IT powers our taxis to supersonic speeds, burns sausages to a crisp, and now propane gas is propelling the leanest, cleanest and greenest outboards on the market.
New to Australia is a range of LPG-powered four-stroke motors from LEHR, which are said to be exceptionally eco-friendly and cost-effective. Where you normally associate gas with big petrol-guzzling motors, the LEHRs are limited to 2.5, 5, 9.9, 15 and 25 horsepower.
The overhead-valve engines have zero evaporative emissions, easy starting with no choke and no priming, and no carburettor clogging – everything you want in a new-generation motor for the tinnie transoms and yacht sterns of Australia.
Propane, on average, is 30 per cent less expensive than petrol, being domestically produced and commonly in high supply. Gas retailers offer tank exchange programs or bulk-filling cylinders at various locations.
Apparently gas is 50-times cleaner than gasoline, with 96 per cent fewer carcinogenic compounds and up to 70 per cent less hydrocarbons. Added to that, the LEHR motors run a closed fuel system to ensure even cleaner burning.
LEHR Australia will have a display at Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in May while the nearest dealership is Huett Marine Centre at Cowan – phone 9456 1444.
And speaking of fuel efficiency, also new to the outboard world is a GPS-based auto-trim system from Mercury designed for a wide range of outboards and sterndrives.
Trimming is an under-utilised if not unknown art for many runabout skippers, despite the fact it makes such a major difference to fuel burn, outright performance and ride comfort.
Forget trimming up too early or too late when the boat is getting on plane – the new GPS-based system does all the thinking to make boating easier and more enjoyable.
ART: Active Trim at work, keeping an RIB inflatable running clean and fast. Active Trim is compatible with 40hp to 400hp Mercury four-stroke outboards, two-stroke outboards with SmartCraft.
According to Mercury, those who’ve used the system have been overwhelmingly positive, likening Active Trim to moving from manual to automatic transmission on a car. That means new boaties can drive a properly trimmed craft from day one.
It’s not entirely new – Volvo Penta has an Automatic Boat Trim system for larger vessels that uses Interceptor trim tabs integrated with GPS receivers to deliver optimum levelling. I’ve tried them on a couple of Rivieras and couldn’t go back to the manual system.
Mercury claims its system uses an exclusive and patented control system that doesn’t just rely on engine rpm. Rather, it also factors in boat speed to avoid problems when a propeller cavitates in a hard turn. You certainly don’t want the leg trimming up at that moment.
PROGRESS: The Lehr outboard motor uses LPG. The gas is 50-times cleaner than gasoline, with 96 per cent fewer carcinogenic compounds.
Five selectable trim profiles cover everything from runabouts, pontoons, bass boats and cruisers to high-performance ski rigs.
You just select the profile that’s best suited for the application, although skippers can personalise Active Trim to suit their driving style or changes in boat load and conditions.It’s available mid-March for US boat companies and should be on its way to Australia this year.