To­hatsu launches gas out­board

Propane power of­fers a cleaner al­ter­na­tive to stan­dard petrol en­gines

Motorboat & Yachting - - Newtech -

Twenty years ago, LPG con­ver­sions to big petrol-en­gined boats were all the rage, promis­ing vastly re­duced run­ning costs with lit­tle loss of per­for­mance. Some peo­ple swore by it, other peo­ple swore at it, but ul­ti­mately, the project was doomed, mainly due to lack of dock­side sup­ply and the amount of space that the large pres­surised tanks took up on board. But re­li­a­bil­ity was also an is­sue.

Well, now it’s back, but in a vastly dif­fer­ent form. To­hatsu has launched a pur­pose-built propane-pow­ered out­board en­gine, and the sup­ply prob­lem has been solved at a stroke by us­ing the sort of por­ta­ble do­mes­tic cylin­ders typ­i­cally used for gas bar­be­cues and pa­tio heaters. At 5hp, a do­mes­tic bot­tle is all you need rather than the mas­sive tanks of old. The mo­tor uses about 1kg of propane an hour at cruis­ing speed, so a 13kg bot­tle at about £25 will give a run­ning cost of roughly £2 an hour.

Based on its 5hp petrol out­board but adapted for LPG, the mo­tor fea­tures a dif­fer­ent ma­te­rial for the valve seats, the com­mon area of fail­ure with pre­vi­ous con­ver­sions to older en­gines. The main ben­e­fit for the end user is low emis­sions. Back to back with its petrol equiv­a­lent, To­hatsu says that the propane-pow­ered mo­tor pro­duces 56% less car­bon monox­ide and 30% less hy­dro­car­bon and nitro­gen ox­ides than its petrol equiv­a­lent. In ad­di­tion, there is no chance of fuel spillage and the fuel al­lows semiper­ma­nent stor­ing as propane does not de­te­ri­o­rate with age like petrol.

Avail­able in stan­dard, long and ul­tra-long shaft ver­sions, it’s also frac­tion­ally qui­eter, re­quires less main­te­nance and de­spite pro­duc­ing slightly less torque, To­hatsu claims it will give sim­i­lar boat per­for­mance to its 5hp petrol mo­tor. Prices for the new en­gine start at £1,269. Con­tact­

Like Lehr’s propane-pow­ered out­boards, To­hatsu’s new en­gine uses a stan­dard bar­be­cue gas bot­tle

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