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Future of pods

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by olderboater, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I think possibly a touch optimistic on time line. Advances and changes are moving at 1/2 the speed at which they did prior to 2009. But I would like to see up to 2000 hp pods and what that can do for fuel efficiency and speed in the future.

    I also think as battery technology keeps increasing by leaps and bounds that we will see a lot of diesel electric in my lifetime on the yachts.
  2. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    It will be interesting to see what obstacles they run into on larger engines and whether the advantages on the smaller engine pods carry over. It's only natural that there will be a point along the way where other means of propulsion remain more appropriate.

    It made me curious to look back at the history of stern drives. While there was somewhat a version as early as the first world war, the real development started in the late 40's and early 50's but Carl Kiekhaefer was not a fan of it, nor supportive, even though the work was done by his engineers. Volvo Penta introduced the first commercial sterndrive in 1959 and Mercury followed in 1961. Subsequently they took over almost completely a certain segment and range of the market. Bigger and bigger stern drives were built. However, there was that point that the disadvantages outweighed the advantages and the technology didn't make sense.

    I suspect there is that point in pods but have no idea where it is. Maybe 2000 hp, maybe 3000. Maybe a 200 ton boat, maybe 500.

    I also see other developments along the way that might give some of the advantages of pods to conventional systems. Just the simplest example is that initially there was a lot of attention gathered by IPS and Zeus having joysticks but now virtually all larger boats have some form of joystick for low speed maneuvering. Wouldn't be surprising at all to see other propulsion systems try to pull in certain of the characteristics of pods.

    While the development of pod technology was a major step, as someone formerly in manufacturing and marketing, the part I find perhaps even a bigger step was marketing the concept. The drive manufacturers don't sell to the end user but somehow they had to create something the end user would want and they had to convince boat builders it would sell and provide incentives and assurances on the product. And it had to be many boat builders. It had to be across many builders so the end buyer could then see it as an acceptable and even desirable technology. As you mentioned, the acceptance in the European market is still to come.
  3. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    The biggest disadvantage with going bigger is Neither cummins nor Volvo have large enough engines for the Zues or IPS systems. So that means mating a ZF pod (or other) to a different manufacturers engine such as Cat, MTU, MAN. Well if you have a warranty issue and it's in that grey area. Both manufacturers punt the expense and who is going to fix it football back and forth. I was involved in one boat where that happened, both CAT and ZF kept saying it's not on our side, it's on your side. It was a serious vibration issue and it turns out after 6 weeks of this that it was the carbon fiber jackshaft between the pod and the engine, and it shredded. But with Zues or IPS ALL of your maintanence and warranty is with 1 manufacturer.

    Pods are being used lately by all of the new cruise ships so I don't think there is a limitation to their size or what makes them feasible or not feasible when it comes to size of the yacht. Although certain types of hull designs might not derange any benefit from them.

    The JMS, ZF and other systems utilizing shafts and a bow thruster, aren't anywhere near the finesse and maneuverability of the pods and create their own issues. Now you have to have and rely on a way oversized bow thruster, the weight of it and it's batteries or hydraulic system, and the sheer noise of it as well as the balance issues the weight and placement of it makes. Then can or can't the bow thruster stay running without running out of battery or overheating if you're using it for a prolonged period of time. I'd rather not even have it. I can use the gears and bow thruster just fine on my own. Some lesser Captains and owners, it probably is a benefit.
  4. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Maybe the captains and owners aren't lesser if they've figured out hot to effectively utilize them. That's a strength, not a weakness and doesn't mean they can't go with gears and bow thruster, but on a larger boat there are times it can be useful in docking. Not required, but also has utility and with thrusters sized for such a boat.

    And they are smart enough to know it's limitations and not to overheat anything.
  5. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Yep, Real drivers don't need no stinking fancy joysticks or thrusters.....;)
  6. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    With the joystick system, you do not really know how much the system is using the bow thruster on most boats.

    Most owners and some Captains are totally lost if their bow thruster goes down and don't know how to dock or maneuver without it.
  7. gr8trn

    gr8trn Senior Member

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    Which is one advantage of pods for those of us new to driving bigger boats. We can use the joy stick to park while we practice using gears to maneuver. Each helmsman worthy of the boat will be able to do both. But what a joy to be able to learn with a nice joy stick as a back up to keep everyone happier in the mean time.
    I realize not all skippers will take the time to enjoy learning how to drive with gears only but I can assure you I am much more comfortable moving around 40,000 lbs in tight spaces, in current and windage with a joy stick as I learn.

    As for the OP questions:
    1. Sportfisher's will likely continue with more use of pods, speed is good, fuel economy is good, less exhaust when fishing

    2. More exp. cruisers into pods, for sure, no reason not to, I see down to 37 feet or so.

    3. Up scale Lazzara/Sunseeker/Riva I think Mr. Lazzara says yes

    4. a lot like question 3 to me.

    5. Hinkley not likely they like the jet thingy, but MJM is pod so lobster type cruisers are going that way.

    6. Pershing, never, rooster tails never lie.

    7. 80-130 foot yachts, if bigger twins evolve then yes, it seems that not many folks seem to own/operate this size and maybe pods can affect that???

    8. Tugs, not likely as they seem to like keels, skeg hung rudder and stuff to protect gear.

    9. trips and quads, I don't think so as that is such a Verado and 557 thing. If you can't see my four ips pods you may just think I have only two. I can't imagine wanting to maintain three or four engines and drive units instead of two bigger ones.

    10. 25-30 foot pods vs. outdrives... I don't think so, trailering is much more doable with outdrives and outboards that go up. Plus lot's of these boats like to beach.

    For what it is worth...
  8. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Pods on a tug will be around soon if not already.
    Kort nozzles are in use and I remember a jet on one (like an underwater gun turret). Not IPS or Zuse, but a ships pod and probably electric.
  9. Riverdance

    Riverdance Member

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    The props chop up anything in their way. Manatee?
    Have you ever run a pod boat at low speed say coming into a tight fairway? Not having rudders make it easy to oversteer. No wonder we hear thrusters heating up while the boat is on a straight line course. I am not a fan.
  10. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    Is this your real world experience or something you suspect?
  11. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    None of the statement above is based on truth. Zues have the propellors rear facing for starters. The diameter of the props on pod boats are half the diameter of traditional props. Pod boats do not have thrusters, everything is done with the pods. Oversteer???? If you're coming into a slip you'd generally be using the joystick.....even if you use the gears, they still don't oversteer etc.
  12. karo1776

    karo1776 Senior Member

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    I think pods are the way to go... for yachts we currently have these choices...:
    The shaft driven...
    1. Reintjen - Fortjens,
    Counter-rotating, prop front and back, fixed uses rudders and breakaway... range 300 - 4000 hp right now - unlimited as they will build to application.
    This is a really neat design for larger yachts and for those wanted simplicity and rudders... very stable tracking as they do not rotate to steer and the center fin provides high direction stability. As maneuverable as the Zeus.

    2. ZF - Zeus,
    Counter - rotating, both props back, steerable, breakaway... range 200-1200 hp not limits on torque to rpm - stock units only. Note using with C18 1150 hp engines will by spec. over torque in mid ranges but ZF finds this an acceptable engine.
    This is the best design but the limited availability of sizes and the being directed primarily at the planning high speed market is somewhat limiting.

    3. Rolls Royce - Azipull 65c
    Single forward facing prop, carbon fiber body, steerable, breakaway... range as only the Azipull 65c is available and only through Azimut on the Azimut Grande 140 Trideck it is a 2800 hp unit. They have a two year exclusive deal with Rolls so if you want on

    4. Volvo Penta IPS,
    Counter - Rotating Forward facing props, steerable, breakaway... range is 300 -1200 hp. Directed at the planning high speed market is somewhat limiting.

    5. Schottel - STP Twin-Propeller, SCP - single propeller ducted, Combi Drive electric
    STP- TP is inline fwd and aft propeller synchronized rotation, steerable and unlimited range. Directed at displacement market. Available with electric drive (Combi-Drive) motor contained inside hull vertically integrated to unit.

    SCP is a single propeller, steerable and unlimited range. Directed at displacement market. Available with electric drive (Combi-Drive) motor contained inside hull vertically integrated to unit.

    Voith VIT and VIP... both rim driven electric propulsors. The VIT is just the motor/prop unit for instal as bow thrusters or in a integrated to hull housing for main propulsion. The VIP is a steerable self-contained pod ducted propelsor.

    Schottel - SRT Rim Thruster... rim driven electric propulsor. Right now only available as a motor/prop unit for instal as bow thruster or in a integrated to hull housing for main propulsion.

    Schottel - Combi Drive
    Electric motor mounted vertically inside hull integrated to the STP or the SCP units.

    There are many electric pods for large ships not mentioned as they are impractical but for the largest yachts.

    Really like the VIP Voith available from 50-2000 hp
  13. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Good data Karo1776.
    Thx
  14. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    To add to Karo's info. The ZF lack a little finesse in maneuvering compared to both Zues and IPS. They are still very good, but don't quite have the finesse and would rate them 8/10 versus 10/10 (zues/ips) for dockside maneuvering. Also given all 3 of them, how they handle varies a bit from boat manufacturer to boat manufacturer, depending on how much time the manufacturer spent on sea-trialing and tuning the software.
  15. Riverdance

    Riverdance Member

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    Yesterdays experience.
  16. Cruz

    Cruz Member

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    Well, bow thrusters are showing up more and more on pod-driven boats, particularly over fifty feet. Personally, I almost always used sticks exclusively at idle speeds on my Zeus boat until getting into truly close quarters. Regardless of my abilities with traditional propulsion I always used the joystick when docking because of the precision it offered and yes - working the sticks on a pod boat vs its traditionally driven counterpart will yield a much different experience because of the size of the wheels and other factors. Oversteer was never a factor. What most people new to joystick docking have to learn is the art of finesse and, perhaps most importantly, how to dock that specific boat should your joystick fail. It will not handle quite like straight or V-drives. I was fortunate to never have had a failure but know people who have and I spent a lot of time at the docks getting to know the boat's handling characteristics in close quarters with just the sticks/sticks and wheel - remember - pods provide vectored thrust and the wheel will turn your boat at idle speed in a way that standard rudders can't.

    Joystick docking is, understandably, often one of the first topics of conversation when pods come up. But there are benefits that get far less attention which I have found to be among the most appealing components of owning a pod-driven boat including the relative sound level/vibration reductions, with Zeus - Precision Pilot - their proprietary auto pilot system that I find an absolute joy to use and also with Zeus - Skyhook - their dynamic positioning system I never want to be without again in one form or another. DPS is obviously available with with other propulsion setups but, at least in my case, I have found the system integrated with my pod drives to work flawlessly, even in some pretty unforgiving situations without any thrusters working overtime.
  17. TeKeela

    TeKeela Member

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    How much is a Zeus pod? It is near impossible to even find dimension schematics on the things. SeeVee did a single Cummins with a Zeus, thruster tied to a joysticks. I have never seen another single install. And SeeVee no longer offers its. What's that talk? Was it a bust somehow? Why no singles?
  18. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    It just wasn't fast enough. There also wasn't any advantage to it as the outboard boat was almost as efficient.

    Pods really shine when they replace a twin inboard shaft boat.
  19. Bamboo

    Bamboo Senior Member

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    commonly referred to as a "sissy stick"
  20. TeKeela

    TeKeela Member

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    I compare the efficiency against a straight inboard as opposed to an outboard boat. I don't care for those things hanging off the back.

    So on a single inboard, why isn't anyone selling a single pod? I know that SeeVee was still getting dialed in to control a single but surely people still like to be able to have a clean transom when fishing.

    And yes I would call it a sissy stick too if it were used when one has two engines, but to back and fill a single shaft, no fun at all. So a single engine connected to a pod, I wouldn't be toooo embarrassed. And if those things turn back and forth at the helm, who needs a thruster, it would move around like an I/O, plenty of control.

    But in a twin pod install, those little propellers sure look small compared to a proper size set of wheels. So if not using the azimuth feature do they properly maneuver? Is there enough bite to center the helm and back in on a say 50-60?