Gear Review: Three Approaches To
Go, Go, Go!
By Michael Vatalaro
Mercury 150 FourStroke
Mercury has spent several years developing their new 150-hp outboard, with a special focus on weight and durability. They've clearly succeeded with the former, as the new model weighs in at 455 pounds, just 24 pounds heavier than their OptiMax 150 two-stroke, making it a viable option for repowering projects. They've also gone out of their way to make the engine simple to service and maintain. All of the relevant service information, volume and type of oil, or replacement spark plug details for example, is neatly summarized on a plaque on the side of the engine block. No more hunting for your manual. Better still, a 3D barcode printed there, when scanned, will take you to several short video demonstrations that will take you through several maintenance routines, step by step. In addition, a fresh-water flushing system that fits any standard garden hose makes it easy to run clean water through the cooling passages at the end of the day.
In another move towards simplicity and expected durability, Mercury engineers also designed the valve train of the 150 using a simple, single-overhead cam, and just two valves per cylinder. The valve train is expected to be maintenance free for the life of the engine. Fewer parts also helps keep the weight down and lowers the cost of the engine as well. 20-inch shaft versions start at $12,980 | www.MercuryMarine.com
Porta Potti Curve
You probably haven't given your portable marine head much thought, but the folks at Thetford, who invented the Porta Potti more than 40 years ago, aren't ones to sit down on the job, so to speak. The new Curve launches an updated Porta Potti lineup with user-friendly features like a battery-powered flush, more comfortable raised seat height, tank-level indicators, and integrated toilet paper holder. The modern look does away with the squared-off box, and also hides an ergonomic carrying handle, and standard lid latch, to keep your business from becoming anyone else's business during transport. $199 | www.Thetford.com
Honda launched into the high-horsepower outboard market with the introduction of the BF250, a high-tech engine offering a bevy of new features. This smart outboard starts with Honda's version of variable-valve timing, which they call VTEC, and adds something they're calling the BLAST system (for Boosted Low Speed Torque). If you drop the hammer on this outboard, either during the hole shot or just for a thrill, the engine control module (ECM) will advance the ignition and tweak the fuel-air mixture to increase the torque. The ECM on the BF250 will also swing the fuel-air mixture the other way to run more efficiently at times of decrease demand and load, which Honda claims will increase fuel economy by as much as 20%. On top of that, the charging system on the BF250 is load sensitive and will bump up the idle speed to produce an extra nine amps of charging power when necessary. This ability was one of the features that the Innovation Award judges singled out at the International Boat Builders Exhibition, where the BF250 won the award for outboard technology this past summer. MSRP expected to start around $24,000 | Marine.Honda.com
To Home Page