With all the buzz surrounding the latest and greatest outboard power, it is easy to overlook the great sterndrive packages that boat builders are producing. The West Coast continues to be a stronghold for lightning fast sterndrive-powered catamarans and vee bottoms, typically equipped with 502-cubic inch based power plants. These diehard customers demand superior handling and top speed from their propellers.
Mercury Racing is pleased to introduce the 600HP-Rated CNC Cleaver propeller rated for up to 600 horsepower. Featuring 1.25 inch broached splines, it is designed for Bravo XR Sport and Sport Master drives with Mercury Racing 520, 525, 540, 565, and 600 SCi power. For high-speed applications, this new development gives Bravo XR users the opportunity to run our most advanced propeller technology, which was previously only available for M6 and M8 drives.
Designed, developed and manufactured by Mercury Racing in-house, the
600HP-Rated CNC Cleaver is produced on the same state-of-the-art CNC machines
used to mill Mercury Racing’s M6 and M8 drive Cleavers.
The first two boats to feature these propellers are a DCB F29 equipped with twin Mercury Racing 525, and an Outerlimits SV29 equipped with a single Mercury Racing 600 SCi. Both applications have reported significant improvements in mid-range acceleration and top speed gains of 5 mph above standard cast propellers.
All 600HP-Rated CNC Cleavers are to be custom ordered through Mercury Racing Sales via a registered Mercury dealer. Available dimensions are 14.75- to 15.50-inch diameter, 26 to 40 pitch, 15- and 18-degree rake. Every CNC propeller is delivered in a Mercury Racing Propeller Case.
Racing trusts technology and believes in the accuracy of all the cutting-edge
computer-driven design tools at its disposal. The computer predicts the power
potential of a new engine or an updated design. But that digital prediction is
verified in the real world using a dynamometer, one of the most important tools
in the Mercury Racing shop.
A dynamometer, or dyno, is a tool used to simultaneously measure torque against rotation and rotational speed (rpm), which is then used to calculate horsepower. The dyno can be used to generate a map of horsepower and torque curves, either through a transient sweep through the rpm range or through discrete steady-state points. For power development, Mercury Racing relies on steady-state, point-by-point power curves where the engine is held at wide-open throttle to saturate oil, air, and water temperatures.
The Mercury Racing engineering department has six dyno cells. Two Schenck eddy-current dynamometers are dedicated to outboard engines.
Dynos at Mercury Racing are almost always in use. Mercury Racing technicians will often build the engine, instrument it, rig it on the dyno, run the dyno, and calibrate or develop the engine. The dyno is a primary development tool for Mercury Racing engine programs.
“Performance predictions, analysis in GT-Power, and computer simulations are qualified and refined by dyno data so that future predictions are more accurate,” said Mercury Racing Development Engineering Manager Chris Jenks. “A moderately instrumented engine for calibration will have about 40 thermocouples in air, exhaust, and water, and 20 pressure transducers reading everything from air-intake pressure at multiple points to exhaust back pressure to water pressures in the block and cylinder heads. Air, fuel, water, and blow-by flow rates are all measured. There are eight in-cylinder combustion pressure transducers that can be used for real-time monitoring of cylinder pressure in .10-degree increments, a useful tool for balancing cylinders and working to the edge of normal combustion. Typically, there are more than 400 raw or calculated channels of data are being recorded, reviewed, or monitored as shutdown limits as we work through development or are optimizing the calibration for an engine. The dyno allows us to run the engine consistently, week after week, at every operating point at which a customer can run the engine, and at some they can’t.”
explains that calibrating an engine is a circular process that is similar to painting
a car, in which each layer of paint is followed by wet sanding and buffing to
make the entire surface smoother. It’s a complex, time-consuming process.
For example, there are 916 maps or required control inputs that build the calibration
in the ECU (engine control unit) that operates the Mercury Racing 450R outboard. Sixty-three
of those are considered base maps, whose foundation is relied on for the rest
of the calibration. Those base maps contain 18,207 cells that represent
roughly 7,000 discrete running conditions (rpm, load, engine temperature,
ambient conditions), which are run on the dyno to rough map, check, and
re-check for errors and interactions. Final calibration checks before
production will go through each of those 18,000 cells point by point.
addition to engine development, the dynos are sometimes used for outboard exhaust
emissions or power audits before they leave for customers. Warranty
returns, although rare, are run on the dyno to re-create the complaint and
diagnose the root cause. All sterndrive engines are run on the dynos for
break-in and a power-verification run before shipping.
development allows Mercury Racing to run an engine in a laboratory setting that
captures all the extremes our customers are likely to dole out on the water.
The result is a high-performance marine engine product that is powerful,
reliable and refined.
The obvious function of the barrel, or outer hub, of a propeller is to be the attachment point for the propeller blades. What is often overlooked, however, is that the length, diameter and shape a propeller barrel can have a direct effect on boat performance.
Mercury Racing propellers currently have three barrel sizes. The smallest-diameter barrel is found on solid-hub props with broached splines like the Mercury Racing CNC Cleaver model. Barrels also come in different lengths and some have a flared trailing edge.
Mercury Racing offers different barrel lengths and shapes on the Bravo I, Maximus, and MAX5 propeller families. The longer and wider the barrel, the more stern lift the propeller will generate. Adding flare to the aft end of the barrel also generates stern lift; a long barrel with a flare acts as a miniature trim tab, providing lift and improving hole shot. This is why, for example, the Mercury Racing Bravo I XC has a longer barrel with a flared trailing edge – both features help fishing boats used in the Texas Gulf Coast market plane off quickly in very shallow water, and hold plane at lower speeds as anglers sight fish.
The different barrel length options for the Lab Finished Maximus LT and ST propellers have been a used for years to fine tune stern lift on boats powered by twin sterndrive engine.
A long propeller barrel can negatively impact top-speed performance in many fast boat applications when stern lift created by the barrel causes the boat to run too flat. The Mercury Racing Bravo I FS, Bravo I XS, Bravo I OC, MAX5, MAX5 ST, and Maximus ST all feature shortened and tuned barrels to dial back stern lift. The Bravo I OC and MAX5 ST represent the most extreme versions of this treatment, featuring very short barrels that perform especially well when an ultra-lightweight boat is paired with high-horsepower outboard power.
If you are up to speed on our previous Prop School Blogs, you will know that the barrel is not the only part of the propeller that provides lift. But if a propeller is generating too much lift due to diameter or blade count, the barrel is often the first part of the propeller to “hit the chopping block.”
The MAX5 ST is suitable for lightweight bass boats and catamarans featuring the 250R, 300R, and 450R outboards.
The Bravo I OC is specifically designed for twin engine two stroke powered catamarans.
We live in a world of fast-paced technological innovation; many consumer products are being replaced or updated quarterly or even monthly. Mercury Racing® embraces wide-open innovation and the concept of constant product development, but we also believe in the old axiom “don’t fix what’s not broken.” Which is why, 25 years after its introduction, the Mercury Racing Lightning E.T.® propeller remains in our product line. The Lightning E.T. is no legacy product. It is still running strong as one of the most-efficient propellers for lightweight, two-stroke outboard-powered applications.
There’s been a surging interest in outboard drag racing and for competitors running our lightweight, high-revving Mercury Racing 2.5 liter motors, the Lightning E.T. continues to dominate, offering outstanding acceleration and top-end speed performance. What makes the Lightning E.T. so efficient? Its over-the-hub design, limited blade area and ample tip cupping combine to produce a propeller that spins up quickly and stays hooked up at high engine heights. The Lightning E.T. produces natural bow lift, thus requiring less trim for maximum speed – less horsepower is used to lift the boat and more is devoted to top-end speed and acceleration. With the Flo-Torq II Delrin® Hub System, the Lightning E.T. accepts both 1.0- and 1.25-inch solid hub kits for legacy CLE, 2.5 liter Sport Master, and 3.0 liter Sport Master gear cases.
In recreational applications, the Lightning E.T. shines on river runs and performance bass, flats and modified vee bottom boats. The Lightning E.T. provides a confidence-inspiring ride for hulls that generate lift at speed, on boats from Allison to STV and everything between. The Lightning E.T. has done it for 25 years and is still leading the way. What is your favorite Lightning E.T. equipped setup?
You know what’s cool? Going fast. You know what’s cooler? Being the fastest. You know what’s the coolest? Being named The Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin.
Mercury Racing’s 450R 4.6-liter V-8 FourStroke outboard has been nominated for the “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin” contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. The 450R is one of 150products nominated and wants to earn the top honor. But first, Mercury Racing needs your help to make it to the Top 16!
First-round voting lasts until September 15 and individuals can vote once every 24 hours. VOTE HERE: http://bit.ly/450RCool
The Top 16 products will be announced on September 16 and will face off in a weekly bracket-style voting challenge. The Top 8 will be announced on September 23, the Top 4 Finalists revealed on September 30, and the winner announced on October 8 at the WMC Foundation’s Business and Industry Luncheon at State Fair Park in Milwaukee.
We’ll need your help each week to make it to the next round.
The recent design evolution by leading builders of high-performance bass boats will leverage the performance of new four-stroke outboard motors offered by Mercury Marine and Mercury Racing. These boats are faster than ever, easier to fish, and better for the environment.
For anglers seeking more velocity on their way to the perfect fishing spot, the 4.6-liter V8 Mercury Racing 300R outboard and new propeller offerings from Mercury Racing have been a game-changer during the 2019 season. The all-new five-blade Mercury Racing MAX5 ST propeller paired with the Mercury Racing 300R has proven to be the perfect match for many high-performance bass boats. The five-blade MAX5 ST offers great hole shot and low slip percentages throughout the RPM range to deliver optimal fuel economy and top end speed on many bass boat models. Here are a few examples.
The company perhaps most-synonymous with ultra-fast fishing rigs is Allison Boats of Louisville, Tenn., and its XB-21 BasSport models are a great platform for both the Mercury Racing 250R and Mercury Racing 300R outboard models. The highly efficient XB-21 hull is packed with high end fishing technology and Mercury Marine’s advanced range of controls. After extensive propeller testing, we’ve determined that both the four-blade Mercury Racing Pro Max and 15-inch diameter Mercury Racing MAX5 are great propeller options for this setup. The 15.25-inch Mercury Racing MAX5 ST is a great match for the Allison XB-21 BasSport 2+2 models rigged with Mercury Racing 300R power.
Bullet Boats offers several models of 20-foot to 21-foot 10-inch length that may be equipped with a Mercury Racing 250R or Mercury Racing 300R outboard. In our testing with this Knoxville-based builder the Mercury Racing Bravo I FS propeller is a great choice, but to squeeze the most performance from either outboard model on a Bullet bass boat there really is no comparison to the MAX5 ST. The MAX5 ST provides lightning-fast hole shot and less than 10 percent slip, which improves fuel economy and top-end speed. Both the Mercury Racing Bravo I FS and MAX5 ST props feature tuned, shortened barrels for reduced stern lift and have pushed lightly loaded Bullet Boat models rigged with a Mercury Racing 300R outboard beyond 100 mph.
Ballistic Boats of Fruitland, Idaho, is a relatively new entrant into the high-performance bass category. Its single model, the 22-foot 3-inch Ballistic .223, features an all-glass helm display and vacuum-infused construction, and has topped 90 mph with a legitimate tournament load and a single person aboard when running the Mercury Racing 300R and MAX5 ST prop. According to Ballistic owner Jim Wells, some owners prefer the Mercury Racing Bravo I FS for its outstanding hole shot and mid-range performance, and top speeds in the mid-80 mph range. We look forward to seeing more Ballistics on the water with Mercury Racing 250R and Mercury Racing 300R outboard power!
Spring is a great time for newbie and veteran performance boaters alike to get familiar with their craft. For starters, you should review your owners manuals — really, you should — and review the key components of your new boat.
Performance boats vary widely in propulsion and size. Outboards come in 20, 25 and 30-inch drive shaft lengths to accommodate a variety of applications. Mercury (and other brand) outboards are fitted with a standard gearcase for most applications. Hulls that can take advantage of the high power-to-weight ratio of a 300R may benefit from its wide range of gearcase options. Similarly, Mercury Racing offers a variety of sterndrives for differing power capacities and hull types.
Mechanical control: performance outboards such as the 60 EFI Formula Race, 250R and selected 300R models are rigged with a shift cable, throttle cable and fuel line. Sterndrives, such as our 600 SCi throttle and shift is accomplished with cables, but steering is hydraulic.
Application Specific: Selected 300R models feature a heavy-duty swivel/clamp bracket and trim cylinder to endure the rigors of extended use in rough seas. The trim cylinder is actuated via a remotely mounted pump. A majority of today’s outboards feature trim systems mounted within the swivel clamp bracket assembly. Verado outboards come equipped with integral power trim and steering. 250R and 300R outboards come standard with mechanical steering.
Two steering system types are available: Full Feedback and No Feedback. With Full Feedback, steering loads from an outboard or sterndrive are continually transmitted to the steering wheel. This is the preferred system used by tunnel boat drivers for “feel” of their craft while driving at the limit. One disadvantage: steering forces increase as engine or drive height or trim is increased. The steering wheel must be secured at all times to maintain control.
Mercury Racing sterndrive packages are equipped with power steering. The system requires actuation of external hydraulic steering cylinders. Our Integrated Transom System (ITS) provides external power steering for Bravo One XR, Bravo One XR Sport Master and Bravo Three XR drive engine packages. Power trim and steering cylinders are integrated in the M-series transom plate that comes standard with all engine packages featuring M6and M8 sterndrives.
Performance boats with two or more outboards or sterndrives are rigged with both external power steering cylinders and tie bars. These components work together to minimize steering backlash and enhance drive stability.
The units tied together (outboards or sterndrives) should be adjusted parallel to each other, at rest, where play in the steering can be adjusted to zero. Always be sure to have a qualified professional check to ensure your outboards or sterndrives and all related components are mounted securely.
Response to my Prop School series has been gratifying. It has generated a lot of good discussion (online and off) regarding propeller design, function and application. One of the most common questions is about prop slip. It is the most misunderstood of all propeller terms.
Propeller blades work like wings on an airplane. Wings carry the weight of the plane by providing lift; marine propeller blades provide thrust as they rotate through water. If an airplane wing were symmetrical (air moves across the top and bottom of the wing equally), the pressure from above and below the wing would be equal, resulting in zero lift. The curvature of a wing reduces static pressure above the wing — the Bernoulli effect — so that the pressure below the wing is greater. The net of these two forces pushes the wing upward. With a positive angle of attack, even higher pressure below the wing creates still more lift.
Similarly, marine propeller blades operating at a zero angle of attack produce nearly equal positive and negative pressures, resulting in zero thrust. Blades operating with an angle of attack create a negative (lower or pulling) pressure on one side and a positive (higher or pushing) pressure on the opposite side. The pressure difference, like the airplane wing, causes lift at right angles to the blade surface. Lift can be divided into a thrust component in the direction of travel and a torque component in the opposite direction of prop rotation.
Slip is the difference between actual and theoretical travel through the water. For example, if a 10-inch pitch prop actually advances 8-1/2 inches per revolution through water, it is said to have 15-percent slip (8-1/2 inches is 85% of 10-inches). Similar to the airplane wing, some angle of attack is needed for a propeller blade to create thrust. Our objective to achieve the most efficient angle of attack. We do this by matching the propeller diameter and blade area to the engine horsepower and propeller shaft RPM. Too much diameter and or blade area will reduce slip, but at a consequence of lower overall efficiency and performance.
Calculating Rotational Speed, Blade Tip Speed and Slip
Our propeller engineers study props at the 7/10 radius (70% of the distance from the center of the prop hub to the blade tip). The 7/10 radius rotational speed in MPH can be calculated as follows:
And can be shown by a vector arrow.
Blade tip speed can be calculated using the following equation:
Forward speed is shown by an arrow in the direction of travel. The length of the arrows reflect speed in MPH for both the measured speed and the theoretical (no slip) forward speed.
Prop Slip Calculator
Back in the day when the Everything You Need to Know About Propellers book was published, the Internet didn’t exist and you had to actually use these cumbersome formulas or rely on the Quicksilver Propeller Slip Calculator.
The classic hull is updated from helm to stern with modern hardware. Mechanical throttle and shift cables were replaced with Digital Throttle and Shift (DTS). The digital cables transmit real-time data from the engines to the helm and is then displayed on the Mercury VesselView 703 touchscreen monitor. The Mercury Racing Digital Zero Effort Control transmits data back to the 540 sterndrives – signaling driver intent with effortless shifting and instant throttle response.
Stu is now focused on dialing in props. He is starting with a selection of Mercury Racing Bravo I props. He will follow up with our performance propeller specialists, Scott Reichow and Nick Petersen, to ensure he gets maximum performance for the boat’s primary application as FPC’s official pace boat. Stu loads the boat with performance-boating enthusiasts who get to enjoy a first-hand experience of the best poker runs on the water.
For this, the fifth installment of my Prop School series I will review the various propeller blade designs and how they – along with rotation – affect propeller efficiency and overall boat performance.
Rotation. Propellers come in both right and left-hand rotation. Standard rotation for both outboards and sterndrives is right-hand: the prop spins clockwise when in forward gear. Left-hand props spin counter clockwise. Left-hand props are typically used with multi-engine applications. The counter-rotation prop works to balance (or reduce) the torque effects from the right-hand prop. Most twin engine applications are setup with the props “turning in”; the port engine spinning right-hand and the starboard engine spinning counter clockwise.
Hull types and designs respond differently to prop rotations. Some need additional stern lift to reach maximum efficiency and performance. To obtain this, the rotation of both propellers is set up, so they rotate away from each other. We call this turning the props out. The left-hand rotation prop is on the port side and the right-hand rotation is on the starboard side.
For example, a high-speed catamaran loaded with gear and passengers often runs best with 5-blade cleaver props with 15-degree rake. Turning the props in pulls the stern down, enabling the boat to float over chop. With lighter loads and ideal conditions, the same cat can gain 6 to 8 mph when using 18-degree rake, 5 blade cleavers “turned-out.”
Number of Blades
In theory, two blade props are most efficient since they have the least amount of surface dragging through the water. Two blade props are commonly used on lower horsepower outboards and trolling motors. Three -blade and four-blade props are the most common designs used today. The added blades reduce vibration while maintaining most of the efficiency of a two-blade design at a convenient size and reasonable cost.
Racers and performance boaters raise sterndrive mounting heights (x-dimensions) on ventilated, stepped hulls. The steps create air bubbles, raising the hull off the water on a drag-reducing cushion. This, combined with reduced drag from the higher drive heights, improves hull efficiency. This trend has spawned an evolution of prop designs featuring four, five and even six blades. The additional blade surface helps offset slip induced by air bubbles flowing from the ventilation steps toward the props.
For efficiency, blades should be as thin as possible to reliably handle a particular power range. A cross section of a typical constant pitch prop blade reveals a flat section on the positive (pressure) side and an arc surface on the negative (suction side) of the blade. Edges are usually 0.06″ to 0.08″ (1.5 mm to 2.0 mm) thick for aluminum props, thinner for stainless steel.
The blade cross section on surfacing props such as our T.E. Cleaver and Pro Finish CNC Cleavers is wedge shaped. The thick trailing edge adds strength. Surface air ventilates a low-pressure cavitation pockets behind the trailing edge, enhancing efficiency. The contour or shape of most propeller blade tips (other than cleaver) are round.
I will discuss propeller slip more thoroughly in Prop School – Part 6.
Continuing from Prop School…Part 3. Here I will explain everything you need to know about Blade Cup.
Cup is a curl formed or cast into the trailing edge of a propeller blade. When done correctly, the face of a cupped prop blade is completely concave.
The first three-blade aluminum props for MerCruiser powered boats featured flat blades, with 15-degree rake. The heavy, deep-vee hull ran best with the drive trimmed up (raising the bow, reducing the wetted surface, and increasing hull efficiency). We got our first experience with cupped, 3-blade aluminum props in the mid ’70s. We immediately realized greater top-end speeds. We also noticed the engine didn’t work as hard. The cupped props were more efficient. Our measurement? The paint was still on the blades at the end the season. Cavitation burns, mostly from abusive teenage kids over trimming dad’s boat, would burn away the paint. The cupped prop definitely made a difference.
Location. Location. Location.
Originally, cupping was done to gain similar benefits as you get from progressive pitchor higher blade rake. In fact, cupping reduces full-throttle engine speed 150-300 RPM below the same pitch prop with no cup. The location of cup on the blade determines the affect it has on performance. When the cupped area intersects pitch lines, pitch increases. Cupping in this area will reduce engine RPM. Cupping can also prevent prop cavitation or blow out. Blade rake can be increased when the cup intersects the rake lines. Slip is a measurement of propeller efficiency as it turns through the water, the normal range is 10-15%. Most racing and performance boats slip can be as low as 5-7% where as performance vee and step vee bottom boats with high X dimension (outboard engines or sterndrives mounted high) can see slip as high as 20-22% at WOT
Adjusting cup on cleaver-style propellers is more difficult. The trailing edge is very thick and runs straight out on the rake line. Pitch can be altered some by grinding away some of the cup. Rake may also be altered slightly. The rake can be reduced by decreasing the cup near the tip of the blade. Rake can be increased by reducing the cup near the prop hub. Remember that any change in cup affects engine RPM. The Bravo I propeller family is a good example of how cup changes RPM and the attitude of the boat I will discuss blade configurations and factors that effect propeller efficiency in Prop School – Part 5.
Rake is the angle of a propeller blade face relative to its hub. If the blade face is perpendicular to the hub, the prop has zero-degree rake. As a blade face slants back toward the rear of the prop, blade rake increases. Rake is either flat (straight) or curved (progressive). Most lower horsepower (“lower” by Mercury Racing’s reckoning) propellers, like Black Max aluminum and Vengeance, have 15-degree rake and are designed to operate fully submerged to push a boat across the water. Typically, higher horsepower outboard and sterndrive propellers have a higher flat or progressive rake.
A greater rake angle generally improves the ability of the propeller to operate in a ventilating situation. Ventilation occurs when blades break and re-enter the water’s surface — such as occurs with 1) a Bravo sterndrive (XR, XR Sport Master or XR Sport) installed with a high “X” dimension, 2) a surfacing drive (M6 or M8) or 3) an outboard installed or jacked high on a transom. In surfacing operation, higher rake can hold the water better as it’s being thrown into the air — deflecting it aft and creating more thrust.
On lighter, faster boats with a high prop shaft, increased rake often will improve performance by holding the bow higher. This results in higher speeds due to less hydrodynamic hull drag. However, on some very light boats, more rake can cause too much bow lift. That will often make a boat less stable. Then, a lower rake propeller (or a cleaver style for outboard) is a better choice.
Looking at examples:
A runabout with Alpha sterndrive usually performs best with a lower rake Black Max or Vengeance pushing the boat. The aim is broad capability and utility for many recreational activities.
A lighter weight runabout with Alpha drive may increase performance with higher rake Enertia propellers lifting the bow offering less wet running surface (lower drag).
Bass boats can vary widely because of the design differences among hulls in the market. Mercury offers high rake propellers such as the Tempest Plus and Fury for these applications. Mercury Racing specialty props for the bass market include the Lightning E.T., Bravo I FS, Bravo I XS and Pro Max.
The Bravo XR drive, used with higher horsepower multi-length and weight applications, typically use props with high rake and large blade area — such as the Bravo I and Maximus.
Our Pro Finish 5-blade CNC Cleaver prop is available with 15, 18, or 21-degree rake.
Performance applications using Mercury Racing’s CNC Pro Finished Cleaverswith M6 or M8 drives have three rake choices: 15, 18 or 21 degree. Most “V” and step “V” bottom boats utilize a 15 degree rake — unless the center of gravity is forward of the helm; then, 18 degree rake works best. The higher rake helps lift the bow — positioning the boat to ride appropriately on the steps. Air entrapment hulls (catamarans and tunnel hulls) pack air and lift during forward motion; they typically use props with 15 to 18 degree rake — since air pressure does most of the lifting.
The 15-degree and 18-degree rake Pro Finish CNC Outboard Cleaver is being used in a variety of applications including bass boats, performance center consoles and catamarans.
Your head probably hurts by now, so I will discuss blade cup in Prop School – Part 4.
For some reason the colder weather and recent snow flurries has me reminiscing about Mercury Snowmobiles. Remember those?
The infamous “lead sleds” (Mercury’s early and very heavy snowmobile) and the legendary Sno-Twisters (when Mercury got it light and right). Snowmobile historian Charles Plueddeman wrote a detailed article on the history of the Sno-Twister and the infamous sled #5.
I was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie – on the Eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The “Soo” as it is often called, gets bombarded with lake effect snow from Lake Superior. If you’re into it, the U.P. offers hundreds of miles of scenic trails for the snowmobile enthusiast. It’s a great family sport – if you respect the machine and ride safely.
The Soo is home to the International 500 snowmobile race. I was there – from start-to-finish whenbrothers Stan and Doug Hayes won it in 1976 riding a 440 Sno-Twister for Team Mercury. The Sno-Twisters and Trail Twisters were way ahead of their time – an evolutionary leap from the early Mercury sleds. These machines are still very popular today. They continue to dominate vintage snowmobile races and grass drags.
There you have it. A quick ride down the snowmobile memory trial. For those of you that get out and ride, please respect your machine, fellow riders, skiers and land owners. Enjoy your time on the snow. Before you know it, the snow will melt, and you’ll be back on the water – boating. Where we all belong. It’s only right.
Continuing from Prop School….Part 1 . Here, I will explain basic propeller terminology and fitment.
Propellers are available in both right-hand and left-hand rotation. Most single engine outboard and sterndrive powered boats use right-hand rotation propellers. A right-hand rotation propeller will spin clockwise when pushing the boat forward, while a left-hand propeller will spin counter-clockwise.
Number of Blades
The most popular propellers used for recreational boating have three or four blades. Three-blade props are efficient and do a good job of minimizing vibration. Four blade props are popular for suppressing vibrations even further while improving acceleration by putting more blades in the water.
In “prop speak,” diameter is the distance across a circle made by the blade tips as a propeller rotates. The proper diameter is determined by the power that is delivered to it and the resulting propeller rpm.
Type of application is also a factor. The amount of propeller in the water (partially surfaced vs fully submerged) plays a role in determining diameter. The more a propeller is surfacing above the water, the larger the diameter needs to be (so what’s left under water can still push). On rare occasions, diameter may be physically limited by drive type or in close, staggered engine installations where tips can touch.
Within a specific propeller style, diameter is usually larger on slower boats and smaller on faster boats. Similarly, for engines with a lower maximum engine speed (or with more gear reduction), diameter will tend to be larger. Also, diameter typically decreases as propeller blade surface areas increase (for the same engine power and rpm). A four bladed prop replacing a three blade of the same pitch will typically be smaller in diameter.
Mercury Racing engines fitted with the Bravo One XR or Bravo Three XRdrives are designed for props up to 16-inches in diameter. Bravo One XR drives fitted with the short Sport Master gearcase accepts props up to 15-1/4 inch in diameter. Sterndrive engines with surface piercing M6 or M8 sterndrives run cleaver props up to 18-inches in diameter. Our 4.6L V-8 250R and 300R FourStroke outboards as well as the 400R Verado accept props up to 16-inches in diameter.
Pitch is the distance a propeller would move in one revolution if it were moving through a soft solid, like a screw in wood. When we list an outboard four-blade Pro Max prop as a 14-1/2 X 32, we are saying it is 14-1/2 inches in diameter with 32-inches of pitch.
Pitch is measured across the face of a propeller blade. Actual pitch can vary from the pitch number stamped on the prop. Modifications made by propeller shops may alter the pitch. Undetected damage from a submerged object may result with a bent blade, altering the pitch as well.
There are two common types of pitch; constant and progressive. Constant pitch means the blade pitch is the same – from the leading edge to trailing edge. Progressive pitch, referred to as blade camber, starts low at the leading edge and progressively increases toward the trailing edge. The pitch number, “32” in the Pro Max example, is the average pitch over the entire blade.
Pitch is like another set of gears. Since an engine needs to run within its recommended maximum rpm range, proper pitch selection achieves that rpm. The lower the pitch, the higher the engine rpm. Mercury Racing propellers are designed so that a one-inch change in pitch results in a 150 rpm change in engine speed.
A lower pitch propeller may provide greater acceleration for water sports activities, but your top speed and fuel efficiency may suffer. If you run at full throttle with a prop selected for acceleration and not top-end speed, your engine rpm may be too high, placing an undesirable stress on the engine. If you select too high of a pitch, your engine may lug at a lower rpm – which can also cause damage. Acceleration will be slower as well. It will be reduced further with a full load of fuel and maximum capacity of people on board.
Proper pitch selection allows the engine to operate near the top of its recommended rpm range at light load (1/2 fuel tank and two people). Using this pitch selection method, the engine usually operates near the low end of the recommended engine operating range when the boat is fully loaded (full fuel tank, boating gear, full live wells, and maximum capacity). Full load engine speed is usually reduced 200 to 300 rpm. The power output of naturally aspirated engines can be affected by high heat and humidity which is another factor that can reduce engine speed by 200 to 300 rpm.
Smart, pressure charged engines like the supercharged 400R outboard and our turbocharged QC4 sterndrives will auto-regulate power output for heat and humidity. Adaptive Speed Control, a standard feature on our 250R and 300R outboards, is another factor to consider when dialing in your boat for maximum power and top-end speed.
In my next Prop School post, I will discuss blade rake.
Deemed Project 1080, the restoration with fresh Racing propulsion formalizes our long standing marketing partnership with FPC.
FPC founder Stu Jones is restoring the classic Cigarette from bow to stern with a refreshed cockpit, cabin, flooring and paint.
“I watch some of the custom car shows and auctions on TV, and the term Resto-Mod really stuck out in my head. I just felt like there would be nothing cooler than a classic, straight-bottom Cigarette, with brand new 2018 state-of-the-art hardware and power from bow to stern. This project is so exciting, I feel like a kid again!,” said Stu.
Mercury Racing dealer Performance Marine Trading in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is performing the installation and rigging of the engines, drives and accessories.Mercury Racing digital Zero Effort Controls will offer smooth throttle and shift response to the 540 sterndrives. A Mercury VesselView 502 monitor will provide vital engine and vessel data. the revised helm will be complemented with an array of digital analog gauges as well.
Mercury Racing dealer Performance Marine Trading in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is performing the installation and rigging of the engines, drives and accessories.
We are excited to feature Mercury Racing 540 sterndrives in FPC’s official pace boat. We’ve been with Stu and Jackie throughout their 25-year run. We continue to back FPC for their emphasis on providing safe, organized events for our customers.
Project 1080 is set to make its public debut at FPC’s Emerald Coast Poker Run event, August 15-19 in Destin/Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.
Working in performance boating is exciting: It’s fast-paced. Propulsion systems and hull designs are in continual evolution. Our customers are generally astute, technically oriented and often quite colorful characters. We’re all performance freaks! We’re all continually learning. That’s what makes my job so much fun!
If you are like me, your first boating experiences were in lower horsepower boats used primarily for family recreation, fishing, skiing, wakeboarding, or general cruising. And like me, your boating experiences and knowledge have evolved over time.
When working with high-end performance boats and experienced customers, one tends to assume people have basic product knowledge. However, a propeller is complicated. Because our backgrounds vary widely, our levels of understanding vary widely, too. So, we’ll revisit the basics and then dive deeper on propeller form, fit and function. Read more
Our Digital Zero Effort Controlsprovide an intuitive experience for performance boaters and competitors alike.
Mercury’s exclusive Digital Throttle & Shift (DTS) technology takes the sweat out of boating by replacing the lag and hesitation of traditional throttle and shift cables with digital precision, resulting in smooth shifting and instant throttle response. Digital Zero Effort Controls are enabled to provide automatic throttle synchronization and shadow mode for up to four engines (where two levers operate four engines) and go hand-in-hand with engines equipped with Mercury’s exclusive Joystick Pilotingtechnology.
Form Follows Function
The high styled controls are tough as nails – and ergonomically friendly as well. We build them utilizing stainless steel for lever, mechanism and hardware strength. The housing material is corrosion-resistant, marine-grade aluminum specially coated for enhanced protection in the extreme saltwater environment. Short throw levers, made of stainless steel, provide effortless shifting and ultra-fast throttle response. Shift and throttle handles are made of an anodized aluminum for enhanced corrosion resistance.
An integrated throttle handle trim switch enables trim adjustment while maintaining hands-on throttle control. Black and red shift/throttle handles comply with American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) standards. Optional silver handles compliment virtually any helm.
Digital Zero Effort controls are backed by a one-year factory warranty and supported by a Mercury Marine’s global dealer network.
A variety of shift and throttle lever configurations available
Ergonomic design features short throw levers for effortless shifting and ultra-fast throttle response.
Robust stainless steel levers for unmatched durability in the offshore environment.
I thought it would be helpful to share with you details regarding the two midsection and three gearcase options available for our new V-8 Four-Stroke outboards.
The Tri-ram midsection is featured on the 250R and selected 300R models. Triple power trim rams along with the power trim pump are integrated within the die-cast clamp bracket assembly. A stiffer, high-durometer elastomer upper mount and solid lower mounts are used for enhanced handling at higher speeds. The 250R comes with the Sport Master gearcase. Sport Master and Torque Master gearcases are both options for selected 300R Tri-ram models. The Tri-ram midsection is designed for use on lighter weight hulls on protected waters.
Heavy duty midsection 300Rs come 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 and 5.44″ HD gearcases.
Rear tie-bar models feature a factory installed tie-bar mount plate. The tie-bar, not included but available from after market suppliers, provides enhanced engine stability for high speed catamarans and vee bottoms.
The surface piercing Sport Master, designed for boats capable of speeds in excess of 85 mph, features low-water pick-ups and a crescent leading-edge for maximized efficiency and speed.
The Torque Master, designed to run partially surfaced, carries the load of heavier tournament bass boats and multi-species hulls while maximizing top speed and drivability.
The 5.44” HD is designed for use on bay boats and multi engine performance center consoles where the application requires a more submerged gearcase.
Happy 50th Birthday to Captain Steve Lamp, owner of Dream Catcher Charters. Captain Steve relies on Mercury products to earn a living. His office space is the beautiful waters off Key West.
Mercury Racing has had a working relationship with Steve for nearly 20 years. He has been intimately involved in the development of a number of our key consumer performance outboards including the OptiMax 200XS, 2.5XS, 250XS, 300XS and 400R.
He has also been our go to person for real world feedback regarding Mercury Racing Propeller performance. Steve also provides field testing data on a number of Mercury Marine engines, control systems and props.
Steve and I first met at Lake X for a 200XS photo mission. His passion for boating in general and Mercury Racing was obvious the instant I met him. It’s rare to have a personal relationship with an individual who not only earns a living with our product but one who is such a passionate brand ambassador.
To this day Steve represents Mercury Marine at the Miami International Boat Show. It is in the show environment where Steve’s experiences and extensive product knowledge truly shine. He has a knack for conveying information in layman terms to the public, highlighting product features that are important for their specific needs. In an instant – he can switch gears and carry on a conversation with members of the media regarding a variety of topics and not miss a beat.
When he’s not in the Mercury booth you will find him on the water providing product demos for Mercury as well as Yellow Fin, the builder of his bay boat and offshore center console.
Steve, we are blessed to have you as a friend and a member of our team. We wish you all the best as you continue your adventures from Mile Marker 50. Throttles down…. The Race Never Stops!
Bold new Mercury Racing graphics, emphasizing the horsepower rating and the latest Racing word mark, provide a powerful new look for our classic 250 XS and 300 XS outboards. They continue to show steady demand amongst performance enthusiasts from performance bass to catamaran hulls. In addition, their combination of high power and torque with ultra-light weight make them excellent for repowering older performance boats. Both models are well proven with documented success as performance leaders in their respective categories.
Record Breaking Speed
The 250 XS holds a colorful past. The low-emissions 2-stroke was a game changer the moment it was released. It outperformed competitive 250 horsepower engines in a variety of categories including fuel economy, mid-range acceleration and top speed. The 250 XS also holds an APBA Pro Stock Bass World Kilo Speed Record.
250 XS models come exclusively with the legendary Sport Master gearcase. Designed for lighter weight hulls capable of speeds in excess of 85 mph, the Sport Master features a crescent leading edge housing with low water pickups. This enables the 250 XS to run at elevated transom heights for maximum engine rpm, hydrodynamic efficiency and top-end speeds.
The 300 XS is our most successful 2-stroke consumer performance outboard. Not only does it outperform all competitors at the same horsepower node – it does it no matter what the application.
Models are available in 20-inch, 25-inch and 30-inch mid sections. A custom designed exhaust adapter plate with built-in appendages for mounting after-market steering wing plates enable the 300 XS to be used safely on high-speed multi-engine catamaran and vee-bottom boats. Offshore models come standard with a heavy-duty swivel/clamp bracket assembly and trim cylinder. The race-proven remote mounted trim pump provides a quicker trim-out speed and enhanced durability.
A multitude of gearcase options are available for virtually any application. Models fitted with the 20-inch mid-section are available with the Torque Master II and Sport Master gearcases. Both feature purpose-built housings packed with race-proven heavy-duty components. Applications include single-engine bass, flats and bay boats as well as catamaran and vee-bottom sport boats. The Torque Master II is designed for use on heavier hulls that rely on power trim to generate extra lift.
The Torque Master II and Sport Master gearcases are available with 1.62:1 or 1.75:1 gear ratios. The Torque Master II, designed for single engine applications, is available in right-hand rotation only.
New for the 2017 program year is the adaptation of the 1.75:1, Verado 4.8 gearcase. The gearcase, standard on 25” and 30” offshore models, is designed to withstand the rigors of the tough salt water environment and is ideal for performance center consoles. 300 XS models fitted with Verado gearcases are available in right-hand and left-hand rotation.
Performance Propeller Manager Scott Reichow has a variety of propellers designed specifically for 250 XS and 300 XS applications. Popular performance props include the Pro Max, Lightning E.T., Bravo I XS, Bravo I OC.
The low emissions 2-stroke 250 XS and 300 XS outboards continue to prove their durability and reliability. Both are backed with a two-year standard factory warranty with three years of optional MPP (Mercury Product Protection) coverage available.
A number of boat manufacturers have responded to angler requests for larger and more stable hulls. The changes have resulted with the consoles moving forward, changing the center of gravity and weight distribution. The mounting of trolling motor batteries in the front of the boat affects planing performance and bow lift as well. The new hull designs, while user friendly in terms of fish ability come with a price in terms of overall engine performance.
It didn’t take long before I started getting calls from customers asking for help in enhancing the performance of their single engine outboard powered bay boats and multi-species hulls under heavy loads. Our trusty Bravo I FS was no longer the viable option for these applications. Read more
Jay Leno has the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the most powerful and exotic cars money can buy in his show “Jay Leno’s Garage”, causing feelings of envy and desire among his viewers. The former “Tonight Show” host has turned his passion for cars into the popular web series, which gives a detailed look at the newest European supercars to great American classics.
One of the classics recently featured was a 1970 Dodge Charger, built by our friends at SpeedKore in Port Washington, Wisconsin. The “Tantrum” Charger is the first automotive application of Mercury Racing’s QC4 platform and based on its performance, it surely won’t be the last.
Mercury Racing launched the QC4 platform in 2010 as a high-performance offshore marine engine capable of exceeding the demands of the grueling racing environment. This modern powerplant features dual overhead cam (DOHC) 32-valve heads on top of a 9.0 liter aluminum block. The massive air flow of the heads is increased even further by two 94-mm turbo chargers, delivering upwards of 1650 horsepower on race fuel. After years of success as both a marine racing and pleasure engine, the team at Mercury Racing decided it was time to develop something car guys would crave.
While showing the automotive world our engineering prowess at SEMA, we also laid the foundation for the Tantrum by meeting Dave Salvaggio, builder of the Charger. After nearly two years of working together, the completed Charger was first displayed at SEMA 2015. After winning a Grand Turismo design award at SEMA, the Charger headed further west so the comedian could climb behind the wheel.
Leno was rightfully blown away at the beauty and performance of the QC4 engine, and perhaps a bit humbled by its full potential (It’s not often he relinquishes the key for the show’s customary burnout). The QC4 hits all the right notes for a modern crate engine for high end car builders. It is unique, modern, reliable, attractive and most importantly it provides an answer to every car guy’s visceral desire for more power.
Watch the Jay Leno’s Garage episode below to learn more about the QC4 powered Tantrum and see the QC4 in action on the California roadways.
Our Product Integration Manager Mike Griffiths recently returned from the Thunder on The Snake jet boat races in Lewiston, Idaho. Mike was there to support a project he had been involved with for a year now; the fitment of a QC4v 1350 in a jet boat. Say what? Yes. Mike and our associates at Mercury Canada successfully installed the first QC4v 1350 coupled to a jet pump.
Spencer King, of Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada is an eight time World Jet Boat Champion. In recent times – turbine powered competitors have taken the upper hand against his 20-foot jet boat powered by a custom built 900 h.p. Ford engine. We’ve experienced a similar trend in offshore powerboat racing. The teams that could afford turbines converted – and were the ones to beat until the QC4v arrived on the scene. I will never forget Key West – I believe it was 2011 – when Bob Bull spanked a well known turbine competitor at the SBI Offshore World Championships. He passed them like they were standing still. We had a 1650 Competition on display in the poker run village. People lined up to sneak a peek and snap a photo. They couldn’t stop talking about it.
Spencer is co-owner of Kingland Ford – an automotive and Mercury Outboards dealer. He knew he needed to update his power. He also felt compelled to go with something with factory support. He contacted his resources at Mercury Canada for suggestions. That’s when Mike got the call. He didn’t hesitate to suggest QC4v 1350 power.
The 9.0 liter engine, running on 91-octane pump fuel, cranks out massive torque (1300 lb. ft. from 2500 to 5500 rpm!) The 1350 and its competition siblings have earned a reputation for both performance and durability in recreational and competitive applications.
The closest 1350 application to Spencer’s is water ski racing in Australia. There – a driver and an observer pilot a 21-foot boat, powered by a single 1350 sterndrive, to 130 mph … with skier in tow! So – in that respect – the install if a 1350 in a 20-foot boat wasn’t a stretch.
Mike committed to the project after discussing it with Spencer and Mercury Canada. Mercury Racing technicians spent the winter converting the engine for jet propulsion. “We took things off the engine that jet boats don’t need. The transmission was one of them,” Mike said.
Spencer purchased a new 22-foot Outlaw Eagle Performance Boat to make room for the 1350. He named it Sunset Shaker. Mike traveled to Outlaw Eagle in the spring to assist with the rigging.
“I went through the process of wiring the boat for the engine, water and fuel,” said Mike. Spencer fabricated a coupler to enable the 1350 to be coupled to an American Turbine jet pump.
Jet boats are piloted by a driver and navigator. Spencer’s navigator is his father Russell King. After testing and dialing-in the rig – Spencer and Russell were ready to race. They selected the 2015 World Jet Boat Championships as their first event. A total of 60 teams, representing the U.S., Canada, Mexico and New Zealand compete for 10 days – racing 550 miles through the rivers of Western Canada.
Out of the box, the 1350 powered SunsetShaker approached 130+ mph speeds. Not bad for its inaugural competition. Still – it wasn’t quite enough to squelch 1,800 h.p. turbine powered competitors capable of speeds in excess of 140 mph. Even with the power gap – they finished an impressive fourth overall.
“It’s a new boat, the engine is new to us, and just finishing these marathons is a feat,” said Spencer.
“He ran for ten days without an issue and a lot of racers took note. We’ve received a lot of inquiries regarding the 1350 following this year’s World Jet Boat Championship,” Mike said.
Spencer’s engine is coming back to Racing where our technicians will work their magic, converting it to a 1550 competition model. While that is being done – Spencer plans to make modifications to the hull – in hopes to reduce weight while enhancing the drive line in preparation for increased power.
I’m looking forward to seeing how he does at the 2016 Worlds. My guess is he’ll have people lined up to sneak a peek of the engine that beat the turbines. 🙂
The Verado 400R has fueled the resurgence of the outboard performance boat market. Multiple outboard (two or more) installations capable of speeds in excess of 85 mph require the use of an external rear tie bar assembly to keep the motors parallel and equalize loading.
Factory Installed Tie Bar Kit
400Rs destined for go fast duty on catamaran hulls are equipped with a custom Mercury Racing designed rear tie bar kit. The factory installed kit includes custom rear engine mounts and a heavy duty, stainless steel tie bar wing plate. The engine mounts feature an addendum for the mounting of the wing plate. A tie bar is not included.
The custom rear mounts are critical for safe and secure installation of the wing plate. They serve a function and – at the same time – maintain the integrity, form and function of the 400Rs’ Advanced MidSection. Most people mount aftermarket rear tie bar wing plates via the powerhead studs. This places a great amount of stress on the studs, engine mounts and the powerhead which could lead to cylinder distortion and possible engine failure.
Verado 400Rs with factory installed tie bar kits are backed with a full warranty. The Mercury product warranty does not cover any damaged related to the use of tie bar kits or other accessories not manufactured by Mercury Marine.
One of the features which differentiates the Verado 400R from all other four stroke outboards is the availability of the Sport Master gearcase. Designed for boats capable of speeds in excess of 85 mph, Sport Master 400Rs deliver fresh adrenaline pumping excitement to the go fast cat world.
We are excited to see our high performance boat builders embrace the 400R. The response thus far has been phenomenal. The biggest kick I get is people seem to be as awestruck by the pure power and torque of the engine as they are its drivability and and overall quietness. People are as excited to be able to carry on a conversation at 80 mph as they are going for the big number. These are exciting times for sure.
The hot news from Hot Springs, Arkansas is our release of five new half-inch pitch offerings for the popular Bravo I® XS propeller. The new offerings debuted this morning at the 2015 FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) tournament.
The new half-inch pitch offerings greatly enhance the application of the XS for single engine outboard applications. The addition of half-inch pitch offerings enable bass boat and center console bay boat owners to Dial-In their engine RPM for maximum power and efficiency. The new models include 22.5″, 24.5″, 26.5″, 28.5″ and 30.5″ pitch sizes – complimenting the expansive 22 inch to to 31.5 inch pitch range.
The Bravo I XS has proven to be one of our most versatile props. It’s a natural for 2-stroke applications and now – with the Mercury patented Performance Vent System®, it is delivering unprecedented performance on single engine four stroke applications as well.
Bravo I XS Part Numbers:
Get your rig Dialed in the XS. See you authorized Mercury dealer today!
My good friend Steve Miller recently bought a 2014 Lund Pro-V 2075. Steve is the Senior Category Manager for Mercury Marine. He was heavily involved with the Verado from day one and also on the ground floor of the 150 Fourstroke launch as well as the launch of its 75-115 siblings. He knows the products – inside and out. Its only natural his 2075 Lund features Verado 300 Pro Fourstroke power. Steve uses the boat for both fishing and family time on the water. Read more
We’re back in Las Vegas for the 2014 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show. It’s hard to believe a year has passed since we unveiled our QC4v automotive crate engine here. Since then – we’ve received a lot of interest in the product and its capabilities. Various applications have been suggested – off road racing, drag racing and high performance street rods to name a few. Read more
Our new Zero Effort Digital Controls are the latest generation of an innovative, modular design first introduced by Kiekhaefer Aeromarine in the the 1980s. Kiekhaefer developed them to withstand the harsh environment of offshore racing. Often imitated, the versatile design has evolved through time with advancements in engine propulsion technology. The new controls provide an intuitive experience for recreational boaters and racers alike. Mercury’s exclusive Digital Throttle & Shift (DTS) technology takes the sweat out of boating by replacing the lag and hesitation of traditional throttle and shift cables with digital precision, resulting in smooth shifting and instant throttle response.
Form Follows Function
The high styled controls are tough as nails – and ergonomically friendly as well. We build them utilizing stainless steel for lever, mechanism and hardware strength. The housing material is corrosion-resistant, marine-grade aluminum specially coated for enhanced protection in the extreme saltwater environment. Short throw levers, made of stainless steel, provide effortless shifting and ultra-fast throttle response. Shift and throttle handles are made of an anodized aluminum for enhanced corrosion resistance. The modular design enables the controls to be offered in either two or four lever configurations. Throttles and shifters can be grouped separately or combined into a single unit for maximum control and comfort. An integrated throttle handle trim switch enables trim adjustment while maintaining hands-on throttle control. Black and red shift/throttle handles comply with American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) standards. Optional clear handles compliment virtually any helm.
Zero Effort Digital controls are designed specifically for Mercury & Mercury Racing outboards and sterndrives equipped with SmartCraft DTS technology. They are enabled to provide automatic throttle synchronization and shadow mode for up to four engines (where two levers operate four engines) and go hand-in-hand with engines equipped with Mercury’s exclusive Axius Joystick Piloting technology. Read more
Our new 520 sterndrive has been a resounding success since it was introduced one year ago at the LOTO (Lake of the Ozarks) Shootout. It’s become even more popular since the release of a Joystick Piloting for Sterndrives – Axius option for selected models fitted with the Bravo Three XR sterndrive. Formula boats have been early adopters of the engine package. They are also the first OEM boat builder to install the potent engines with joystick control. A Formula 400FX used to demonstrate joystick 520 maneuvers at the Miami Boat Show had standard through transom exhaust fitted with aftermarket mufflers. For our traditional sport boat crowd – they had a nice exhaust note. For those looking for enhanced performance without all the rumble – it might have been a bit much.
We took note, no pun intended, and went to work to create an X-haust Noise Reduction system designed specifically for the 520. The system will appease our friends at Formula and a variety of our OEM boat builder partners, dealers and consumers looking to take advantage of the 520’s performance value. It will also be adopted in European Union countries where the engine is certified in meeting the stringent RCD (Recreational Craft Directive) exhaust emissions standards. Read more
The official start of Summer is June 21. If the volume of blog comments, voice mails and prop orders are any indication, the summer boating season has been under way for a good month already. I, like you, am ready to get some boating in and enjoy the warm summer weather. And – just in time for the season, I’m pleased to announce the official release of two new props that expand the versatility of our popular Mercury Racing Bravo and Maximus propeller lines.
Bravo for Outboard Cats!
Newly released this week is our all-new Bravo I OC (Outboard Catamaran) prop. The Pro Finish Bravo I OC was designed specifically for high powered outboard catamaran hulls. The new Mercury Racing Bravo features a total of eight PVS vent holes for fine-tuned performance.
The Bravo I OC diameter is cut down to 14.75″ and features a pitch range of 28″ to 35″ (even and odd) sizes and left and right hand rotation. A shortened exhaust barrel settles the stern to minimize drag while reshaping the blade maximizes performance with the new diameter. The prop has been tested on 28-foot to 32-foot Skaters, Talon, DCB, Spectre and Doug Wright hulls. It outperformed three and four blade cleavers in both acceleration and top-end speed (medium to heavy loads).
Bravo I OC part numbers and MSRP pricing:
Pro Finish Bravo I OC – 14.75” Diameter
Designed for sterndrives and big horsepower outboards, the Pro Finish Maximus ST (short tube) propeller is available in 24″ to 34″ (even) pitch sizes in both left and right-hand rotation. It too features a cut-down diameter (15.6” to 15.3”) and a shortened exhaust tube for enhanced performance. The Maximus ST is rated for up to 600 h.p. Dave’s Custom Boats of El Cajon, California helped validate this latest generation of our high performance Maximus line. DCB’s Dave Hemmingson and Tony Charimonte liked the STs so much they asked if they could use them for the Desert Storm Poker Run Shoot Out. They installed 32″ STs on Terry and Sandy Everson’s beautiful M29. The boat is powered by twin 565s coupled to 1.35:1 Bravo One XR Short Sport Master drives with Integrated Transom Systems (ITS). Terry and Sandy won their class in the shootout; bumping the rev limiter at 115 mph! Tony said, “the 565s pull so hard – we could have used 34″ pitch STs.” “We really like what Mercury Racing has done with the latest generation Maximus props,” Tony said. DCB is building a new M31 which will again feature the stout 565 sterndrives and Maximus ST props. We’re anxious to get the numbers on that one as well.
Maximus ST part numbers and MSRP pricing:
Maximus ST Propeller – 15.30” Diameter
Maximus ST Propeller – 15.60” Diameter
We’re very excited to offer these two new props. I’ve received a number inquires regarding both. Outboard cat owners are excited to bring new life to their performance hulls powered by our classic 2.5 EFIs or the epic OptiMax 300XS. The Maximus is waking up both four stroke outboards and sterndrives on a variety of applications. I look forward to hearing from you regarding these or any of our Mercury Racing props. Be safe and have a great summer!
Congratulations to Mike Fiore, Brian Forehand, Joe Sgro and Dr. Michael Janssen in establishing all new Unlimited Vee Bottom and SV Single kilo speed records. The American Power Boat Association sanctioned the special event records for Outerlimits Powerboats. I first learned of the initial record via a Speed on the Water post early Monday. Brian (Forehand) drove and throttled the SV 43 Outerlimits, powered by twin 1650 RACE sterndrives, to a two-way average speed of 174.938 mph. The former vee bottom kilo record of 171.88 mph was set by Reggie Fountain and Ben Robertson in 2004. Fountain and Robertson drove a 42-foot Fountain on the same course as used today.
Early this morning my phone lit up with multiple messages – the first being from Mike (Fiore); post this on Facebook right away. I was ecstatic to learn Brian (Forehand) and and Joe (Sgro) made back-to-back passes of 179.500 mph and 181.422 in the SV 43 for a new APBA Unlimited Vee-Bottom kilo speed record of 180.47 mph! Reggie Fountain was top of mind since Monday. His record of 10 years is broken and not by a Fountain. His former employee was behind the wheel for multiple records and all of the action took place in front of his house. I had to call him. Read more
Here we go! Another Miami Boat Show is underway and like always, we have tons of news to share. As we celebrate Mercury’s 75th anniversary we have released our new Mercury Racing logo. The new branding celebrates our rich Racing heritage while promoting our technological leadership in high performance propulsion. All Mercury Racing sterndrive engines on display in the Mercury booth feature the new branding. As usual, we have a number of exciting new products at the show.
Our all-new 8.6L 540 sterndrive replaces the 8.2L 525 EFI. It outperforms it’s sibling in a variety of fronts. A 21 cubic inch displacement advantage enables the 540 to provide 13 percent more torque for enhanced hole shot and an additional 50 ft-lb of peak torque. It also delivers superior fuel efficiency and range compared to its 525 sibling. All this power and efficiency comes from 87 posted octane (R+M)/2, or 91 RON (global) pump gas. Digital throttle & shift replace mechanical cables – providing the operator with an intuitive control experience. The 540 complies with both EPA and CARB emissions requirements.
Also being debuted is the new Bravo One XR Sport sterndrive. The new Sport gearcase is two inches shorter than a standard Bravo or Sport Master. The gearcase shape provides enhanced hydrodynamics compared to the standard length Sport Master. Dual water pickups increase water flow for enhanced cooling in a variety of applications. The 540 on display in the Mercury booth features the new drive coupled with an integrated transom sytem (ITS). Cigarette Racing has a pair of 540s in their gorgeous 38 Top Gun VIP edition. Read more
Happy New Year! 2014 is Mercury Marine’s 75th Anniversary. The year will be filled with a variety of exciting events to celebrate our company’s rich history. Mike Butler’s restoration of “Little Red,” a historic Mercury Twistercraft tunnel race boat, is the first in a series of stories I’ll be posting throughout the year in celebration of Mercury’s rich performance heritage.
You will not find a greater authority on Mercury’s outboard racing history than Mike. In fact, Mike is a former outboard tunnel boat racer himself. It was 39 years ago when he brought his Twister race outboard to Mercury Hi-Performance to repair damage resulting from a racing accident over the weekend. It was on this visit that Mike saw Little Red. He had asked the late Mike Goerlitz, Mercury Hi-Perf Sales Manager at the time, if he could buy it. Mr. Goerlitz turned him down. It was not for sale. Mr. Goerlitz did offer Mike a position with Hi-Perf from which he quickly accepted.
Mike is also an active pilot and long-time member of the Experimental Aircraft Association. He has restored a number of historic bi-planes and his Piper Cub that he flies year round. His passion for Mercury and craftsmanship skills would meld to bring back the glory of a rare gem in the history of outboard powerboat racing. Read more
We are excited to unveil our concept QC4v crate engine this week at the 50th annual SEMA show. The A multitude of configurations are possible, fom basic long block form to ready to run engines. The project has to be one of our best kept secrets ever.
This is our first SEMA show and there is a lot to see. We brought an exotic supercar fitted with a turbocharged QC4v 1650 crate engine. The car is complimented with an equally exotic DCB M41-Wide Body catamaran sport boat powered by twin 1350 sterndrives.
An immaculate cutaway crate engine display shows the brilliantly engineered inner workings of the QC4v engine design. That is flanked by a complete QC4v 1350 and 8.2 Liter 520 sterndrive engine displays. A complete QC4v crate engine is featured in SEMA’s New Products Showcase. Read more
I just got some great news from Mike Griffiths – our resident product integration expert. Mike has been helping me dial-in an assortment of props for various applications. Mike and I tested props with anglers during Mercury’s National Walleye Tournament in Fond du Lac earlier this summer. Mike claims he is not an outboard guy, but you would never know it. It didn’t take him long to transfer his sterndrive performance boat knowledge to enhance the set-up of an average outboard walleye rig.
A number of anglers were smiling after reaping the benefits of Mike’s work on their boats. Mike provided input on weight distribution, engine height, trim tab positions and of course, props. The Bravo One XS was the star wheel for Optis; the Pro Finish Bravo I FS was more often than not the wheel of choice for Pro Verado folks. Read more
Give it up for the Australians and their total domination of the 2013 Water Ski Racing World Championships! The event, held in Tenerife, Spain, concluded Sunday after four rounds of racing. Mercury Racing propulsion was the power in front of all six class world champions. As you can see, conditions were more ideal for an offshore race than ski racing.
To me – running a 21 foot boat with a QC4v 1350 stuffed between the stringers would be a handful. Racing it would another thing all together.
But to ski behind that? No thanks. I can’t imagine going as fast as they do on calm water. Ski racing in big water where your tow boat is periodically airborne? Forget about it! That takes some serious skill, stamina and pure guts!
Guy Williamson, our Service Director in Australia sent me an e-mail with the outstanding results. Read more
It’s been a busy summer. Last week we introduced our new 520 sterndrive and our our new mobile marketing truck at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Missouri. It was developed to provide recreational boaters a low-cost option for gaining access to Mercury Racing’s exclusive group of high-performance sterndrive propulsion systems. By the response we’ve received thus far, the engine package is destined to be the power behind a variety of recreational boating applications including runabouts, sport boats and cruisers. Did I mention pontoons?
Based on the 8.2L cylinder block – the 520’s cylinder bores are punched out to 4.560″ for a total of 8.6L of displacement. The larger displacement, combined with Mercury Racing cylinder heads, multiport fuel injection and an electronic throttle body results with more torque than the 525 EFI and nearly 100 additional horsepower over MerCruiser’s 430 h.p. 8.2L MAG HO. All from 87 posted octane (R+M)/2 or (91 RON) (global) pump gas!
The 520 is our first sterndrive to be backed by a two year limited factory warranty. Robust valve train components including a hardened camshaft are used for enhanced durability. Performance cam profiles, combined with larger valves, pack more air through the engine for greater power and torque. Greater displacement, combined with enhanced airflow, results in unprecedented mid-range punch and consistent pull through the engine rpm operating range. Read more
“M for Mercury! M for Miss GEICO! M for Magnificent!” Those were the first words from Gary Goodell upon my congratulatory call to him Monday morning regarding Miss GEICO’s convincing win last weekend in Port Huron. OPA’s bracket race rule, with a speed cap of 135 mph, puts a spotlight on driving skill and acceleration. Miss GEICO’s QC4v 1650’s are unparaled when it comes to acceleration. Time in and out of the turns were the deciding factor in this bracket race.
“The 1650s ran flawlessly. They respond and pull like no other. They are a blast to drive,” said Miss GEICO driver Marc Granet. “We enjoyed having Mike Griffiths (Mercury Racing Product Integration Manager) and (Mercury Racing Engineering Tech) Johnny Bauer with us for the weekend,”
Marc said. “It was an insightful weekend. We learned alot. The team is continuing to gel. The 1650s continue to impress us – and our competitors,” Marc exclaimed. Marc said there was one moment when they were concerned about the engines. “We we slowing down upon completing the race and I started to hear an odd rumble sound. Scotty [Begovich] heard it too. It was a few seconds later before we realized it was the roar of hundreds of fans along the Sarnia, Ontario side of the St. Clair river. The response was overwhelming!,” said Marc. Read more
Man – I love this time of year. Things are humming here at Mercury Racing. In fact – I’m so jammed – I really shouldn’t be taking the time to write this. I just couldn’t wait to share the latest news regarding our Bravo I FS propeller.
Josh couldn’t have picked a worse time to test. It was a week-long stretch of 85 degree temps and unusually high humidity. Thanks to electronic boost control, the supercharged 300 Pro Fourstroke didn’t miss a beat.
The 300 Pro Fourstroke was first rigged with a 22″ pitch Tempest Plus. The boat ran 62 mph @ 6150 rpm with full fuel, two guys and a boat load of gear. Josh then switched to the 24″ pitch FS and began his run. Over time – he was able to raise the engine by one-half inch. At that setting the boat ran 64.9 mph at 6050 rpm. The engine height, (measured from bottom of the cavitation plate to boat bottom) was 4-7/8 inches.
Whats Up Doc?
The Triton likes the Bravo I FS. Although hole shots were similar, the FS provided enhanced bow lift, faster acceleration and nearly three mile per hour gain in top-end speed. A big change – particularly when under heavy loads as Josh has demonstrated.
Thanks, Josh for taking the time out your busy schedule – and literally sweating the details in your Bravo I FS test session. We appreciate it and I know our readers will find your results useful as well.
Kevin Skiba and I just returned from the 10th annual Boyne Thunder poker run. It is rare to come off of any travel feeling refreshed. But this event was refreshing – in many ways. As I had mentioned in my previous post, Boyne City is very close to my home town of Sault Ste. Marie. Driving across Michigan’s Upper Penninsula and over the mighty Mackinac bridge brought back many memories as we made our trek to paradise. I had forgotten how beautiful the area truly is.
We were impressed by the amount of people roaming about the waterfront upon our arrival Friday afternoon. Tad Whitten said our display truck was busy from the moment he arrived. Main street was jammed with people checking out the classic cars and performance boats. It was great to see the community support an event in such a grand way. The incredible weather didn’t hurt either. Read more
National Sales Manager Kevin Skiba and I are traveling to Michigan later this week to attend the 10th Annual Boyne Thunder Poker Run. Tad Whitten will meet us there with the Marketing display truck.
Having grown up in Sault Ste. Marie, a few hours North of Boyne City, I have fond memories of our family ski trips to Boyne Mountain. I’m looking forward to heading back to my old stomping grounds to witness this popular run. I spoke to event promoter Mike Knoblock recently. He said the event has a maximum capacity for 85 boats, and they’ve reached that limit. He is ecstatic with the growth they have experienced over the past nine years.
Event organizer and Main Street director Hugh Conklin said, “What has made Boyne Thunder special is its relationship with Camp Quality, a nonprofit organization that provides special experiences and support for children with cancer. Since it began, Boyne Thunder has raised more than $220,000 for Camp Quality, and it has become an important part of the camp’s success.”
A new Boyne Thunder partner this year is Challenge Mountain, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching and improving lives for the mentally and physically challenged through outdoor recreation. All donated dollars to Challenge Mountain go directly to support winter and summer programs including skiing, biking, canoeing, kayaking and sailing. Mercury Racing is honored to be associated with events such as this, whose main goal is to give back to the community and enrich the lives of those in need.
Boyne Thunder kicks off Friday evening with a street party. The poker runs starts 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The 140 mile run over the waters of Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan includes card stops in Northport, Elk Rapids, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor, and a lunch stop in downtown Charlevoix.
Quite a few of our industry friends are attending. Jay Nichols, who provided the wonderful 2012 Boyne Thunder pics featured here, is coming after much pleading and prodding from me and buddy Ron Szolack. Matt Trulio will be on hand to provide Speed on the Water readers his first had account of event highlights. Nor-Tech sales rep Terry Sobo will be making a return trip as will Michigan natives Wayne and Joe Schaldenbrand. They are bringing a fleet of Sunsation boats. Michigan is also home to Douglas Marine. There will be plenty of Skaters to wow spectators, I’m sure. We hope to catch up with Peter Hledin while we’re there.
We look forward to seeing old friends and making new friends in our neighboring state.
We’re getting stoked to head south tomorrow for the 6th Annual Texas Outlaw Challenge poker run. We’re excited to check out this unique venue. Traveling with me is our National Sales Manager Kevin Skiba and prop guru Scott Reichow. Tad Whitten is delivering our poker run village displays featuring our 1650 RACE and 565 sterndrives, an OptiMax 300XS outboard, Mercury Racing Propellers and Accessories. If you’re attending, stop by and check out our horsepower stable:) Be sure to pick up an assortment of Mercury Racing Sportswear, including the official Everything’s Big in Texas event T-shirts. Boat attendance last year was 127. They are anticipating 200 boats this year!
Event promoter Paul Robinson is excited to have our support. “Mercury Racing has been an original Outlaw Sponsor since our first event 6 years ago, Paul said. “This year they are on-site in a centerpiece display featuring their new 1650 HP engine that debuted at the Miami Boat Show. We are proud to have it make its Texas debut at our event,” said Paul.
Run to Kenny’s
Johnny O’Loughlin, driving his 1350 powered 48′ MTI, was crowned King of the Hudson after his 167 mph run last weekend in New York City. Any bets on who will be the fastest in Texas? We’ll have a good idea when the 100+ MPH Club Extreme Shootout is completed Friday morning. The first leg of the Gunslinger Poker Run & GPS Shootout takes place Friday afternoon. Apparently, the one and only stop on this short run is MTI and Mercury Racing customer Kenny Armstrong’s residence.
The main event takes place Saturday when boaters will have a choice of 11 card stops throughout Galveston Bay and Clear Lake.
Some of the Mercury powered boats registered for the event include:
“It was great to win a race in my home state,” said Terry Rinker. “I had family, friends and even former classmates cheering me on,” Terry said. Contributing Mercury Racing photographer Paul Kemiel, who lives in Michigan City, Indiana, was instrumental in bringing the excitement of outboard tunnel boat racing to LaPorte. “I’ve been involved with promoting the SBI Great Lakes Grand Prix since its inception,” said Paul. “Jason Miller, Sports Development Manager for the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, asked for my input regarding other types of powerboat racing they could bring to the area. I told them Stone Lake was a natural for F1 tunnel boats,” Paul said.
US Formula 1 Powerboat Tour President Jose Mendana worked with race organizer Jason Miller to put on the event. “The community was very excited. The amount of people who showed up for the boat parade and street party was incredible,” said Jose.
“LaPorte was phenomenal. Crowds of people were constantly by the boats asking for autographs,” said Tammy Wolf. “It was the most phenomenal North American race I’ve been to in some time,” Tammy said.
Tammy went to LaPorte to continue testing of her new Mercury OptiMax 200 XS SST race outboard powered F2 ride. She knew she wouldn’t be competitive with the higher horsepower F1 boats. “I thought I was fast until the first F1 boat blew past me! I still have my training wheels on, I’m giving the boys headaches,” said Tammy. “I don’t think they are used to girl drivers. I thought I would be one of the guys…they don’t seem to quite know what to do with me,” Tammy said. “Chris Fairchild took me under his wing and let me pit with him for the weekend,”said Tammy. “Tammy is doing great. She is still learning the differences between SST60 and F2. I thought she adapted well to the right-hand turn in LaPorte,” said Chris. Read more
I began my career with Mercury Racing in 1988 as a Product Support Specialist. I traveled throughout the country supporting stock outboard and Formula 1 tunnel boat racing.
St. Louis was the Indy 500 of outboard tunnel boat racing. Racers and fans from around the world would converge on George Winter Park to watch hometown favorites, the Seebold’s, defend their turf. I was working the parts truck one year when Mike Butler (Race Sales Manager at the time) was talking with an older gentleman about tunnel boat races from days gone by and variety of other topics. Mike then introduced me to the gentleman. He was WS Holland, Johnny Cash’s drummer. I had to step back and process who I had just met. I couldn’t believe it! I’m a music lover and drummer as well. The chance of meeting someone like WS at a boat race was very cool and as I would find out later, more than a fluke encounter.
I was impressed at how humble and down to earth this man was. It’s been over 20 years since WS and I have spoken in depth. My impression hasn’t changed. Read more
We spend a lot of time validating our products. This is because we are responsible for entire propulsion systems – not just independent components. Everything (engines, transmissions, drives and propellers) must work together and be tolerant of each other. This includes oils and lubes. They are the system’s lifeblood.
We validate our engines using specific oil types and weights. Same goes for the drives and lubes. Over the years, our two-stroke outboards have evolved from carbs to electronic fuel injection to OptiMax low-emissions direct fuel injected technology. Similarly, our higher horsepower sterndrives have evolved from traditional 2-valve, push rod engines to a quad cam, four valve engine of our own design. Oil and lube requirements have evolved along with the products. Read more
As I mentioned in The Valve Train That Could, valves exist to get air in and exhaust out. Well, the exhaust isn’t finished just because it’s past the intake valves. It’s got work to do: It’s time to “Peg the fun-o-meter” for some lucky boater! Exhaust heat remains from combustion. All turbocharged engines use that “waste” energy to spin a turbine, compressing incoming air to higher density. QC4v does that – and more.
It’s less commonly known (except by header designers and a few other social deviants), the exhaust flow also has pressure waves racing down and back up the exhaust system. When an exhaust valve opens to expel spent combustion gases, the rapid pressure rise sends a pulse down the pipe at the speed of sound. Read more
The 1650 RACE was the talk of the Miami Boat Show. Equally newsworthy was our release of 565 and 1100 sterndrives certified for use in the European Union (EU). The popular engines, packed with Mercury Racing exclusive components, meet the emissions requirements as set forth in the EU Recreational Craft Directive (RCD).
The certification expands the availability of the 565, 600 SCi, 662 SCi and 1100 sterndrive engine packages to all countries that fall under the EU’s RCD. EU certified models are identified with the CE mark. OEM boat builders must certify that their boats conform to the RCD noise requirements.
I first met go faster.de owner Andy Groeber back in 2004 when we first came out with the 1075 SCi. I would catch up with him over the following years on his annual trek to the Miami Boat Show. Andy is an exclusive Nor-Tech dealer just South of Munich. He has had a lot of success with the 662 SCis. He is excited to have the EU certified 565 and 1100. Andy sees the 565s being popular for the Nor-Tech Monte Carlo and 39-foot sportboats.
“No hassle boating is a key message for both the 565s and 1100s. The 1100s are wonderfully efficient. They have a very good reputation in the field with fewer breakdowns and less maintenance required than anything else in the past,” said Andy. They will open doors to sell high-end cats and vee-bottoms to customers who may not have bought them in the past due to maintenance needs, Andy said. “Customers in this power range would have previously had triple diesels with sub par performance. The big power and torque capabilities of the 1100 will be a natural for big family cruisers as well,” Andy concluded. Read more
It’s been a year since we introduced the Bravo I FS outboard propeller. It was originally developed for single engine four stroke outboard applications. We’ll, it didn’t take long for the word to spread regarding the prop’s performance. Folks running multiple four stroke outboard rigs started asking for right and left-hand rotation sets of the popular prop.
Being the conservative person I am, I opted to first work with a handful of people running various hull types to prove the concept before releasing the counter rotation Bravo I FS models. It took longer than I thought to get feedback from the field.
I grew frustrated because I wasn’t getting any details regarding performance results. All I would get was, “They’re great! Thanks. ” or more often than not – no news at all. It was like pulling teeth. I found out over time the props worked so well that they wanted to keep their performance secret to themselves. Eventually, I got the detailed information I was looking for and I am happy to share it with you here. Read more
I just got back from the Miami Boat Show where, in addition to our unveiling of the awesome 1650 RACE sterndrive, we debuted the all-new Pro Max outboard propeller. Some of you may be familiar with the high performance 150/200/225 h.p. Pro Max outboards we produced back in the mid 1990s. I thought the Pro Max name was perfect for our new prop and it’s intended applications.
We needed a prop to help lighter weight hulls get up on plane faster and improve top end speeds. The Bravo I XS is the solution for 2-strokes carrying heavier loads. The Bravo I FS is the prop for four strokes with heavy assignments (single and multiple engine rigs) as well. The new Pro Max fills the gap for OptiMax ProXS and 300XS and Verado Pro FourStroke outboard applications on hulls with natural bow lift.
Outboard drag racing veteran Glenn Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Racing and Marine, helped validate the prop for us. Glenn ran it on an Allison XS-2003 GrandSport with the new Mercury 150 Four Stroke. He also provided an OptiMax 250 ProXS powered Bullet 21XD bass boat. Glenn and his team are ecstatic with the Pro Max. “We experienced jacket rabbit acceleration. Both boats were on plane in 1-1/2 seconds!,” exclaimed Glenn. The Allison didn’t realize any change in top-end speed due to the engine height restriction with water pickup location on the stock 150 gearcase.
“The Bullet, benefiting with a high performance Torque Master gearcase, improved on both hole shot and top-end speeds,” said Glenn. “We did back-to-back tests comparing the Pro Max with like size Pro E.T.s as well as a variety of other props. The Pro Max outperformed everything on the ramp. We love it!,” Glenn concluded. Read more
It’s hard to believe a year has passed and the 2013 Miami Boat Show is underway. We’ve experienced some major events since our last visit to South Beach. Fred Kiekhaefer has moved on after 22 years of service. With Fred’s departure, Erik Christiansen has been named General Manager. Fred will continue to represent Mercury Racing over the next two years. In fact, he’s at the show. If your there, be sure to stop by the Mercury booth and say hello. Erik and our staff of sales, service and engineering personnel are there to support the brand as well.
I decided to forgo the show this year to be with my son. I’ll miss seeing everyone and the exciting new products being unveiled. Jay Nichols has ensured me he will keep me abreast of the action via his acclaimed photography.
Some of you may be aware of the rumor mill started a while back when Powerboat Nation posted a story speculating we were going to release a 1700 h.p. engine. The story featured a dated 1350 model shot. Erik squashed all rumors when he unveiled the all-new 1650 RACE sterndrive. Based on our exclusive quad cam, four valve 1350, this monster features new pistons, larger turbos and requires 112 AKI race fuel.
So there, PB Nation. You were correct in that – yes – we did release a higher power engine based on our exclusive quad cam, four valve engine platform. You were off on the power and color, however. And no, this is not your father’s poker run engine. It is a race engine that is sold, without warranty, to qualified powerboat racing professionals. I’ll make sure you get a press kit:) Read more
Meanwhile, in the frozen tundra of Fond du Lac, people at Racing and Mercury headquarters are busy preparing for the upcoming Miami International Boat Show. Mercury has a vast array of exciting products to show and talk about. True to our Miami history, Racing will again have a few new things to share as well 🙂 Read more
Happy Holidays from all of us at Mercury Racing. I hope you had a joyous Christmas with family and friends. For those of who may have missed our Facebook Holiday Countdown, Check it out! MercFan has to have the coolest Christmas tree on the planet!
It’s hard to believe 2013 is a only few days away. I’m looking forward to a fresh start. We have some exciting things to share again in Miami and we’ll be sporting some new wheels in time for the Lake Havasu Boat Show and Desert Storm Poker Run. Lot’s of exciting things planned for the new year. In the mean time, I thought you might enjoy some more visuals from Key West.
At Mercury Racing we’re really pumped with the performance of our new Bravo I FS props. With some help from my angling friends, the application of the Bravo sterndrive prop on four stroke outboards was an instant success. We first focused on the single engine applications.
Long time friend and coworker Steve Miller, Senior Category Manager for Mercury, recently fished with Professional Musky angler Jim Saric. We gave Steve a 22″ pitch Bravo I FS for Jim to try on his Verado Pro 250 powered Ranger 620VS.
Video courtesy of Jim Saric – The Musky Hunter Television Show.
Our high performance QC4v (1100/1350) sterndrive engine packages have been a stellar success. Both models are game changers and have lived up to the promise: Faster. Stronger. Farther. Longer. But as stout and trouble free as they’ve been, even these Torque Monsters will need attention eventually.
Racing’s all-new Factory Fresh QC4v program features a complete engine inspection and refresh by the skilled craftsmen who built them originally. Unique to the QC4v refresh program is the option to purchase either a new long block assembly or a certified refreshed core long block. The long-block core exchange program reduces the amount of time an engine is in for service. Engines receive a complete dynamometer run prior to being sealed and released as Certified Factory Fresh. Refreshed QC4v engines enjoy a limited warranty on all refresh parts purchased by a customer – including the long block assembly. The refresh warranty is the same as Mercury Racing’s one year Parts and Accessories Warranty. Factory Fresh QC4v warranties can be transferred to a new owner if the boat is sold.
The refresh process begins with an inspection of the condition of the engine long-block. This determines the core-exchange value. Once the core value is assessed, the rest of the engine is inspected to determine what is needed. A refreshed long-block is a solid foundation from which our craftsmen work their magic. Every aspect of the upper engine – from fasteners to critical components (fuel, electrical systems and closed cooling systems) – are inspected and updated as needed. The refresh process includes rebuilding of the sea pump, replacing all belts, exhaust gaskets, seals, hoses, spark plugs, fuel filters, oil & oil filter, and other miscellaneous hardware.
Additional parts may be replaced due to corrosion or other factors. These may include exhaust manifolds and turbocharger assemblies. If any of these conditions exist, the customer is informed and provided an estimate of related charges. Read more
Whew! I’m just getting back to a “normal” schedule after last week’s Key West Poker Run. It was a great event. We had people at the Mercury Racing truck from the moment we unloaded our 1350 and 565 display engines through the 10:00 p.m. closing time. It was non-stop action Thursday through Saturday. It’s always fun to meet and greet folks who enjoy our products. It is equally enjoyable to establish new relationships with future customers.
This year was the 20th anniversary of the event. Stu Jones and the Florida Powerboat Club staff didn’t disappoint. This has to be the largest gathering of performance boats on earth. It is also the largest gathering of performance boat builders and dealers. Industry movers and shakers included Reggie Fountain, Randy Scism (MTI), Peter Hledin (Skater), Chad Braver (Cigarette), Todd Warner (Statement), Nils Johnson and Trond Schou (Nor-Tech), Paul Loguidice (Hustler), David Woods and Scott Shogren (Pier 57). Read more
It’s hard to believe the 20th Annual Key West Poker Run is upon us. We are proud to return as Presenting Sponsor of this historic performance boating event. Dave Vehrs (whose full-time job is building high performance NXT1, NXT6 and M8 drives) just texted me to let me know he has arrived safe and sound after his three-day drive from Fond du Lac to Key West in the Mercury Racing big rig. The truck will be in the Poker Run Village with exciting product displays including 1350 and 565 sterndrives and Mercury Racing Propellers and Accessories. Our poker run prizes include a set of Mercury Racing Prop Covers for the top five hands with Mercury Racing (NXT1, #6, M8) surface drive propulsion. The two best hands with outboard or Bravo sterndrive propulsion and Mercury or Mercury Racing propellers will earn a Mercury Racing Propeller Lab Finishing certificate. This will enable the winners to have a set of props blueprinted or repaired at the factory by our highly skilled craftsmen.
Officially licensed Mercury Racing merchandise will be available for purchase on-site as well. Here’s your chance to play Santa with Mercury Racing Holiday gifts. Read more
Another year is quickly approaching the finish line. It’s hard to believe two years have passed since we launched this blog and our Facebook,Twitter pages and YouTube channel. Thank you for your participation, “friend”ship, tweetness, videos and feedback.
Watermarks: The Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show marks the start of 2013 boat show season in the USA. The Performance Dock will be stocked with a variety of go-fast gems. Cigarette Racing will again be the epicenter, with Nor-Tech, Formula and Statement Marine among the performance builders featuring their latest wares. Douglas Marine is displaying in Ft. Lauderdale for the first time. They will be showing their beautiful 412 catamaran with twin 1100s. The show will also feature the return of Baja with their debut of the all-new 30 Outlaw GT. Stu Jones and the Florida Powerboat Club (FPC) will ensure all are entertained and catered to Friday eventing in their annual Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show Bash.
Speaking of FPC, We are busing preparing for the 20th Annual Key West Poker Run. We are again title sponsor and look forward to being on-site at the Poker Run Village with our mobile marketing truck and crew. Mercury Racing sportswear will be available for folks wanting to get a jump start on their Christmas shopping for both naughty… and nice :). Mercury Racing engines will again be the power to beat at the Key West Offshore World Championships, happening at the same time as the poker run. And, before you know it, the Miami International Boat Show will be upon us; seems we always have something exciting there! Read more
Mercury Racing’s 565 – with digital throttle and shift (DTS), better fuel economy and more grunt – prompted questions. Part 1 answered “How’d you do that?” by reviewing the 565’s torque and power. Part 2 continues to answer: We’ll discuss 565 fuel and DTS.
Fuel Economy. Miserly fuel consumption is a hidden benefit of digital instrumentation. Not just in the boat, but in our laboratory. Since we designed the 525EFI and 600SCi, we have substantially upgraded our dynamometers and engineering analysis tools. In large part, this was done for exhaust emissions, both design feasibility studies and product development, so that we could remain compliant with regulations. As a side benefit: we gained a capability to look at each individual cylinder’s behavior in much finer detail than ever before. Plus, our incredible technicians have the talent to do so.
Mercury Racing’s 565 – with digital throttle and shift (DTS), better fuel economy and more grunt – prompted more than a few questions. Mostly variations of: “How’d you do that?” We agreed to blog and provide some answers. In Part 1, I’ll discuss about torque and power. Part 2, fuel and DTS.
Torque. How big are the bombs and where do they push?
As I said in discussing our QC4v 1350, “The Valve Train That Could,” bigger bombs make more power. We pack more air because we designed the heads and inlet valves to flow better. Admittedly, they’re still two valve heads and not as free flowing as our four valve engines, but they’re better than our previous two valve designs. With more air, more fuel is added for combustion and makes a bigger bomb. Yet, fuel economy is better! How? Improved and more precise fuel delivery to each combustion event makes less wasted (unburned) fuel. Easy to say; hard to do – but we did it. (More about that in Part 2.) Read more
In seeing some of the photos regarding the event, I’m thinking 99 Psycho Clowns skier, Wayne Mawer, had his own version of the epic tune going through his head. “Clowns in front of me, racers to my right – here I am….” You truly have to respect these guys for what they’ve accomplished.
Imagine racing a 21-foot boat in which our potent quad cam, four valve 1350 sterndrive takes up half of the interior! That’s gotta be a rush on its own. Now think about strapping a board under your feet and hanging on as the twin turbocharged engine, producing 1300 lb. ft. of torque, pulls you across the water at speeds never before seen from a production sterndrive. Then, throw a bunch of competitors into the mix! It takes a lot of courage and talent to race on smooth water. Now, add some messy weather. Water ski racing in the rough requires a whole new skill set. Read more
One of my posts in our Virtual Tour series focused on consumer outboards. For the government, we build a “stealth” outboard that is rarely seen: the OptiMax JP. Developed for the U.S. Department of Defense, this multi-fuel engine runs on JP5, JP8, kerosene and Commercial Jet A aviation fuels — the same “heavy” fuels used in helicopters and jets (which DoD already stockpiles all over the place). The 3.0 Liter V-6 OptiMax JP produces 185 horsepower. These unique engines are 40% more fuel efficient than the gasoline engine they are derived from. And, with 95% shared components, there are no unique training requirements necessary. Mercury JPs have been deployed around the world for some time now. Tony Nahitchevansky is our Government Accounts Manager. I called Tony to get some background information regarding the development of this multiple fuel engine for our armed services.
“A Navy ship crash in 1995 which resulted in a explosive gasoline fire spawned a DoD directive for all gasoline powered engines and gasoline fuel tanks be removed from Naval ships by 2010,” Tony said. The mandate called for engines to be developed to operate on fuels that meet the following criteria:
1) Improve ship safety by minimizing fire hazards
2) More economical and more efficient
3) Readily available as a single battle space fuel
Tony said every ship carries JP 5 fuel. Ports have JP8 and Commercial Jet A available. The common denominator with all three fuels is availability. “An unlimited fuel supply enhances our ability to protect assets on the water,” said Tony. It also greatly increases crew safety. Tony said, “There was another ship fire since the 2010 DoD mandate. The fact that the ship only had JP aviation fuels on board provided the crew enough time to react and save the ship in a safe and efficient manner,” said Tony. Read more
Terry repeated his 2011 performance by claiming both SST 120 and F1 OPC National Championships. He also claimed the new SST 200 OPC National Championship. The defending Mod U champ surrendered that title to Chris Fairchild.
A total 10 boats lined up for start of the SST 120 30-lap final on Sunday. Terry Rinker dominated the event, finishing an impressive 36 seconds ahead of Brent Dillard for the championship. Lee Daniel, Mark Jakob and Terry’s son Ashton rounded out 3-5. All were powered by Mercury SST 120 race outboards.
Chris Fairchild earned the pole for the F1 20-lap final. Unfortunately, mechanical gremlins took him out of the race about mid way through. “A steering cable broke at the drum at 115 mph. The boat took a hard left to the infield. The G-forces were so great, the tail cone was sucked inside the combing board,” Chris said. Thankfully, Chris was unscathed. Terry Rinker went on to romp this class too, finishing 34 seconds ahead of Mark Welch for his second consecutive F1 National Championship. Jeff Shepherd finished third. OptiMax 200XS SST powered Merv Bjork and Donny Lick rounded out 4-5 in a class featuring purpose built Mercury race outboards of much greater power. Read more
“It’s really impressive if you think about it. The new 565 provides the same performance as the 600 SCi, Mike said. Mike continued, “We were 15 mph faster than the next boat in our class. That is huge – particularly given the 565 is naturally aspirated”
Race and lifestyle photos courtesy of Lauri Lampén.
Union International Motonautique (UIM) crowns an Offshore 3C Champion for 2012: it’s Marcus Johnsson – again! Lauri Lampén sent us a message recently regarding his friend Marcus, winner of the UIM Offshore 3C European Championship: “Marcus is the king of the 3C class. He’s won…three UIM world championships and now got his fourth European title. All of them he’s won with Mercury Racing engines.” Hats off for Marcus: winning multiple Offshore 3C European and World Championships is no simple task! Read more
Now here’s something noteworthy: 3.2 MPG on 89 octane pump gas! This is real-world, family boating experience in a new 29 Outerlimits vee bottom with Mercury Racing’s 565.
Mike Everson is the proud, new owner of this beautiful rig. And he lives near us! So, we invited Mike to Fond du Lac for some data collection on his Outerlimits. Mike Griffiths, one of our field techs, gathered some fuel consumption data on Lake Winnebago; however, Mike Everson shared his following weekend experience, too. He covered 124 miles with his family on the Mississippi River. (Hey, it’s his new boat, you would too!) He averaged 3.2 MPG over those 124 miles. Impressive.
Here is Mike Griffiths’ drier, more clinical data:
Sweet! Lake conditions limited our ability to extract the 29’s absolute top performance. (Outerlimits’ builder, Mike Fiore, noted 98 MPH top end back at the factory.) However, 93 MPH with three people and a full fuel load is respectable — especially attaining 2.7 MPG with the digital throttle held wide open! [In Darth Vader’s raspy, measured delivery…] “Impressive. Most impressive.”
It was 5:12 am when my first email of the morning arrived: “Leaving the dock now. We took MONSTER TORQUE w us.” It was Stuart Hayim signaling the start of his around Long Island record run. Stuart’s brand new 42 MTI was powered with Mercury Racing 1350’s,M8 drives and 5-blade CNC Cleaver props. And he was pumped up! (He borrowed “Monster Torque” from our blog post headline of October 2010.) A couple hours later, at 8:37 am, I received another: “Record now back in hands. Of MHP, [Mercury Hi-Performance (now Racing)] thanks to the whole team. 2 hours 11 min. Sent from my iPhone”
It took a minute for the message to sink in — 2:11. 2:11! That’s almost an hour off last year’s time — and Stuart’s previous record! The time is also about half of the record Bill Sirois and I had set back in 1968. John Tomlinson and Stuart Hayim didn’t just break the record. They smashed it! As Stuart says, “Tramps like us, baby, we were born to run!” I guess so.
I called Stuart to congratulate him. In classic Stuart speak, he said, “I can’t believe we left 11 minutes on the table. We could have run faster….When it got rough, Johnny kept asking if I was all right. I said, ‘At 65 years of age, I’m an old man, not a baby!’ …We could have shaved 11 minutes easily.” Read more
I first reviewed my classic literature collection for information regarding the evolution of surface piercing propellers. Copy from the propeller section of a 1972 Hi-Performance Mercury/MerCruiser Accessories catalog references our change from bronze to stainless steel that year. I sent Dick Snyder an e-mail to get his input regarding racing propeller history.
Dick Snyder was in charge of Mercury’s propeller engineering in the early ’60s. “When I took over prop engineering in the early ’60s, I had inherited nothing but low rake (6 degree), 2-bladed props. We had no racing or hi-performance props. “There soon came a time when I fell in love with 15 degrees of rake and 3-bladed props for the added smoothness and a little better acceleration. You typically would lose a small amount of top-end going from a 2-blade to 3-blade prop. The higher 15-degree rake allowed the props to “hold” at greater trim angles for enhanced bow lift and greater hull efficiency. This resulted with even greater top-end speeds than the lower rake 2-blade props,” Dick explained. In 1984, Dick was promoted to Director of Mercury Hi-Performance. So he promoted Bob Hetzel to run Mercury’s racing prop and gearcase shop. “We had quite an interesting development of stainless steel props for racing, followed by replacing bronze for stainless steel on our recreational props,” said Dick. Read more
People are fascinated with propellers. The response to Scott Reichow’s Prop School blog series proves people are craving to learn more. Our visitors are a bit surprised when they enter Racing’s propeller finishing area. I think they are expecting to see a number of robotic machines pumping out finished propellers. Nope. What they do see is highly skilled craftsmen creating precision tuned works of art. Each puts their finishing touch on every propeller Racing makes – including our CNC machined Sterndrive Cleavers.
The trademark, “Lab Finished,” was created by Mercury Racing back in 1970s – when factory outboard racing required a dedicated Engineering Lab to create specialized props. We have proven through the years that hand-working a prop enhances performance. This is particularly true for props run at elevated transom heights (surface piercing) and higher RPMs where impact-induced vibrations and other nuances are amplified.
Only a small percentage of our propeller line is designed specifically for racing. Our most popular propeller is mostly used for recreation: the Bravo I. We first enhanced performance of this MerCruiser sterndrive propeller by lab finishing them for racing. Read more
Mercury Racing offers a variety of sterndrives fit for virtually any application. Bravo One XRs are enhancements of existing designs while NXT1, NXT6 and M8 drives were designed and developed in-house for Mercury Racing sterndrive packages. The Bravo One XR is a beefed up version of MerCruiser’s Bravo One drive. It was developed to withstand the rigors of offshore racing and performance boating. Our Bravo One XR Sport Master drive targets surface piercing applications. Bravo One XR and Bravo One XR Sport Masters are popular options for boats fitted with 525 EFI,565 and 600 SCi engine packages. Mike Riedi, who has over 30 years experience building high performance outboard gearcases, also builds Bravo Sport Masters.
Next door to Joe, Dave Vehrs (when not man-handling our 18-wheel Marketing big rig in the Arizona Desert or Florida Keys) builds the drives to go with Joe’s transoms.
When I first started working here, I attended outboard and sterndrive service schools. Drive building was the sterndrive school’s main focus. A beginner quickly learns the challenge of building a drive – over and over – to get the shimming right for correct gear tolerances. It was with this experience that I gained an appreciation for what Mike and Dave do every day. I’m still a rookie; these fellas are top-shelf pros. Read more
“Horsepower Highway” is where our 525 EFI, 565, 600 SCi , 662 SCi and 700 SCi sterndrive engine family is built. One technician hand builds each engine from a bare cylinder block to a “long block” (with all the rotating and reciprocating bits fitted inside). Sub-assembly work prior to an engine build includes the rotating assembly: balancing a crankshaft, matching it with a camshaft, pistons, rings, and connecting rods for later fitment into the block.
Horsepower Highway was conceived, engineered and built in-house. It features a unique rail system and assembly fixtures used to transport cylinder blocks along the line. At each station, all the required tools and components are located for assembly. Each technician controls the speed of his build, moving the block along at their own pace. If something doesn’t look right, it is his discretion to stop right then and there. The build begins with installation of a camshaft. Next is the installation of a crankshaft, timing chain and matched piston and connecting rod sets. The bottom end is sealed with the installation of the oil pan.
The engine is rotated on its assembly fixture to enable work on the top end: The cylinder heads are installed; then push rods and rocker arms. Temporary valve covers mask the valve train prior to paint. An intake is the last component installed before the long bock goes to our paint line. Upon return from paint, it goes back on The Highway for installation of a bell housing. Color matched valve covers replace the temporaries to complete valve train assembly. Transmissions for NXT1 or NXT6 drive models are installed at this point as well.
Long blocks for various engine models look similar. One noticeable difference is the intake (long blocks with naturally aspirated intakes are destined to become 525 EFIs or 565s; those with pressure charged intakes will become 600/662 or 700 SCi’s). Custom color long blocks stand out, too. The “dress line” is where an engine get its true personality. Read more
Mercury OptiMax powered boats swept the Formula 2 competition at the 25th annual Dow Bay City River RoarSunday, June 24. A total of 13 boats lined up for the 30-lap final on the Saginaw River in Bay City, Michigan. The race was round two of the 2012 Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour.
David McCormick, crew chief for F2 winner Donny Lick gave me a play-by-play of their victorious weekend. “Chris Fairchild won the first of two qualifying heats, with Donny in second. We changed props and it was all Donny – flag-to-flag- in heat 2,” exclaimed David. Fellow OptiMax competitors Jimmie Merleau and Chris Fairchild rounded out 2-3. Donny got the pole position for Sunday’s 30-lap final – with Chris, Jimmie, Dan Orchard and Merv Bjork rounding out the top five- all with OptiMax 200s,” said David. Ruban Ascencio was the lone OptiMax driver in the remaining field along with four traditional Mercury SST 120 outboard powered boats and two F1 Sport entries (featuring carburetted 2.5 Liter Mercury outboards).
Donny lead the 30-lap final from the start with Chris Fairchild in hot pursuit. As the race wore on, traffic began to build. Donny got blocked by traffic on lap 28. Chris made a move and was successful in getting around Donny for the lead. His lead was brief, as by lap 29, he too was blocked and Donny regained the lead to capture the checkered flag. Chris, Jimmie, Merv and Dan rounded out 2-5. Chris summed up the event by saying, “Donny ran a good race. It was great to see the Optis finish strong.”
“It was just a fantastic weekend. This was my first major series win since I got into tunnel boat racing in 2000. And I just realized it was Donny’s first major F2 victory since he started back in 2006,” said David.
I had asked Donny if he had ever run in Bay City before. He rattled off the different years and blown powerheads or broken equipment that went along with them. “Thank you Mercury Racing for developing such an awesome motor. This thing just keeps running and running – we don’t really have to do anything to it. It’s much easier to run and maintain than the 120s. It’s certainly more economical; in both fuel usage and cost of ownership,” Donny said.
David McCormick was one of the early adopters of the OptiMax race engine. “We first ran the Optis three years ago. It’s been a learning curve for us. It’s taken this long for the racing community to accept it. I think the results here prove it is a viable engine. We’re excited for our next major race, the Three Rivers Regatta, July 3-4, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” David concluded.
F1 in Black& White
Terry Rinker of Tampa, Florida dusted off his 2005 Lee tunnel boat to win the F1 competition. The field of 12 had a surprise entry with the return of veteran tunnel boat ace Tim Seebold. This was Tim’s first powerboat race in almost two years. I believe this was the first time in history a Seebold qualified for a race in an engine other than black in color and a boat that was not of their own design. Tim qualified in a V-6 Johnson powered DAC hull. A blown powerhead forced him to start last on the dock in a backup Johnson powered Seebold for the 50-lap final. His father Bill Seebold was on the radios.
I asked Terry what it was like to see Tim compete with Johnson power. “It was good to see Tim back. He’s a tough competitor, no matter what he’s driving. Chris [Fairchild] is always tough to beat as well.” Chris had similar words to say. “Terry ran a great race. I finished seven seconds behind him and 12 seconds ahead of Tim in his 3.0 Liter Johnson. I’m happy with that – given I run stock 2.5 Liter Mercury power,” Chris said. Seebold, Brian Venton and Steve Lee rounded out 3-5. All, with the exception of Seebold, were powered by Mercury 2.5 EFI race outboards.
This was Terry’s fourth Bay City victory – the last was back in 2006. “Bay City is always tough. Its just a rough race – you never know what the next lap will bring,” Terry said.
The next round for the Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour is the Roar on the River, July 20-22, Trenton Michigan.
Consumer, government and race outboards, featuring Mercury’s low-emissions, direct fuel injected 2-stroke OptiMax powerheads, are assembled at Mercury Racing’s factory in Taycheedah, Wisconsin. Consumer models include the 3.0 Liter OptiMax 250 SportXS and the 3.2 Liter OptiMax 300XS outboards. Watch for a future post on the OptiMax JP, an outboard we build for the government.
The competition outboards produced in Mercury Racing’s factory include our 2.5 Liter OptiMax 200XS SST (Super Stock Tunnel) and 2.5 Liter OptiMax 200XS ROS (Race Offshore). However, Racing’s four strokes — the 60 EFI FormulaRace and the Verado 350 SCi — while designed and validated here, are built off-site at other Mercury facilities in order to share common (and expensive to replicate) production processes.
OptiMax powerheads are manufactured complete, to Racing’s specifications, at Mercury Marine’s headquarters campus — home to Mercury OptiMax outboard production in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Upon their arrival at Mercury Racing, a powerhead’s first stop is one of our 2-cycle dynamometers. Upon completing a power run, they move to Racing’s 2-cycle department. There, technicians inspect the cylinders, to ensure proper wear patterns, prior to final outboard assembly. Meanwhile, another technician is working his magic: handcrafting a gearcase that will efficiently transfer 300 h.p. to the water. Read more
Continuing from Virtual Tour – Part 1: Intro.… we will visit Mercury Racing’s Quality Control and Paint Line. We’ll end up in the 4-Cycle Race Shop where technicians build our exclusive quad-cam, four valve sterndrive engine family. Lets go!
Wherever we can, quality control (the discipline) is built into our production processes. Got to build it in; can’t inspect it in. Quality Control (the department) supports these quality processes (trust but verify) — and measures tolerance’s on everything from machined castings, gears, cylinder bores, pistons, crankshafts and anything else used in the production of Mercury Racing products. QC also plays a critical role in the in-house prototype development of new products. This place was buzzing with activity during the development of the QC4v sterndrive engine platform because so much was new — suppliers, parts and processes. Read more
It’s been a few months since the Miami introduction of Mercury Racing’s 565 horsepower, 8.7 liter engine. I thought I’d check in with the “early adopters” for their impressions. I suspected I would be pleased; I was right.
The universal highlights:
1) exceptional top end performance,
2) unexpectedly good fuel economy!
3) seductively smooth shift and throttle and
4) amazing time-to-plane and mid-range acceleration!
Top End. Nordic’s new 24SX catamaran, with a single 565, is routinely “over the 100 mph mark,” according to Nordic GM, Kevin Doane. Cigarette’s 38 Top Gun 90+ MPH runs, well… 90+! “Really, it’s 90++!” says Skip Braver. “It shifts like it has 1350’s,” he continued. Nor-Tech’s 420 Monte Carlo “tops 86 mph” in the words of Scott Conrad. Formula’s Miami show boat, 400 FX Super Sport, is running 63 mph for its owner (2 people, full of fuel and water). Whatever your boating preference, that is excellent performance from these engines in a wide range of boat types.
The 49th annual 24 Hours of Rouenendurance powerboat race concluded 4 p.m. Rouen, France time Monday, May 28. This year, Mercury dominated the event — powering the top nine finishers: Mercury powered the top five in Class 3 (mostly Mercury S3000 race engines with a sprinkling of Evinrudes). Merc owned all of Class 2 (OptiMax 200XS SST or SST 120 power). The fourstroke Mercury’s swept the top four in Class 1 competition (Mercury, Honda and Yamaha brands).
Rouen 2012 was historic on many fronts:
1) This was the first time in recent history the race start date was changed from April 30. It was the second consecutive year the race was not run continuously for 24 hours. This year the race was stretched out to three days, with six hours of racing on Saturday, May 26; 12 hours of racing on Sunday, May 27; and the final six hours run on Monday, May 28. Racing began 3:30 p.m. local time Saturday, May 26 and ran until 9:30 p.m. Racing convened at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, May 27 and ran until 9:30 p.m. Racing convened again 10:00 a.m. Monday with a 4 pm finish.
2) This year also marked the first time in history an International All-Female team (Olympic Team Rouennais #24) competed in the event.
3) 2012 was the first time a Mercury fourstroke won Class 1 which has historically favored 2-stroke Yamahas.
Class 3 and Top Five
Team Pegase Humanis #8, a Mercury S3000 race outboard-powered Moore hull won the race overall and Class 3 competition. Drivers Christophe Boyard, Xavier Savin and R. Avenel completed 730 laps, 30 laps ahead of Drakkar #2. Force Inshore#18, Neptune Inshore #14, and Tech Motor Racing-Matm#16 rounded out the top five overall and in Class 3 competition. All were powered by Mercury S3000 race outboards. Read more
Veteran female F1 driver Marit Stromoy of Norway, who is also competing in Rouen for the first time, will campaign a Mercury S3000 powered boat in Class 3 competition.
This is Tammy’s first Rouen experience. “It is a dream come true to attend such a legendary and historical event. I never thought I would have the opportunity to compete in the toughest and most challenging tunnel boat race in the world,” said Tammy. No new comer, she’s been racing boats for over 17 years.
I asked Tammy how the team came about. “The team was chosen by Team Manager Albert Hericher (Marie’s husband) and Operations Manager Carl Kinder. They reviewed the top female tunnel boat drivers in the world and I am honored to be one who was hand-picked for this team,” Tammy said. Two-time Rouen champion Chris Fairchild has been giving her guidance over the past couple of months. “Chris taught me Rouen is not won on the first lap. The race will equally be about survival and speed. I believe a constant strong performance is needed to be successful,” said Tammy. “Driving in Rouen is an honor; finishing in Rouen is a great achievement; a podium finish will be a dream. The most incredible part of this journey is the amazing support I have had from Mercury, Peters and May, my family, friends and fans,” Tammy said. Read more
“Welcome to Mercury Racing. Nice to Have You Here!” is the first thing most visitors hear upon entering the reception area of our Fond du Lac, Wisconsin headquarters. For over 15 years, I’ve welcomed visitors from all parts of the globe who come for a personal tour of our operations. It’s fun to meet people who enjoy our products. I love to see their expressions and hear their comments. All leave with a better understanding of what we do as a business, the services we provide and products we produce. One of the big things people leave with: an appreciation for the “sweat equity” that goes into all facets of production. Visitors are amazed at the hand-craftsmanship and palpable pride that our people put into our products.
This is the first in a series of posts featuring a virtual tour of Mercury Racing. Text and still photos will be complimented with high definition video shot by John Potts of American Performance Television. Before we begin, we need to review a bit of history. Read more
Guy Williamson from our Australian office sent me exciting news recently regarding our OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard. The latest generation of the low emissions 2-stroke made a big impact at its Australian Formula Powerboat GP debut. The second round of the national series was held April 28-30 on the Clarence River in Grafton, Australia.
In a David vs Goliath performance, The three OptiMax entries finished 2-3 and 5th in Formula 1 competition. Apparently the Australian powerboat racing governing body has not yet finished its technical inspection and rule book for the 200 h.p. engine designed for Formula 2 competition. Those wishing to race were forced to move up into the Formula 1 class and compete against 300 h.p. Mercury 2.5 EFI race outboard powered hulls. Any way you look at it, it’s an all Mercury victory.
Reigning 2011 Australian F1 champion Damien Mackenzie continued his winning streak in Grafton. Although Damien was able to fend off the pesty F2 Opti entries – three of his fellow F1 competitors weren’t so lucky. Mercury OptiMax, driven by Michael Page, finished second, just ahead of fellow Opti competitor Grant Trask in My Home Now. Gavin Simmons finished behind the two OptiMax powered entries in his Mercury 2.5 EFI race outboard powered hull. Page and Trask are now 4th and 5th in the F1 points chase – despite their running F2 class engines and missing the 2012 season opener.
I had a blast at Desert Storm this year. (Or should I say “once again this year!”?) The first West Coast showing of our new 565 was at the Havasu Boat Show just last week — and we had one on display at Desert Storm’s street party and another in a 24 Nordic! And in even greater numbers than last year, Mercury Racing QC4v engines were back.
Dave’s Custom Boats (DCB) had four customers’ boats with QC4v power. Marine Technology Inc‘s (MTI) 1350 powered “Phantom” 48 was pounding out tunes as well as boat speed — its twin 1350s performing dual roles of power and musical accompaniment. (I tagged along with owner, Ken Armstrong, and his crew for the poker run — and the party that seems to spring up wherever he goes. Wow! I think “Phantom” could idle on its sub-woofers alone.) And there’s more! Dr. Gabe Jasper’s brand new, bright red and silver Frisini 43 Catania catamaran with 1350’s made its desert debut as well.
Dave Hemmingson enjoys turning heads with Mercury Racing QC4v’s. At Desert Storm last year, DCB was ripping up Lake Havasu with Mike Stevenson’s stunning orange and black, 2,700 horsepower M35 Wide Body. In 2010, Gary Williams’ 1350 powered M31 recorded 176.4 mph. This year, with the same 1350s coupled to a new pair of Mercury Racing Pro-Finish CNC props, the metallic green rocket ship ran over 180 mph — on pump gas! The official speed record for a single engine boat this year? Troy Rapp’s DCB F29. Sporting a single Mercury 1350, the 29-foot cat clocked an astounding 129 mph in Saturday’s shootout! Read more
I just got off the phone with our National Sales Manager, Kevin Skiba. Kevin is on his way back from Arizona after the Lake Havasu Boat Show. It sounds like the show was a resounding success. Kevin and drive technician Dave Vehrs represented Mercury Racing at the show. Other Mercury reps included Brad Hammel from Mecury Repower and West Coast Technical Area Manager Michael Scott.
I’m fortunate to annually represent Mercury Racing at the Bass Master Classic in the Mercury booth. This year, a fisherman named Rick asked me if there was a Mercury prop that would work for him. He had recently purchased a 2012 Triton 19XS powered by an OptiMax Pro XS 200. Rick was frustrated with the performance. The sharp turns and switchbacks on the Bayou where he runs were causing his propeller to break loose. This forced him to back off the throttle, causing the boat to lose speed and drop off plane. Rick had contacted his Triton representative regarding the issue. Although they discussed various options, the rep suggested Rick continue using a three blade prop.
The performance facts that I gathered in our conversation pointed me to a Bravo I XS. I told Rick the prop is designed specifically for low-emissions 2-stroke OptiMax outboards. Rick responded, “Isn’t Bravo I a sterndrive prop?” Read more
In my previous post (Part 2) regarding high performance boat operation, I reviewed basic information on rigging fit and function. Now its time to head to the ramp.
While the boat is still on the trailer, walk around for a visual inspection of the hull. Next, climb aboard for a visual inspection of the interior and engine compartment (motor well for outboards): ensure everything is in place and secure. Don’t forget the drain plug(s)! Check your other safety accessories: aboard? In secure locations?
Once your boat is launched, review the helm to familiarize yourself with the location and function of all instruments and controls. Make sure the steering wheel, throttle and shift controls are well within your reach and that you are comfortable with their operation.
If your boat is fitted with K-Plane trim tabs, be comfortable with the location and operation of the tab trim switches. The driver needs to know the location and function of accessory switches such as bilge blower, bilge pump, running lights, horn, courtesy lights and related fuses, or circuit breakers. Read more
As you prepare for the upcoming boating season, remember to check the condition of your props to ensure they are in good condition and ready to go.
To keep them in good shape, use propeller covers. We’ve developed an all-new cover specifically for Mercury Racing CNC Cleaver propellers. The 18-inch diameter cover features a tough, tear resistant and waterproof nylon shell. Red webbing highlights the outer edge. The silk screened Mercury Racing logo resists absorption of oil, grease and other contaminants.
The interior is lined with a tough ballistics material. The puncture resistant lining encases a marine grade padding to help protect the prop from impact. Read more
Florida Powerboat Club’s (FPC) Miami to Islamorada poker run follows the world’s best boat show. It’s unusually interesting because of that timing: Many of the Miami Show boats make their first outings with Stu Jones’ club. I counted eight show boats on Thursday’s wave.
OK, poker runs are about the fun, relationships and a common interest in performance boating. But my focus is mostly on our customers and their hardware (my job!)…
This year, I hitched a ride on Thursday with Derek Wachob, his family and friends. Their new 42 Cigarette Huntress is powered with five of the Mercury Racing designed 350SCi Verados! What a ride! And the sound system: young Madison sure can “shake that groove thing”! (So can Abby – and probably anyone else within about two miles.) Derek reloaded and made the trek again on Friday in his sinister black ZR 48 MTI.
What a couple of weeks! For me, the Miami Show is about the best activity one can still call work. We rolled out Racing’s new, 8.7 liter, digital throttle and shift, 565 hp propulsion package. That gave me plenty of excuses to hang out with customers of Mercury, Cigarette, Dave’s Custom Boats, Formula and Nor-Tech.
My first indication this was going to be a breakout Miami show was first thing Thursday. We had a huge gathering of media and trade professionals for our 10:05 a.m. press conference.
Kevin Grodzki was first up to unveil the Mercury 150 Fourstroke outboard for its debut appearance at the world’s largest boat show. Fred Kiekhaefer followed with his unveiling of our all-new 565 sterndrive. Both engine’s were very well received. From that point on – the show was a non-stop-go.
We had two free-standing static 565 engine displays at the show – one in the Mercury booth and one in Dave’s Custom Boats (DCB) booth.
New for the 2012 Miami International Boat Show — and enthusiastic performance boaters!
Mercury Racing has updated its core, big block sterndrive! Now, the venerable 525EFI has a digital sibling — 565!
We’ve stroked the block to 8.7 liters (or 533 cubic inches), redesigned the cylinder heads, added a second throttle body to the inlet, broadened the torque curve and increased output to 565 horsepower at 5,000-5400 rpm.
Mercury Racing’s new 565 runs strong on 89 octane pump gas (RON+MON)/2. It employs dual throttle bodies and electronic fuel injection flowing through a new cylinder head which we designed with improved valve angles for better flow and more precise air and fuel distribution.
I can’t wait for the 2012 Miami Boat Show. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and talking props with boaters, boat builders, dealers, consumers and racers. We’re geared up to have another big show. Fred Kiekhaefer has another exciting new product to unveil and I have a couple of new things to show as well. In fact, I just couldn’t wait any longer to talk about our new outboard prop.
You may recall my post regarding the Bravo I XS. We took the proven Bravo One sterndrive prop, added big one-inch vent holes in the hub and did some other tweaks to make it a big performer on low-emissions OptiMax outboards. Read more
“My racing days hold many fond memories for me. Being part of the Mercury Racing Team made it possible for a young country boy from South Carolina to go places, do things, and meet people from all over the world that would have otherwise never happened.” wrote Earl Bentz, regarding his time driving for Team Mercury.
Earl credits his uncle, D.F. Jenkins [Jenkin Outboard, Charleston, SC]. for getting him into racing. He ran his first race at age 16 on Lake Murray, South Carolina. “Blue Goose” was the name of the boat, a 100 h.p. Mercury-powered deep-vee.
“My uncle bought me my first tunnel boat over the Winter of 1968-69. It was a Galaxie tunnel boat powered by a stock V-4 Johnson that qualified me for Sport J class. One of my all-time favorites was the ‘Wild Geechee’. It was a kneel-down tunnel with a ‘crash’ throttle. We probably won 80% of the races we entered. One year in particular, we won 20 consecutive races in classes from Sport J all the way to U and S class [unlimited single engine outboard],” said Earl.
“Mercury customers, myself included, want to boat on clean water and in a healthy environment. Mercury Racing showcases our environmentally responsible technologies through powerboat racing and performance boating,” said Mercury Racing President, Fred Kiekhaefer.
Nico Bauduin, responsible for Mercury outboard sales in Europe and the Middle East, represented us in Dusseldorf. “Mercury has worked hard over the past few years to bring industry leading emissions compliant technology to outboard powerboat racing. We’re proud of our racing heritage. We are equally excited to be working with the UIM in the development of low-emissions entry level classes for the next generation of racing champions.”
Nico was referring to the UIM’s new Youth Development Program. The powerboat racing training program is designed to encourage youth, starting at the age of 10, to get involved in the sport of powerboat racing. The program features two classes; GT15 and GT30. Both feature a 12-1/2 foot vee-bottom hull powered by a low-emissions Mercury four stroke outboard. The GT30 boats are capable of reaching speeds up to 62 mph.
UIM president Dr. Raffaele Chiulli said, “There are lots of talented young drivers and we want to provide an opportunity for them to participate in the sport by sponsoring these boats. Also, safety took top priority when the boats were being built.”
The UIM plans to take the boats to various races and power boating events around the world for a multicultural exchange with children from every member nation of the UIM. Tobias Komm is one of the drivers to sign up for the program. The 20-year old from Dinslaken, Germany will enter his first GT30 race in April.
We admire the UIM for their commitment in the future of powerboat racing. We’re proud to be the power behind the Youth Development Program and future UIM champions.
“That boat was a rocket sled!” said Reggie Fountain about his first boat with Team Mercury.
Reggie began racing in 1954. He was 14. He started in B class hydros and runabouts. When I asked about engines, “I’ve always used nothing but Mercury’s….My first race engine was a Super 10 Hurricane with Quincy straight pipes. They were very loud. The hydro ran 60-70 mph which was pretty fast back then,” said Reggie.
Reggie claims the first thing he wanted after law school was to race. He bought a tunnel boat in 1968. “It was a twin-engine, 21-foot Glastron…I did pretty well at local races. You could tell the difference between independent boats like mine and the ones from the factories,” said Reggie. “My boat weighed 775-780 lbs, less driver. Joe Felder [on Glastron’s factory team] had an identical rig – but much lighter at 515 lbs.” Reggie saw the advantage of factory support and the need to build a factory network. Read more
A recent discovery of classic photos of the Team Mercury outboard tunnel boat race team rekindled my curiosity of the outboard factory war era when Mercury and OMC (Outboard Marine Corporation – parent company of the Johnson and Evinrude brands at the time) battled for bragging rights (and sales) across the globe.
I thought it would be interesting to interview the team drivers to hear first hand what it was like racing for Team Mercury. Read more
Mercury Racing’s color options provide unique combinations for your boat’s theme. Seeing what others have chosen for color options or customization can be inspiration for your Mercury Racing engine application. You can go mild; you can go wild. It’s your canvas! It’s your taste.
Your choices from our palate include:
Standard QC4v (1350 & 1100) colors — Super Silver metallic over Raven Black non-metallic
Standard big block (700SCi – 525EFi) colors — Racing Blue metallic over Raven Black non-metallic
Raven Black non-metallic
Bling Bling Black metallic
Dandy Candy Red metallic
Mercury Racing Blue metallic
Super Silver metallic
Devil Red Eye non-metallic
Fire Orange Pearl metallic
Slate Grey metallic
Hulkin’ Green Pearl metallic
Nanna Yellow Pearl metallic. (We have Nanna engines in the pipeline, but not built yet. So, there are the M8 upper housings.)
Joyze Poypole metallic. A pair went out the door and nobody snapped a photo! UPDATE: I found this EU662 in Shipping on Jan 17, 2012, before heading to Europe!
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around Mercury Racing. All our elves are racing to beat the year end clock. There is so much hardware in progress that you can hardly see the little Christmas tree! (Here’s last year’s.) A mix of 1,100 and 1,350 horsepower QC4v packages and other big blocks are scheduled to ship before December 28, 2011 when we close for the New Year Holiday. (Yes, we take a short break for Christmas, too.)
It has been a while since I’ve seen Zeus drives, Sport Jets, 300XS outboards, NXT and M8 sterndrives, 1350s and big blocks all queued in our Shipping Department at the same time!
Between boat builder demand for the 2012 boat show season and immediate needs for consumer boats in production, Racing is Rockin’.
No Holiday blues ringing out here — at least until these blue 1350s light up! A QC4v’s song will lift spirits almost anywhere, whether it’s the Holidays or not. It’s a downright giddy tune when you hear these bad boys in a boat like John Rosatti’s 50 Cigarette Marauder.
Of course, while it’s Winter here, it’s Summer down under… And the “99 Psycho Clowns” ski racing team is putting its single, 1350 powered ski boat through its paces. Their video of testing earlier this year in Australia is surreal. Click the link if you haven’t seen this clip already.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Mercury Racing! Enjoy the season — and your next boating season, too! You can bet that I’m going to. Ho, ho, ho!
Chris Fairchild is a busy guy. His passion is powerboat racing. He’s been racing tunnel boats for over 20 years. He not only races his own boats in F1 and SST 120 classes, he also builds and repairs race engines and gearcases. He manages to do this in addition to his “real job” of building custom homes with his father, Jim. So, when he sent me pictures of his latest project, I wasn’t surprised. But it still impresses me that he accomplishes what he does with all of the things going on in his life.
A neurosurgeon approached Chris with the idea of restoring the family boat he grew up with. The boat started life as a 1959 Glass Craft Aero Dynamic Citation outboard runabout. The doctor wanted to restore the Glass Craft so he could have something to run on the river during the limited time he is “off-duty.” The challenge was the water levels are too low for traditional outboard propulsion. The doctor asked Chris if the boat could be converted to a jet boat. Chris, always up for a challenge and a journey into the unknown, said, “why not?” Read more
I was going through my literature archives the other day and came across a copy of the original Kiekhaefer Aeromarine, Inc., K-Plane Trim Tabs sales brochure. I’ve always respected the quality and functionality of Kiekhaefer’s literature. I thought a blog post regarding the history of K-Plane trim tabs would be of interest. More importantly, it will serve as a refresher regarding the fit, form and function of the world’s most durable trim tabs.
Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Motors first introduced K-Plane Trim Tabs in 1970. They were designed to keep the fastest, hardest running racing boats on an even keel in just about any water condition. US (APBA) and World Offshore (UIM) champions, Doc Magoon and Carlo Bonomi ran nothing else. In the mid 70s, Fred Kiekhaefer upgraded the product for recreational use. Read more
There’s another monster quad cam four valve platform motor going together in the engineering lab at Mercury Racing. Engineering tech, Charlie Reiter is getting a pointer from R&D engineer, Steve Wynveen. These guys, and the rest of the engineering team, are always up to something interesting!
Could they be discussing another variant of Mercury Racing’s QC4v? Maybe a global emissions compliant model? Ethanol? (Naw, that stuff is poison in a marine engine.) Sure is GREEN, though!
Maybe it’s a racing engine? Just imagine if we really turned up the wick. What if we ran it on race gas? Sure a lot of speculation about that. But why? Bob Bull’s 1350 powered 48 MTI turned in the fastest lap time of all the boats in Key West — including the turbine.
Perhaps they’re just testing components. Or paint (maybe we have too much “Hulkin’ Green” in inventory). Another endurance engine? Not glamorous, but we do a lot of that kind of testing around here, too.
I guess I’ll have to ask our Engineering Director, Erik Christiansen. Wait, at the Lake of the Ozarks shoot-out and again at the Key West races, he already told interviewers, “We don’t discuss new developments.(Sounds like something I’ve said.) Mum’s the word.” (Sounds like something my dad would have said.)
So, speculate. First, we’re flattered. Second, maybe you’re right. Maybe not. Third, maybe you will plant a seed. Fourth, the Miami Boat Show is just around the corner (February16); Mercury Racing often presents new products in Miami. This year will be no exception. Anyway, we will not say what’s next until we are ready. So please, don’t expect an answer before February 16, 2012.
Here we go. The Holidays are upon us. I’ll be busy in the coming weeks wrapping up projects including the 2012 Mercury Racing Wall Calendars (shipments are set for next week), finalizing 2012 marketing plans and attending to other unfinished business.
For me, the Holidays are the calm before the storm. I try to enjoy time with family and friends. One of my favorite parts of this time of year is catching up with dealers, boat builders, racers and consumers. I’m thankful for the many wonderful people I’ve met and become friends with over the years.
This is also my busiest and most stressful time of year. For over 20 years, the months of December and January are etched in my brain as “boat show prep time.” The Miami Int’l Boat Show is our a largest show. It serves us well in terms of connecting with our customers from around the globe. The Los Angeles show enables us to connect with our West Coast customers. Read more
What started as a spectacular week in the Florida keys was clouded by tragedy: the deaths of Bob Morgan, Jeff Tillman and Joey Gratton because of individual boat blow-overs while racing in SBI’s Key West World Championships. Very sad and they will be missed. Heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of these gentlemen from all of us at Mercury Racing.
In contrast, the Florida Powerboat Club poker run from Miami to Key West was both safe and fun! Stu Jones’ event attracted over 175 entrants with more than 160 boats making the trek in four waves; one each day, Tuesday through Friday. I had the opportunity to meet many new friends and catch up with some I haven’t seen for a while. Read more
I’m excited about our title sponsorship of this week’s Key West Poker Run. Over 160 boats are registered for the Florida Powerboat Club (FPC) event. The poker run features four flights of boats running from Miami to Key West. Departures begin Tuesday and run through Friday. This year is proving to be one of the largest turnouts ever.
Dave Vhers (see On The Road Again) left Fond du Lac Saturday for Key West in the Mercury Racing mobile marketing truck. The truck will be set-up in the Poker Run Village with exciting product displays including a 1100 sterndrive, a 525 EFI with the Stage 1 X-haust Noise Reducer system and a Mercury Racing Propeller/Accessories display. We will debut our new Power & Propulsion full-line product catalog at the event as well. Poker run participants will receive a variety Mercury Racing branded items in the official event “goody bag.” Read more
Fort Lauderdale boat show: where to start? First, I spent more time in conversations than taking pictures.
My friend and 1350 customer, Derek Wachob (Black “Z48 Corvette” MTI), was on the performance dock when I arrived. Pier 57’s David Woods was working the Cigarette display. PR maven, Marilyn DeMartini, had Skip Braver engaged in a video interview with Wealth Magazine aboard Cigarette’s new, 39 center console fishing boat.
Cigarette’s European dealer, Marcel, always the gentleman, was politely grilling me about 1350 emissions and noise. “When may I have [QC4v] for the European Union market?” Easy questions; difficult answers: “It is difficult meeting low CO emissions of the European Recreational Craft Directive…blah, blah… But we’re working…blah, blah…” Seriously, we are working to comply with the EU RCD with the QC4v platform, but that’s all I will say for now.
Center consoles seemed to appear everywhere. The trend looks more intended for catching a good time than a big fish. Susan Patterson was eager to show off her new 44 Concept center console fish boat. Concept had (arguably) the most fishable of the new center consoles.
While both Cigarette and Concept center consoles’ lounge areas were comfortable, none had more relaxing ones than Trond Schou’s new Nor-Tech. With a 10 foot beam, the foredeck lounge area can accommodate two people taking a nap — and seven people watching them sleep.
Sunsation’s new 36 vee bottom displayed one of the most beautifully detailed engine rooms – brimming with twin 700 SCi power — whether the hatch was open or closed (through plexiglas hatch ports).
It was a good, fun boat show! Then the sky opened for two days.
Communicating the technology within. Some technology is simply beautiful on its face. The induction and air balance system of the QC4v platform required only minor refinement to “style” it. It’s just cool – like the 1970s Kiekhaefer fuel injection trumpets from my dad’s “Champion Maker” Class 1 offshore race engines. With QC4v, some minor shaping and angularity masked the required hoses and clamps, but the inlet runners whisper, “You know why we’re here.” Big air!
Cast exhaust manifolds, in a world previously occupied by gleaming polished stainless, was a bigger challenge. We opted to communicate the pulse tuning of the exhaust system through subtle relief in the casting surfaces – indicating the pairing of ports and the side-to-side differences. This also helped function: maintaining a high scrubbing speed of the manifold cooling water. Read more
Inspiration. There are a multitude of tools in a stylists arsenal. Before any of them can be used, we have to agree to the physical design constraints which define the canvas. Brainstorming basic design alternatives is a prerequisite to an elegant styling execution (not to mention, functionality). It also requires “the eye.” Stylists see things in many places and contexts where most of us don’t. Inspiration can happen at any time. I keep a photo file of appealing details. Inspiration is everywhere: parking lots, race tracks, concourse events, collector displays, air shows, plumbing show rooms – everywhere. My file becomes a wall during a project like QC4v, but settles in a direction, often reinforcing a theme consistent with product history – the DNA. Choosing one design approach sets many things – including the execution journey and styling constraints. Read more
Two years ago, I received a call from Skip Braver, owner of Cigarette Racing. He had just received the first 1350 for his AMG Cigarette: “I don’t want your head to explode, but that is one, handsome engine. Just gorgeous!” Thanks, Skip. Flattering. But how did “handsome” happen?
Function. First, beauty is deep in the soul of Mercury Racing’s QC4v platform, as well as on the surface: it works as intended; it fulfills the needs and desires of its owners better than any engine offered before. In short, it functions as it should (and better than most customers expected). Function defined the structure.
Form. Second, form followed function. I’ve become somewhat infamous for a comment I made back in the 1980s: “Where is it written, that because it is strong, it must be ugly?” This was a discussion with my manufacturing guy at that time, the late Bill Hackbarth. Bill, a stubborn pragmatist, didn’t like the form of the Kiekhaefer sterndrive (now #6) because he couldn’t figure out how to hold the curvacious upper gear housing in a machining fixture. We changed the form, adding a big lug, so he could clamp it tight. When machining was done, we ground that part back off. Propulsion should look good, but… Form follows function. Read more
Terry and Rob Rinker enjoyed a historic Labor Day weekend in Kankakee, Ill. The father/son outboard tunnel boat racers claimed four out of ten titles at the 26th annual Outboard Performance Craft (OPC) National Championships. The event, held on the Kankakee River, is sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association (APBA). Kankakee is prerequisite for any driver hoping for induction into the APBA’s Hall of Champions. Success here puts you in the record books forever.
Terry won SST 120, F1 and Mod U National Championships. I believe he is the first to capture three OPC National titles in one year. And to make the holiday weekend even sweeter, Terry’s son Robbie was crowned SST 60 National Champ. SST 120, Champ and Mod U classes feature Mercury V-6 race outboards. Outboard Marine Corporation Johnson and Evinrude race outboards are featured in SST 60 racing.
The Rinker’s record setting four class sweep is historic. The weather was as well. I’ve been to Kankakee a few times during my race support days. It was usually hot and muggy. Mother Nature brought a wild mix of weather this year. Extreme wind gusts were the greatest challenge for the lightweight tunnel race boats. Read more
First, the shootout format (for those who are unaware): Enter the one mile course at 40 mph. At the drop of a green flag, accelerate as fast as possible to the highest speed you can reach by the radar gun one mile away. Sounds simple.
Hats off to Canadian, William Tomlinson, and his 6,000 hp 50 ft Mystic turbine powered catamaran – with the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout top speed of 208 mph! Whew!!! William wins the patience contest, too, with two very clean runs…that did not trip the radar guns. That had to be frustrating. Chip Romer performed flawlessly in his 388 Skater at 191 mph. Nice driving!
However, the pump gas shootout was between American, Bob Bull, and Norwegian, Tor Staubo. Both ran 48 MTI cats (Bob had two at the event!) with twin 1350 hp Mercury Racing turbocharged engines. And both came fully armed with professionals along side: Bob carried Randy Scism, owner of MTI. Tor enlisted another world champion, Johny Tomlinson, for the sticks. Read more
Skater soon will. This monster 1350 – lurking in the darkened, after-hours hallway of Racing’s dyno lab – is one of the second “official” pair going Pete’s way this week.
Peter Hleden’s technicians have successfully completed Mercury Racing training and are now T.E.A.M. (Total Engine Application Management) accredited to install 1100 and 1350 packages at the Skater factory in Douglas, Michigan. Two prior Skaters have been rigged at a T.E.A.M. accredited dealer for two of Pete’s enthusiastic customers.
A pair of “Devil Red” and carbon fiber 1350 rockets left Racing for Douglas earlier this week. Next and just off the dyno is this interesting first-time color combination of “Super Silver” and “Dandy Candy Red” 1350’s. This somewhat unusual color pairing will complement a spectacular Skater catamaran paint scheme. I can’t wait to see it – and the look on the new owner’s face when he feels the incredible torque!
You may wonder how we go about testing props. We have a number of our own outboard and sterndrive boats that we use for initial testing. Nevertheless, I’m a firm believer of getting feedback from those who use the product everyday in the real world. Recently, I wanted feedback on performance differences between our Lab Finished Bravo I and Pro Finish Bravo I XS outboard props. My target applications were Walleye and bass anglers.
Maybe this should be “Part 3 through # n” — since few things are odder or rarer than “one-offs” tried in pursuit of a speed record or race victory. Still, some stand tall above others in sheer audacity. Here are some outboards with an identity crisis.
Because of the high power to weight ratio of a Merc 2-stroke powerhead, it was inevitable that Mercury Racing’s Fred Hauenstein would lay some outboard engines down on their sides in his Arcadian Unlimted U-86 and go after inboard hydroplane competitors. Read more
Kris started from the pole in a rough race. He and Jeff Reno collided going into in turn one. Neither flipped – but the incident created a gaping three foot hole on the starboard sponson of Kris’s boat.
“It was filling up with water in the turns,” said Kris. As luck would have it, the race was stopped shortly after when another competitor flipped. Chris Fairchild and 20 fellow racers and crew members worked feverishly in the pits – cover the hole with duct tape and whatever else they could find. Kris said he would have never been able to finish the race – let alone win – without their help. Read more
The 24th annual Dow Bay City River Roar tunnel boat race, round two of the 2011 Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour, concluded Sunday, June 26. And like the past 23 years – this year didn’t disappoint. Bay City, Michigan was one of my favorite stops when I followed the series’ with our outboard race support truck back in the 1990s. The Saginaw River, contained with sea walls, is always full of surprises. I’ve witnessed more blow overs and wicked barrel rolls at this race than I care to remember. Ask any driver who has experienced it and they will tell you Bay City is one of the most challenging tunnel boat races in the world.
Weather conditions this year were near perfect. It was sunny all weekend- with temps in the mid 60s during testing on Friday, warming up to a comfortable mid 70s on Saturday for qualify and low 80s for the final races on Sunday. The winds picked up at race time, creating a rough chop against the current.
Miami, Florida native Shaun Torrente has always been an exciting driver to watch. At 32, he is a young, skillful driver who isn’t afraid to take chances. That personality trait can make the difference between winning and second place. it can also mean the difference between winning and not finishing. Shaun has matured as a driver since I last saw him race. He is now competing on the UIM F1H2O Formula 1 circuit for Peters & May Racing, with race experiences throughout Europe as well as Qatar and Portugal. Read more
In Part 1, Rick explored “odd power” for the good guys of our military. Here, I’ll share some odd power experiments for peace-time fish hunters.
377 Super Scorpion. A unique boat featured on the water at Mercury’s 2001 Orlando dealer meeting was a 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 compact, stroked, 377 horsepower, 6.2 liter ski engine and promote the Super Scorpion 377 small block sterndrive. The performance was very good in the Stroker bass boat. However, we just couldn’t change the minds of the “clamp-on” outboard motor fishermen. And that’s ok. Mercury has plenty of options for them (see the blog, Application Dependant – Part 1).
The engine had a successful run, but not in bass boats. It proved to be potent power in smaller single and twin engine offshore sport boats. (I ran one for a season in a Baja H2X and had a blast!) Unfortunately, the more exotic and expensive small block never could compete with the better value of a basic big block in this price sensitive sport boat market. The 377 Super Scorpion morphed, through cost (and power) reduction, into the successful 320 hp merCruiser 377 Mag. Read more
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. Read more
I am excited about the growing popularity of Mercury’s 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard. The engine, which is built at Mercury’s outboard manufacturing plant in Suzhou, China, was originally designed for the Mercury FormulaFour outboard tunnel boat racing series: That Scandinavian series, featuring one-design 14-foot tunnel race boats powered by a production Mercury 60 h.p. four stroke, was originated by Brunswick Marine Sweden and their dealer, Mikael Frode’.
The 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard features a production 60 h.p. four stroke powerhead mounted on a 15″ (381 mm) mid section with solid engine mounts. Power is transferred to the water via a 1.83:1 gearcase and Mercury Racing Lab Finished T.E. Cleaver prop.
The engine first earned its stripes (and hot graphics ) racing at the legendary 24 Hours of Rouen endurance powerboat race where it competes in Class 1. Historically, Yamaha wins Class 1 racing because their 2-stroke engines are closest in spec with the class maximum 850 CC displacement rule. However, the four stroke Mercury has been moving up in position since it’s 2004 Rouen debut, with a podium finish this year (see the blog Half-Rouen!). Read more
Randy Davis, owner of Nordic Boats, idles by Card Stop #2 during the 2011 Desert Storm Poker Run. This was the maiden voyage of Randy’s new Nordic 43 Enforcer catamaran – and, clearly, he was both impressed and delighted. It is powered with Mercury Racing’s 1350 engine and M8 drive packages. As nice as this boat runs and accelerates, I can’t help but be amazed by the idle quality of its quad cam, four valve engines.
As Randy’s crew glided by for their card, I wanted to capture the engines’ sound. Everybody else aboard just wanted to banter. I guess some people are normal, but I’m an unapologetic engine geek. Nevertheless, I caught some of the idle sound. Johnny B did a great job on the engine calibration! It just purred. Randy’s team did a very tidy installation! The 43 Enforcer’s beauty belies its intense performance.
For wide open engine sound, see and hear the pass by video footage on DCB’s M31 (Gary’s green one) and M35 (Mike’s orange one) and the fleet of 48 MTI’s (Derek’s black one; Bob’s more-or-less orange one and Albert’s uh, very colorful one)! I love the desert colors!
Mercury wants (and is required) to have exhaust and noise emissions compliant propulsion. By being responsible citizens (you and us), our freedom on the water can continue. Global regulations have caused larger marine engine manufacturers to invest millions of dollars in research and development. In that work, Mercury developed an on-board microprocessor that controls all aspects of engine operating performance – including fuel management and exhaust emissions. The combination of advanced engine components (hardware), fuel calibration development (software) and extensive testing (more hardware and software) led us to a full line of sterndrives that meet U.S. California Air Resources Board (C.A.R.B.) and Environment Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. But, as we have learned with experience, emissions regulations are ever evolving.
Just when we thought our job was done, by meeting the CARB and EPA regulations in place at that time, more stringent ones were being implemented by the European Union (EU) Recreational Craft Directive (RCD). We had to do additional work to create “global” engines that would meet stringent EU RCD exhaust emissions and noise regulations.
We tackled exhaust gas emissions first. The EU662 SCi is he highest horsepower we could attain and still meet the EU RCD exhaust emissions regulation. Also, we were able to adjust fuel calibration on the 600 SCi to make it RCD exhaust emissions compliant.
Then, noise. Engines, as rigged with a typical through transom exhaust system, didn’t pass RCD noise requirements. Aftermarket mufflers didn’t help. Running exhaust through the prop isn’t an option with our engines: too restrictive. Read more
24 “Half-Hours” of Rouen is in books. The race concluded 4 p.m. Rouen, France time Sunday, May 1. Mercury dominated the 48th annual event, winning overall, as well as Class 3 and Class 2. (See Same Planet, Another 24 Hours) for class designations. Mercury powered boats swept the top 12 positions and powered 22 out of 28 competitors.
Rouen 2011 was historic in that it was the first time the race was not started with the intention of running a continuous 24 hours. Race officials changed the format this year, running the race for a total of 12 hours over two days to avoid racing overnight. The change was made in response to a tragic accident that took place last year. This year, racing started 2 p.m. local time Saturday, April 30 and ran until 8:00 p.m. Racing convened at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 1, with a 4 p.m. finish. Read more
Thursday was the fifth annual Desert Storm Street Party. This was the largest gathering of high performance boats, marine propulsion and tow vehicles ever assembled. McCulloch Boulevard was jammed with displays on both sides of the street for more than a mile. Our Mercury Racing truck was parked in a prime location — perfect for one old gear-head. He looked up from his wheelchair at our QC4v 1100 and said, “Lord Jesus, have mercy.” Gotta be the quote of the day. Read more
As I write this, the 2011 Desert Storm Poker Run is in full swing. Another form of performance boats will gather later this week across the Atlantic ocean for the 48th annual 24 Hours of Rouen endurance powerboat race in Rouen, France. The world’s most grueling outboard powerboat race begins 4:00 p.m. Rouen time Saturday, April 30. Rouen tests man and machine as boats run non-stop for 24 hours on the Seine River.
The race features three classes of outboard powered tunnel hull race boats. Class 1 competition features engines with a maximum displacement of 850 cc (60-80 h.p.). This class is populated with Yamaha 2-stroke outboards. The Mercury 60 EFI FormulaRace four stroke competes in this class and is been a top contender in previous events.
Class 2 features engines with a maximum displacement of 2000 cc (130 h.p.-200 h.p.). Mercury SST 120 and OptiMax 200XS SST race outboards typically dominate this class. Read more
In less than 24 hours we’ll be boarding a plane for our trek to Lake Havasu City, Arizona for the Desert Storm Poker Run. When you live in Wisconsin – you need a full day of travel when your destination is… well, just about anywhere. We fly into Phoenix and then drive 3-1/2 hours to Havasu.
Things get rolling at high noon Thursday with 5th annual Desert Storm Street Party. The event has grown to be the largest performance boat show in the world. The biggest and baddest boats from the East Coast, West Coast and all areas in between converge on the small Western town to show their muscle throughout the three-day Desert Storm event.
For those of you who may not know me, I manage Mercury Racing’s propeller department. We offer a wide variety of high performance outboard and sterndrive props. I oversee production and manage our prop offerings. My most enjoyable responsibility is helping customers solve their unique propeller issues.
I’ve been getting great feedback regarding our Bravo I XS outboard propeller. The latest is from Allison owners who say it is an awesome prop for their XB-21 tournament bass boats. XB-21’s rigged with an OptiMax 250 Pro XS do best running a 27-inch pitch Bravo I XS. Those who power-up to the OptiMax 300XS say their ride is dialed-in using a 29-inch pitch Bravo I XS. XB-21 owners have found odd-pitch Bravo I XS props provide the best hole shot and bow lift. Read more
Outboards. Outboards. Outboards everywhere! Mercury Racing’s factory floor is a buzz of activity. We’re busy with a large build of low-emissions 2-stroke OptiMax 200XS SST (Super Stock Tunnel) and ROS (Race Offshore) outboards. A majority of the direct-fuel injected engines are headed to Europe for race venues in Sweden, Italy and France.
Complete engines and conversion kits are being built. The conversion kits, which include a powerhead, tuner, cowlings and gearcase, are a one-time offer for the 2011 season. The SST and ROS kits are available to racers who want to upgrade from older, naturally aspirated, 2.0 liter SST 120 and XR2 Race Offshore engines.
Both SST and ROS end models feature a 2.5 Liter V-6 OptiMax powerhead which combines components from the OptiMax 2.5XS and the Mercury Racing engineered 175 Pro XS outboard.
The 200XS SST features a 12-inch race mid section and a unique IV SSM gearcase which switches the right-hand engine rotation to a left-hand propeller shaft rotation. This is required for the hard, left-hand turns of tunnel boat race courses.
The 200XS ROS features a 15-inch mid section and a 1.75:1 Sport Master gearcase. Models are available in both right-hand and left-hand rotation for multiple engine applications. Read more
The Mercury Racing truck is back on the road! Dave Vehrs, one of our drive technicians who has extensive over the road trucking experience, is the driver. Dave left Fond du Lac Sunday. His destination? Lake Havasu City, Arizona for the Lake Havasu Boat Show, April 8-10 and the Desert Storm Poker Run, April 27-30.
Dave plans to arrive in Lake Havasu early Wednesday afternoon. This will provide plenty of time to get the truck washed and prepped for the boat show on Friday. Kevin Skiba, our National Sales Manager, will help Dave prep the truck. Fred Kiekhaefer commented, “This may be the first time Kevin has been allowed to hold a sponge!” Dave is flying back to get back to building drives. Kevin is staying on to represent Mercury Racing at the show.
Those familiar with the truck will notice some subtle differences. The mission of the truck has changed from “product support” to “mobile marketing.” The graphics have been updated to showcase our latest consumer products; The QC4v based 1350 and 1100 sterndrive engine packages and our Pro Finish CNC 5-blade cleaver props. Read more
Brad Halpin and I recently returned from the Los Angeles Boat Show. (Brad is one of Mercury Racing’s technical experts who is responsible for helping boat builders learn to properly install Mercury Racing propulsion; I’m a sales guy.) Mercury Racing products, including the all new 1100 sterndrive, were on display in Mercury’s booth. Boat builders featured Mercury Racing outboards and sterndrives, including the 1350, in their booths as well.
For years, the LA show ran through two weekends for a total of nine days! Furthermore, the LA show was scheduled at the same time as the Miami International Boat Show. Exhibitors such as ourselves were challenged to support two shows simultaneously.
The recession then changed everything. Now, the LA show is about two thirds of its original size. This year, it ran March 17-20, one month after the Miami show. Boat builders and suppliers were upbeat and anxious to show their latest creations to the West Coast market. Read more
In my previous blog, I focused on smaller, single engine outboard applications where power-to-weight is a very important factor. Here, I will discuss larger, single and multi-engine fishing and sport boats.
Let’s start with the larger single engine boats. If you are rigging a flats or bay boat and intend to use it to pursue fish – an OptiMax works just fine. If you plan on getting a family sport boat for tubing/wake boarding or water skiing, the OptiMax is also an excellent choice. Those who prefer ultra quiet running qualities, with the creature comforts of digital throttle and shift and power steering, should go with a Verado or Pro FourStroke.
Its boat show season and one of the most common questions we get from consumers is what type of engine is best for their boat. These questions are mainly in regard to outboards versus sterndrives or inboards. Not sure why – although I can take a guess and say it is due to the large variety of outboard options out there. Choices include two stroke or four stroke, various shaft lengths and gearcase styles available from numerous brand manufacturers. Various price promotions, extended warranties and insurance add to the complexity.
It all boils down to application. What is your boating style? Tournament bass fishing, recreational bass, flats, bay boat fishing, go fast sport boating, poker running, tournament offshore angling, cruising, etc. Another question; what size boat are you looking at and who will be along for the ride? Read more
Sometimes education comes unexpectedly. When special designs or capabilities come together in a unique new way, surprises can occur. This just happened: In preparation for the Miami International Boat Show, MTI was testing one of its 48 Race/Pleasure catamarans powered with Mercury Racing’s 1350s and M8 drives.
Dry sump. I’ve written before about the purpose of dry sumping – efficiency. Here we have a 48 MTI with two dry sump M8 sterndrives. Plus two dry sump, quad cam, four valve engines making 1350 hp each. Between engines and drives, dry sump transmissions. Big power; big expectations!
As people sometimes do, the owner tried propellers from another manufacturer. Whang! Blade gone. We warned that these engines produce big fat monster torque (BFMT); we learned this lesson the hard way, too; we designed a special prop series just to handle it. However, this was not the education – just its preamble. Read more
I would like to personally thank all those who came to Miami and visited Mercury Racing – in our Convention Center booth, at our customers’ displays, or on the water at Sea Isle Marina. From what you’ve told me, you like our new 1100 package. Me too.
The 2011 Miami Boat Show was a great success. Almost everyone in the industry was upbeat. Deals were made, boats were sold and Mercury Racing propulsion was featured in numerous boats at the show – including eight 1350 powered boats!
We hit the ground early on Thursday, Feb. 17, opening day. Fred Kiekhaefer got things rolling with a 10:15 a..m. press conference in the Mercury booth where he unveiled the new 1100 sterndrive.
Fred assisted Cigarette Racing later Thursday evening with the unveiling of the new 42X Ducati boat featuring Mercury Racing’s new 1100 engines coupled to NXT #6 SSM drives.
No Miami International Boat Show would be complete without something up my sleeve. This time, it’s the “younger brother” to Mercury Racing’s 1350 engine. (I just could not call this tough fella “little brother.”)
Ta dah!:Our1,100 horsepower, twin turbo V-8 is here! Like the big guy, it’s a 9 liter, all aluminum, close cooled, quad-cam, four-valve engine. It begins production in April.
The 1100’s benefits are pretty straight forward: Compared to our 1075 SCi, it has a little more power and a lot more torque; compared to our 1350, it has a little less of each. However, our new 1100 has over 1,100 lb-ft of torque on tap – in a wide RPM band all the way from 2,500 to 5,250! That’s more torque than our 1200 SCi engine! It delivers 1,100 horsepower at 6,500RPM (red line). It requires less gasoline – less of it and lesser octane: It takes 89 (R+M)/2, mid-grade pump gas (the 1350 takes 91; the 1200 SCi takes 110 race gas!). The 1100 complies with EPA and CARB exhaust gas emissions limits. Maintenance requirements are less frequent, too. This is ideal power for offshore vees and cats.
Even with all its technology, our 1100 is offered at a price favorably comparable to Mercury Racing’s 1075 SCi. As good as our 1075 SCi is, it is out-performed in every metric by our newer technology. Therefore, the 1075 is discontinued. So too, is our 1200/1025 SCi dual fuel engine. Of course, refresh and service parts will continue for our SCi platform. Also, our 850 SCi through 525 EFI will remain in Mercury Racing’s product line.
First, a relevant side bar: In 1985, a Swiss businessman and offshore racer, Hugo Seger, approached Kiekhaefer Aeromarine (KAM) to design a racing drive. He had tired of his drive failures. We agreed to a deal: KAM would design a drive, he would pay as we made progress, and would become our European distributor.
KAM looked back at the K-600 sterndrive because it was already tooled! But in the dozen years since 1973, we learned a propeller was happier when positioned higher and farther back. Since we dared not start with any handicap, we began to design anew. “Sterndrives by Kiekhaefer” was conceived. Designers, Larry Lohse and Tom Theisen, didn’t sleep much. Me either. Read more
2011 is the 50th anniversary of the merCruiser sterndrive. More important to those of us with the speed-on-the-water gene, it is also the 50th anniversary of racing with merCruiser sterndrives. So, here is the first part of the chronology, 1961 – 1987, and a pictorial flashback: the evolution of the Mercury Racing and Kiekhaefer sterndrives.
For a thorough exploration of the modern sterndrive creation, I recommend Jeff Rodengen’s book, Iron Fist, Chapter 26, The Great Stern Drive Conspiracy, pp. 360 – 379. It is a fascinating work of investigative journalism containing creation, deception, disloyalty, honor and captivating personalities of the sterndrive’s history. Here, I’ll focus on the history of merCruiser and Kiekhaefer racing drives in this two-part series.
merCruiser Racing: 1960 – 1987
In March 1961 came the first merCruiser – coined from mer (for Mercury) plus Cruiser (for its target market). The idea was to use more powerful automotive-based engines (like an inboard engine) with vectored thrust, trim and steering (like an outboard) to give better performance than a conventional inboard.
This first 225 hp merCruiser sterndrive proved to work well pushing a boat and was more powerful than competitor’s. But it had an odd worm gear and ring gear mechanism to crank the whole drive out of the water – 180 degrees about the crankshaft axis – for corrosion resistance and “prop changes from inside the boat.”
Rapid follow-on design work brought the 110 and 140 hp merCruiser I, introduced in late 1961. It was followed quickly by the 310 hp merCruiser III in 1962. The original drive, renamed merCruiser II, was produced until replaced by a new design in 1970 – without the crank-up mechanism. The II and III were the platforms for racing variants.
By 1962, there was a “Super Speed Master” (SSM) version of the merCruiser II. From inception, factory owned Mercury Racing teams were conquering all comers in offshore power boat racing. That’s where “the enemy” was. Offshore victories told the world merCruiser had arrived. Market supremacy followed quickly.
I’m getting all excited. In less than a month, the Miami International Boat Show will open its doors! In my opinion, Miami is the best high performance boating venue in the world. It’s a chance for me to escape Wisconsin’s winter and catch up with my industry friends and many of our customers. And there’s always something new. This year’s show appears to be no exception.
Four first-class boat builders will have new boats with Mercury Racing 1350 power on display: Cigarette Racing Team, Dave’s Custom Boats (DCB), Marine Technology (MTI) and, confirmed Feb 11, there will be a new model Nor-Tech at the Convention Center, too!
Randy Scism told me, January 24, that he will have a twin 1350 powered MTI on the water in one of Mercury Racing’s slips at the marina. (I’m hoping it will be John Woodruff’s beautiful new 48, but I’m not fussy! I’ll be satisfied with Bob’s or Albert’s.) We’ll also have a 525 EFI powered Sunsation XRT with X-haust silencing, another 525 Formula FasTech, a Spectre cat with outboards and a military Whaler 37 Justice with three “cop motor” Verados. You have to see all this!
Is your propulsion system in good shape and ready for another season? Now is the time to check over your equipment. If your engines have reached a maximum of 150 hours, now is the time for a refresh to insure a hassle-free 2011 boating season.
We introduced the Factory Fresh engine refresh program in 2006 as a service for owners of our big block sterndrive engines (850 SCi, 1025 SCi, 1075 SCi and 1200 SCi). We’ve learned how our customers from around the world use the product, how various applications relate to engine wear and the affects maintenance (or lack of) has on engine life. More importantly, we have built valuable relationships with our consumers, OEM boat builders and dealers.
I’ve had some time to reflect over the Holidays. It was cold and snowy here, so I began dreaming about boating in Florida or Lake Havasu with our new QC4v, 1350 hp engines. Inevitably, that leads me to thinking of the incredibly talented people at Mercury and Mercury Racing who made it happen. Sad how little credit they get for their effort – at least, beyond our hallowed walls. Things I hear make me want to scream, “We have the talent right here!”
Whoa! “Quad overhead cams!” And all metric stuff… “Metric equals furrin’, don’t it?” “It looks European.” “Porsche must have designed it for Mercury Racing.” “AMG designed it.” “Lotus…” And so many times, “What block is that based on?” I’ve heard (or read) all of these things, and more. I’m flattered; that’s good company. But folks, this was an in-house job.
One thing for sure: Fred K didn’t design it! (OK, I styled it, attended countless meetings about it and did the initial carbon tooling work. And I wrangled the money to pay for it.) No sir, Iclicked nary a mouse anywhere near a ProE CAD station (except once, when I leaned over Tom Immel’s shoulder).
Dressing up for New Year’s Eve? In the first ever pair in our Super Silver color option, the QC4v block and cam covers look all formal and serious (but no bow ties, just flowing Ms) for the dawn of 2011. These stunning appointments for Nordic will not only look sharp, contrasted with rich carbon fiber, but also pack some wallop!
Like every Mercury Racing engine, these 1350s for Nordic must first pass the final dyno break-in and power run before they board the truck for Lake Havasu City. And they did. Once again, in excess of 1350 lb-ft of torque!
Also ready to ship are matching M8 sterndrives, likewise in Super Silver. I can’t wait to see the final installation. The color scheme will certainly be classy. I’m sure Randy Davis, the owner of Nordic Boats, is a bit impatient — knowing his 1350s are just being built.
Happy New Year, Randy! Your wait is over. You too can leave ‘em speechless.
Those of you that have read our posts on the new 1350 sterndrive engine have probably noticed Fred Kiekhaefer’s references to T.E.A.M., an acronym for Mercury Racing’s Total Engine Application Management program.
We introduced the T.E.A.M. process in 2004 with the launch of our 1075 SCi sterndrive package. It requires training boat builder or dealership staff on the installation of new Mercury Racing propulsion. T.E.A.M. approves both components and processes for quality and compatibility with our propulsion systems. Read more
Dave Hemmingson is stoked. His company, Dave’s Custom Boats (DCB) in El Cajon, California is the first West Coast OEM boat builder to experience our new 1350 sterndrive engine packages. See Fred Kiekhaefer’s post Halloween Party at Dave’s where he documents the October 27 shipment of the DCB engines.
Mike Griffiths, one of our installation specialists, traveled to DCB to assist with the initial install of the engines in a 31M Wide Body.
Mike met up with the DCB team in Lake Havasu City, Arizona after the Thanksgiving Holiday. He arrived armed with an array of our new Pro Finish 5-blade CNC Cleaver props for the December 2nd sea trials. You have to “sea” the sea trial videos, below! Read more
I am pleased to bring you the 4th in a series on the technology of our 1350 engine.
Efficiency. The purpose of dry sumping is efficiency: Put enough oil in the right places to lubricate and cool moving components, but not so much as to produce drag. Then, more power comes out.
The term, “dry sump,” simply refers to scavenging the oil from the lowest point (sump) of an engine – making it “dry.” Except, it’s never really dry. Oil goes almost everywhere and wants to collect wherever there is a low spot. Wherever oil gathers near moving parts, there is not only lubrication, but also risk of drag and even damage.
No tranquility. The oil doesn’t pump gently to the valve train or rod bearings, lubricate and peacefully trickle back down, to make the rounds again. It’s violent in there: Oil goes “weightless” and smashes down when a boat launches and lands. It splashes with every wave impact. It wants to pile on one side, when you round a turn marker. Just think about how your body moves around at speed – and you’re not ducking under a spinning crankshaft! Read more
The first pair of color optioned 1350s are going together for a special Nor-Tech customer. This set is Racing Blue metallic with Super Silver manifolds. They scheduled to be on our dynos before Thanksgiving. They’re matched with Racing Blue M8 drives. The transom assemblies are complete. We started assembling the drives today (November 18).
I think the colors look great here in the shop. That combination should be absolutely dazzling in the sunshine of Ft. Myers!
Tremendous effort goes into good boat set-up. My conversations about set-up too often turn to power consumed by a drive train,or generated by an engine, and always… propellers. The goal is efficiency – accepting some sacrifice for boat control. Really, your goal is the euphoric joy and adrenalin rush of high performance boating! My goal is to help you get there.
Here, I’ll focus on drives. (We’ll cover engine power and props later.) Between engine crankshaft (drive input) and prop shaft (drive output), basic functions are required: gear reduction (so props are efficient); offset of input vs. output shafts (so they’re wet) and ability to change direction (steering and trim are good).
Mercury Racing employs several sterndrives for those functions. Each occupies a unique performance envelope and capacity. Unfortunately, each has parasitic losses: clutch slippage; gear efficiency; number and nature of gear interfaces; U-joint friction; bearing drag; gear oil (quantity, temperature, viscosity and lubricity); and oil windage/pumping losses. So here, drive by drive, are the results of those parasites… Read more
This is my third in a series about the technology we’ve applied in our new 1350 hp engine.
Computer. It all starts here: The embedded brain of Mercury Racing’s QC4v has ten times the power of our previous PC09 box. That computing power enables far more capability — not just fuel, spark and boost bypass maps — but fine waste gate modulation (learn more: Big Fat Monster Torque) plus digital throttle, shift and start. Let’s look at DTS.
Just in time for a Halloween party at Dave’s Custom Boats! The first pair of Mercury Racing 1350s for DCB passed their dyno tests and final inspections – and shipped October 27 for California!
These are big muscles for a black tom cat: both pulled strong to just north of 1,370 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm and up to 5,250 rpm – and held it through a grueling heat soak cycle. Sounds harsh, and it is, but this is just a normal day for a production engine expecting to leave Mercury Racing for a new home.
Every recreational and racing engine is run through a test sequence on one of our dynamometers. Each engine, from 525 to 1350, must pass both torque and power standards on a boat load simulation. Dave’s newest engines did so with a smile and style. Read more
Torque on our new 1350 is Monster! It rises fast, from 700 rpm idle, and is flat at 1,370 lb-ft from 2,500 to 5,250 rpm and generating 1,350 peak horsepower, before tailing off toward a red line of 6,500. On 91 octane pump gas, not race fuel. Whoa!
In other words: Big Fat Monster Torque is more than sufficient to lift the nose of a 48 MTI catamaran, carry it all the way through a hard turn and still plant everybody firmly in their seats for an extended period of acceleration. Just ask my friend, Randy Scism, owner of Marine Technology Inc., about his first test session before the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. (Or read, elsewhere on this Blog:MTI Spooled Up!) Read more
This is the first in a series about design features of Mercury Racing’s 1350 horsepower, quad cam, four valve (QC4v) engine. Throughout the series, I will strive to present unavoidably technical content in non-engineering language.
Bigger Purpose: The only reason to have a high performance marine engine in the first place is to produce thrust from a prop so as to push a boat to: a) go someplace or b) outrun somebody – and come back. Props, drives, transmissions, engine innards and controls all have to do their part, but I skip now to the weakest link in the current high-performance chain: the valve train. (See “Why Rev Limits are…Limits” on this blog.) Read more
I am frequently asked, “Why doesn’t Mercury Racing increase peak rpm on its engines?” The desire is understandable: A higher revving engine would carry higher boat speed and improve getting on plane. But it is not that easy…
We electronically limit engine rpm on our pushrod sterndrive engines primarily due to valve train dynamics. A cam spanks a push rod; at its other end, the rocker gets a nudge; the rocker pivots and rolls onto the valve stem, compressing the valve spring and opening a hole to gas flow – either fresh air in, or spent combustion by-products out – and closes again. At our rev limit, each valve sees that input and return 46 times every second! As engine rpm increases, it reaches a speed where the chain of valve train hardware simply cannot keep up – even with good design and very exotic hardware. Read more
1350 sterndrive production continues with the second pair of engine packages. These are on their way to Marine Technology, Inc., (MTI) in Wentzville, MO.
I spoke to MTI President/Owner Randy Scism this morning (Oct 6) to let him know the engines have “left the building” and to get some details on MTI’s first install of the new Mercury Racing 1350 engine packages. Read more
October 1, 2010 was another milestone in the young life of our all new 1350 sterndrives. The first pair of production 1350 engines are built and about to be shipped to Cigarette Racing. They will replace the pre-production 1350s featured in the Mercedes-Benz AMG inspired 46′ Rider XP.
The spectacular boat, unveiled at the 2010 Miami International Boat Show, has accumulated hundreds of hours of running time as part of Mercury Racing’s extensive engineering validation of the all-new quad cam four valve (QC4v) engines, Zero Effort Digital controls, heavy-duty hydraulic transmissions, surface piercing M8 sterndrives and Pro Finish CNC propellers. Read more