The Melbourne Tramboat is powered by twin 80 hp Yamaha outboard motors.


Melbourne is one of the few Australian cities with an extensive tram network, but did you know that Melbourne also has a water-borne tram that carries people down the iconic Yarra River?

For 10 years the Melbourne Tramboat has been plying the Yarra River, powered by a pair of Yamaha F80 four-stroke outboard engines. It’s a large lump of a boat, measuring 12m long overall, with a beam of 4.8m. All up weight is 17 tonnes and it has a licence to carry 50 passengers, plus a crew of two. The hull is constructed from steel plate while the superstructure is aluminium. According to the owner of Melbourne Tramboat Cruises, Anthony Purcell, the Yamaha outboards have been exceptional engines.

“When we built the Tramboat in Queensland ten years ago, our marine surveyor recommended the Yamaha F80 engines and they have proven themselves to be the perfect match over and again,” said Purcell.

The dual Yamaha F80 engines typically operate at about 2500rpm to deliver the legal speed limit on the Yarra River of 5kts. At this speed, the engines consume just 3.5lt/h, or 7lt/h for both engines.

“Our cost of operation is ridiculously low,” said Purcell.

“During the summer months when we are operating at our peak season, we can log up to 10 engine hours a day, seven days a week. How many commercial operators can carry around 50 guests and use only $10 of fuel per hour?

“When we are asked about fuel usage it’s almost embarrassing to say how little fuel the Yamaha F80s use.

“We also get a huge number of people commenting on how quiet the Yamaha engines are. The Yamaha outboards just tick over and guests on board can barely hear them.”

After the Yamaha F80 engines had been on the Tramboat for four years, the hour meter had clocked over 2500 hours of trouble free operation, Yamaha says. Purcell was advised that this was an economical time to re-power.

“We had no issues with the Yamaha engines whatsoever,” he said. “But with the Tramboat on the slip for routine maintenance, it was as good a time as any to re-power so we fitted a new pair of Yamaha F80 engines with Geelong Boating doing the work.”

Four years later, and with a further 4000 hours logged, the Melbourne Tramboat was up on the slip for its routine two-year hull refurbishment.

“We again found ourselves in the position of having the Yamaha engines performing really well, but with the next opportunity to change the engines two years away, we got Geelong Boating to repower with our third set of Yamaha F80 outboards.”

The longevity of the Yamaha four-stroke engines is partly attributed to the service regime. Every six months the oil is changed and the filters replaced. When at the marina and out of service, the engines tilt clear of the salt water in the Yarra, and after every day on the water, the engines are hosed down.

“I’m continually impressed that the Yamaha F80 engines don’t burn oil, the water pump impellors have not shown any signs of wear, and the props have similarly gone the distance without replacement,” said Purcell.

Yamaha outboards are available through an Australia-wide network of authorised Yamaha outboard dealers. All Yamaha four-stroke outboards are supported with a full four year manufacturer’s warranty and all two-stroke outboards are backed by a three-year warranty. Standard conditions apply.