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Thread: Why not a surface drive?

  1. #1
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    Default Why not a surface drive?

    Everybody seems to point to flat bottom (or shallow V) tunnel hulls with jet outboards ...but these burn a lot of gas. Why not a surface drive like the one sold by ProDrive Outboards (see http://www.prodriveoutboards.com) instead? Seems like a surface drive behind a tunnel would serve just as well (look at the protective skeg on that motor too). I know that a 16'-ish boat with the 36 hp ProDrive gets 5 to 8 miles per gallon instead only 2 like a jet outboard. Am I off base here? Why or why not? And why don't people use more of the 'mud motors', e.g. Go Devils? Not having a boat designed for rivers, I can't say that I've gone far enough upstream to find out what "real life" is all about and that makes it hard to judge... He'p me! He'p me!

    Thanks,
    Brian

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    Surface drives are awesome motors, but also have their limitations. Where I'm running is mainly sand bottoms and I worry about prop wear on a surface drive more than anything. I had a 35 HyperSport on a Gator Trax when I lived in Louisiana before moving here. It was awesome for vegetation and mud but was miserable on a sand bottom. I was actually looking at getting another one for up here, but have decided a jet would probably be a little better for the area I run in. I think I'd basically have to have a pile of props to get me through a year of hunting in the areas I want to go. A jet impellor also gets worn from sand passing through it, but it can't be anywhere near the wear that a surface drive prop gets by running "in" the sand. It's equivlent to putting a prop on a grinder.

    If I had gravel bottom streams here I'd be much more inclined to go with the surface drive over the jet.

  3. #3
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    Good info. I'll ask the guys around here (Fairbanks) what kind of muck they run into in the Interior.

    Brian

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    Default Sand

    Just got back from a trip up the Tanana and then up the Wood. Saw it all, airboats, hover craft, all types of surface drives. The ones that were doing the best were small flat bottom john boats with jets. The bottom was a nasty mix of sand and silt. Super shallow and silty. Very hard to read. You really need a boat for each drainage type. I would recommend that you get someone to take you where you plan on running the most and see what most people are using. Surface drives are slow as well. When you are running far distances this will matter. Most drainages will start to get rocky as you get higher, with sand, gravel and silt in the low areas.

    Good Luck

    Steve

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    I wouldn't say surface drives are slow. My 19.5ft Gator Trax (.125 thickness aluminum) would run 28.7mph by myself. With 3 other guys I could still run 24.5. That isn't bad considering most all of them burn less than 2gph of gas and in todays fuel market I'd call that a pretty big advantage over a jet.

    There are some that run a little better than 30mph and can still haul a load at +25mph with 3 guys.

    Of course if you're comparing that to a V8 inboard jet then slow is a relative term!

  6. #6
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Default I stand corrected

    I guess the never ones are much faster. Did see many on the wood, it just seemed that the smaller jet boats were doing better than the surface drives in that drainage. Each has it's niche were one is clearly better than the other.

    Steve

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    I'd love to try mine on a tunnel hull. Right now I can run in about 8" without hitting. I've talke to a guy in Wasilla who has a 45hp hyperdrive on a tunneled Gatortrax, he says he can run in 2-4".

    I have a 23hp mini hyperdrive.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    Just got back from a trip up the Tanana and then up the Wood. Saw it all, airboats, hover craft, all types of surface drives.
    You are correct on the "Saw it all" right down to the canoe with the outboard prop. I didn't see the hovercraft underway but it was there.

    I think a surface-drive would be great on the Tanana and the other sloughs and silty rivers that flow into it. I can't see the silt and mud being any harder in the prop than they are on the impeller. I would not trade my jet for one but I would take one of each.

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    How loud are the hyperdrives, prodrives, etcetera?

    Thx,
    Brian

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    They all use briggs and stratton lawn mower engines for power so they're basically as loud as a revved up 35hp lawnmower. The only ones that are louder than others are the Mudbuddy owners that have purchased one of the hopped up motors or the Level 1 kit with stainless exhaust. They tend to chop about like a Harley!

  11. #11

    Smile Surface drives

    Quote Originally Posted by tananaBrian View Post
    How loud are the hyperdrives, prodrives, etcetera?

    Thx,
    Brian
    Call the dealers and ask them to take you for a ride. Tell them what you want to see and ask the hard questions. Decide for yourself. You still have about 3 or 4 weeks.

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    You definatly need to wear earplugs or muffs while operating them. I do anyways.

    I have ran it a few times when I forgot my earplugs. After the run (hour or so) my left ear had that little numb feeling, not good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FarmerGrant View Post
    You definatly need to wear earplugs or muffs while operating them. I do anyways.

    I have ran it a few times when I forgot my earplugs. After the run (hour or so) my left ear had that little numb feeling, not good.
    So... you don't use these for stealthy sneak-ups on moose? Hahaaa. Just kidding.

    Brian

  14. #14
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    Cool surface drives

    I've zipped past several surface drives that came to a sreeching halt when they "plowed" onto the rocks in 4 inches of water. My jet unit can go much further up a rock bottom stream, as long as I stay on step, than a surface drive will ever think of going. Aluminum sticks to rocks like flies to flypaper.
    That being said...I'm screwed in the muck.

  15. #15

    Default mud motor v.s jet advantage/disadvantages

    Mud Motor Advantages:

    1. You never lose power because you sucked rocks or grass.
    2. You can steer without going very fast (especially if you have a long tail mud motor)
    3. Low gas consumption (about 1 gph per 10 hp at full rpm)
    4. Easy winterization (i.e. nothing if you run stabilizer all the time).
    5. Can run in mud bottom swamps/sloughs with little or no water.
    6. With a longtail (not a surface drive ......see previous post in this thread) there is no more getting stuck because you ran in 5" water but needed 8" to float. A long tail mud motor prop will let you know before you get stuck and severely grounded as is possible with a jet.

    Mud Motor Disadvantages:

    1. No reverse (new ones have neutral & pro-drive has reverse).
    2. Limited maximum size available (largest single engine one is 45 HP).
    3. Can not run as shallow as small flat bottom tunnel john boats with jets.
    4. Tiller handle only for long tail (remote steer available for surface drive).
    5. Dangerous around kids and dogs unless you have neutral.
    6. Loud (driver should wear ear muffs).
    7. Heavier than equivalent horsepower jet.
    8. Props wear out quickly ($200/ea) if you plow through a lot of sand or gravel.

    Having said all that:

    I have a 2003 Mud Buddy longtail 46HP (twin in-line 23HP motors) with only 42 hours for sale on Craigslist due to my upgrading from open 18ft skiff to windshield/canopy 20 ft Wooldridge outboard jet (larger boat for family convenience and use in salt water also).

    Plus side: Now I can carry much larger loads, stay dry & go on salt water.
    Minus side: Now I pay four to five times as much for gas per mile traveled!
    Last edited by titobandito; 09-27-2007 at 21:13. Reason: typo

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