We’ve recently released the 4.6L V8 300R FourStroke outboards featuring our Racing exclusive heavy-duty midsection fitted with a factory installed rear tie-bar mounting bracket.
The heavy-duty midsection comes with solid mounts and robust, forged transom brackets with single ram power trim and a remote trim pump designed to endure the harsh offshore environment. These models are available with the Sport Master gearcase.
The optional factory installed integrated rear tie-bar bracket enables the installation of a tie bar (an optional aftermarket part) for multi-engine performance cat and vee-bottom applications.
Select rear tie-bar models are available with side steering kits. Hydraulic steering cylinders mounted off the rear tie bar bracket – connect to the steering tube integrated within the transom clamp bracket assembly.
The optional rear side steer kits greatly enhance steering robustness. The tie-bar and rear side steering kit work together to enhance engine stability on high speed multiple engine applications.
Mercury Racing has been involved with several unique projects over the years. I thought you would find the products that evolved from those projects interesting to say the least.
The experimental Mercury turbine outboard was built in alliance with Marine Turbine Technology (MTT) , LLC of Franklin, Louisiana. The engine featured a Rolls Royce Allison 250 series gas turbine (helicopter) engine mounted to a Mercury Racing 2.5 EFI Offshore mid section with 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, Florida. 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.
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.
TheOptiMax JPoutboard was based on the 3.0 Liter V-6 OptiMax direct fuel injected, low emissions, 2-stroke engine. The 185 h.p. engine ran 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 since been replaced with our Diesel Spark Ignited (DSI) outboard. This exclusive spark ignited, direct fuel injected 2-stroke runs on ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, which is readily available around the globe.
Small Block Bass
A unique application was the Super Scorpion 377 bass boat. The joint project between Mercury Racing and Chub Bryant, owner of Stroker Boats, was intended to show the world an alternative to outboards for bass boats. It was a great way to showcase our 6.2 Liter 377 sterndrive. The performance was very good. However, we just couldn’t change the minds of “clamp-on” outboard motor enthusiasts. With the popularity of outboards today – it’s hard to imagine a sterndrive bass boat would ever be considered.
Two Props. Two Speeds. Too Cool!
Here’s one of our more ambitious endeavors – the Mercury ProMax Deuce High. This one was a full-out engineering project. It was a combination of our fuel injected 2.5 Liter ProMax EFI powerhead and an advanced propulsion system. The mid section and gearcase were designed from a potpourri of sterndrive and outboard hydrodynamic engineering concepts and a very clever prop clutching device.
The most unique of its design innovations was its 2-speed automatic gearcase. The engine drove two, counter rotating props on the same axis — similar to the Mercury Racing Bravo Three XR sterndrive. Unlike the Bravo Three XR, the props were sequentially shifting: On initial acceleration, one prop would free-wheel while the other spooled up quickly. A computer controlled, hydraulic clutch system automatically engaged the second prop when the engine reached a preset torque. This enhanced hole shot, big-time!
Water pickups were built into a removable skeg. The fully surfacing gearcase was designed to run with the full torpedo above the water. The water running beneath the propeller hubs and torpedo improved propeller efficiency and eliminated torpedo drag.
The counter-rotating, fully surfacing props delivered unsurpassed boat speed and very good fuel efficiency; It also improved handling and stability because steering loads were neutrally balanced at all planing speeds. The boat was amazing crossing wakes or waves at odd angles – it just tracked like an arrow! Much easier to drive than a typical high performance bass boat.
Unfortunately, it couldn’t be sold at the price of an arrow – more like a cruise missile. The expensive hardware (two exotic stainless steel props, the stainless steel girdle/water pickup and the prop shaft/clutch mechanism) cost too much to go to market.
I hope you enjoyed this review of some of the more unique products developed by our accomplished engineering team.
Mercury Racing propellers are designed to maximize boat performance and handling in any application, from pleasure boating and fishing to poker runs and competition racing. Our artisans handcraft each propeller to precision-tuned works of art, customized for specific boat types and performance goals. Each individual propeller is then zero balanced and measured to ensure consistent performance every single time.
Only a small percentage of our propeller line today is designed specifically for racing. In fact, our most popular props, based off the Bravo I are used primarily for recreational boating.
Customer expectations have evolved through time and we have responded. Propeller performance is no longer about top speed. Today, consumers are also looking for the propeller to deliver hole shot, on-plane efficiency and fuel economy under load.
We have made additional tweaks to Mercury’s base Bravo casting to provide a new performance level for a variety of 2-stroke and 4-stroke outboard applications. We also produce a variety of other outboard propellers including the MAX5, Rev 4 XP, Enertia ECO XP, Pro Max and the 5-blade CNC Cleaver.
I’ve led many tours of Mercury Racing over the past 30 years. People are constantly amazed to see our skilled labor handcrafting outboards, sterndrives, propellers and accessories. Some of the more common questions asked are, “where does your labor comes from and how do they learn their skills?”
Our employees come with a strong skill set and work ethic in place. The only training needed are for things that may be specific to the job at hand. I attribute their strong work ethic to the Midwest culture. In Fond du Lac, it most likely also stems from the rich German ethnic mix and heavy farming influence. I truly believe farming brings with it an inherent mechanical aptitude that has been ingrained within Mercury since the late Carl Kiekhaefer founded the company in 1939.
The education and interests of today’s generation has changed. Millennials grow up using technology – aspiring to play video games and becoming “device” experts from an early age. They are used to instant gratification.
Industries such as ours are beginning to feel the pinch in finding skilled labor with a strong work ethic and passion to build and service the products we manufacture. Many say Millennials don’t want to get their hands dirty or have the desire to actually learn skills to build or repair products. I personally believe they are as interested and as capable as ever. We just need to provide them the education and tools they need to succeed.
Marty Signorelli – owner of Diamond Marine – a Mercury Racing dealer located in Ft. Lauderdale – made me aware of one school that is making a difference when it comes to filling the void in skilled labor. His nephew Michael attends Coral Shores High School in Key Largo, Florida. The school has a dedicated marine vocational program. Students who attend the 4-year program learn skills to service marine engines. Several current and former students work in marine work in marine shops or related businesses on the water. I spoke with instructor Chris Catlett regarding the program. Chris has been teaching for 13 years. He is a 20-year Coast Guard Veteran with over 30 years of marine experience. Eighty students are currently attending the program.
“Mercury Marine helped launch the Marine Service School program. We have 60 Mercury outboards made up of a mix of 2-stroke and 4-stroke models. The kids learn everything; from rebuilding powerheads and gearcases to diagnosing and repairing hydraulic and electrical systems. We are one of five marine mechanic trade schools in the nation which provide students an alternative to a formal four year college education,” said Chris.
For the past several years, Chris has taken the students to Key West for the annual Super Boat International Offshore World Championships. Twelve students got to work with race teams this year.
“The kids see the boats go past the school on their way down to Key West for the races. I feel it is important for them to see the engines in use – be it the recreational outboards they work on day in and day out or the exotic – high powered race motors they see competing in the extreme race environment. They get to see cutting edge technology in their own backyard, ” Chris said.
We encourage poker run and race promoters and participants to invite tech school students to their events. Get them involved. It lights a fire in the students for sure.
Michael Signorelli has mechanical aptitude built into his DNA. His uncle Marty and Joe are legendary in their ability to maximize the performance of our legacy 2.5 EFI 2-stroke competition outboards. His father Frank is a private boat captain. Michael started the Marine Service School program in 2015. His first project was rebuilding a 2-stroke 9.9 h.p. Mercury. His current project is a tear down and rebuild of a 75 h.p. OptiMax.
We are thankful for instructors such as Chris Catlett and the various vocational programs around the country. I am confident program graduates will provide tech support for Mercury and Mercury Racing products well into the future.