KICKER EN­GINES

Boating - - BOAT DOCTOR -

Choos­ing an aux­il­iary out­board re­quires boaters to make a num­ber of de­ci­sions and con­sider a num­ber of vari­ables. Cer­tainly, the rep­u­ta­tion of, and ac­cess to, the dealer for the mo­tor cho­sen plays a big role in whether the pur­chase proves to be a good one. But the lat­est por­ta­ble out­board mo­tors sport many fea­tures older mod­els lacked. Con­sider these fea­tures dur­ing your aux­il­iary out­board mo­tor pur­chase. —Kevin Falvey

FUEL IN­JEC­TION

Many of the new­est small en­gines, like the Suzuki BT model pic­tured here, of­fer fuel in­jec­tion. This is a great fea­ture for a kicker mo­tor, be­cause lean­ing over the tran­som and try­ing to start a balky out­board is not only in­con­ve­nient, it can prove un­safe. If buy­ing new, we strongly rec­om­mend a fu­elin­jected aux­il­iary mo­tor.

HAN­DLE-MOUNTED CON­TROL

Un­less it was rigged as a re­mote-con­trolled en­gine, older por­ta­ble out­boards re­quired the op­er­a­tor to reach along­side the cowl­ing in or­der to shift gears, re­quir­ing lean­ing out over the tran­som if the en­gine is

bracket-mounted. Thank­fully, newer en­gines of­fer throt­tle, shift and steer­ing fric­tion on the tiller han­dle it­self.

POWER TILT

Some newer-model aux­il­iary out­board en­gines, like the Suzuki shown, of­fer power tilt. This is a great con­ve­nience fea­ture, and again, it means the op­er­a­tor does not have to lean over the tran­som dur­ing the nor­mal course of use.

CEN­TER-MOUNTED TILLER HAN­DLE

If your kicker is re­mote-con­trolled, or you choose to lock the aux­il­iary mo­tor’s steer­ing and use your pri­mary en­gine as a rud­der, it may not mat­ter, but for those boaters who plan to steer from the aux­il­iary mo­tor it­self, a cen­ter-mounted tiller, such as what Mer­cury Marine of­fers, makes it easy whether the en­gine is in­stalled to port or to star­board.

You’ll want the kicker mo­tor’s an­tiven­ti­la­tion plate to be even with the bot­tom of the hull for best ef­fi­ciency. Many boaters will give up some ef­fi­ciency in re­turn for more re­li­able thrust in rough wa­ter by mount­ing the en­gine some­what deeper. In­stalled off-cen­ter, the kicker will have a shorter tran­som height, and thus need a shorter shaft length than the main mo­tor (un­less the boat is flat-bot­tomed). Mo­tors such as Yamaha’s 9.9 HT come in 15-, 20- and 25-inch shaft lengths. SHAFT LENGTH CHARG­ING SYS­TEM

Op­er­at­ing elec­tron­ics, pumps, and en­ter­tain­ment can tax your boat’s elec­tri­cal sys­tem. In fact, it’s likely you’ll need to prac­tice amp man­age­ment re­gard­less of which kicker you run. That said, some mo­tors, such as the 9.9 hp mod­els from Honda and Suzuki, of­fer al­ter­na­tors with 12 amps of charg­ing out­put.

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