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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 04-23-2007
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Outboard Diesel?

Is there a diesel alternative for a dinghy? I have seen/heard of Yanmar's 27 and 36 HP Diesel outboards. But is there something smaller available that would solve carrying gasoline as well as diesel? I have done some Google searching (to no avail) and just knew someone here would have the answer.
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Old 04-23-2007
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Unfortunately, I don't think anyone makes a smaller diesel outboard. And diesel outboards are very heavy compared to gasoline outboards, as the castings need to be much heavier to withstand the higher compression ratios of a diesel cycle engine.
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There are saltwater trolling motors that have up to 60 pounds of thrust that would operate off a single 12-volt deep cycle battery. Much cheaper than even a small gas outboard, although the weight might be a wash as the motor is not heavy but the battery is.

West Marine sent me a small catalog back in March that featured two electric outboards of which I was previously unaware. Both are manufactured by Torqeedo, Starnberg, Germany. One is the Travel 801 Electric Outboard that produces nearly 73 pounds of thrust and has a battery as an integral part of the motor. The entire unit weighs just under 27 pounds and is advertised as providing two hours of use per charge. Comes with a 110V AC charger. Also comes in short (29.3 inches) or long (33.9 inches) shaft. Price is listed as $1,599.

The other model is the Cruise 2.0 Electric outboard. Claims that it delivers the equivalent thrust of a 6 HP combustion engine. This is a 24V motor and appears to require the use of two 12V batteries linked in series. Also comes in short (24.6 inches) and long (29.3 inches) shaft version. The weight is 35 pounds for the short shaft and 36.4 pounds for the long shaft, still pretty light by outboard standards. It's a bit pricey at $2,299 and you'd need the two batteries. However, fuel savings over the long haul would reduce the purchase price.

I haven't run a Google search on the web to see if any marine distributors would carry either of these motors at a lower cost than WM.

I have no link to the manufacturer or WM. I have used electric trolling motors and deep-cycle batteries for years on a 14-foot fishing boat on two local reservoirs that do not allow gas outboards. I actually used a trolling motor on a Catalina 22 for a while and I've seen J-24s use the higher-thrust 12V models, so using even a smaller one on a dinghy would move it along smartly.

Last edited by SailinJay; 04-23-2007 at 07:08 PM.
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There is a company on the west coast called hardy diesel, they make an outbroad diesel engine. But as said before they are heavy.
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I'd be hesistant to use an electric outboard on a dinghy, especially in areas with larger harbors and stronger currents, as your kind of screwed if the batteries die... A diesel or gasoline outboard has considerably more run time in a much lighter package IMHO. Per watt, gasoline and diesel are pretty hard to beat weight wise...

A four-stroke 3.5 HP outboard is about 37 lbs. and with a gallon of fuel—another nine lbs., will run for about three hours. I don't believe that you can get that kind of run time and weight out of an electric outboard at this point in time.
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I'm thinking that there will soon be some 1 and 2 hp aircooled diesel outboards available. It seems to me there are tiny diesels used on model airplanes and these have been getting bigger and bigger, though some evolve into gasoline or white gas or something, and the need for a small, lightwieght, tourquey dinghy diesel is there. Some company that is not at this time a player in the marine market will connect the dots and put something together akin to the old Seagull that will be around 20 pounds, 1 - 2 hp, and run just fine. I think the secret might lie in a barbecue sparker for starting, rather than a glowplug or conventional preheaters, and a compression release tied to the pull cord that drops out when cord is released.

I can see it now. We could get together and do it! We could call it the Hawkeye! No, the Falcon! No, Bob! Who wouldn't love a little dink pusher named Bob?

I may opt for one of the 2 hp Nissan things myself, being too old to wait around for the next big thing in tiny outboards.
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"It seems to me there are tiny diesels used on model airplanes "
DIESELS?!

My knowledge of model airplane engines is way outdated, but they used to run nitromethanol as a fuel--not diesel--even though you could technically call the "diesel" engines because they are "compression" engines, not "spark" fired.

No matter how you slice it, a diesel runs at around 22:1 compression versus the 8.5:1 in a gasoline engine. That makes it more efficient, but it also needs to be 3x stronger [read: heavier] or else it blows up.

Which is what a diesel engine will do anyway, if you try to run it on gasoline.

Gasoline is mainly naphtha, IIRC, and two-stroke engines are burning fuel-oil instead of real gasoline anyway, which makes me think you could probably run one reasonably well on naphtha or benzene or a similar fraction if there was no real gasoline available.
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Hs 17:1 is pretty common. i saw a kerosene outboard once in panama I think it was a yamaha. I thought about this a while back and found the smallest one going weighs 87 pounds Thats a lot for a 9ft boat. Hardy sounds right I cant remember maybe it was yanmar. I can't see wresting with that much weight. and unless it comes from a big name manufacturer parts would be few and far between.
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