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Courtesy of LEHR
Courtesy of LEHR

New Outboard Power

Last month we showed some impressive new outboard options debuted at the Miami International Boat Show but they were not all that was new and impressive in marine power. Although the show was chock-full of high power, high performance outboards with never seen before horsepower and technology, there were also other innovative and groundbreaking marine power sources making themselves known.

LEHR, the rapidly growing and increasingly popular manufacturer of small propane outboards, introduced the largest engine of its line so far; a new 25 hp, 2 cylinder, 498cc SOHC four-stroke outboard. While smaller LEHR engines have gained popularity for small tenders, fishing craft and as kickers aboard sailboats and other craft, this new motor is ideal for rigid inflatable tenders, larger aluminum boats, pontoon boats and smaller center console skiffs.

LEHR has already proved that propane is a viable fuel for outboards with easy starting and no need for choking, priming or dealing with gummy carburetors. Propane is also the equivalent of 110-octane gas, allowing for peak motor performance and such environmental benefits as zero evaporative emissions. Also, with propane tanks there are no risks of spilled gas on deck or in the water.

The 25 hp model is available in 15 or 20-inch shafts and comes with pull or electric start. It can be purchased as a tiller model or remote steering with trim and tilt. Depending on the model, it can weigh between 172 and 197 pounds, offering weight savings and more deck space  on the electric start models with a built-in lithium battery eliminating the need for a heavier external battery. Two sizes of composite liquid draw propane tanks are available with the 25 hp model – a 22 lb and a 31 lb tank, which equate to a 4-gallon and 7.5-gallon gas tank, respectively. LEHR states that the run time for this model is 4.7 hours at 3000 rpm, with the 22 lb equating to 1.1 gallons per hour. At 5000 rpm you can expect to get 2.1 hours, or 2.5 gallons per hour. With a 31 lb tank, the run time is extended to 6.7 hours at 3000 rpm or 3 hours at 5000 rpm. These rates are similar to some gas four-stroke 25 hp motors.

To create even more interest in these new motors and help some hesitant to make the jump to their propane motors, LEHR also introduced a Free Clean Fuel Program. The program, running from February to June 30, 2015, will allow anyone who purchases a motor manufactured by LEHR during that time frame, to qualify for a free fuel rewards card equal to a year’s worth of propane. All the purchaser has to do is register his or her motor online at the program’s site www.freecleanfuel.com.

Another propulsion system resulting from out of the box thinking is the new Volvo Penta Forward Drive FWD. This innovative drive looks a lot like the company’s well-known IPS drive, except it causes a double take because it’s facing what looks like the wrong way. Actually, according to Volvo Penta, it is the right way for anyone who wants to enjoy a day on the ski boat with fully adjustable and easily tweaked wake boarding or wake surfing experiences and then a smooth level and economical ride while not doing the aforementioned activities.

Creating a new alternative to the inboard and outdrive boats, these propulsion drives make good sense for boats targeting those who enjoy board sports. With dual rotating props facing forward and reversing the thrust, the drive pulls the boat through the water. Undisturbed water flowing through the props creates maximum power, allowing for efficient propulsion. Trimming the drive down draws the transom  down in the water producing the same effect as ballast bags – without all the time and hassle. Large wakes that are fully and easily adjustable are created, allowing for exceptional wakeboarding and wakesurfing. Unlike traditional inboards or ballast loaded boats, the switch from ultimate wake producing vessel to comfortable and efficient cruiser is done with a simple trim of the drive. Fuel efficiency, speed, acceleration, tighter turn radius and even safety (with the props being under the boat and out of the way of those in the water) are all results of utilizing this new drive.

You can expect to see this drive on more and more boats as time goes by and people see the benefits and feel the ride for themselves. By increasing the ease of use, the performance and versatility of these craft, Volvo Penta just created a drive that will make a very popular and fast growing segment grow exponentially faster and bigger.

With all the new power options introduced recently there has never been a better time to be in the market for new power.

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