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Outboard Transmissions? Good Idea?


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I wasn't sure if I had posted this or not, because I remember having a few discussions about it somewhere! But I didn't see anything on this board so I thought I'de post it anyways. But if I am dragging up a topic that was discussed before I appologize.

With rising fuel costs, many of us are almost always looking for ways to save on gas while pursuing our beloved finned friends. Well I had an idea that could help to solve this problem that starts from ground zero, your outboard. And if it is feasable, you'de almost have to wonder why nobody had thought of this before. Maybe they have been, but aren't saying much untill they find something that works.

The way it stands outboards have 2 gears, FW & REV. Now think about an automobile, with an engine of the same power, we'll say 200HP. There are several reasons that this car can achieve phenominally better mileage, and in turn much faster topend speeds as well. One is friction, a car transfering it's energy from the tires to the road is significantly more efficient than a prop biting into water.

But another thing is the GEARING. Can you imagine how bad of milage your car would get if you always ran it in 1rst or 2nd all the time? And thats assuming you didn't blow your engine either! What I am suggesting is maybe try to apply that technology somehow to outboards. Some kind of small and efficient gearing system which could allow the engine to get the same amount of speed, just at lower RPM's.

Now one problem I had suggested to me is that if you do that it would take too long to get up through the gears so in essence what is the point? It's not going to any more efficient, and you will lose out on acceleration. But my answer was, keep it simple, don't bother with 4 or 5 fw gears, just use 2, high and low. Low for quick holeshots and acceleration and high for when you get out in the open water and really wanna crank up the MPH.

Now again the premise of this idea is not for blazing fast speeds with higher gearing (although that will obviously happen). But the main reason behind this is to get better milage out of your engine. For example, and bare in mind these aren't actual figures, just ones I made up to try and illustrate my point, if you have a 150 outboard with this high/low gearing, you could probably get the same speed in high as a 200HP outboard, but you will in turn will use way less fuel becuase it's a smaller engine. Now again, those are only gestimates, but you can probably see a bit more clearly now where I am going with all this.

Anyone else have any insight to this? Possibe problems, other ideas? I'm looking for a lot of feedback especially from mechanincs who would have a better idea as to exactly how or why this would, or would not work. Thanks

Aric Stoner

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Sounds like a good idea to me, but I have to believe that if something like that were actually possible Mercury, Yamaha, Honda or some other big company would have been doing it already.

JT Bagwell

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I would speculate that weight would be a consideration. Steel gears weigh alot and have to resist alot of wear and tear.   That's why four-stroke engines were not made very big for years.  Mechanical valves and camshafts weigh alot more, but with modern metals and alloys, they've been able to make larger HP four's.  Who know's, maybe it's on the forefront.  I'm sure, like JT said, the big Mfg's have probably spent many hours researching it.

It's still a good idea! 8)

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Aric,

A good forum to investigate (of course not near as good as Bassresource.com  ;D) is www.iboats.com.

The focus is strictly on boats and there are plenty of boat "gear-heads" there who know their stuff (not that we don't).  I've solved a couple of really puzzling problems with their information.

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I know a few years back a company was making a prop they called a shifter prop. It changed pitches as the rpm's came up. Problem was if prop came out of water at running speeds it would break the blades of the prop and cause serious damage to your engine. I think it was made by a company called land and sea(owned by bruinswick).I think the biggest problem with your idea would be that 2-stroke engines make the  majority of their power at higher rpm's. as the rpm's fell the engine could not turn the higher gear. you may be onto something with the newer four strokes though!

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I think the main problem is that in an automobile, the higher gears are utilized when the car's inertia is helping to "pull the weight through the wheels."  This is why you have to downshift when climbing a steep hill and not only when you accelerate.

A boat motor must still overcome the drag of the propeller (and everything else) in the water no matter the speed.  A boat is in a constant state of "climbing a hill."  I am sure that the boats inertia must help "pull the prop through the water", but the inefficiencies of hydrodynamics prevent this from being as helpful.

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