Propane Powered Outboard Engine Experience?? - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 45 Old 06-03-2014
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Re: Propane Powered Outboard Engine Experience??

Here is a question which makes me wonder if propane powered outboards or generators are appropriate for a boat.

How much propane is equivalent to 12 or 6 gallons of gas which are sort of the standard sizes of outboard fuel tanks? On a boat, the density of the energy source is key. That is one reason why diesel is so much better than gasoline.

The other issue is availability. Gas is available everywhere. Propane is harder to find.
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post #22 of 45 Old 06-16-2014
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Re: Propane Powered Outboard Engine Experience??

For as little as I would use an outboard, strictly to push a dinghy from mooring to shore and occasional exploring, the cost difference of the fuel wouldn't be significant. The convenience and safety of not having a gas can either on the boat, in my car, or sloshing around in a dinghy would make it worthwhile. Since I doubt I'll be doing much crusing in the islands supply wouldn't be a problem.

Wasn't aware of the starting problems. I'll be interested in finding out more about that. The idea of a propane powered generator would be very intriguing. I only have a 27' boat now so don't really have a lot of extra space and only intermitent need but still it's intriguing.
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post #23 of 45 Old 06-20-2014
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Re: Propane Powered Outboard Engine Experience??

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Originally Posted by eherlihy View Post
There are a couple of threads elsewhere on SailNet about the Lehr outboards. My take-aways from those threads; PRO: don't have to worry about fuel quality (ethanol), CON: over priced, require maintenance like a 4 stroke, poor support. You can see that he cons outweigh the pros. I'm not crazy about buying anything mechanical that is manufactured in China either.
I'm not easily finding these threads. Can you tell me what you heard about the maintenance? We are considering a propane motor and were under the impression that they would be less maintenance than a gas outboard.
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post #24 of 45 Old 06-20-2014
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Re: Propane Powered Outboard Engine Experience??

The other option that uses already-on-the-boat-fuel is electric.

Either the newer torquedo motors or cheapo trolling motors are pretty decent options. My experience with my 3.5 tohatsu and 8'6" dingy is that I don't benefit from nearly 2.5 of the 3.5 available horsepower (since it can't get on plane anyway).

If I didn't have occasional desire to go a pretty long distance (8 miles) I'd be looking at trolling motors right now.
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post #25 of 45 Old 06-21-2014
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Re: Propane Powered Outboard Engine Experience??

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I'm not easily finding these threads. Can you tell me what you heard about the maintenance? We are considering a propane motor and were under the impression that they would be less maintenance than a gas outboard.
Well it is a four stroke motor so it will still need oil changes. The carb will likely take a bit less, but will still likely need occasional cleaning out. So a 2-stroke does seem to have the advantage as it does not need oil changes since the fuel is the lubricant and the carbs are fairly trouble free. But small 2 cycles are not available new anymore in the US due to emissions so you are stuck with used.
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post #26 of 45 Old 06-21-2014
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Re: Propane Powered Outboard Engine Experience??

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Originally Posted by seabum View Post
I'm not easily finding these threads. Can you tell me what you heard about the maintenance? We are considering a propane motor and were under the impression that they would be less maintenance than a gas outboard.
Here; New Lehr propane outboard

here; Propane Outboards?

here; Propane dinghy engine

and here; Got my hands on the new propane outboard today...


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post #27 of 45 Old 06-21-2014
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Re: Propane Powered Outboard Engine Experience??

I'm a Lehr dealer and I'll try to answer some of your questions.
Reliability: The first container load to hit the US were not good. Lehr just gave everybody a new one. I'm afraid it hurt their reputation. The ones I'm getting now are great.

Service: Any mechanic that can work on a Yamaha can work on a Lehr. Even some of the parts are interchangeable. The propane handling part of the system is very reliable, requires no maintenance and if it does break, you just replace it using a couple of wrenches. There are service videos available on line that address the most likely problems to come up.

Starting: Lehr has got to be about the easiest to start engine out there. The trick is to get the air out of the hoses before you start to pull the rope. There are very clear instructions on how to do this on the Lehr website.

Fuel density: Propane is less energy dense than gasoline but it is higher octane. The higher octane allows the Lehr to run at a higher compression ratio than a gasoline engine and is therefor a little better at using the available energy.

Safety: Propane needs to be stored like you would store gasoline. Propane, if spilled, would dissipate to non explosive levels faster than gasoline. It is a lot cleaner to handle.

Range: Lehr engines use about a quart (pound) of propane per hour for each 2.5 hp.
In other words the 2.5 will burn one of those 16 oz. Propane bottles in an hour at wide open throttle. The 5 will burn it in half an hour. The 2.5 will run at WOT for twenty hours on a typical barbeque tank. If you run at 3/4 throttle fuel consumption drops dramatically.

Converting to propane: You can easily convert most gasoline engines to propane but if you don't change the pistons to increase compression, you'll lose power. I don't know of any kits to convert out boards but I've seen outboards that have been converted. I have an emergency generator set up to run on gasoline, propane or natural gas. It puts out about 6kw on gasoline but only 5.5 on propane. I've never run it on gasoline because I want it to start when I need it. I start it once a year at the start of hurricane season and it's started every year for about ten years now.
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post #28 of 45 Old 06-22-2014
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Re: Propane Powered Outboard Engine Experience??

Thanks for that great reply. I just spoke with a salesman for West Marine who basically said the same thing and complimented your company on how it managed customer complaints.


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post #29 of 45 Old 08-07-2014
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Re: Propane Powered Outboard Engine Experience??

I worked for a dealer that carried the Lehr line and I sold a lot of them to the sailing and jon boat crowd. The biggest advantage to propane is the fact that it doesn't use ethanol fuel. We would do constant carb rebuilds due to owners not storing their fuel correctly on 2 and 4 stroke small bore engines. Ethanol fuel left in it's container for over a month will go bad and clog your carb jets and float needle valve. 150 to 200 bucks per carb rebuild more than makes up for the additional price on the Lehr. I have the 2.5 on my dink and have never had a problem. Lower unit is made by Yamaha so impeller kits are easily obtained.
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post #30 of 45 Old 08-18-2014
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Re: Propane Powered Outboard Engine Experience??

Greetings-
This is my first Sailnet post. I rebuilt my Venture Newport 23 this past year and was interested in propane as an option for an outboard. I was able to get what I could from this forum (unable to reply of course!), and from every other source I could but there just wasn't a lot out there, especially for a larger boat. I eventually purchased the Lehr's 5hp and chronicled my experiences on the Yahoo Groups Venture Newport Club. There I posted photos, etc.
My experiences may be of benefit to others thinking of using propane outboards.
I'm not sure, but those interested may be able to search conversations in Yahoo Groups under Propane Tank Setup. 3 months ago I wish I had seen a post like this! I'd be glad to answer any specific questions.
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