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Old 11-28-2021, 08:49 PM   #1
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engine electronic controls = bad?

Looking at an innovative thirty-five footer. It touts an engine that "has NO electronic control systems and will run as long as there is fuel available and a battery to start."

Are electronic controls evil?
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Old 11-28-2021, 08:58 PM   #2
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Not evil but they can introduce points of failure that are hard to troubleshoot or inspect. I've seen a vessel with the control boxes incorrectly wired to a LifePO house bank and due to an unrelated charging issue the BMS cut off the batteries rendering the controls useless. The fix was to rewire the controls to each engine battery. In another vessel a loose wire prevented a shift into reverse and caused a minor dock collision. In a third example a 4788 with both boxes wired to the port engine failed when the port engine had to be shut down due to an unrelated rapid coolant loss on the port engine.

Like any system onboard, they require the owner/operator to fully understand the system itself, how it was installed and to perform regular maintenance/inspections.

Personally I like direct mechanical or hydraulic connections for critical systems like engine/transmission/steering controls.

That said, I once had a $0.10 circlip come off of a teleflex tramsission cable rendering the port engine useless. Foretunately this happened in the slip during a forward/reverse pre-departure check and was easily rectified but in a seaway a cruising speed would've made for an interesting troublshooting process.
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Old 11-28-2021, 09:04 PM   #3
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Personally I would avoid them but that is me and largely because I have enough to do without converting my 44 yr. old boat to electronic controls.

In general I don't think they are evil at all. They can offer a lot of info that is of use to owners. They can make finer adjustments to the operations and give warnings of impending problems long before other alarms.

The use of them has improved fuel economy and emissions substantially.

However when things go wrong they can be an absolute Bas++++ to trouble shoot without the computer and program AND the technician to be able to use it all effectively.

A lot of problems are caused by poor connections that degrade the signals that the computer needs to know what the engine is doing which from what I have seen can be a serious problem.

What needs to be done is YOU need to figure out what kind of cruising you wish to do. Far out of the way places are going to be trouble. Yet that was often the case with maverick mechanical engines , LACK OF SUPPORT.
If you intend to cruise reasonably close to home base then less of a problem..

So no definitive answer here as with all mechanical devices there are two sides.

But evil , I don't think so.
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Old 11-28-2021, 09:06 PM   #4
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Nothing wrong with electronic controls provided it's a good implementation and the installation is good. The biggest thing is making sure you can get the information and any special tools needed to troubleshoot the system if you have an issue dinette l somewhere that a specialist isn't close at hand.
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Old 11-29-2021, 12:10 AM   #5
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I think he's talking about the engine fuel injection system, not the shift and throttle controls. But maybe those too..


Electronic fuel injection is an easy thing to fear and not understand. But in reality they work really, really well. If they didn't, the sides of roads would be strewn with broken down trucks, and of course they are not. Cars too, for that matter.
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Old 11-29-2021, 12:52 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by twistedtree View Post
I think he's talking about the engine fuel injection system, not the shift and throttle controls. But maybe those too..


Electronic fuel injection is an easy thing to fear and not understand. But in reality they work really, really well. If they didn't, the sides of roads would be strewn with broken down trucks, and of course they are not. Cars too, for that matter.
Oh but you're so Twisted. Don't you know everything invented in the past 50 years is bad and evil. You even have mechanics preach that sermon, those who have never bothered to learn new or who lack the simple diagnostic equipment to quickly determine the problems but instead would prefer to guess.
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Old 11-29-2021, 12:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twistedtree View Post
I think he's talking about the engine fuel injection system, not the shift and throttle controls. But maybe those too..


Electronic fuel injection is an easy thing to fear and not understand. But in reality they work really, really well. If they didn't, the sides of roads would be strewn with broken down trucks, and of course they are not. Cars too, for that matter.
That`s what the quote suggested imo.
Mind you, if we had EFI, and later Weber invented his carburetor, some say it would have been seen as a great advance.
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Old 11-29-2021, 06:41 AM   #8
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"Electronic fuel injection is an easy thing to fear and not understand. But in reality they work really, really well. If they didn't, the sides of roads would be strewn with broken down trucks, and of course they are not. Cars too, for that matter."


Cars , trucks and coaches are on rubber tires which makes them a Faraday Cage , so a nearby lightning strike does not cost the computer.


Anyone contemplating world travel might want to consider the cost of flying in a qualified tech and importing expensive electronics.
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Old 11-29-2021, 08:09 AM   #9
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Really depends in how you plan to use the boat. If speed and efficiency are primary, then common rail/electronic controlled engine js by far your best choice. If a new or newer model boat (and over 100hp ot so), electronic is your only choice due to Tier 3 mandates.

As TT states, the electronically controlled diesels are indeed reliable (and I add, efficient) however they are not as easily diagnosed and repaired, especially with DIY skills and tools. So it's a tradeoff - strong operational benefits for modern diesel engines. If you do not do your own work anyway and cruise in well populated areas with trained mechanics, there is no reason to go towards mechanical engines and a lot of reasons not to.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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Old 11-29-2021, 08:11 AM   #10
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I think he's talking about the engine fuel injection system, not the shift and throttle controls. But maybe those too..
No doubt I could have been more clear on what I was asking. I thank you for trying to see my intent. Here's a link to the site that got me thinking. It's for the Seapiper.

https://www.seapiper.com/engine-choices/
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Old 11-29-2021, 08:34 AM   #11
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Oh but you're so Twisted. Don't you know everything invented in the past 50 years is bad and evil. You even have mechanics preach that sermon, those who have never bothered to learn new or who lack the simple diagnostic equipment to quickly determine the problems but instead would prefer to guess.

I want my steam engine back.
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Old 11-29-2021, 09:16 AM   #12
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The Beta is essentially a Perkins 4.236, same engine that powers my Willard 36. Has a decent reputation though I have little direct knowledge. My understanding is some of the Nordhavn 41s with twins are being spec'd with a pair of these engines. This is old-school technology. What I've always chuckled at in the Beta marketing description is "Meets current Tier III standards." Technically, yes. But what that really means is Tier III does not apply to an engine in this HP range so its exempt. Sort of a word-play to my thinking. But it does have a decent reputation.

A few years ago, I [briefly] considered re-powering my Willard. The one thing I dislike about my Perkins' is there are too many hoses which was typical of marinizations of it's time. While the Beta would have been a logical choice, I found quite a few NOS Deere 4045's in the used market and would have been my choice. Not really practical in a new build as the OEM should provide warranty support, at least for a while.

EDIT - OP: If you move forward with Seapiper, please consider that many new-boat owners spend the money to have the vessel surveyed prior to taking delivery. There have also been some lengthy threads on the Seapiper here in TF that will likely provide insights (good and bad, if any).

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Old 11-29-2021, 11:52 AM   #13
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Ask the boat owner who has been sitting idle waiting months for a new motherboard. The electronic controlled engine flies directly into the face of the KISS principle, and Murphy's Law.
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Old 11-29-2021, 11:57 AM   #14
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I’m a newbie coming from sail. My prior helm was a modern version of the Whitlock. Solid ss rods connected via an arm to the rudder post. The AP had its own arm. Even with a high aspect balanced spade rudder “feel” was just about as good as a tiller. Transmission was cable controlled. Between touch and sound no need ever to look at a screen to know RPM, n/f/r, nor rudder angle.

Now everything is fly by wire. Sound suppression is good enough that doesn’t help much either. Especially up on the flybridge where you’re going to be for sight lines. Totally wonderful underway but truly miss that feedback when in close maneuvers and docking. People tell me it will come. But see fly by wire as an obstacle to learning. Even screws up my back and fill as I can’t feel the difference between slow idle and neutral. Have run big stuff and center cockpits with hydraulics. Don’t like that either. So if you get that boat (depending upon your background) beyond learning how she handles figure you’ll also have to learn how to live with electronic controls. It’s definitely another layer of learning.

Agree a NA mechanically controlled engine with appropriate spares and tools aboard is huge for the off grid cruiser but we’re no longer operating in that setting. If I was cruising Florida in a cat I’d be real worried about lightening strikes but I’m not. Part availability depends upon brand. Can even be trouble for Beta, Steyr or others. Probably less likely for brands also used in farming or land transportation and more likely for currently available mechanical engines. While in the Caribbean fellow cruisers with Volvo bitched about it regardless of tier so even that doesn’t hold depending where you are.

Think for me at least you lose that feeling the boats part of you. Same as flipping from a stick to paddles and double slipper clutches.
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Old 11-29-2021, 12:38 PM   #15
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Any common rail electronically controlled engine has an electronic throttle, though it may be in the engine room not the bridge. With no mechanical injection pump or governor, there is no lever for a mechanical throttle to operate.
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Old 11-29-2021, 12:41 PM   #16
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Ask the boat owner who has been sitting idle waiting months for a new motherboard.

I haven't encountered any.
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Old 11-29-2021, 12:46 PM   #17
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Ask the boat owner who has been sitting idle waiting months for a new motherboard. The electronic controlled engine flies directly into the face of the KISS principle, and Murphy's Law.
That makes the assumption that electronic parts are a greater waiting period than non-electronic but I remember plenty of people waiting for parts all my life. Waiting for an carburetor or an alternator to be rebuilt or crankshaft or who knows what.

While I boated on freshwater and gas engines that weren't as advanced as today, I feel fortunate to have never boated with diesels and on the coasts prior to electronics and to common rail and other advancements. That way these are the good old days to me and I don't long for something in the past that by reflection seems far more idyllic than it ever truly was.
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Old 11-29-2021, 12:49 PM   #18
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Sophistication that makes sense for large engines might not be cost/value effective for small engines. Buy all means, get that 10% fuel savings on your 1200HP diesels. but, don't mess with my 29 HP 100ci diesels. By that, I mean legislature.

OTOH, can't we do something about the noisy, smelly, week wackers??
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Old 11-29-2021, 01:22 PM   #19
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OTOH, can't we do something about the noisy, smelly, week wackers??
Actually we have. We sell lots of EGO trimmers which are all battery and we also sell battery models in Craftsman, Stihl, Black and Decker, Toro, Milwaukee and Dewalt. Well over half of all trimmers we sell are battery operated.

You're quite welcome. lol.
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Old 12-03-2021, 03:00 PM   #20
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I bought the Stihl battery weedeater and a Stihl battery leaf blower. The same battery is used for both tools. Have been extremely pleased with both. They are much quieter than a comparable gasoline powered tool.
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