Should I be wary of hy­draulic drive?

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin - YAMYAM, TONY REPLIES… CB

QI’m look­ing to buy a 2002 boat with an ARS hy­draulic drive. Do you have any ad­vice as I’ve not come across this sys­tem be­fore?

Afrom the


This type of sys­tem has been in com­mon use since the Seven­ties and ARS is well known in the field. The ad­van­tages are that the en­gine can be placed any­where in the boat and aligned in any di­rec­tion the de­sign re­quires. Once the hy­draulic mo­tor is fit­ted, there is no fur­ther need for shaft align­ment for the life of the boat so en­gine mount chang­ing is easy. Pro­pel­ler thrust is taken by the mo­tor bear­ings not the en­gine mounts as is the case on many boats with gear­boxes. There is less like­li­hood of ex­pen­sive dam­age if the prop fouls badly be­cause the pres­sure re­lief valve will just open rather than stop­ping the en­gine. It of­ten al­lows an in­stal­la­tion that min­imises en­gine noise for the boaters.

There is, or should be, an oil fil­ter that needs chang­ing reg­u­larly, the reser­voir holds far more oil than a gear­box and if a pipe fails they spray oil every­where, so the pipes need reg­u­lar in­spec­tions. As the com­po­nents wear, the ef­fi­ciency will be re­duced so in­creas­ing fuel consumption and en­gine revs for the same speed.

If ev­ery­thing else was right about the boat, it would not be a deal breaker for me. I would give the boat an ex­ten­sive test so I could as­sess the en­gine revs to boat speed to try to as­sess the de­gree of wear in the sys­tem when hot.

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