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Zeus, IPS pod drive, is buzz gone?

Discussion in 'Technical Discussion' started by SHAZAM, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. SHAZAM

    SHAZAM Senior Member

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    A few years back everyone was raving about these drives and the chatter was that they were going to render conventional shaft drives obsolete. Since their introduction though it seems like the buzz around these things has died down a bit and there have been quite a few technical maladies that have plagued certain brands. Talk amongst the captains that I've spoken to is that they don't like them and that they prefer conventional drives.

    So what's the verdict? I've seen some ingenious instalations on express boats and cruisers but have yet to see a SF installation that really takes advantage of the drive system space saving abilities, mostly I guess due to the low cockpit floor heights.

    What do you guys think?
  2. lovinlifenc

    lovinlifenc New Member

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  3. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    Viking and Cabo offer Zeus models, and most of the custom SF guys have built a few, Spencer had a good run on his 43 Express (semi-production) as well. I hear the up-tick on Zeus powered Sea Ray models vs. conventional systems is higher.

    It is hard to tell if the Custom SF Products are a good indicator, as they will typically build/specify the power package requested by the owner. What would they build if they had to do one on spec?

    From what I have heard, most experienced/competent boat handling Captain's think of them as somewhat of a novelty, and have sufficient skills to stay with a more conventional system. Reliability, especially in remote locations, is a prime factor.

    The newer or less experienced buyer is opting for them due to the decrease in stress while docking (usually in front of a group of onlookers) or station keeping, keeps the marriage/relationship working better with the reduced amount of shouting/yelling between captain/first mate ;)

    Or better yet, let your Intendo wiz kid do the docking and become an expert mate/line handler!
  4. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    These are all good points, however the fuel economy/increased range is a huge factor as well as the lack of vibration and noise reduction, increased ER space, and the skyhook is a nice feature if you're bottom fishing in water 70' or deeper (where the was doesn't effect the fish.)

    A 40' Cabo with 800hp MAN's and straight shafts cruises at 31 knots @62gph
    A 40' Cabo with 600hp Zues cruises at 32 knots @ 45 gph (big difference)

    I feel the Zues and other pod drives really shine in a twin engine application and that's where you gain the most benefit in regards to fuel. They're like adding outboards on a center console, once you get past two you start getting diminishing returns.....with 3 the returns are still ok, and with 4 the gains in fuel economy are almost negilgable and the increased engine maintanence makes them not even worth it.

    I don't hear as many people talking about them, but I do see boats of all sorts being built with them currently in decent numbers.
  5. SHAZAM

    SHAZAM Senior Member

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    Here's one on spec...

    2012 Spencer Yachts Sportfish Power Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com


    Can you point to one SF where the spaced gained was used in such a way where there was a marked difference between the pod drive and straight drive versions, IE an extra stateroom or a full beam master?

    Also, how has under deck cockpit storage been addressed on pod drive SF's? I've yet to see one built (in the 30 to 50' range) where there's been any usable space under the cockpit.
  6. Liberty

    Liberty Member

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    I ran IPS for 3 years on a 43 SF.

    Good points;

    A. Quiet/low vibration
    B. No fumes/soot
    C. Manoeuvrability/docking
    D. Handling
    E. Free cabin space

    at the cost of;

    1. Mechanical complexity
    2. Electrical complexity
    3. Electronic complexity
    4. Susceptibility to underwater entanglement
    5. Ride

    Cost works out break-even. You gain on fuel but lose on maintenance/hauling.

    The ride issue results from having the engines positioned at the stern of the hull to free up cabin space. If you leave the engines where they were and use long jack-shafts, then of course you don't have this.

    I wondered whether venting the engine exhaust underwater was going to impact on fishability when trolling (smell/white wash) ... but we seemed to catch as many fish as other boats, so I guess not.
  7. Liberty

    Liberty Member

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    Yes the Riv 43 Express has way more cabin room than its bigger 48 Express sibling.

    Similarly the Riv 43 Flybridge has lots more room than the 45 traditional layout.

    Both move the weight of the engines sternward.
  8. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    Builder's spec boat, Volvo Penta spec boat or customer changed his plans - hard to tell?


    I thought the Spencer 43 Express did the best job of changing/improving space by putting in an aft stateroom with two berths over the fuel tanks and not killing the overall look in profile. A lot of boat for a 43', sweet looking ride as well.
  9. SHAZAM

    SHAZAM Senior Member

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    Sorry, perhaps I wasn't clear. I was referring to convertibles, not express yachts.
  10. Bill106

    Bill106 Senior Member

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    After the inevitable new product bugs, the major players of pod drives all pretty much have their acts together now and in fact we'll have another entering the market shortly.

    As far as their acceptance in the SF convertible market goes, the benefits depend on the size of the boat being considered. Sportfishing, at least on the east coast, usually involves trolling and handling of large fish from the cockpit and boats with low freeboard aft are considered essential.

    In smaller boats (less than 38' or so) the size and height of the drive heads themselves can place the cockpit deck height too high for easy fish handling. Mounting the engines aft is out of the question, they are way too tall so you have no real benefit regarding layout and you have to jackshaft the driveline from forward of the cockpit and you lose cockpit fuel space further complicating balance.

    Mid-size boats (38-48') are usually deep enough draft to be able to mount the drive heads under the pit deck but you are borderline being able to install engines there still.

    Larger boats (48'+) you can finally move engines aft and gain useable interior spaces but the current pod horsepower ranges aren't able to handle the power needed to get acceptable speeds with twin engines. They are coming but for now 3-4 drives are required and that is not well accepted if for no other reason then added maintanance as CaptJ mentioned.

    While the pod's benefits of efficiency gains are certainly desirable, from what I see it is more the ease of manuverability from the joystick control system that customers are drawn to than anything else. One of the pod manufacturers (ZF) and another big player in the marine transmission game, Twin Disc, have developed what may be an interm solution, joystick control for conventional shaft-driven boats using a bow thruster that they claim handles just like a pod system. This system can also be retrofitted to existing boats with the addition of a thruster and possibly a transmission upgrade or modification. A couple builders have them in production now including myself and we are seeing quite a good reception from the large sportfish crowd.
  11. vlafrank

    vlafrank Senior Member

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    Does anyone here anticipate seeing......

    pods of any kind on trawlers or full displacement expedition yachts any time soon? I've always been intrigued, wondering if large, slow-turning contra-rotating props would give trawlers a free knot or two of speed. Anybody have an opinion on this? AFAIK, no one in the trawler yacht industry or expedition yacht industry has done so yet, nor have I seen any ducted props, nor those strange-looking affairs resembling flat boards arranged vertically in a revolving circle. But "enquiring minds want to know....." :D
  12. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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  13. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Grand Banks builds the 41' Europa with zues drives.
  14. SHAZAM

    SHAZAM Senior Member

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    Hearing that you have a new build in the works made my day. Congrats! I've been toying with putting together a 50' convertible with pod drives but with the engines located in the cockpit. I'm still trying to figure out how to lay it all out and to see whether it can be done with a full beam master. The question is whether or not the market would be receptive to such a convertible.

    As far as the joystick systems for conventional shaft drives, the only one that I've seen is from twin disc. After my last project using twin disc quick shift gears, I can tell you unequivocally that I would never deal with them again. The product is fantastic but support and service here in south florida is abysmal, an outright joke compared to what ZF offers.
  15. Bill106

    Bill106 Senior Member

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    I'm sorry to hear of the poor TD service, in our neck of the woods it's the opposite but things change all the time. The newbuild is a 37' express slated to get the TD EJS and soon to be announced CAT V-8 diesels. ZF's version is called JMS (Joystick Management System) and utilizes most of the components in their Zeus pod drive system.

    I think the market would be receptive to a 50' convertible pod drive boat and the ZF/CAT combo using C-18's is released which would more than adequately power a boat that size. The main obstacle I think you'll encounter is trying to fit those engines under a pit deck that's proportional and fishable, the only solution I've found is to tuck them under a mezzanine but access then becomes more difficult. You could then gain some of what used to be the forward end of the E.R. but headroom will be a little lacking. To bad they don't make a slanted or flat 6!

    If Carl doesn't mind, here's a pic of that 37;

    Attached Files:

  16. Maxwell

    Maxwell Member

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    Although "pods" clearly improve maneuverability and may be a bit more efficient at cruise due to the angle (or lack of) of the propellers to the hull, could it really affect the speed on a displacement boat? I was under the impression hull speed is hull speed. Thoughts?
  17. carelm

    carelm Senior Member

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    AFAIK Grand Banks is installing pods or Zeus drives in their latest offerings in the East Bay series. My own observation is that the Pod/Zeus drives appeal to the owner/operator of picnic boats or express cruisers due to their ease of operation and better space utilization. This may not be as much of a consideration for a sportfisher or convertible owner if he/she uses the boat for chartering. In this case I'm presuming the operator has a high level of experience/expertise and may prefer the more conventional drive systems as noted earlier.
  18. Telemachus

    Telemachus Senior Member

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    Any word on how the cruise ships with these azipods have held up in terms of service and reliability?
  19. Bamboo

    Bamboo Senior Member

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    Driver experience, skill and familiarity of the system on the vessel is the main factor of maneuverability- not if it's a pod, conventional or otherwise.
  20. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    I believe Viking has a 50' Convertible doing the Boat Show Circuit with 1200hp MAN and ZF Pods.

    It would be interesting to know if the SF guys are signing up for this package?

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