and see what she could do. I was expecting around 40mph (39kts) at WOT (wide open throttle) with the 19” pitch propeller which is the standard choice from mariner outboards giving around 5500rpm. The weather was fair, 20 degrees C and a neap tide on the low slack with very little wind. I followed the speed on the GPS - 10 seconds 40mph, 13 seconds 44mph, 15 seconds 46mph, 20 seconds 50mph at 5800rpm - ooh yeah we are really motoring, engine trimmed perfectly (well the helmswoman was well taught if I do say so), slight rooster trying to erupt from the wake, boat was right on the planing pad and flying. Well above expectations, now i’m glad I didn't fit the 115TLDI from tohatsu outboards. I will tell you all about the fuel consumption figures and torque curve next blog!!

The all new mercury and mariner 150hp 4 stroke

Brand new for 2011 is the mercury 150 4 stroke mariner engine. It purports to be the lightest 4 stroke 150hp engine on the market at just 205kg - for those not listening, that’s 205kg!! That is almost 2 stroke outboard weight - planting this 4 stroke firmly in the realms of optimax and etec weight range. Not only that but it’s a 3 liter powerplant, thats the biggest cc 150hp on the market by some margin!
Great strides have been made over the past few years in tightening the waistband of the once obese 4 stroke outboards, usually spurned by Suzuki, this time it’s the time of mercury and mariner outboards to raise their hand and deliver a honed, chiselled 4 stroke engine. They will hit the outboards for sale market in early 2011 and pics are around now if you root around, it’s not only super lean, but a bit of a looker aswell - if you like american overstatedness!!
Tohatsu outboards only make 4 stroke engines upto 30hp as they think the weight gain of 4 strokes over that hp is not acceptable - well right back at ya tohey!! It certainly promises to swell the already bulging market of outboards for sale for 20 footers in a very positive way.
So why is the mariner 150 4 stroke outboard so light yet powerful? It comes down to the design, it’s so simple, it has a single overhead cam with just 2 valves per cylinder, no fly by wire so it is going to be cheap, really cheap. Initial figures suggest it will retail at under £10,000 inc vat. Roll on 2012!!

All new mariner 150hp 4 stroke

It has not yet been unveiled but we have seen the first few sneak peeks at the new beast from mercury marine, the 3.0L (yes 3000cc) mariner 150hp 4 stroke. Light weight at only 305kg it promises to be a world beater. The engine is the biggest AND the lightest 4 stroke 150hp outboard on the market. It will be marketed in the UK under the brand of both mercury and mariner outboards. Its price is really impressive too, it looks like it will retail for under £10K AND its cheap to own. I’m a mariner dealer so this isn’t what I want to see but ALL the routine maintenance is designed to be DIY, so there are decals under the cowl to tell you what to do, there will be youtube clips to show you how to do it, and they will make it easy for you with all service parts marked in yellow on the powerhead.
The engine has a single overhead cam with 2 valves/cylinder and its chain driven so you don’t have to change it.
So in summing up its cheap (under £10,000 inc VAT), powerful (generates 165hp), very light (205kg), cheap to run - self service. So expect to see lots of new ribs for sale with the all new 150hp 4 stroke from mariner outboards on the transom next season, I know I will be testing one on my trusty seapro 6m rib!!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

New 50hp tohatsu TLDI review

As a outboard engineer of 15 years and somebody who does more than his fair share of boating, I thought you may want to know my thoughts on the tohatsu 50TLDI that I have been using for the past 2 seasons. This isn’s an advertisement for tohatsu or this motor, just an impartial review of the engine.

Firstly why did I choose the 50TLDI from tohatsu outboards? Well I always try to match the engine perfectly to the boat and type of use it will be required to do, in this case, skiing, cruising, and a little trolling. The boat is one of our trusty seapro 500DM divemaster series ribs, its light weight required careful consideration when choosing the outboard, now we at bill higham marine have a lot of outboards for sale, but my options were narrowed to 50 etec from evinrude outboards, mariner F60ELPT-EFI 4 stroke, and the tohatsu 50TLDI. Each of these have their merits, but the weight of the tohatsu - 93kg, the price (£500 less than its nearest competitor) and the brute power I’d get from a 2 stroke won me over. Decision made!!
Engine fitting and rigging was easy, the extra oil for the run in period is taken care of by the ECU, so 1hr of idle to 3000rpm, and 2 more hrs of varying the throttle with minimal WOT were the order of the day. Then it was off to loch loomed for a weeks holiday and to take some snap shots and video of the rig for advertising purposes. I will tell you how we went on and my thoughts of the engine in next weeks blog!!

Mercury 125 optimax review

I have been an outboard engine mechanic for 15 years and an avid rib enthusiast for even longer, so I thought you may be interested to have my review on the all new mercury and mariner 125 L OPTIMAX. I fitted this engine to one of our ribs for sale - a seapro 600DM divemaster. A heavy boat for her size, especially with the consoles I fitted to her, she has a large centre console and 2x jockey seatpods, along with a 90l under floor fuel tank, all this was going to take a little pushing, did I go for the F100 4 stroke from mariner outboards, or a V6 150 optimax outboard from mariner or mercury. Or the tohatsu 115 tldi. All good engines, but I decided to plumb for the 125 opti, its based on the 115 optimax which I have used before, but with an extra 10hp I thought I would see what it was like.
Rigging went well, the only thing I dont like about the mariner range is the junction box which has to be fitted within 6 inches of the remote control box, but I got away with this by fitting a witches hat right next to the box through which I sent the control cables and the ancillary wiring harness. Other than that it was a straight forward fit out. Then it was off to anglesey for a long weekend and demo of the new 600DM along with some video and picture shoots. I’ll tell you how the test went in my next blog.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

What outboard shall I buy?

Its a good question and one that goes through most peoples mind when they look at the price of new mariner outboards, or the latest offering form yamaha outboards. There are so many different outboards for sale today that you as the buying public can be truly overwhelmed by choice!
The first thing to do is know exactly what size and type of engine best suits your boat and your needs. This will take a whole blog/article in itself so I wont get into it here. Next set your budget, this is different for each person, but be realistic, and (if you can afford it) don’t be a miser!! You gets what you pays for...
To a degree your budget will decide on whether you can afford a new engine, but not entirely, as yamaha and honda outboards are about 10% more expensive than mariner outboards or tohatsu outboards. And a used honda will be similar in price to a new tohey.
If you are in the used outboard realms but really wish you could afford a new engine then these days there is light at the end of the tunnel in the shape of Parsun outboards. You can get a parsun outboard for about the same price as a 5 year old yammy or mariner. So there are a lot of outboards for sale, and all have their price. If you cant afford a new big brand engine, buy a Parsun, it wont let you down.

Shall I buy a new or used inflatable boat?

It comes down to budget AND preference for shiny new, or built to last used. Only you can decide on this so I expect you will have made up your mind on that one.
If you have chosen shiny new, stick to a good quality brand - honwave, avon, bombard, zodiac, seapro, with one of these brands you will have a boat designed and built right.
Choose your outboard carefully too, I have written articles and blogs on this so look at these. Mariner outboards are a very good choice - middle of the road price wise, and VERY reliable.
If you are thinking of a used inflatable boat then you need to go for a premium brand - avon inflatables, zodiac, bombard, Seapro in that order would be my choice. Make sure you can see the inflatable boat blown up and if possible test it on the water, look at the transom for cracks, look at the tubes for abrasion, cracks and leaks, also look for patches and or wear to the underside from beach launches etc.
You need to check the seams for fraying/wear, and the fixtures and fittings for over use - oars and oar locks, transom pad, grab lines and d rings will all give up their story of the type of use the boat has had. If it’s done a lot of work then walk away. Age is also a consideration, but this should be the last thing you look at, amount of use is way more important.