Click for Mag Bay Click for Nordhavn Click for United Click for Lurssen Click for Cheoy Lee

Should I buy a boat with IPS drives?

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by Max Waibler, Apr 29, 2020.

  1. Max Waibler

    Max Waibler New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2020
    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Vancouver, B.C.
    Can anyone speak to durability and maintenance of IPS drives? I've learned so far that props are $2500 each and you often need two. I understand that zincs have to be bought from Volvo and gear oil is expensive. Overall how much more will it be to maintain IPS drives verses v-drives? Thanks, Max
  2. Fishtigua

    Fishtigua Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    2,633
    Location:
    Guernsey/Antigua
    IPS is fine drive, better than any outdrive going.

    The early ones were bit iffy, but like any new product, they are now part of the normal range.
  3. ranger42c

    ranger42c Senior member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    Messages:
    467
    Location:
    South River, Chesapeake Bay
    Happens I'm only just now beginning to consider the same questions about IPS... so factoids, informed opinions, adult-supervision would be very welcome.

    I've read on-line discussions about changing the "seals" every 5 years, and something about bronze "seals" versus stainless steel "seals;" not sure what "seals those are (steering seals?). The D6/IPS600 manual is silent on that topic, unless I just haven't understood it...

    Apparently it eventually became possible to change oil in the drive units, every 2 years?, from inside the boat... i.e., while still in the water, haul-out not required.

    Would have thought anodes are anodes, but the one in the drive unit looks (in the manual's picture) like an odd-shape... so maybe that's why it's sourced direct from Volvo.

    -Chris
  4. Fishtigua

    Fishtigua Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    2,633
    Location:
    Guernsey/Antigua
    Yes the anodes are Volvo only items and pricey but you're onto dry land anyway to do the bottom. Seals need doing every 5 years like all drives.
  5. sgawiser

    sgawiser New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Messages:
    41
    Location:
    Jupiter, FL
    We now have 11 years of experience with Volvo IPS drives on two Sabre boats. They have been virtually problem free for that entire time. While the annual maintenance is more than straight shafts, and Volvo parts are more expensive than some, our experience had been that the costs overall are not higher.

    In addition, we have never had to worry about finger pointing as the entire system from controls to engines to transmissions to props is supported by Volvo. With our latest boat, the Garmin glass cockpit also means that you can add the plotters and autopilot to the Volvo standard support.

    And while we lived with and on a single screw sailboat with no bow thruster for many years, it sure is a great comfort to use the joystick in close quarters and to know that my wife can also dock the boat if she has to.

    I would never buy another boat without the IPS drives that was designed for them.
  6. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    9,183
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    After a few years of being out of touch I'm glad to hear IPS is doing as well as I thought it would, especially since a former boss just bought one. What happened with ZF drives?
  7. Fishtigua

    Fishtigua Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    2,633
    Location:
    Guernsey/Antigua
    When Mercuiser and Cummins split, neither wanted the Zeus drive and it fizzled.
  8. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    9,183
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Not surprised. I've run quite a few boats with both, and definitely liked IPS better, but it's a shame. I definitely see it as the potential technology for the future, but there needs to be competition for that to happen.
  9. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,853
    Location:
    Dana Point, Ca
    You should ask yourself why you want this feature, what are your needs and expectations?

    Are you looking to move away from conventional shaft drive and for what reason?

    As far as existing boats with them it is hard to understand there total cost of ownership and reliability without knowing a few more details. For instance, 11 years operating but how many hours per year? 50, 100, 250, 500 etc? What are the total hours? What are going to be your total hours per year?

    Coming from a sailboat to a powerboat is an ideal transition for an IPS system, but if you have been a twin screw power boat guy your whole life it really isn't a "must have" but could fall into a category of "nice to have".

    The cost of ownership is absolutely higher on IPS than Shafts when you are talking hardware/components and electronics. You can offset this by the gain in Fuel Efficiency, which will vary and depend on engine hours per year, but the out of pocket maintenance is going to be higher.

    A lot will depend on how well VP is represented in your local, if you have a well regarded distributor/dealer/technician easily accessible in your boating area or shipyard, talk to them first and get the number of the "go to guy" in your area.
  10. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    9,183
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    What I want from it is to bring more people into boating and keep them in. A very big part of my business was teaching people how to dock and maneuver their boats. I think the stress of docking, and the resulting repairs drive a lot of first time boat owners out of boating. Even an amateur can dock like a pro with IPS. They also like new technology. Many just don't understand things like stuffing boxes and cutlass bearings or using gears to maneuver. These people step away from their computers and into their Lexus, and then want that pretty boat to act like one of those. Then they end up broadside against the bows of their neighbor's boats, paying damages, and they start looking for a new hobby.
  11. Capt Cole

    Capt Cole Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2017
    Messages:
    73
    Location:
    Pittsburg CA
    I have run a couple of new boats in the 46-50 range that were IPS equipped and I came away impressed. Prior to these two, all of my experience has been on traditional shaft drive systems. The transition was a breeze. It took a few minutes to adjust to the joystick control; but with a little practice, I quickly became comfortable.

    The drive systems were very quiet, responsive and shifting was velvet smooth.

    Fuel efficiency seems to be plus. On the boats I operated, I noticed a very flat fuel consumption curve once on plane. We could bump up our cruising speed 4-6 kts and actual MPG remained fairly constant.

    I do not have enough experience to predict long term operating cost or reliability. I can say that if I were in the market for an IPS drive boat, I would look for a newer version that allows you to change the drive oil from inside the boat vs having to haul out. I don't know what year that changed.

    A good part of my business has been instruction to new boat owners. Close quarters maneuvering is always the most stressful for new operators. In my opinion, teaching someone new to boating how to maneuver a boat in and out of a slip or to a dock will be easier and faster with IPS.

    I have logged about 80 hours with IPS. So far, nothing bad to say.
  12. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Messages:
    5,652
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale
    I would toss two additional factors into the equation.

    First, location and availability of expertise and good service. Some areas of the world have far more knowledgeable Volvo service than others and larger parts inventories.

    Second, the boat and the experience of the builder with IPS as well as the use of IPS in that specific boat model. Sabre was mentioned above and they've excelled in IPS installations. On the other hand, Sunseeker built the Manhattan 63 and 65 with both shafts and IPS, but the boat was originally designed and built with shafts. They failed to take advantage of the potential of IPS, didn't utilize the saved space well, and didn't get expected performance or economy. So, we chose shafts on the Manhattan 65. Some builders have designed boats for IPS and developed true expertise.
  13. ranger42c

    ranger42c Senior member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    Messages:
    467
    Location:
    South River, Chesapeake Bay
    Thanks, Carl. I, for one at least, had read those threads... and a boatload of others from various places... but it's easy enough to have missed some so I appreciate the tip-offs.

    And apologies to OP, if I've caused a hard right turn...


    I've not owned anything but straight shafts (and a few small outboards)... so this would be new territory for me....

    Are these the propeller shaft seals? Or the steering seals? Or both? (Those are the only two drive seals I see mentioned in the IPS operator's manual... and I haven't found a service manual to review in advance) Or some other seals?

    What's involved? Dismounting the drive, remounting? Bazillions of labor hours? Or a couple hours each? Or...?


    Agree. And not exactly "looking to," but maybe more like "agnostic" and "willing."

    In my case, at least, it wouldn't be an intentional move from straight shafts to IPS. Instead it would be a move to a slightly larger boat -- without getting too large -- and at the same time gaining several interior features that we've been shopping on. There's an attractive (on paper) 52-footer with a hull and layout specifically designed for IPS drives and that would compete (in most of those interior features) with some 56/58s in roughly the same cost range. Staying closer to 52' -- or at least under 55' all in -- means we'd be less likely to forego a spur-of-the-moment lunch trip, less likely to not find an available transient slip at short notice, etc. I think.

    I've been reading about IPS (and Zeus) pros/cons for all these years, but only in the abstract (and mostly because our budget is only modest)... and I generally understand and appreciate all those. OTOH, I haven't paid much close or specific attention to annual and periodic service issues before this...

    -Chris
  14. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    9,183
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    You point out another cost and convenience benefit of IPS. You can have the interior space of a larger boat with the cost and convenience of a smaller one. That's not as relevant once you get over about 60', but especially in the 35'-55' range it makes a big difference in slip size, availability and cost. It can also make the difference in whether you can single-hand or need crew. An inexperienced 12 y.o. is capable of holding the joy stick in one position while you tend lines, but I'd be less inclined to have them hold position using gears and throttles or tend lines.
  15. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,853
    Location:
    Dana Point, Ca
    That's a well thought out decision making process and highlights the trade-offs / benefits well.
  16. sgawiser

    sgawiser New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Messages:
    41
    Location:
    Jupiter, FL
    To answer the question asked above, we have averaged about 150 hours a year over the 11 years. I also did not point out the significant increase in fuel efficiency.
  17. echo charlie

    echo charlie New Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2019
    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Elizabeth City , NC
    Hinckley has used the ease of piloting/running their boats to sell boats , also Cirrus aircraft . It has encouraged more people to enter the markets. Keep it simple helps . Edward
  18. ranger42c

    ranger42c Senior member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    Messages:
    467
    Location:
    South River, Chesapeake Bay
    Heh. I've played a computer game with joysticks approximately 0 (zero) times in my life. Trying to occasionally aim our current spotlight with a joystick tells me I'm pretty useless with the things... so I expect it might be surprisingly more of a learning curve, for me, than folks would think.


    I just checked over our last 14 years, looks like we usually average about the same per year... fewer at first (that pesky day job) and more, these days...

    Have you replaced the "seals" every five years? What seals are they? How many (typical) labor hours is involved?

    -Chris
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
  19. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    9,183
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    That's why I suggested a 12 y.o. They have no problem with new technology.:rolleyes:

    I believe you have 2 seals, The deck seal and the one behind the prop. I DK if both need to be changed. The one behind the prop is just like on an OB. No problem. If the deck seal has to be changed that would involved a drydock.