Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

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Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

Michael Wilkinson 3461
I've just taken delivery of a standard shaft Torqueedo 503 travel outboard.

I've owned several 2 stroke outboards and I own one 4 stroke, as well as having operated several others so I can make a fair comparison.

You can look up the specs (weight, power, range, endurance) on Torqueedo's website.  Suffice to say that it is roughly equivalent to a 1.5 hp petrol outboard and is easily adequate for pushing a decent sized dinghy at a steady speed.  We've bought ours as a clean and convenient, if somewhat pricey, auxiliary for the Cormorant (when it arrives) but I will also use it for river cruising in the Zodiac.

The Torqueedo outboard comes in separate sections:

1)  The clamp, leg, motor and propellor.  This is the bit that goes onto the transom.  It is easy to lift one handed and I would have no difficulty with the weight, bulk, or shape if I had to carry it some distance.

2)  The tiller.  This has the throttle (both forward and reverse) and a digital display which shows battery level, speed over the ground (via GPS), remaining range at current speed, and current power usage.  Using a fairly simple menu, you can choose speed units of kmh, mph, knots, and the range can be shown in terms of distance or time.

3)  The battery pack.  This is about the size of a battery powered fish finder and has a built in handle.

Assembly:
1)  Clamp the motor to the transom in the normal way.
2)  The tiller then snicks neatly into place with no twisting, fiddling, screws, bolts etc.  It goes in easily and positively.  2 - 3 seconds.
3)  The battery then snicks neatly into place.  You then have to put a "key"  (think: plastic kebab skewer) through a hole to hold it firmly in place.  3-5 seconds.
4)  Attach power cable.  This is a DIN style plug and has to be the right way up.  You then tighten a screw collar.  This is slightly fiddly, but no more so than attaching a fuel hose from a remote tank.  10 seconds.
5)  Attach the control cable.  Again, this is a DIN style plug and has to be the right way up.  Slightly fiddlier just because it's smaller.  10 seconds or so.

You then check that the magnetic kill cord tab is in place, press the power button to activate the motor, then turn the throttle to go forwards or backwards as necessary.

Compared to my 9.9 petrol engine, it's quicker and simpler to set up.  Setting up the 9.9 involves a remote tank, fitting the fuel hose, squeezing the bulb, squeezing the primer, adjusting the choke, checking for neutral, then pulling the cord.  There is no doubt that the Torqueedo is quicker and easier to use than a petrol outboard with a remote tank.

I suspect that most dinghy sailors who use petrol outboards at all have small outboards with integral tanks.  I've owned one of these before.  Assuming the tank was already full of fuel, the process for setting up and starting the Torqueedo is comparable in time taken and "complexity", but without the "will it won't it?" of pulling the cord.

Good features:

The shaft is smooth and streamlined.  It has no projections, ridges or fins etc.  It's easy to carry and there is less risk of minor injury or damage.

Magnetic kill cord tab is neat idea - it's a tad less fiddly and possibly more robust than the conventional type on a petrol engine.

The three main components fit together quickly and reassuringly.

Built in speed and range is a nice thing to have.

No cooling water jet to check, and no cooling water intakes to block up with weed, litter, etc.

The fact it can be dismantled into 3 main parts makes it more portable and easier to store.

No emissions or spillages at the point of use.  Cleaner on the water than a petrol outboard - especially a 2 stroke.

I's quiet.  I must admit, I like the grumble of a traditional petrol outboard at low revs.   Videos on YouTube make the Torqueedo sound loud and whiney like a washing machine or power drill.  However, I've run mine up in my barrel and the sound is neither loud nor offensive.

The skeg extends below the propellor and will therefore tend to protect the propellor from grounding.  The skeg appears to be easily replaceable.  On a petrol outboard, it is usually a hard metal casting and not replaceable.  On the Torqueedo, it is softer plastic, but easily replaced, so "swings and roundabouts".

POSSIBLY less attractive to thieves if you can remove the battery pack and put it somewhere safe.   A petrol outboard is more familiar, less distinctive, and therefore POSSIBLY more likely to be stolen than a Torqueedo with the battery pack removed.

Comes with a separate adaptor so that you can use the battery pack to power items through USB.


Less good features:

The plastic kebab skewer is a bit naff.  I suspect they have chosen this as "less to go wrong" than a more complex spring operated system.

There is a smaller "skewer" that you can use if you want to lock the steering "dead ahead" and steer with the rudder.  I don't expect ever to use this, but it is a bit weedy and crying out to be lost or broken.

The thumb screws on the transom clamp are plastic and may be easy to damage.  On the other hand, I had a cast metal one that came off once.  I improvised a repair with a shackle and it was fine.

The DIN plugs.  Given that you will sometimes be in difficult conditions, I would have preferred fittings that were shaped in such a way that the correct alignment was immediately obvious.

The battery pack is very expensive and apparently will need replacing in 5-10 years.  On the other hand, I'll save in petrol and 2 stroke oil.

Unusual feature"  a 2 bladed propellor.
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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

John Button 3320
What is the range - say at 50% power?

JohnB
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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

Michael Wilkinson 3461
I haven't put it to the test, but advertised as just over 2 hours at half throttle.  Here's a link to the spec:

http://www.torqeedo.com/en/products/outboards/travel/travel-503/M-1140-00.html

We've bought it very much as an auxiliary motor.  I envisage us using it to get to clear water when it is crowded near the slipway, for coming back in in similar circumstances, for getting home if becalmed, and as a safer option if the wind gets up and we feel overpowered by the sail.  I have some sailing experience, but a hell of a lot to learn.  I have a fair bit more experience and confidence operating small boats at low to medium speed under power.

I will give the Torqueedo a test run on the Trent over the next few days on the back of my Avon 310.  Judging by the amount of thrust I can see/feel when I run it in my barrel, I expect it to be as advertised: a good substitute for a 1.5 - 2 hp petrol engine.  Years ago I used to run a bigger inflatable on a 3 hp 2 stroke and one day did 24 miles and 2 dives with that set up.  Slow but steady.


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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

Michael Wilkinson 3461
Here's a link to some discussion in another forum.

http://cornishcrabbersclub.ning.com/forum/topics/torqueedo-electric-ob
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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

Paul Hadley 2898
In reply to this post by Michael Wilkinson 3461
I use an electric outboard with up to 34lbs of thrust. That's much less power than the Torquedo, but more than enough for a steady speed. My Lynx 14 is 14ftx6ft and I do 2 or 3 knots along a river.

I use 2 x 80ah leisure  batteries weighing 45kg which last 2 days of say 10-15 miles, depending upon wind and river flow rate.

I've tried a Torquedo and it works well, but its key weakness is battery capacity. For a long river/estuary trip additional batteries will be needed.

You can refill an internal combustion engine in a few minutes, but batteries take several hours to charge. Greater investment in charging facilities is required.

Paul

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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

Michael Wilkinson 3461
Well, it wasn't a very scientific test but we put the Torqueedo on the Zodiac 310 inflatable today and took it on the river Trent.

2 adults, 1 boat, with a boat bag and an anchor box, so not heavily laden.

Of course, the motor is nowhere near to powerful enough to push the inflatable up to planing speeds!  A quick burst of full power moved the boat reasonably briskly, but the range quickly dropped to show about 30 minutes.  Therefore, as we had a plan to go further, we slowed down to a ground speed of just under 3 mph, but heading upstream, so a water speed of about 4 mph or so.

We were too determined to reach a particular landmark (pub) and were too optimistic in our allowance for how much difference the current would make on the return journey.  As a result, after warnings at 30%, 20% and 10%, the motor stopped.  I then had an invigorating row of a mile or so back to the slipway.

By comparison with a 3 hp on my previous, larger, inflatable, I would broadly concur with the manufacturers' claim that the Torqueedo is about equal to a 1.5 hp petrol engine.

The motor is quiet and, perhaps because of the beating of the 2 bladed propellor, has quite a pleasant burble at low speeds.  A full throttle, it is not offensive.

Speed and range will vary depending on hull type and weight.  An inflatable at immersed speeds is not especially efficient.  I felt that the advertised range was "about right".

The Torqueedo was bought as an auxiliary for the sailing dinghy, and this test run on the inflatable suggests it will be perfectly adequate for the job in terms of performance and rang,e as well as being light, clean, and easy to operate.
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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

John Button 3320
In reply to this post by Michael Wilkinson 3461

Thanks Micael

I'll have to join to read it


JohnB




From: Michael Wilkinson 3461 [via DCA Forum] <ml+[hidden email]>
Sent: 01 June 2017 05:17
To: John Button 3320
Subject: Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions
 
Here's a link to some discussion in another forum.

http://cornishcrabbersclub.ning.com/forum/topics/torqueedo-electric-ob





If you reply to this email, your message will be added to the discussion below:
http://forum.dinghycruising.org.uk/Torqueedo-travel-engine-first-impressions-tp913p921.html


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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

Michael Wilkinson 3461
In reply to this post by Michael Wilkinson 3461
I needed the Torqeedo for real today.  Got "out of my depth" in a Cororant dinghy and had to motor back some of the way.  It was about a force 5 with some fairly serious waves and the motor couldn't push the boat against it.  Not good as an emergency option unless the emergency is being becalmed!  OK for getting in and out of a sheltered or crowded harbour.  Not really as good as the reputation suggests, I would not recommend it unless you need electric for environmental reasons.
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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

John Lidstone 1503
Michael,
I think this was a very useful post. Thank you.
You've hit the nail on the head with your comment about having enough power to move you in a calm vs getting you out of trouble against the wind. Boat manufacturers often tend to say that a low powered outboard is all that is required and outboard manufacturers tend to make optimistic claims about what their motors can do!
In fairness to Torqeedo, I see that they rate the 503 model as being equivalent to 1.5hp which I think fits in with your experience in your Cormorant / F5 wind and is not powerful enough.
My own 6m trimaran is recommended for use with 3.5hp but this would never overcome a significant wind to push it up the narrow creek to my mooring. However, I curse my 6hp 4 stroke when I have to carry it but I thank heavens for it when I need to get home.
Cheers
John
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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

John Lidstone 1503
Yesterday morning, as I was writing in praise of powerful outboards, my own had just been nicked!
This is one disadvantage of heavier motors (circa 27kg) in that one doesn't want to carry it to the boat every time one goes sailing. So it is left on the boat and may be stolen. Notice that the clamp lock is still in place.

This is what it looked like - in case anyone sees it on the market!
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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

Michael Wilkinson 3461
I feel your pain.
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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

Paul Hadley 2898
In reply to this post by John Lidstone 1503
John,

I'm sorry to hear your petrol outboard got nicked.

It's early days for electrics. As Li-ion batteries become cost effective we will use them as ballast and have a powerful, fixed electric motor under the boat.

It's all about batteries with enough Ah or kWh of storage - electric motors of any power are available now.

Paul
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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

John Lidstone 1503
Thanks for the sympathetic comments. I am actually grateful that there was no damage to the boat!
Yes, I've just looked at the Torqeedo in all seriousness. The video of the Travel 1003 pushing a J24 in ZERO wind still doesn't impress me. Many RACING yachts use a 2hp outboard to tootle around the marina which clearly is no good for cruising. The Cruise 2.0 (5hp) might fill the bill but the cost is, of course, still prohibitive and the weight of batteries (which, at that price, I wouldn't want to leave on the boat) is too much to carry back and forth.
So, I am a sceptic at the moment although I will "watch this space" because things are developing quickly. Also, I actually think the Travel 1003 may have just satisfied Michael's Cormorant requirement. What do you think?
I'm hoping my insurance might pay out enough for a Tohatsu 3.5 which if fitted with the alternative 5.7" pitch prop, may just push me into wind and waves at an albeit slow speed. At 19kg it is then just about feasible to carry (or wheelbarrow) to and from the mooring and hang out over the transom. I'd be interested to hear from any other cabin sailers about their outboards - perhaps under a new subject.
With grateful thanks I would now like to hand this thread back to the Torqeedo discussions!
John
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Re: Torqueedo travel engine - first impressions

Graham Neil 2971
My old club bought a couple of Mercury/Mariner 4hp Saildrive outboards to push their Drascombe Coaster and Sailfish around. They are very efficient at low revs with the Saildrive prop fitted and were very popular. They have a remote tank option and electric power output. They came in at just under a grand a couple of years ago.

Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

---- John Lidstone 1503 [via DCA Forum] wrote ----

Thanks for the sympathetic comments. I am actually grateful that there was no damage to the boat!
Yes, I've just looked at the Torqeedo in all seriousness. The video of the Travel 1003 pushing a J24 in ZERO wind still doesn't impress me. Many RACING yachts use a 2hp outboard to tootle around the marina which clearly is no good for cruising. The Cruise 2.0 (5hp) might fill the bill but the cost is, of course, still prohibitive and the weight of batteries (which, at that price, I wouldn't want to leave on the boat) is too much to carry back and forth.
So, I am a sceptic at the moment although I will "watch this space" because things are developing quickly. Also, I actually think the Travel 1003 may have just satisfied Michael's Cormorant requirement. What do you think?
I'm hoping my insurance might pay out enough for a Tohatsu 3.5 which if fitted with the alternative 5.7" pitch prop, may just push me into wind and waves at an albeit slow speed. At 19kg it is then just about feasible to carry (or wheelbarrow) to and from the mooring and hang out over the transom. I'd be interested to hear from any other cabin sailers about their outboards - perhaps under a new subject.
With grateful thanks I would now like to hand this thread back to the Torqeedo discussions!
John


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