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Old 08-20-2018, 09:05 AM   #1
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Considering a bow thruster; best choices?

Somebody in our family recently suggested a bow thruster might make that somebody's job slightly easier while docking... so just in case a bow thruster project bubbles up to the top of my wallet anytime soon...

So without debating whether they're useful or not... without considering hydraulic thrusters or genset PTO options... and without considering external thrusters...

And assuming I'd probably prefer a 24V tunnel system with dedicated AGM batteries located very near the bow thruster, probably with a dedicated 24V own charger... in our 42' 28K-lbs boat...

I thought it might be useful to start with a "market survey" of sorts.

I've only superficially looked at options like the Imtra/Side-Power SE80 and the Vetus/Maxwell BOW7524D, without lots of time comparing thrusters to boat sizes/weights yet. I assume there might be decent options from Lewmar, Max Power, maybe others...

Who's got a thruster? Which one (brand/model)? In what boat?

Comments about horsepower vs. boat size? About single prop vs. dual prop? Good or bad about various brands or designs?

-Chris
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Old 08-20-2018, 09:16 AM   #2
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I give Florida Bow Thrusters, the Vetus distributor and installer, my highest recommendation. They install all over the country and I have seen their excellent work first hand at various yards. Also have met many happy customers. I have personally experienced their terrific way-way-way after the sale customer service first hand.
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Old 08-20-2018, 09:30 AM   #3
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We have the same set-up as you describe with the SE-120. The installation was done by North Harbor Diesel in Anacortes and we were very pleased with the service, the installation, and the product.
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Old 08-20-2018, 09:43 AM   #4
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Not meaning to take the thread off course, but a question about best bow thruster batteries. We had a similar set up to the one envisaged with 2 dedicated 4D batteries providing 24V. They were deep cycle (house-type) batteries. While it was never really an issue, my question is whether it would be better to power with starter type batteries (not deep cycle). Logic being that the thruster is basically a big starter motor that draws a lot of current for a short period of time.
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Old 08-20-2018, 09:43 AM   #5
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I've been very happy with Side-Power and there US distributor Imtra. They were very helpful with my conversion from 12 to 24 volts (motor replacement) and pointing me to a dealer who would sell me the motor well below retail.

If you go with the 7.3" tunnel and choose the Side-Power SE80 over the SE100, you're certifiably insane. The difference in cost between the 2 when looking at the total cost of the installation, is a rounding error at most. Remember, nobody ever said, " I wished I'd bought a smaller bow thruster ". For that tunnel size with your boat, regardless of manufacturer, I would buy the most powerful thruster that fits that tunnel.

Ted
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:54 AM   #6
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OC Diver's last sentence really sums up what I was going to say. Go with the biggest tunnel you can fit on your boat and stuff it with the most powerful thruster you can.


Nobody ever said "Gee, I wish my thruster didn't have so much power".
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:12 AM   #7
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As Ted and Mike said, put the largest thruster you can reasonably install. You will rarely need the extra power, but when you do you will appreciate it. A couple months ago I ran into a situation where my bow and stern thrusters were not sufficient to overcome wind and current. I would have appreciated a bit more thrust in that situation.
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:38 AM   #8
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I have a Side Power thruster that I installed in the stern of our 42í trawler. Works extremely well. Have had good customer service from Imtra. I do not have room for an internal bow thruster. May install an external bow thruster. Was going to do it this winter but went with quartz countertops for our house instead... I agree that you should go big or stay home. I went one size larger on my stern thruster and certainly do not regret it. 35 to 40 mph winds had my boat pinned to the dock and I needed to reposition a fender. I could not budge the boat even a 1/4Ē by pushing it with everything I had and then I thought about the thruster. It moved the boat upwind immediately.
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Old 08-20-2018, 12:20 PM   #9
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I put a Sidepower bow thruster in about 2010. It works well and has been reliable.
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Old 08-20-2018, 12:37 PM   #10
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18hp Wesmar........
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Old 08-20-2018, 12:58 PM   #11
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Considering a bow thruster; best choices?

A related issue
Several of us here on Puget Sound have been having trouble with
erratic performance of our Lewmar bow thrusters. They go off on their own. This has happened while underway and when moored. Two of us have one year old Cutwater 30cb. The other guy has had three sets of thruster motors and control units replaced. He seems to think a new model control unit may have solved the problem. Iím still waiting for a new lower control unit to arrive. In the meantime Iím considering an excorcism to rid my bow thruster of the demons possessing it.
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Old 08-20-2018, 01:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
If you go with the 7.3" tunnel and choose the Side-Power SE80 over the SE100, you're certifiably insane. The difference in cost between the 2 when looking at the total cost of the installation, is a rounding error at most. Remember, nobody ever said, " I wished I'd bought a smaller bow thruster ". For that tunnel size with your boat, regardless of manufacturer, I would buy the most powerful thruster that fits that tunnel.

Sounds like a fair point, although I'm sometimes sensitive to the magnitude of some rounding errors. And I'm probably not qualified to say whether I'm certifiable or not.

Using Defender's prices as examples, I see they want $2695 for the SE80 and $3640 for the SE100.

-Chris
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Old 08-20-2018, 01:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
Sounds like a fair point, although I'm sometimes sensitive to the magnitude of some rounding errors. And I'm probably not qualified to say whether I'm certifiable or not.

Using Defender's prices as examples, I see they want $2695 for the SE80 and $3640 for the SE100.

-Chris
Ok, I was looking at Imtra's site and saw a $1,300 difference on a $5,200 thruster. Figuring you would be looking at 5 figures all in, $1,300 wasn't significant.

Did you get an estimate on installing the tunnel?

Ted
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Old 08-20-2018, 02:00 PM   #14
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I found the lowest price at Marine Wharehouse on my Side Power thruster. No affiliation just satisfied customer.
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Old 08-20-2018, 04:54 PM   #15
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Ok, I was looking at Imtra's site and saw a $1,300 difference on a $5,200 thruster. Figuring you would be looking at 5 figures all in, $1,300 wasn't significant.

Did you get an estimate on installing the tunnel?

In the grand scheme of things... you might well be right about what's significant.

Today is the first I've really thought of pursuing the whole idea... since it was just last evening I was informed it might be a good idea... so, no, haven't yet got anything more than hearsay about installation costs.

I'm guessing all in, thruster, assuming two Odyssey PC-2150s in series to 24V, a 24V charger, and some whiz-bang nifty controls, plus installation (including the tunnel)... maybe 2.5-3x the cost of just the thruster.

??

-Chris
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Old 08-20-2018, 04:56 PM   #16
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I found the lowest price at Marine Wharehouse on my Side Power thruster. No affiliation just satisfied customer.
Thanks, that's useful.


Anybody know about Max-Power thrusters? They seem to be less expensive than Vetus or Side-Power units of similar thrust... and at least one installer suggest he likes 'em because they're more corrosion-resistant.

??

-Chris
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:11 PM   #17
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Has anyone installed a “Yacht Thruster”? Give their apparent ease of installation, no large hole, they seem to me to be the way to go to handle both bow and stern issues.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:50 PM   #18
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Not yet but I will probably install one on our bow in the future. We do not have room in the bow for a traditional tunnel.
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Old 08-20-2018, 07:32 PM   #19
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In the grand scheme of things... you might well be right about what's significant.

Today is the first I've really thought of pursuing the whole idea... since it was just last evening I was informed it might be a good idea... so, no, haven't yet got anything more than hearsay about installation costs.

I'm guessing all in, thruster, assuming two Odyssey PC-2150s in series to 24V, a 24V charger, and some whiz-bang nifty controls, plus installation (including the tunnel)... maybe 2.5-3x the cost of just the thruster.

??

-Chris
Chris, I'm not an expert on bow thruster installations, nor have I ever played an installer on TV, however, this is what I know:

Installing the tube is not rocket science for a good fiberglass man. On a displacement hull boat, it's not that bad a job. Sean the guy who did the fiberglass and paint work on my refit has done one or two. I watched him do one and if you can figure out where the hole goes, the rest is fiberglass work.

With a planing hull there's more to putting the tube in. The placement is more critical and the eyebrow effect around the hole is important for hull performance when on plane. Simply, you want to make darn sure the installer has done a number of planing hulls including ones in your size.

While I'm just guessing from my armchair, a complete install from a bow thruster installer, soup to nuts, $15K. Hope it's less.

Ted
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Old 08-20-2018, 08:06 PM   #20
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It isnít that hard to figure out the hole placement. Measure the inside and mark the centerline for the hole on each side. Tape a rare earth magnet on the inside and then go outside with another magnet and it will locate very quickly. Drill a pilot hole on each side. Take a long rod and bend the end into a J equal to the radius of the tube. Run the J in a circle to mark the cut line and cut it horizontally with a jig saw or your choice of saw. Then glass the tube in. The glass work is the easy part.
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