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Old 05-10-2015, 06:55 PM   #1
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Engine controls

Both of my boats have single lever engine controls. Looking at trawlers on Yachtworld I see that almost all trawlers have two lever controls. What I am wondering is why not go with single lever controls, particularly on a boat with twin engines. It seems to that it would be easier to handle the engine on a twin engine boat with two single lever controls rather than separate shifter and throttle controls. It can't be a quality issue since makers like Kobelt make very high quality single lever controls.
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Old 05-10-2015, 08:46 PM   #2
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I find that when you're in close, you're usually just shifting gears at or near idle speed. When I have to throttle up a bit.one way or another, it's not a big deal to switch to the throttle. O. Single.levers, im.often tepted to use more throttle than I really need
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:10 PM   #3
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I find that when you're in close, you're usually just shifting gears at or near idle speed. When I have to throttle up a bit.one way or another, it's not a big deal to switch to the throttle. O. Single.levers, im.often tepted to use more throttle than I really need
Exactly!
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:39 PM   #4
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I like single levers for both twin engine boats and single. For my single I often do quick power bursts of throttle and reverse to prop walk. On the sportfishing boat I run occasionally I mostly don't need to use throttle but it's nice to know its there.
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Old 05-10-2015, 10:19 PM   #5
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My sporty has dual controlls. I much prefer the singles, and have a couple of sets of them, just to lazy to swap them out.
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Old 05-10-2015, 11:19 PM   #6
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I like duals. I keep my engine idled down to around 500 rpm so I can make very little wake. When maneuvering around docks, I kick it up to 650 to get some bite, and leave it there while shifting. Can't do that with a single lever.

Also hard to slam shift with a dual. Clutch is engaged by the time you get your hand off one stick and on to the other to juice it. Single lever it is easy to advance throttle before clutch engages... then BANG.
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Old 05-10-2015, 11:39 PM   #7
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The best thing I ever did on Volunteer was to dump the Morse twin controls and change single Micro commander controls..wish I had those on the current Ocean Alexander... (the micro commander has adjustable lag time to prevent slam shifting )

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Old 05-11-2015, 06:25 AM   #8
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Most of the single or dual controls are cable operated.

Folks going crusing might want to take a page from the motorcycle crowd.

Slip a new cable down next to the existing throttle or shift cable and tape it in place.

Extra clevis pins would not hurt.

When its replacement time you are ready.

Remember if the cable path is not very tight larger more robust (series 43 , not 33) cables cost little more but last longer.
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Old 05-11-2015, 06:48 AM   #9
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For dual station installations dual lever controls are easier and cheaper to rig. There is no good way to rig mechanical single lever controls for dual or more stations.
With electronic controls this is no problem, and as we see more of them and the prices come down I believe they will eventually replace mechanical controls on dual station (or more) boats
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Old 05-11-2015, 08:36 AM   #10
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For dual station installations dual lever controls are easier and cheaper to rig. There is no good way to rig mechanical single lever controls for dual or more stations.

With electronic controls this is no problem, and as we see more of them and the prices come down I believe they will eventually replace mechanical controls on dual station (or more) boats
I sure hope electronic controls get a "fail safe" feature built in (maybe some brands all ready do).

Over the years I've read several bad situations where the electronics malfunctioned for different reasons and in different levels of breakdown. Of course breakdown can happen to mechanical controls too... but turning a wrench for onboard repairs is easier for me than trying to figure out which part of an electrical computer-chip system is at fault. Besides... having correct chip aboard for repair is unlikely. I do have a full set of duplicate cables, if need be.


That said: I hear the electronic systems provide very smooth, seemless operations when correctly functioning.
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Old 05-11-2015, 10:12 AM   #11
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I grew up on sailboats and all had single controls. I have had twins on a catamaran with singles and they maneuvered just fine. My current trawler has a single.

But I have used duals and they take a few minutes to get used to and longer to respond properly in a "panic' situation. But time heals all wounds. I certainly appreciate Ski's point about limitations on "slamming" with duals.

And FWIW my experiences with electronic controls have been abysmal. The ZF/Mathers MicroCommander control would trip out randomly and drop into idle/neutral. Resetting power cleared it until the next time. Some say that this was caused by an installation relay problem, others feel it is inherent in the control.

I do understand that Kobelt makes a more bulletproof system.

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Old 05-11-2015, 10:51 AM   #12
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There is no good way to rig mechanical single lever controls for dual or more stations.
I think you will find that Kobelt makes a superb single-lever, dual-station control system. It is smooth as silk and rugged as can be. It is, however a little pricy.

I finally got fed-up with juggling a 5-turn wheel with dual lever controls on my single-engine boat from a pilothouse. The addition of this Kobelt control system and a bow thruster eliminated the drama.

This is how I spell relief!
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Old 05-11-2015, 10:54 AM   #13
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We have ZF MM and haven't had any problems. If they do give us problems , out they go and in go an electronic kobelt system.
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Old 05-11-2015, 12:08 PM   #14
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A lot of what is said above does not take the apples vs oranges concept into account. Not all engine control units single or double are created equal and comparing a modern electronic system to a older mechanical unit may be misleading. I have had boats with both types of units and find the electronic unit either with the primary Glendenning single levers or when used with a wireless remote to be free of fault regarding use while docking. No doubt the arguments about reliability and repair will pop up they always do when new technology is applied to mechanical units.
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Old 05-11-2015, 12:23 PM   #15
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I find that when you're in close, you're usually just shifting gears at or near idle speed........ Single.levers, I'm often tempted to use more throttle than I really need
That's been my experience. I don't like the "lag" time that the Micro Commanders have either. They take some getting used to when operating in tight places.
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Old 05-11-2015, 12:33 PM   #16
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I stand corrected. The usual problem with this scenario is the "throttle up in neutral" feature. Kobelt gets around this by only having this feature at the "master" control.

In the past Morse offered a "station changer" that was very complex and had lots of friction from all the cables. No longer available.

Kobelt is good stuff, didn't know they had this unit

Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryM View Post
I think you will find that Kobelt makes a superb single-lever, dual-station control system. It is smooth as silk and rugged as can be. It is, however a little pricy.

I finally got fed-up with juggling a 5-turn wheel with dual lever controls on my single-engine boat from a pilothouse. The addition of this Kobelt control system and a bow thruster eliminated the drama.

This is how I spell relief!
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Old 05-11-2015, 02:42 PM   #17
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We have Glendinning controls, swapped from standard cable controls, and love them. The flybridge station has mechanical backups- so we have the best of both.
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Old 05-11-2015, 02:49 PM   #18
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We used Mathers/ZF MicroCommander on almost all the trawlers at Great Harbour. In tens of thousands of hours of use, we found it to be a very robust, reliable system that allows a myriad of easy adjustments (lag time being just one) and the excellent, built-in synchronizer was an added bonus.

However, nothing is perfect in this world - and there was one owner who had a very serious issue with his expensive Mathers controls. As you might know, although these are indeed "electronic controls", the MicroCommander control units are located in the engine room and are actually connected to the (non-electronic) Yanmars' transmissions and throttle linkages via short lengths of typical, mechanical cable. Well, in this case, while underway in the ICW, the bolt that secures the end of the cable sheath to one of the transmissions loosened up enough to release the cable sheath. So, unbeknownst to our intrepid captain, the shifter was having zero effect other than just moving the cable in and out of the housing. With a standard, mechanical, cable-operated clutch, you would "feel" the lack of resistance when trying to shift out of forward gear and immediately realize there was an issue (and hopefully have the presence of mind to simply shut down that engine.) However, the electronic controls offer no such direct connection. In fact, regardless of whether the cables are attached properly or not, they feel just like always, since the captain is, in effect, just moving a potentiometer that sends an electronic signal to the MicroCommander control head. Which, in turn, simply pulls or pushes on the cable and doesn't really "care" if the cable is even connected to anything

So, when the captain pulled both engines out of gear to come to a stop and wait for a bridge, one engine did not shift to neutral, so the boat kept moving forward. This seemed odd and, since he was getting close to the bridge, the captain pulled both engines into reverse. This had the effect of putting one engine in reverse, while leaving the other in forward (since the cable moved some more, but it was still doing nothing to control the actual shift lever on the side of the transmission.) By now the boat was starting to pirouette and getting ever closer to the bridge - leaving the captain completely dumbfounded as to why the boat would not stop. Panic was setting in, so he left both engine levers in the reverse position and simply poured on more throttle. Since props are much more effective in forward than reverse, and since one of the engines was still actually in forward gear, this had the effect of exponentially speeding up the boat's progress towards the opening bridge until finally, the out of control vessel slammed into the bridge, causing many thousands of dollars damage to the boat.

From that point on, as part of the new boat training, I always told my buyers (and bareboat charterers) to give the throttle and clutch cables a sharp tug as part of their morning engine room checks - along with a retelling of this story to illustrate the importance.

So, would I have Mathers/ZF controls on my boat? You bet. In a heartbeat. SO many features and benefits. But you can be sure that I would check the connections religiously!

ERIC
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:26 PM   #19
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Last year my dock mate had his 50 footer T boned by a Mikelson that had a Mathers malfunction.

BTW, what would be the cost all in to have a pro install a set of Kobelts at two stations?
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:26 PM   #20
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This is an interesting thread to me. I have a single engine with separate throttle and transmission controls. I have only used a single shifter once and found it a little harder to be sure I was in neutral - but maybe it was just something I'd get used to. I really like being able to just shift without moving the throttle - for close quarters maneuvering and mentioned before.

My controls are Hynautic hydraulic ones - my mechanic told me to get rid of them and replace them with electric. He had to clean them out and service them for me when they became clogged. Apparently this is a problem with them - though there are many still in use. I'll have to see where this is on my long list of priorities!

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