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Cummins vs Volvo pods

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by zen, Jan 5, 2018.

  1. zen

    zen New Member

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    I have a 2012 vessel with Volvo pods. I did a lot of research before purchasing and have been mostly pleased, service them as scheduled and they should be fine. My biggest complaint revolves around the service options in the area - there aren't many.

    While shopping for newer and larger options, I planned to go back to shaft drives mostly because I'm going further for longer trips and wanted something that could be serviced anywhere. Of course I've fallen for a model that is mostly built with Cummins pods (and sometimes Volvo). This isn't completely illogical, as I do run the boat single-handed frequently and the pods can make that easier. I haven't had much luck on the research side compared to when I did the same due diligence for Volvo. Granted most of what I found focused on the early problems with Volvo IPS. When I look at the Cummins pod housing, I'm horrified. It looks like a spaghetti monster of hoses and cables - everything exposed. I was also disappointed to find equally few choices for Cummins pod service (South FL).

    So my question is for anyone who has owned or maintained both in recent years. Could you offer any color as to the major differences - performance or service related? Thank you!
  2. Fishtigua

    Fishtigua Senior Member

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    Sadly the relationship between Cummins and Mercruiser has fallen apart and they are no longer on talking terms. If you have a serious issue with a Merc pod, Cummins aren't very interested and vice-versa.

    Stick with the Volvos, a service engineer only has to come to your yard once a year, not a biggie for a good workshop to organize.
  3. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I don't know the extent of it, both companies are owned by Brunswick Corporation. But just ran a 2018 yacht with 600HP Zues. EVERYTHING on them is branded Mercury and painted Mercury black. I like the Zues over the Volvo in operation. They're a little more precise, the props face aft, and the autopilot is integrated and works better and the fact you can go from shifters to joystick without pressing buttons and wasting a few seconds. Can change all of the fluids from inside the boat. The cummins motors are solid. The lower units were made by Mercury (and electronics) and the transmission from ZF. The Volvo dealers in South Florida are no picnic to deal with either, but I don't think you'd have any issues getting the pods serviced in most places.
  4. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    Here in south Georgia, the local Cummins shop could not figure out (in 6 months) a sinc problem in the joystic. Every now and then the pods would point in different directions when moving forward.
    A gas pump jockey in south fl told the customer it was a known problem, it's the joystick. Owner replaced it him self and problems went away.
    I luv my Cummins shop (only one around), but they goofed on that one. The big Cummins/Merc boat yard here didn't have a clue either.
    Now that Merc has split from Cummins, I don't see much more support than what I have witnessed.
    AND that SmartCrap (no relation) junk, is still having problems.

    However, My Volvo shop (Fordham Marine) travels everywhere and no bugs or complaints from my customers.
    I'd lean to the ISPs for now.
  5. ranger42c

    ranger42c Member

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    Slightly oblique comment: FWIW, I've read thrusters and engines on straight shafts all tied into a Yacht Controller (or similar) system could be equally single-handing-friendly.

    -Chris
  6. Liam

    Liam Senior Member

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    The Zeus pod was made designed by ZF Italia and then sold licensed back in the 2006/7 to Mercury with exclusive rights for five years.
    Since a few years (2012) the ZF Zeus pod is also independent hence its availability for Caterpillar, Yanmar, and FPT engines.
  7. gr8trn

    gr8trn Member

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    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Running Cummins Zeus.
    No issues.
    Maintenance by me and my local marine engine shop is great. Regardless of the mercruiser/Zeus split, the shop knows mercruiser drives and Cummins Engines so no worries there.
    I came from sailboat and I like to park with the throttles as much as possible, I use the joystick as needed like I used to use thrusters.
    Use skyhook responsibly at fueling, Bridge lifts and anchor preparation.
    I love it.
    The space savings in the ER and aft stateroom are super.
  8. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    No. Helpful in most situations yes. The issue with the Yacht Controller is all you have are gears, no throttle. So in normal situations it is fine. But in the really windy or situations with a ton of current, when you need the yacht controller the most, just having gears and no throttle is not enough power to overcome those situations.

    Both IPS and ZUES are VERY precise. With the joystick you can move the boat over hardly at all and make very finite movements, or move the boat sideways at 6+ knots. I've had IPS or zues in 30 knot crosswinds and able to easily keep the boat in the exact same spot and have twice as much power to spare.

    I have A LOT of time with all of the various propulsion systems. In order of how finite and good they are in close maneuvering situations I would rank them as follows: Zues, IPS, ZF pod, CAT 360, shaft+ bow/stern thruster, jet with joystick (such as hinkley), shafts + bow thruster, shafts no thruster, Arneson with bow thruster, jets with bow thruster, Single inboard with thruster, then twin arneson without thruster, twin jet without thruster, single inboard
  9. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    Real drivers don't need no stinking thrusters..:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
    Just need a running start. Everybody else will get out of the way. :D:D:D:D
  10. sgawiser

    sgawiser New Member

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    One key reason we chose Volvo IPS was that the entire system from helm deck to prop was from a single vendor. And now with the Glass Cockpit, even the chartplotter is covered under the Volvo warranty. Too many friends of ours with Zeus had finger pointing issues between the engine manufacturer and the pod company. That kind of problem drives me nuts (short drive I am told).
  11. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I have seen that with ZF pods as well. The funny thing was, they were doing the finger pointing with a major boat manufacturer (big vibration issue) and it was a brand new boat. Turns out the Carbon fiber jackshaft was the actual issue and it shredded on me at the coupler as I was running the boat back to Fort Lauderdale from the Miami Boat Show.

    I think Mercury now handles everything when it comes to warranty on the Zues. Sad thing is Brunswick owns BOTH Mercury and Cummins.
  12. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Brunswick doesn't own Cummins, Inc. They just own the partnership that was developed for Zeus.
  13. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    Cummins is a much bigger corporation than Brunswick, they have bigger fish to fry than the Zeus pod sales can provide.
  14. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    My personal feeling from what I have observed; Cummins would rather not admit they ever worked with Brunswick.
    IMO; I don't blame them..
    Ford (gas engine deal long ago) felt the same way.
  15. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Partially true. They're still trying to sell Zeus to builders.
  16. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    Define They? Cummins? Merc?
    I assume Merc..
  17. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    Merc is in bed now with another diesel engine supplier. They still have to push the Zues drive.
    As we have mentioned here many times, the Z drive (stern, I/O) is a dying product line. Merc inboards have never been a big product to bet on.
    If they want to compete with the mid craft power supplier; It's Zuse or their dead.
  18. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    Cummins could not care less; They have a product to sell without Merc.
  19. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Cummins. They're trying to pick up more boat brands now that the partnership is gone. Trying to sell Cummins/Zeus combination.
  20. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    I think they are glad it's over (Zuse). Cummins will always be fine in the inboard market. No need for a Zues or any extra drive package.
    Now, If they could ever wash their hands of the Smart Crap (no relation) junk.

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