Fred Kiekhaefer and I were talking about some of the unique projects Mercury Racing has been involved with over the years. I thought you would find our odd projects and rare products interesting as well.
Turbine. The experimental Mercury turbine outboard was built in alliance with Marine Turbine Technology (MTT) , LLC of Franklin, LA. The engine featured a Rolls Royce Allison 250 series gas turbine (helicopter) engine mounted to a 2.5 EFI Offshore mid section and a Sport Master or Torque Master gearcase.
The 320 h.p. engine was developed in the late 1990s in response to the then pending Department of Defense mandate that all gasoline be removed from ships by 2010. The turbine was light – weighing in at 200 pounds – about the weight of a 2-stroke 50 h.p. outboard. And it was multi-fuel compatible – with the ability to run on diesel, kerosene and JP4 jet fuel. MTT founder Ted McIntyre brought a turbine outboard powered landing craft to the 2001 Mercury Dealer Conference in Orlando, Fla. The boat stopped traffic every time the turbine spooled up to 51,000 RPM as it hauled awe-struck media and dealers around the lake. I went for a ride. I remember it was loud and I distinctly remember the fumes.
Jet fuel. As time moved on and the military requirements became more defined – we set a course to develop a multi-fuel engine based on a conventional 2-stroke internal combustion engine design. The OptiMax JP outboard is based on the 3.0 Liter V-6 OptiMax direct fuel injected, low emissions, 2-stroke engine. The 185 h.p. engine runs on JP5, JP8 and Commercial Jet-A fuels. The move to a multi-fuel engine based on existing consumer low-emissions 2-stroke technology is much more cost effective than alternative power sources. The OptiMax JP has been deployed and is serving military agencies in critical missions around the globe.
These are just two of the unique projects and products I’ve been exposed to in my short 23 year career here at Mercury Racing. The guy who really can tell some interesting stories is Fred Kiekhaefer. He’s seen it all. Watch for his blog, Oddities & Rarities – Part 2: Bass Boat Power. Coming soon!