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Old 04-01-2015, 12:31 AM   #1
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Propane outboard for dinghy?

I've been looking at the West Marine PROPANE powered outboards for my new dinghy. I need to power a small dinghy for up to 4 people and I want to keep the engine weight to a minimum.

I've been looking at the LEHR 2.5hp Propane Powered Outboard Engine, Short Shaft engine. Reviews are mixed.

I worry that it sounds like it is difficult to flush after use in salt water and there are mixed reviews on the dependability of the engine. For sure it's less expensive to run, light weight and environmentally friendly. But I'm not convinced.

Any thoughts from those of you have used propane engines or have researched them?
Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-01-2015, 12:39 AM   #2
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Gypsy, Heard some good some not as good discussions on that motor. Haven't found one in use yet. Is that round thing sticking out the back of engine cover the propane cylinder?
The noteworty comment i saw was a new owner thinking the salesman say the propane should last 40 hours worth or run time. Got stranded a long way from mothership. Must have been 4 hours run time. May have seen some discussion on the forum I sure of that. Can't recall the thread.
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Old 04-01-2015, 02:27 AM   #3
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IG I'm a Lehr dealer and I personally own two of them. I've had a 2.5 for a couple of years and a 15 for a couple of months. I got the 2.5 because I got tired of cleaning the carburator on the gasoline engine it replaced.

I got the 15 because I liked the 2.5. The 15 has electric start and lithium battery under the hood.

Tool, the round thing on the back of the engine is a one pound disposable cylinder. The 2.5 will run about an hour at full throttle on a pound of propane.
All of the engines come with a hose to connect them to larger tanks.
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Old 04-01-2015, 06:36 AM   #4
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The big advantage of propane is the fuel does not age and have to be deep sixed after a month.

For a cruiser where dink use is not constant , this is a great advantage.

A second huge advantage (as Hop Car noted) is the fuel does not leave varnish behind when it evaporates.

There are simple methods to refill 1lb bottles from the BBQ sized tanks.
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Old 04-01-2015, 07:29 AM   #5
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I have never had fuel problems with gas outboards, but I would very seriously consider propane power for most of the reasons already stated.
I would love to see one, hear one, try one, but I have not yet seen one in operation in my cruising area.
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:04 AM   #6
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Purchase of a propane outboard is part of our cruising plan, just as soon as we decide what kind of dinghy fits our plan the best. On the loop, the 2.5 would probably be just fine, but I like the idea of having the 15 to plop down on my heavily bracketed swim platform, and give me an option for get-home. Maybe we'll get both, just as Parks did. I sure like the idea of throwing another 1 lb. bottle in the dinghy for safety's sake.
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:56 AM   #7
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Propane cars are wonderful.

Propane OBs should be at least good.

However I have a 27lb 2hp gasoline OB and think the 4 stroke gas or propane OBS are about 40lbs. That and you can't pick one up on Craig's List for $300.

But I'd like a propane OB.

Is the LEHR a Tohatsu?
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Old 04-01-2015, 12:43 PM   #8
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For our kind of cruising, schlepping to get propane would have been a much bigger hassle than filling up at the fuel dock, or even taking the tank to a gas station in places where we had a car. And, when you do run out of fuel "out there" it is 100% more likely that the good samaritan or towing service will have gasoline to get you home.

In our case the Whaler got used intensively, virtually daily, and also for long range exploration, so these issues were more important to us than they may be to others.
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Old 04-01-2015, 06:06 PM   #9
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I've had a Lehr 5 HP for the last 2 years. As the first year model, there have been a couple of engineering problems but Lehr has sent me the parts to fix both of those on their dime. The 5 HP will put my dinghy on step with just me in the boat at a pretty high throttle setting but it goes through propane pretty fast. At hull speed, about 4 mph, a 1 lb bottle with last 45 min to an hour. My understanding the Lehr and Yamaha engines use some common parts. It's always started and run fine. My only regret was not buying the 2.5 HP as I don't use the other 2.5 HP except to have fun going fast after a long day going slow.

With the propane outboard, I converted my Honda EU2000 to run on propane so we carry no gasoline, but keep a spare 11 lb propane bottle and normally 8 or 9 1 lb bottle on board.

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Old 04-01-2015, 07:12 PM   #10
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An alternative, we recently cruised in company with a boat powering the inflatable tender with a good quality electric outboard, the kind used by fisherfolk as a trolling motor. Powered by a car size battery, it seemed to work well, dinghy moved at good speed, utterly silent, battery lasted well, battery can be recharged on the boat.
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Old 04-01-2015, 09:48 PM   #11
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One of the disadvantages of engines running propane is less thermal efficiency. So they will burn more fuel and have less range. Old cars w/o emission controls will loose about 10% and some other cars of the 80s will actually gain efficiency. But the amount of efficiency lost on an outboard will be low enough so it shouldn't be much of an element while choosing an outboard engine.
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Old 04-01-2015, 09:58 PM   #12
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If I (a former Seagull owner) had an outboard now, it would likely be propane-powered.
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Old 04-01-2015, 10:13 PM   #13
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Mark. I, a former Seagull dealer, agree!
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:25 PM   #14
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We have a 2.5 Lehr. Never have had an issue with it. Ours is mounted on a folding Weaver bracket so flushing is a 5 gal bucket of water and letting it idle for a few minutes in the bucket then drain it over the side.
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:32 AM   #15
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If anyone is considering the purchase of a Lehr propane fueled outboard, I just noticed a promo on the Defender website. Lehr is offering free fuel for a year with an outboard purchase.

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Old 04-04-2015, 11:09 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hmason View Post
If anyone is considering the purchase of a Lehr propane fueled outboard, I just noticed a promo on the Defender website. Lehr is offering free fuel for a year with an outboard purchase.
Thanks for the heads up! (It's actually a North America wide Lehr promotion).

One Year Supply of FREE Clean Burning Fuel!

"Starting on February 12th 2015, boaters across North America who purchase any of LEHRís five outboard models ó 2.5 hp, 5 hp, 9.9 hp, 15 hp or the new-for-2015 25 hp ó will qualify for a yearís supply of free propane. For each qualified outboard motor purchased, you will receive a Fuel Rewards Card with a value based on the typical annual consumption of fuel per year and the U.S. average cost of propane per gallon."
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Old 04-05-2015, 12:13 PM   #17
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The problem with propane is that there is less heat than the same volume of gasoline, and much less than the same volume of diesel. So, since engines use heat to run, propane will provide less power for the same amount of fuel, or will burn more fuel putting out the same horsepower on propane. Since there is less energy, most propane engines are quieter than gasoline engines.
The service / winterization issues are something to think about, and if you can get a schnozzle or something like it to refill your 1lb tanks from your onboard propane tank, it makes the where to get fuel issue much simpler.

Also, most Sams Clubs and BJ's clubs refill propane tanks...
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Old 04-05-2015, 12:30 PM   #18
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Mountains out of molehills...

If you have steady access to propane, this is a no brainer. Propane burns cleaner which is easier on the oil and spark plug. It also means you have zero carb contamination issues during long term storage. Who cares about the efficiency, BTU ratings, power outputs, etc.? This is a 2.5 hp outboard we are talking about. I don't know about you but at this power rating, most users would probably not burn more than a few gallons a season.

Not only do I vote for propane and would consider one if my outboard dies but also vote for KISS and not turning a 2.5 hp outboard consideration into a moon landing event.
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Old 04-05-2015, 04:31 PM   #19
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Old 04-05-2015, 09:15 PM   #20
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