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Old 01-03-2016, 10:47 AM   #1
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Which Bow Thruster?

In preparation for doing a repower in a couple of months, I am also doing research and collecting the other components for several upgrades while the boat is in the yard. The boat currently does not have a bow thruster, so I am looking for opinions of which brands to consider. The boat will not be equipped with a hydraulic pump, so the thruster will be electric and my first thought is to keep it simple at 12V. The boat is 40’ (34’ 7” LWL) by 13’ 8”, 30,000 pounds, 4’ draft. My current short list is the Side Power SE 80/185 T or the Vetus BOW7512D.

Thanks.

Bob
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Old 01-03-2016, 11:09 AM   #2
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Bob

The brand is less important than the quality of the install IMHO. I have a Lewmar and it has been flawless, but most are. BYW, I prefer electric below 15HP

Why stick with 12V, 24 V offers a smaller motor for same HP and easier cabling. Peter on Twistedtree is an expert on this stuff, you may want to talk with him as well as us amateurs.
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Old 01-03-2016, 11:36 AM   #3
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I installed a Sidepower about 8yrs ago, it also has been flawless. I put a battery right at the unit instead of running heavy cable to the engine room. Works well, have a charge link using light gauge leads back to house panel. There is no provision for AC based charging, except by piggy backing on the house batt, but everything is 12v.

Above a certain size, 24v is definitely better. Put a batt bank up there and then you have to figure out charging. If you routinely have AC power available, just put a 24v charger there and have no other connection to your 12v DC system. Just know that to top up batts, you need AC at least occasionally. The total amp-hours used by the thruster is usually quite low due to short run times, so this should work fine.
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Old 01-03-2016, 02:11 PM   #4
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Go with the Side Power and consider going one size up. When you really need a thruster you won't regret it.

As others have mentioned mount the batteries as close to the thruster as you can.
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Old 01-03-2016, 03:08 PM   #5
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I agree with Capt Bill about upsizing. We had a 24V Sidepower installed on our boat about 5 years ago when we bought her.


The charts all spec'd a thruster with an 8" tube with (IIRC) ~250 ft lbs of thrust. The yard doing the install suggested we go up a size to one with ~300 ft lbs. He looked around and couldn't find one anywhere so we went with a 10" tube and around 375 ft lbs of thrust.


It's like horsepower. I've never heard anyone wish they had less horsepower. We live in a windy area and when I use the thruster it's often when the wind is blowing. When I use it I'm always glad we upsized.
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Old 01-03-2016, 03:59 PM   #6
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The battery box on this boat is built into the engine room liner and is right up against the forward bulkhead. I believe the thruster would only be 5' away. I am going to the boat this afternoon to get some measurements for the thruster tube and other stuff I'm planning on doing, so I'll measure for tentative cable length as well.

I have considered tying into the windless cables for the thruster. The current windless cables are heavy, 2/0, maybe even 3/0. I'll know later today. The cables run right by where the thruster head will be and it would be a matter of cutting the cables and crimping on new ends. The thruster would still have it's own fuse which is lower amps than the windless breaker. I would re-label the windless switch to include Bow Thruster. Just a thought. I don't violate any USCG or ABYC standards.
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Old 01-03-2016, 04:20 PM   #7
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Agree with 24 volt dedicated bank and going "one up", and will put in a big vote for Vetus based on my experience with their great customer over the phone technical service many years after any warranty expired on a long discontinued model, with parts (I didn't have to get, based on their help) still available. Tells you something about a company's character, and that of their distributor, Florida Bow Thruster.
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Old 01-03-2016, 04:35 PM   #8
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Rather than piggybacking the thruster on the windlass power cable, how about putting a pair of batteries for both windlass and thruster, and use the existing cables to recharge the battery bank. One thing about electric thrusters is if you need it, you'll likely need it a lot. That day, you'll want a bank close to the thruster, so you won't have a major drop in capacity from the back.
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Old 01-03-2016, 05:53 PM   #9
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We sort of went through what you are going through a year ago. In our case we had an old anemic Wesmar 12V 5HP bow thruster in an 8" tube. We wanted to significantly improve the bow thruster performance and as an aside add a stern thruster.

In our deliberations it quickly became apparent that we would pretty much need to upgrade from 12V to 24V if we didn't want to enlarge the bow tunnel. So the shared 12V battery in the bow became a dedicated windlass battery and we installed a separate 24V bank for the bow thruster.

We went back and forth between Wesmar and Sidepower; it was a bit of a challenge to compare apples to apples as one (Wesmar) rates in HP while the other (Sidepower) rates in foot pounds. In the end we felt that each had slight advantages over the other but either would be a sound choice.

We went with 13 HP Wesmar thrusters because their control pad fit on our helm panel whereas the Sidepower pad was too big. There was a slight price premium on the Wesmar but not significant.

Blue Sky is 42' and 35,000 pounds.
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Old 01-03-2016, 08:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stubones99 View Post
rather than piggybacking the thruster on the windlass power cable, how about putting a pair of batteries for both windlass and thruster, and use the existing cables to recharge the battery bank.
stu, that's what we did. I have four batteries right next to the thruster that are for the thruster and the windlass.

one thing about electric thrusters is if you need it, you'll likely need it a lot. That day, you'll want a bank close to the thruster, so you won't have a major drop in capacity from the back.
i'm not sure i agree with this statement about needing it a lot. The times when i use mine i'm using it for a few seconds at a time, spaced out by several seconds of down time. One big advantage of going with a lot of extra thruster power is that you don't have to use it a lot.
....

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Old 01-03-2016, 09:32 PM   #11
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My boat is an OA 42' and weighs about 33,100lbs. The thruster is a SidePower, 24v, 10hp which has 4 grp31 AGMs snuggled right up close to the unit. When I hit the joy stick on the bridge, the bow almost jumps to the selected side. I can't say enough about the value of having a thruster that is big enough to really muscle the bow. Like others have posted, just really short bursts does the job.

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Old 01-03-2016, 09:43 PM   #12
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24-volt thruster (click on the photo):



No dedicated battery. Sufficient energy hasn't been an issue.
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Old 01-03-2016, 10:12 PM   #13
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George has had a good experience dealing with Vetus. As a dealer, I have a less than wonderful time dealing with them.

Imtra Corporation, who sells Sidepower, is one of my favorite companies to deal with. Excellent service and a good inventory.

I really can't comment on the thrusters quality. I don't sell a lot of thrusters but I think both brands are pretty well made.
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Old 01-03-2016, 10:47 PM   #14
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Our experience is with ABT (Trax) and with Side-power/Sleipner. We've had no problems with either. ABT seems to focus more on larger boats and Side-power more on boats in the size ranges most owned by people here. Side-power also does a lot of innovative work from Stabilizers to control systems. For anyone who is wanting thrusters but really doesn't have the space for mounting a tunnel thruster, Side-power also offers a pod thruster. I have no knowledge of it, other than it being offered.
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Old 01-04-2016, 03:51 AM   #15
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Our experience is with ABT (Trax) and with Side-power/Sleipner. We've had no problems with either. ABT seems to focus more on larger boats and Side-power more on boats in the size ranges most owned by people here. Side-power also does a lot of innovative work from Stabilizers to control systems. For anyone who is wanting thrusters but really doesn't have the space for mounting a tunnel thruster, Side-power also offers a pod thruster. I have no knowledge of it, other than it being offered.
I just installed the Exturn (Sleipner/Sidepower) external thruster mentioned above. Install was a straightforward bolt-in, and it's been working wonderfully.
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Old 01-04-2016, 04:43 AM   #16
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I just installed the Exturn (Sleipner/Sidepower) external thruster mentioned above. Install was a straightforward bolt-in, and it's been working wonderfully.
More information would be good, I`m considering installing an Exturn next haul out.
Any photos of it installed? Was it difficult to attach, does it require fiberglass work to create a base for it? Did you need to add any battery(I`m hoping to use the windlass power supply)? What wattage does it draw? Any discernible effect on performance/speed? Anything else you can pass on from the experience?
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:46 AM   #17
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My boat came with a Sidepower 12 volt thruster that suffered from short cycle time do to low voltage drop from the cable runs. These were 4/0 cables and the thruster was pulling 400 amps. Had the motor converted to 24 volt and moved the batteries to the thruster compartment with their own charger. The higher voltage units have longer duty cycles, draw less amps, use smaller size cables and can run with normal automotive sealed batteries.

There are some pics of the installation in my refit thread.

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Old 01-04-2016, 08:13 AM   #18
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Before purchasing ANY thruster find out the allowed ON time and the required OFF time ..

On time is frequently in seconds , Off time in minuets.

Folks pay the extra for HYD for a reason.
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Old 01-04-2016, 10:42 AM   #19
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George has had a good experience dealing with Vetus. As a dealer, I have a less than wonderful time dealing with them.

Imtra Corporation, who sells Sidepower, is one of my favorite companies to deal with. Excellent service and a good inventory.

I really can't comment on the thrusters quality. I don't sell a lot of thrusters but I think both brands are pretty well made.
As a lifelong retailer, I can understand the difference between a brand's relationship with its dealers, and with end consumers. Some of the most-loved brands with great consumer friendliness were the biggest pains to deal with. Apple (always) and Sony (back in the day) come to mind. Vetus always seemed to me to be more OEM and boatyard oriented than a "retail" brand.
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Old 01-04-2016, 11:43 AM   #20
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George, I think you've described my situation exactly.
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