Why so many outboards?

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Why so many outboards?

Postby Gomofast » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:11 pm

I was at a boat show in New Jersey yesterday, and I was surprised at how many pleasure boats are powered by outboards nowadays. It seemed like more outboards than sterndrives on these new boats. I guess I was surprised because I remember it used to be the other way around, at least on that type of boat. I'm not talking about fishing boats or pontoon boats, but bowriders, runabouts, cuddy cabins etc. When did the trend shift towards outboards? And why?
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby cbsmith » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:25 pm

In my area, at least, about 20 years ago almost all the boats around were outboards and then they died off and everything switched to sterndrive. It is slowly starting to switch back to outboards again now.

Having owned both an outboard and a stern drive boat I can say the maintenance is way easier on an outboard, there are less parts to fail on an outboard, and it is a lot easier in shallow water with an outboard. In salt water I would,think an outboard would be a lot better than a sterndrive because you can raise the entire motor and drive out of the water. That said, outboards typically cost more than an inboard.

I’m not sure if the modern outboards get better fuel efficiency than the stern drives do, maybe that could be part of it? An outboard will also add a lot of space to a boat that was taken up by the engine bay before.
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby Gomofast » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:04 pm

I think you hit the nail on the head. I was doing a little research after posting that question, and the answer seems to be three things... they're efficient on gas, they have easier/less maintenance, and they save space on the boat.
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:39 pm

That an with the higher HP ratings now up to 627HP in a single outboard (never mind the over $100K price tag each on those) you can really power all you need now with fewer of them. The "Norm" big outboard engines in the 300-350HP range now all 4 cycle sure make a tough sell for enclosed engine rooms stuff full. Take a cruiser and now because you move the engines to outboards you simplify what needs to be down there and access is much better all the way around. ;)
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:53 pm

Just a bit of followup as well the 400HP Merc ouboard lists for $31K and the 8.2L HO 380HP with transom shield and outdrive sells for $32K so price wise they are close. The 430HP 8.2L HO from Merc is $37K.

The 400R weighs in at 668 lbs. The 8.2L Sterndrive is at 1122 Lbs just for the engine alone, then another hundred or more for the transom shield and outdrive. That makes a huge difference for the same amount of power more or less.
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby cbsmith » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:57 pm

Chris, as well on top of that you typically need less power in an OB to match the performance of a stern drive. A 350hp OB would offer more performance than a 380hp sterndrive so you save a bit that way too.
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby fatmattyd » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:05 am

Was going to mention the weight, but Chris beat me to it. Also, I think this has a lot to do with the equivalent performance with less power argument.

Additionally, I have to imagine having less turns in the driveline is beneficial. Only one 90-degree angle in an outboard. Two 90's in the outdrive of a sterndrive setup alone!

I still think they're loud and ugly... but that's personal preference.

Another thing - in areas where freezing is a concern, you can't beat the simplicity of "winterizing" an outboard - simply drop the motor (vertical position) and all the water drains out.
Sure extends the boating season.
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby Batchski » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:17 pm

The trend is slower to develop out here, but I'm seeing more of them as well. I know I've spent enough on outdrive repair and maintenance in the last two years to just buy an outboard, so I totally get the price and maintenance debate. My problem is them being in the way on the swim platform. We anchor or moor and hang out on the stern a lot, plus we go diving and snorkeling. I need more room, not less on the platform, so I'm really torn. I think if I were buying again now I'd prefer to go back in time a little and have twin inboards with a drive shaft and a thruster or two. Last year Sea Ray launched a computer integrated bow and stern thruster on a wakeboard boat with a V-Drive, so I'm hoping that development is the future for us that don't want an outboard on the back.
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby gofast24 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:32 pm

fatmattyd wrote:Was going to mention the weight, but Chris beat me to it. Also, I think this has a lot to do with the equivalent performance with less power argument.

Additionally, I have to imagine having less turns in the driveline is beneficial. Only one 90-degree angle in an outboard. Two 90's in the outdrive of a sterndrive setup alone!

I still think they're loud and ugly... but that's personal preference.

Another thing - in areas where freezing is a concern, you can't beat the simplicity of "winterizing" an outboard - simply drop the motor (vertical position) and all the water drains out.
Sure extends the boating season.

Just my thoughts = On a V drive inboard there is actually only one "turn" from the engine to the prop shaft (using bevel gears from the engine to the prop output shaft) . I do agrees with the 3 "turns" on a IO. And on a outboard one turn turn from the engine output to the prop shaft . Most inboard marine gears (both direct drive and V drive) are approximately 95/97% efficient so not much torque lost through the gear?
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby fatmattyd » Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:44 pm

Agreed - I suppose in my mind I was comparing outboards to I/O's.

The other nice thing about outboards... you can see where they're pointed! I guess I've developed a feel for it now with my I/O, but for new boaters, it can be nice to look back and see where the prop is pointed.
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:06 pm

gofast24 wrote:
fatmattyd wrote:Was going to mention the weight, but Chris beat me to it. Also, I think this has a lot to do with the equivalent performance with less power argument.

Additionally, I have to imagine having less turns in the driveline is beneficial. Only one 90-degree angle in an outboard. Two 90's in the outdrive of a sterndrive setup alone!

I still think they're loud and ugly... but that's personal preference.

Another thing - in areas where freezing is a concern, you can't beat the simplicity of "winterizing" an outboard - simply drop the motor (vertical position) and all the water drains out.
Sure extends the boating season.

Just my thoughts = On a V drive inboard there is actually only one "turn" from the engine to the prop shaft (using bevel gears from the engine to the prop output shaft) . I do agrees with the 3 "turns" on a IO. And on a outboard one turn turn from the engine output to the prop shaft . Most inboard marine gears (both direct drive and V drive) are approximately 95/97% efficient so not much torque lost through the gear?


That is one reason for the PODs over straight or V-drive shafts. The angle of the prop, you do gain speed. Regal made the 3760 in both I/O and V-Drive models and because you could trim out the I/O you were more fuel efficient and faster with all other things equal.

Also the swim platform thing can be overcome pretty easy by manufactures if they want too. Remember the 370 Venture?

https://www.boatingmag.com/boats/sea-ray-370-venture

The large swim platform with outboards and twin 300's outboards. I am surprised more haven't ventured this way, but I guess being non-traditional looking is the issue. Maybe it was a few years to early.
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby must_dash » Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:36 am

I have a 2350, the motor cover makes a great sunbed and with a walk though to a great swim platform.
Convert that to a outboard, I loose the swimdeck and the sunbed.

The Venture looks a great compromise... I'm in..
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby xixp » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:49 am

Ive only seen a Venture in the boat show when it was released .
Nor even one i crossed in the last few years in the Miami area where trust me you can see every possible conceivable model...
Something must have been off with that concept overall...may be price? (Not sure if SR still offers it)
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby Kikaboo » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:28 am

xixp wrote:Ive only seen a Venture in the boat show when it was released .
Nor even one i crossed in the last few years in the Miami area where trust me you can see every possible conceivable model...
Something must have been off with that concept overall...may be price? (Not sure if SR still offers it)


My guess it was at least partially due to price and also timing. The more expensive Sea Rays have NOT been selling well in at least a few years, the numbers were very low. For example, at the NYC boat show this year I was talking to my wife about certain a Sea Ray and a sales guy overheard and said he knew the specific boat we were talking about. I was surprised but he say thats because they only sold ONE of them all season. I also the the Venture 370 was a bit before its time.
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby cbsmith » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:05 am

SeaRay has been in trouble with low sales for a while. It is up for sale and looking for a buyer now I believe.
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby Gomofast » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:13 pm

All of the responses makes sense... Very efficient, they save space on the boat, they're easier to maintain, less weight.

I'm curious about the weight thing though... If an outboard motor can weigh so much less than an equivalent I/O and outdrive, then why can't the manufacturers make I/Os that are more compact and lighter?
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:32 pm

Well you look at the supercharged PWC engines now over 300 HP on a 3 cylinder engine that is just 1.6L. Just think how small of an area that would take compared to the 5.7L V8's that produce the same amount of HP. (Yamaha or the old SeaDoo Boats) Now I know the torque curves are way different, but horses to horses comparison anyway. That particular engine should be about 195ft/lbs of torque or so. I don't think I have seen a published number from BRP yet.

The marine industry doesn't like change. There are so many few players that why spend all that money in R&D for not a lot of market share in return. Now the Volvo Penta owns Seven Marine it will be interesting to see what happens there down the road.
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby EpicWakeJump » Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:30 pm

I would kill to have outboards on my 28 express.

Nothing makes my heart sink more knowing that I have to shoehorn my fat ar$e down in my bilge to do routine maintenance. Not to mention the broken belt on my generator that I have to change..... ugh...
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Re: Why so many outboards?

Postby rmrider03 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:01 pm

I sold my '04 3560 in October and bought a 35' proline with 3 verado 250's. I favored the change and the outboards because I keep my boat on a mooring and would get significant growth on the outdrives and have to scrub them and clear out the water pick-ups just about every other week while in the water, not to mention the maintenance on them in general. With the outboards I will just trim them out of the water, too easy. Another reason is the extra cockpit deck space and ease of access to the motors, no more engine compartment. I will miss a full size swim platform but it has just enough room in front and to either side of the motors to use it as a decent size standing area. Always have to compromise on something.
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