does it make sense to buy a boat without an engine and convert it to electric? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 02-23-2010
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does it make sense to buy a boat without an engine and convert it to electric?

When I say "without engine", I most likely mean nonfunctional. My understanding is that boats with nonfunctional engines tend to sell much, much cheaper. I did a little reading here last night and discovered some threads talking about converting to electric motors instead of using an engine (they linked to things like electricyacht.com). I like the idea of electric for maintenance reasons (no winterization, no oil changing) and the instant-on and silence of operation. Also being able to use it as a generator while under sail is appealing to me.

Do you think it would be cost-effective to buy such a boat and convert it? Or should I just buy a fully-functional boat with a diesel and forget about this crazy plan? This would be my first boat, so maybe the extra work involved in converting it would be biting off more than I can chew, but I'm already pretty set on adding central heat, so there's going to be some pretty big work going on anyways. I'll probably want to keep the diesel tank for both the heat and a generator if I decide I want to extend the electric motor range using one. Thanks!
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Old 02-23-2010
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No, this really doesn't make much sense, especially if you want to cruiser longer distances in your boat. The complexity of an electric drive system with a generator to extend its range is going to weigh more and cost more than using a normal diesel setup. If you're going to have a genset, why not just keep a diesel engine instead???
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Old 02-23-2010
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For the most part when a boat is allowed to reach the point of a nonfunctional motor there will be many other nonfunctional items
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Doesn't sound like a crazy plan to me. I'm not sure whether its cost-effective or not, but then the cost might be worth it for the 'quiet' alone. Hook up some solar/wind, and I imagine the old engine setup will become a distant memory.

Anyone have any notable drawbacks to an electrical setup?
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This will again turn into real sailors don't need motors in another 7 posts

At this point electric sailboats are in there Wile E. Coyote stage with a few places selling kits and NOT selling a lot of them


The drawback depends on were you live and how you keep the boat

IN Northport most boats are on moorings (thousands) there is a LOT of current combined with fickle wind

If you keep your boat down the road on the Great South Bay most boats are at docks there is more or less NO current and the wind blows most of the time
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Might want to read the other threads on electric powered boats that have recently been posted on sailnet. There are a lot of drawbacks to an electric powered boat, like a lack of duration under power, limited range, increased complexity, just to name a few.
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Originally Posted by soulofmine View Post
Doesn't sound like a crazy plan to me. I'm not sure whether its cost-effective or not, but then the cost might be worth it for the 'quiet' alone. Hook up some solar/wind, and I imagine the old engine setup will become a distant memory.

Anyone have any notable drawbacks to an electrical setup?
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Not to be the other person in this debate. BUT, Depending upon where you live, how you sail etc, an electric boat could be worth it. It would also depend upon the "hulk" you are about to use too. If the Hulk is in decent shape, but a rod thru a block or other major engine blow up issue, it could be worth it. BUT, It would only be worth it to me, "IF" I planned to use the boat personally for at least 3 if not 5+ years, then the $$ ROI might work in my favor. Otherwise, not sure I would do such a thing.

Where I am in Puget sound, most marina's are not more than 10 miles or so apart, where you could get electrical if need be. I would hope you could go more than that, more like 50-100 miles. If so, that is plenty for most of us. Heck, I can not even go 50 miles on the 7 gals of diesel in my tank with out stopping or filling up while traveling with a 5 gal container.

In the end, it will depend upon how you use the boat, how many batteries ie big of a "amp" tank you have etc.

I would not plan to make money on this adventure.

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If you see the project as a challenge and don't care about the cost or practicality, go for it. A new diesel may cost less.

Depending on the size of the boat it may make more sense to just go with an outboard.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmeador View Post
Do you think it would be cost-effective to buy such a boat and convert it? Or should I just buy a fully-functional boat with a diesel and forget about this crazy plan? This would be my first boat, so maybe the extra work involved in converting it would be biting off more than I can chew, but I'm already pretty set on adding central heat, so there's going to be some pretty big work going on anyways. I'll probably want to keep the diesel tank for both the heat and a generator if I decide I want to extend the electric motor range using one. Thanks!
I love this idea, I want to do the same thing but......


You CRAZY, wake up man!

First boat and you want this project? R U RICH? Nothing to do with your time? Then maybe but...

..if you want to get into boating, this isn't the best way.

If you want a neat project, that consumes lots of time and money but returns great satisfaction, then I'd say go for it.

Little story:
I used to overclock computers. To address the heat I tried lots of things including water cooling. Back then there were no kits, so every part made by hand, used a water pump from a fish tank. Cooling blocks were large chunks of copper with water passages drilled into them, hours draw filing for maximum contact. Lots of work but end result was a faster computer than I could ever buy, fastest in town, even faster than the local servers. Lots of fun.

A few years later everything I made by hand was available in the market and most of it was much better quality.

I expect the same thing here. What you want is available but it is pricey. I'd say get a boat, and get all the other things fixed up on it, then take it out of service for the big project. You'll better know what kind of range you need and what you would like it to do and hopefully the kits will be cheaper.

Well that's what I hope.

Until then there is lots on the boat to keep you busy, and fossil fuel is cheaper..

AND it is Feb 23. Rudolf Diesel patents diesel engine in 1893 today. So give history a nod and burn a little dino fuel.
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Old 02-23-2010
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What size boat are you looking at?
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