WIN A BOAT! TrailerBoat project boat build-up, part 3

TrailerBoat project boat build-up, part 3

In my opinion, the Evinrude E-TEC is so good that I can see no logical reason why anyone would buy a four-stroke 30. Indeed, on the Jabiru it provides the perfect blend of performance, fuel efficiency and user friendliness.

Reviewed in detail in TrailerBoat #243, the E-TEC 30 first appeared on the Aussie market in October 2008. Since then it has remained the world’s first direct fuel-injected two-stroke 30. Combined with clever electronics that allow the engine management system to function without an external battery, the E-TEC 30 is unique in the recreational boating market.

The engine’s 578cc twin-cylinder 30 develops 29.5hp at 5500rpm with a WOT (wide open throttle) rpm range of 5000 to 6000. This makes it the logical successor to the old 521cc carbie two-stroke Evinrude / Johnson 30 — but without going down the four-stroke path. At around 88kg for the power trim and tilt version it is 60 per cent heavier than the old electric start 30, but the quick-acting power trim easily overcomes any stern-heavy tendencies. Its voltage-regulated 15amp alternator will also have no trouble powering most onboard electronics.

Because of the sophisticated techniques used in its manufacture, the E-TEC 30 is the only 30 on the market that doesn’t need a break-in period, says BRP, so it can be run at WOT from new.

One feature of the tiller-steer model includes a variable-angle tiller arm enabling control regardless of whether you’re standing or sitting. Electric-start models also retain the manual overhead recoil starter in the event of a flat battery. Then at the end of the day you simply connect a garden hose to the flushing port to back-flush without running the engine. Your neighbours will be especially grateful for that feature.

Spinning a 12in pitch alloy prop and pushing around 550kg including Barry Ashenhurst, myself and tons of gear, the 30 provided all the power you’d ever need on the Jabiru. In fact, it was slightly underpropped in order to handle a third adult aboard. The engine was mounted about an inch too high on the transom but still performed well with the only drawbacks being some prop ventilation through tight turns and the inability to fully trim-out the leg when planing due to prop blowout or aeration.

Although no tachometer was fitted a combination of GPS readings and various prop slip formulae allowed us to calculate the rpm at all hull speeds. I also did fuel-flow testing on the engine I tested three years ago, so we were also able to calculate fuel consumption reasonably accurately.

Once warmed up the trolling rev rate could be backed off to 650rpm. Here vibration levels were no higher than the old crossflow twin-cylinder Evinrude / Johnson 30. A clean plane was achieved at about half throttle but once planing the throttle could be opened right out with acceleration out to WOT better than any other 30 I’ve yet tested.

The trim / tilt switch at the end of the twistgrip throttle rotates in the same plane. The up / down positioning of the switch always seems to be at hand because the throttle turns through such a small arc, meaning you don’t have to think which way is up or down as is the case with larger tiller-steer E-TECs.

At one point during our test on Lake Macquarie, NSW, we were running upwind into a 10-15kt headwind and chop to 25cm. At this rate we could still maintain a clean plane at only 10.8kts (20kmh) doing around 4000rpm without excessive pounding through the hull or discomfort for the passenger on the forward box thwart. In calmer water and at WOT we also could still talk without raising our voices and there was hardly any vibration through the tiller arm.

Access to the spark plugs, injectors and engine management computer is good and for full powerhead access the lower cowl can easily be removed. Sensibly the oil tank is filled from inside the upper cowl, reducing the possibility of salt or grit entering the tank.

Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) states that no scheduled servicing is required for the first 300 hours or three years, but Evinrude dealers I’ve spoken with suggest changing the gear oil and lubricating the throttle / gearshift linkages annually. I also recommend removing the prop at least annually to check for any stray fishing line around the propshaft seals.

BRP has done an excellent job of designing and engineering a 30 that blends performance, fuel efficiency and ease of use and maintenance. In my view, the E-TEC 30 shows that in this power range there’s no point in going four-stroke!

Stay tuned for more on the Bazziru project boat!