Repowering Your Boat:By Michael Vatalaro
What You Need To Know
Published: April/May 2013
Is This Also A Good Time To Upgrade To Electronic Controls?
Now's your chance to simplify your dash and clean up the console, as well as consider adding joystick control, if you are running twins. If you've got a large multifunction display, you may also wish to network it to your outboard(s) to allow it to display engine data. To do so, you need to look for an outboard that supports NMEA standard data outputs or one that offers a “gateway” converter that changes proprietary outputs into a data stream that your chartplotter can use.
Converting to joystick control will also require hydraulic steering, and a specialized command bus to talk to the joystick.
How you intend to use your outboard? If you do a lot of trolling or low speed operation, you may benefit from an outboard that makes use of fuel saving tactics like stratified combustion. If you run offshore or through an inlet to go fishing, you may benefit from electronic throttle controls combined with an outboard with instantaneous mid-range punch.
Scheduled maintenance intervals have a big impact on the cost of ownership during the life of the outboard. In general, DI two-strokes will have longer intervals between scheduled services because they lack mechanically-controlled drive trains that need adjustment every 500 to 1,000 hours. Although recently Mercury unveiled a 150-hp four-stroke that should not require valve adjustments at all during it's lifetime. Four strokes also need regular oil changes. But annual oil changes should be weighed against the operating cost of burning oil in a DI two-stroke.
The amperage output of most outboards has increased over the years, but if you run an electric trolling motor all day, or a suite of electronics while drifting or slow-trolling, the alternator on your outboard better be able to keep up. Check not only the rated amperage output, but also make a note of what the output is a low rpm, where it could half of what it is a cruising speeds.
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