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Old 07-06-2020, 06:07 PM   #1
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Gas or electric dinghy outboard

Posting this as helpful education because this is really a no-brainer. I bought a new inflatable and 3.5 4-cycle Merc last year as I returned to boating after almost 20 years. Motor was fair, a little finicky but usable. This year it wouldn't start and is now in the shop. Without even looking at it the tech knew it was a carb problem. These tiny motors are notorious for this. I know friends who struggle with this as well. Enter the electric outboard, ePropulsion (which I just ordered) and Torqeedo. Lightweight, quiet, no fuel to deal with, zero maintenance, no starting issues, includes reverse. Yes, about twice the price of the Merc, but over time is cheaper to own. My main plus is that I know my wife can dinghy to the beach and back reliably w/o struggling to start the motor. Anyone want a 2019 Merc with a handful of hours let me know. It will be good as new when it comes out of the shop, but that doesn't mean it's great. If you need more power, gas may still have an edge for now, but if you need a small, lightweight motor you can easily lift, look at the electrics.
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Old 07-06-2020, 06:32 PM   #2
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You have to use fuel stabilizers with these small engines, I have a Ryobi power washer (gas) I've used once and neglected to put a fuel stabilizer in and now it won't start. I know its a carb issue.

The alternative is to use Chevron 94 grade gas with the methanol in it, that will work as well.
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Old 07-06-2020, 06:45 PM   #3
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How about non-ethanol gas? I use it exclusively with pretty good results in a Honda EU200i generator and my Stihl string trimmer.
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Old 07-06-2020, 06:47 PM   #4
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Buy a yamaha or tohatsu instead of a merc and your problem will be solved.

PS batteries require maintenance as well.
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Old 07-06-2020, 06:52 PM   #5
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Ethanol gas can phase separate which as far as I know..... no stabilizer can cure but takes special circumstances to even occur. ALL gas can evaporate and leave "varnish" that clogs jets on tiny carburetors.

Blaming Ethan old for a much more common problem doesnt solve most small engine problems.
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Old 07-06-2020, 07:00 PM   #6
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Depends on what you use the dinghy for. If just to get to shore and back every so often, then I can definitely understand electric, if you have a good way of charging it. For us, the dinghy is more than just that, it is an exploration vessel.
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Old 07-06-2020, 07:01 PM   #7
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I have a 10' Livingston I use to use with an outboard. Now a Newport Vessels 55 thrust. Moves the Livingston at about 8-9 kts. It's easier with battery power compared to looking marine gas. Outboard was in the shop every three years for about $300.
I had a smaller Minn Kota, stolen. Replaced with the first Newport Vessel, also stolen. So now the motor is chained to the boat and the boat locked to the dock and I put up cameras.
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Old 07-06-2020, 07:15 PM   #8
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Any real experience on how an electric like a Torqeedo 1003 with a full charge stands up against a gas 3.5 hp in range? You can also easily carry an extra gallon of gas in a can, but seem pretty limited to battery charge on an electric.
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Old 07-06-2020, 07:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Buy a yamaha or tohatsu instead of a merc and your problem will be solved.

PS batteries require maintenance as well.

Merc is made by Tohatsu. Same motor, different decals.
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Old 07-06-2020, 07:23 PM   #10
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Any real experience on how an electric like a Torqeedo 1003 with a full charge stands up against a gas 3.5 hp in range? You can also easily carry an extra gallon of gas in a can, but seem pretty limited to battery charge on an electric.



No real world experience, but unless you are operating one of the new electrics at full throttle, they will run for many hours. I could probably get a week or more out of a charge running back and forth to shore. You can top off when running the genny, charge from 12v, or charge from solar cells. Do some research, Just like lawn tools, I believe electric is the future.
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Old 07-06-2020, 07:31 PM   #11
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How about non-ethanol gas? I use it exclusively with pretty good results in a Honda EU200i generator and my Stihl string trimmer.

I recently started using the engineered non-ethanol gas in my smaller engines and exclusively in this outboard since new. About 10x the price of regular gas. Still didn't save my motor from dying after the first year. I have a friend with same motor. Over past weekend he had nothing but trouble. Motor would start ok but die after a few minutes of running. Electric will be free from running issues. My wife can go off on her own and I on;t have to worry about whether she can get it re-started. Sure you have to recharge at times, but the range on the new motors is pretty substantial, like 20 miles at a reasonable speed. You're not planing, but comparable to a 3 HP gas. Just look it up.
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Old 07-06-2020, 07:34 PM   #12
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Any real experience on how an electric like a Torqeedo 1003 with a full charge stands up against a gas 3.5 hp in range? You can also easily carry an extra gallon of gas in a can, but seem pretty limited to battery charge on an electric.

Look instead at the newly released ePropulsion model. Cheaper than Torqeedo, quieter, faster charge, nicer looking, much greater range, other features as well.
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Old 07-06-2020, 07:42 PM   #13
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Buy a yamaha or tohatsu instead of a merc and your problem will be solved.

PS batteries require maintenance as well.

What maintenance for batteries other than charging? When you look at cost of gas, oil, plugs, maintenance, repairs, etc, the electrics are cheaper over time even though expensive to purchase. But even if they weren't, factor the peace of mind of always working, lifting 20 lbs instead of 45, no emissions, no fuel on board, no smell or fumes, and on and on.....
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Old 07-06-2020, 08:05 PM   #14
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In our 25-year, scary-long list of past boats, we have had all manner of dinghy engines - Honda 2, Nissann 4, Merc 3.5, Tohatsu 8, a Torqeedo 1003 and several others I have since forgotten.

Our cruising areas and needs at the time had us only ever needing to travel up to maybe 2 miles in the dinghy, so range was not much of an issue. The size of the big boats we had did not allow for much more dinghy or motor with regards to weight and size, either. No 12ft Caribe with 30hp and console for us!

All have their drawbacks. I had the 4-stroke carb disassemble/clean operation on the gas outboards down to about 15 minutes. Had to do it often, no matter how much Seafoam or other additives were used or gas run out. Fact of life for motors that may sit a couple of months unused.

The Torqeedo 1003 was really nice. I did have range anxiety, though, and it was a mite under powered with the dinghy we had at the time - relative to the pain of having a gas outboard. For those cases, the gas outboards won out for us, even with the constant carb headaches.

Now, we have a big enough boat to carry a little more weight. With the dinghy we chose, the USCG label indicated 8hp max. The only gas outboard I was willing to commit to was a true fuel injected version - no carbs to gum up. The smallest and lightest of those was Suzuki 9.9hp. Just under 100lbs. This engine is a dream from a running/starting everytime/carbureter(none) standpoint. Starts on 1 pull EVERY time, no matter how long it sits (because of the sealed EFI system) -- even after 4 months one time.

However, it was just too heavy for our dinghy and it was very hard to start for the admiral (the first few inches of that first pull is pretty tough). Moving it around (dinghy carried up on the deckhouse) for maintenance, etc. at 100lbs, combined with the fact that it was oversized for the dinghy, was just too much for me.

We just sold the Suzuki 9.9 (today), and I have ordered at Torqeedo Cruise 2.0 (5hp equiv) tiller model. the additional horsepower over the 1003 should be plenty for us. My range anxiety will be alleviated by putting two Relion Lithium batteries permanently in the dinghy's locker. The batteries in total will be 49lbs and will live in the locker permanently. This will give us 1920 Wh of power for the Cruise 2.0 at 24V. I estimate that it will do 6mph wide open for an hour, or 4-5mph for about 4, 6, maybe even 8 hours. This should be plenty for us. All in, the cost, with motor, batteries, and charger is about twice the cost of a new Suzuki 9.9. Ouch

We have a TON of solar (1.44KW) on the deckhouse and I am constantly looking for things to "spend" that power on once we are topped off on the house bank. Charging the two 75Ah 12V dinghy batteries via a remote cable will work great for this.

I also like the idea not having to find/carry gasoline anymore also. This all also assumes you don't NEED planing speeds (although the 5hp Torqeedo may get on a plane with just me in it - stay tuned!)

I will report back on speeds, range, etc. when I get the motor and parts and get everything hooked up and tested out.

Sorry to ramble on so......
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Old 07-06-2020, 08:17 PM   #15
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I've been using the ePropulsion for a year now. Pushes the dinghy at hull speed for an hour, and at just under for 2 hours. We have a pretty heavy dinghy, with just me full power (1000 watts) gets about 4.5 or 4.6 knots (GPS). 500W gets about 3.8 or so for 2 hours with two of us. Back off to 300W and it will still go 3.4 (and 3 hours). For us that easily replaces a small (non-planing) gas motor. Running to shore and exploring the anchorage we go a week or two between charges. And the lack of noise, gas, pull-starts is very welcome.

The battery requires no maintenance other than charging.
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Old 07-06-2020, 11:39 PM   #16
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The little 4-strokes are really reliable and can be mostly trouble-free. You have to turn off the gas valve and run the carb dry between trips. That and fresh gas will eliminate 95% of carb problems. It’s also pretty easy to take the little carb apart and clean out the jets if they ever do get clogged.

I’ve got a Tohatsu/Suzuki 3.5hp and I’ve never had a bit of trouble with it, including carb trouble, but I always run the gas dry before storage.

I realize the OP has moved on to an electric, but I’m adding this for others that might have the same issue.
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Old 07-06-2020, 11:46 PM   #17
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Merc is made by Tohatsu. Same motor, different decals.
But they are really potent decals .
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Old 07-07-2020, 12:35 AM   #18
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Charging takes time. How many times to charge a battery equals one 5 gallon tank of gas? Do you take the battery in and out of your dink? Or do you hop aboard with your 110v charger? Dont kid yourself. I have both electric and gas motors. They both require maintenance. I lost a bank of batteries last year for my trolling motor and that wasnt cheap (or easy).
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What maintenance for batteries other than charging? When you look at cost of gas, oil, plugs, maintenance, repairs, etc, the electrics are cheaper over time even though expensive to purchase. But even if they weren't, factor the peace of mind of always working, lifting 20 lbs instead of 45, no emissions, no fuel on board, no smell or fumes, and on and on.....
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Old 07-07-2020, 04:38 AM   #19
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Torqeedo Still Going Strong After 7 years

We've had our Torqeedo 1003 now for 7 years. We don't have range anxiety because we have two Torqeedo 1003 batteries. In that span of time we have used the 1003 primarily on 3 different boats, a Gheenoe and two different dinghys. It is our only propulsion, presently, for our AB 9-ft dinghy with an aluminum v-hull.

However, there was one occasion on the Tennessee River when we did have current anxiety. It was after some heavy rain upstream, and the current was running about 5 knots. We decided against trying to run upstream for several miles.

For that reason, I have serious propulsion envy of Boathealer's new Torqeedo Cruise 2.0.

We have 500 watts of solar on Mariso's roof, so no problem recharging the batteries. We had to replace the charger for a few bucks last year, but the two batteries are still going strong with no observable decay. We always rinse off the motor with fresh water when we use it in saltwater. Takes 2 minutes.

We've never had a single problem with it, and so far... zero maintenance!!!


Here's a little video we did 7 years ago testing our 1003 on 3 different boats. Back then I used it primarily for fishing around Weedon Island.





The video linked above is banned on German YouTube because someone over there copyrighted the Tommy Dorsey soundtrack (published 1937) music I used.

Cheers,
Mrs. Trombley
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Old 07-07-2020, 06:13 AM   #20
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Thanks for everyone's feedback. I almost bought a Torqeedo 1103 till I found the ePropulsion Spirit 1.0 Plus. (The "Plus" is the newest model just released). The Spirit looks to have several advantages, slightly more power, longer range, quieter, simpler connections, faster charging, and a little less expensive. Suggest checking it out if considering electric.
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