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Thread: surface drive versus traditional outboard, spell it out for a n00b please

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    Default surface drive versus traditional outboard, spell it out for a n00b please

    By way of due diligence I have reviewed all 28 pages of the canoe section over the last two weeks or so.

    I have the idea that folks with experience are snapping up surface drive motors as fast as they can afford them.

    So my question, as a minimally experienced boater, is why?

    It seems like having the propeller below the bottom of the boat like a traditional outboard should be dramatically more efficient.

    It seems like going to a surface drive is going to be more noisy and only shave 5-10" off the vehicle's total draft in exchange for worse fuel economy.

    So I must be missing something. Is getting from a motor canoe that drafts fifteen inches to a motor canoe that drafts 6 inches really going to open miles and miles of river to me that is otherwise inaccessible? Are the surface drive units really a bunch more rugged against rocks and gravel?

    My experience pretty well limited to Clear Creek in the Tanana flats, on that waterway I can't see 6" versus 15" draft making an enormous difference because most of the gravel bars aren't very wide. Lift the motor, reach over the side of the boat with a stick, pole the boat forward one length, drop the motor and go. No?

    I am obviously not tracking on something, thanks in advance for pointing me straight.

    Scott

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    Interesting points. I'm kinda a new guy too when it comes to motor canoes even though I've been paddling for 50 plus years. That was actually brought about by shoulder surgery that ruined a canoe trip last summer in Boundry waters and I gotta say I like the motors on the back alot.

    I'll let the experts answer your questions but I must say that for my use the standard outboard seems to be all I need as soon as I get my Cargo to act right with the 9.9 Merc.

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    There are some real advantages to the suface drive and the mud motors over a conventional outboard. First they are built a lot tougher and designed to bounce over stuff rather than ram into things. The props and the drive parts will stand a lot more beating against rocks and such than an outboard. They are air cooled and don't have to have the prop buried in the water to cool the motor. That's a real advantage in the long shallow spots where you can't get a lower unit far enough in the water to provide cooling. Also the high silt content of some of Aks rivers tends to eat water pump empellers. Plugging of the water intakes with weeds is another problem with conventional outboards. There are probably other reasons as well but that's enough to make them quite a bit more reliable especially when you're a long ways from a parts store.

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    swmn ...

    I'm going to paste in here a important post kandik made about just this issue. (Hope I not violating internet manners and norms.)
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    kandik: H.B. with surface drive

    Well, since my rig seems to be repeatedly referred to on this site ,I thought I'd give my very opinionated views on freighters and their motors.
    I've used first a scott albany for 10 years and then the hudson bay for 5 years.Both great boats.I've used both short and long shaft hondas with several
    kinds of lifts. All the combos were unsatisfactory. Why? You still have a hunk of steel hanging under your canoe.I've paddled 1000's of miles in canoes and kayaks so I feel like I can read water pretty well / but I've still nearly killed myself several times having broken everything one could break off a honda and still have it run. Finally , last spring, I became the guinea pig and switched
    to a 18 h.p. surface drive. What a relief. Almost everything about the change has been positive.
    First about boats.All alluminum river boats [i.m.o.] are ugly, loud,inefficient,
    expensive, and have low load capacities.Who invented square fronted boats?
    Haven't they bothered to research 1000's of years of boating history? [I admit they're good for hauling nets].If you want a super fuel efficient,high load capacity dispacement boat that leaves freighter canoes.
    Now, concerning freighters.Let's face it,you can't have it both ways.
    Paddling canoe design has long ago been perfected.A freighter canoe is a
    motorboat! Any attempt to hybridize the two is a glorified paddling canoe
    that doesn't paddle well and has 300 #or more of man,motor and lift at the extreme stern with inches of freeboard. A recipe for disaster.There is simply no choice but to widen the stern a bit to carry the load. I've seen the long poles on grumanns where you sit 10 ft. in front of the motor.Would you want
    to be 10 ft. from your motor if things got dicey?
    I have several friends with grumanns and osagians.Advocates of these boats speak of portaging.Well, a 120# boat,80 or 100 # motor and a 50 # lifter is not exactly a portaging rig.Does one remove all that every time?
    My H.B. will roar up a small tongue of water over a 3 ft. beaver dam. And
    I've rope come alonged it over huge log jambs.These boats seem to me to
    be poor paddling boats and even worse motorboats. There have been a number of well known accidents in these boats.
    If you want only one boat, a real working subsistence boat that can be very easily handled by one person, the hudson bay is perfect.You can walk the gunwales in an empty boat with complete safety.You can stand and set a subsistence net and retrieve it full of salmon with great safety.You can carry
    2 small or medium bulls or the biggest bull in history, with 2 big guys and way to much gear with plenty of reserve buoyoncy.You won't fear for your life on the nastiest of days on the yukon. Because the boat is bigger and has
    a larger wetted area, you can carry the same cargo as a smaller boat with
    less draft.You and the motor won't push down the stern to a ridiculous degree.I modified my H.B. for oar locks. I installed a plywood wind baffle
    from thwart to bottom of boat with a waterproof gearbag and had custom canvas in fbks. make me a great stainless and canvas and quickly removable windshield. I'm protected from head to toe on bad days.
    Now regarding motors.Outboards are great if you like hunks of expensive metal dangling under your boat. I can barely contain my disdain for jets for
    their truly horrible gas consumption and sucking everything up the impeller.
    Why carry 2 or 3 times the fuel to go anywhere? It's heavy and expensive.
    Regarding lifters: Why have 2 lever arms to deal with? When turning left
    and working both you're squeezed into a tight triangle at the extreme stern
    of the boat between two metal rods. Bad idea in gnarly conditions.
    I know of 2 longtails on H.B.'s but I went for the surface drive. The motor seems to solve all of these problems.Go-devils are fantastic machines
    but their surface drives are too heavy even for the H.B. The same 18 h.p.
    vanguard that weighs 225# mounted on a go devil frame weighs 160# on a mud buddy mini. That's only slightly more than a 15 or 20 h.p. honda on a
    50# lifter.
    Advantages: Simple.No clutch.No neutral.No water pump[they're air cooled].No reverse.One tiller arm does everything.Push the tiller down and
    everything is instantly out of the water.It uses a large ,11 inch stainless,
    2 bladed ,surface piercing prop that's built like a tank.I put 55 hours on the
    motor last season[including the Kandik] and there's barely a scratch.The top of the prop comes out of the water. The bottom is virtually equal to the bottom of the hull.If the boat will float the motor will push it. And they're fast.Surface piercing props are used on the fastest ocean racing boats.I run
    a stainless skeg 1 inch under the prop for early warning. That means I'm about to hit bottom.The gps readings on the tanana with no wind ,2 big guys,
    gas, and a picnic are: Ranging from 2000rpm to full throttle / down river/
    14mph to 24.3mph. The same throttle readings up river gave 7 mph to14.2
    mph.The boat will go 19 mph down the tanana @ 2/3 throttle.The boat seems a bit hot rodded compared to a honda 15.I averaged 17 to 18 mph
    down the kandik and then down the yukon to circle with 2 big guys,motor, battery,fuel,bull moose and lots of gear. I estimated 1300# of gear and meat.Nasty,cold ,windy, snowing day / september 26.
    Complaints?: The contraption is a bit ugly.It's a little bit louder than a water cooled motor but not nearly as much as I feared.My main complaint is that the speed at idle is a little faster than I'd like.Oh well. Nothing's
    perfect.
    In summary: The rig is of course not perfect for everything but for one boat and motor it will do most anything in the interior very well.
    I don't check this site very often. Anyone with questions regarding this
    type of rig feel free to call Mark @ 687-7450.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This was a pivotal revelation for me. I, at that time, was convince that the surface piercing prop was the whole deal, and an outboard with a good lift an that prop would do anything a S-D motor could do.

    I was wrong. I've only accumulated 13 hours on my HB/MBmini23, but the S-D system is a different, far more capable critter. My MBmini23, has its prop on a 27' shaft behind the Y stern of my HB, not directly at the rear of the hull like outboards. At its deepest trim position, the 11" prop is only 1/2 below the hull. And that setting is supposed to be for special situations - deep mud or dense, thick grass, or other scenarios I can't image , yet. The prop is always protected. And, if the boat will float, the S-D will push it. In Budman5's HB/MBmini23, with 4 people and 20+ gallons of fuel, on the Tanana, we found his boat woulfd float in 8" of water. And the S-D would still not have the prop lower than the hull.

    I loved my Grumman 19'er w/ the 15 and lift. Went lots of places and was great fun, but it can't compete with capability of the surface-drive HBs.

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    Rick, thanks for the copy/paste, I had missed that thread. I figured out some time ago that kandik is one of the guys who knows whereof he speaks.

    It was only a couple or three pages back user jklingle mentioned he had switched to a surface drive. I have poked around in here enough to know who he is and what that means.

    rbuck, excellent concise synopsis, thank you.

    Thanks for the input folks.

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    Here is the continuation of kandik's post:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    surface drives on bigger freighters
    To continue my rant on posting #253 on the scott freighter canoe debate:
    Specifically surface drive motors.I tried a number of combos of 15 hp long and
    short shafts [only 4 stroke] with several types of lifters on albanys and hudson bays for 16 years.The 2 strokes are loud and fuel hungry.
    I know of 3 go devil style long tails on freighters in the interior.One an expert outdoorsman who has explored minto flats and other areas for years
    with a long tail on a 20 ft. freighter. However, the long tails are not ideal
    for freighters for a number of reasons not the least of which is that you have to stand up to run them.Not great for 100 mile days.I abandoned the outboard / lifter scene last spring. I had been interested in air cooled motors for a canoe for years but they were all too heavy. But mud buddy has come out with their
    surface drive mini lite series which puts the weight in the range of a 12-15 hp
    outboard with a lifter. I discuss this more in posting #253.
    Here are the advantages of the SD:
    1] Great fuel economy. At least as good and probably better than a 4-stoke OB of similar or even less HP.
    2]With a lifter the more you raise the prop, the slower and less efficient
    it becomes.With a SD the bottom of the prop is equal to the bottom of the hull. The faster you go the more efficient it seems to be.
    3]If the boat will float the motor will push it.
    4] The rig is like a see-saw.If you hit anything it simply bounces over it.
    5]Simple.No clutch.No neutral. No reverse. No water pump.No more water pump diaphram to fail from yukon silt. No worries about keeping the "lower unit" in the water.
    6]Everything is controlled by one lever arm. Push the tiller down and everything is instantly out of the water.
    7]Great for setting fishing nets. There's no prop under the boat to fowl up everything.
    8]Fast.Check hudson bay posting #253 for my gps readings.Of course,
    freighters should travel at a leisurely pace,but should you need to, the rig will really go.
    9]You can start your motor any time at home. No water required.
    10]The 18 HP vanguard can be purchased off the shelf at Rod's saw shop in Fbks.
    11]The go devils are great but are too heavy for our needs.The only light surface drives are made by mud buddy. The lighter models come in
    9,14,18 and 23 HP.The 18 HP is 160#. A honda 15/20 with electric start is about 108#. Add a 50 # lifter and they're about the same.
    12]The heavy duty stainless prop makes the aluminum props sold with most OB's look like some kind of joke.I put 55 hours on my rig last season
    including rocky rivers and the prop still looks almost new.
    13]The cost of a 18HP/SD is about the same as a 15 HP honda with a lifter.
    14]And my personal favorite:The efficiency of up river travel.With an OB,you have to stay out in current for prop room. With a SD I can run up river 5 ft. from the gravel bars on inside corners with almost no water under
    the boat.Not much current there.My gps told me that moving out into the
    current only 50 or 100 ft. reduced my speed by 3 to 5 mph. That means better speed and fuel economy.

    Disadvantages:
    1]A little faster at idle speed than is ideal.
    2]A little louder than a water cooled but not much.Not as loud as a 2 stoke.
    3]They are not very attractive.It's not the most elegant contraption to
    hang off the end of a beautifull boat.A small OB has less of a "presence".

    They are obviously not for small freighters but then I don't really
    consider grumanns and osagians to be freighters.The only small sq. backed
    canoe I like is the esquif 17. The design ,depth, and beam are well thought out to accept a motor.And royolex is really tough.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Perhaps mainer_in_alaska will check in and give his considered opinion.

    I expect to quiet my MudBuddy's exhaust noise next Spring. It's not really an issue with me. I already know the cure.

    There are several new-comers to light-weight S-D motors, notably the Copperhead motors, among others. The possible choices are expanding.

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    swmn .. Since you're in the Fairbanks area you should go for a ride with one of us with S-D motors when the water is liquid next Spring, and see for yourself. You can PM me for a ride then. They're skookum rigs for hard to reach ... hard to traverse places.

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    Hopefully I'll have a shiny new boat coming out of my garage right about that time. Only one more item on the honeydew list before I order the plans.

    The 16' Robb White Sportboat I intend to make this winter is probably too small for hunting moose bigger than a spike/fork, but it is supposed to plane. If I can work from those plans and make a 19-20 foot long planing hull with about a 48" beam I will be in tall cotton.

    I do want to drive it fast enough to cross the Tanana into the flats and/or put in at Big Delta and get into the Goodpaster drainage. I'll be looking for a motor to drive that thing at least 15 knots.

    I imagine mainer will be along. I have been keeping an eye on his ultimate hunting boat thread, I imagine he and I both have a bunch of moose to grind into burger before we get to deep into winter projects.

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    wish I was younger I would get one of the larger canoes with an S--D--an trade in my 19 FT grummen with an 15 OB, it is the way to go today I think, [things change ]

    SID

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    Default SD vs. OB

    Quote Originally Posted by swmn View Post
    It seems like having the propeller below the bottom of the boat like a traditional outboard should be dramatically more efficient.

    It seems like going to a surface drive is going to be more noisy and only shave 5-10" off the vehicle's total draft in exchange for worse fuel economy.

    So I must be missing something. Is getting from a motor canoe that drafts fifteen inches to a motor canoe that drafts 6 inches really going to open miles and miles of river to me that is otherwise inaccessible? Are the surface drive units really a bunch more rugged against rocks and gravel?
    Efficient? Yes, I still believe OBs are slightly more efficient. But is efficiency everything?

    Only 5-10 inches? That's a lot.

    And last question, re: losing 9 inches of draft, yes, I think it does open up lots of new water, and yes they are more rugged.

    Not (yet) being an SD owner, I'll keep it to that, except, consider this:

    When you are stuck on a sandbar, and can't even pole off of it without disembarking your canoe w/OB, the guy in the SD just drops his prop into the mud and it digs into the mud and gets him off the bar. Try doing that sometime with your OB.

    I've got a video of a SD doing exactly this, somewhere (I've got more videos than I have time to find or view). I was 20 feet away (also on the bar) when I took the video. About SD, try it, you might like it.

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    (The pics below were taken with my 15 Yamaha on a jackass lift, which is not as efficient or simple as the Fairbanks/JKlingel lift, which I much prefer, but there is no JKlingel pattern for the Hudson Bay.)

    The outboard has to have its prop below the hull to get undisturbed water to the prop. This is where the outboard is the most efficient. And the most unprotected.



    In shallow water, the lifted prop is better protected, but is much less efficient in the stern's wake and will begin to cavitate as it gets closer to the surface in the disturbed water.



    Here is my S-D set at the trim position I used for max efficiency at cruising speed.



    S-Ds have their props well behind the stern (MBmini23's shaft put it 27"+ behind the stern.) where the prop has clear water. They are designed to operate with their props slightly piercing the surface where they are most efficient.

    From my limited time - 13 hours so far - with this S-D rig, my gas mileage has been about the same as my Grumman 19'er/15 hp Yamaha - a gallon per hour or less. The small block S-Ds operate economically with more speed, if used, and a great deal more power ... besides better shallow water performance. As kandik points out, you don't have run in the deepest channel, you can run thru the grass or close to mud/gravel bars.

    These are the next generation of outboard technology. Take a ride, see for yourself.

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    Is there anyone running a surface drive on an inflatable? Jet ranger specifically.

    I could see a fly out working well in certain places with reasonable logistics.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    Quote Originally Posted by TWB View Post
    Is there anyone running a surface drive on an inflatable? Jet ranger specifically.

    I could see a fly out working well in certain places with reasonable logistics.
    I have been thinking of trying one on my Ranger, my concern is that the prop might make contact with the end of the tubes.



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    That would be cool!! Maybe you could put turn stops on there to keep the tail from moving so far right and left.

    What motor do you normally run on the Ranger?

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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    I have been thinking of trying one on my Ranger, my concern is that the prop might make contact with the end of the tubes.



    Steve
    I believe I read that the prop sits back 27 inches from the transom.

    How far back do the tubes go?
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    I don't know how far back the tubes go, and have it put away for the winter.
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    I don't know how far back the tubes go, and have it put away for the winter.
    23,27 and 32" drives are available. That would be super sweet. I'd throw that together in a heartbeat. We should test this in the spring!!!!!!
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    One thing to remember is that these surface drive motors may be heavier than a comparable outboard, depending on the engine size and power.

    Both Copperhead, and Orion outboards offer lower powered (6.5 or 7 hp) S-Ds that are under 100 lbs. I believe Copperhead's 12 hp is quoted as 125 lbs. The MudBuddy Mini 23 is 166 lbs. I guess the question is how much power you need. And then finding a mounting system that works.

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    Excellent thread - thanks for the advice and discussion!

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    Copperhead 6.5hp at 80 lbs is certainly reasonable for a Ranger or a Cargo. The price is not terrible at $2,500 if it adds significant utility and capability to the boat. I'm a little concerned about all the above water thrashing about with a prop that is half out of the water most of the time and the noise. Doesn't sound like a trolling motor but it sure could get someone into "honey holes" on the shallow creeks.

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