In Part 2 of “Hi-Performance Boat Operation”, Rick Mackie of Mercury Racing provides a run-down of different rigging types and steering systems. For newbies and veterans alike, it’s important to brush up on how your boat works so you can best operate the vessel, and problem-solve, if need-be. According to Mackie, it’s always a good time to review the basics of boat operation to ensure that you and your passengers have safe experiences out on the water.
Spring is a great time for newbie and veteran performance boaters alike to get familiar with their craft. For starters, you should review your owners manuals — really, you should — and review the key components of your new boat.
Performance boats vary widely in propulsion and size. Outboards come in 20, 25 and 30-inch drive shaft lengths to accommodate a variety of applications. Mercury (and other brand) outboards are fitted with a standard gearcase for most applications. Hulls that can take advantage of the high power-to-weight ratio of a 300R may benefit from its wide range of gearcase options. Similarly, Mercury Racing offers a variety of sterndrives for differing power capacities and hull types.
Mechanical control: performance outboards such as the 60 EFI Formula Race, 250R and selected 300R models are rigged with a shift cable, throttle cable and fuel line. Sterndrives, such as our 600 SCi throttle and shift is accomplished with cables, but steering is hydraulic.
Digital control: Selected 300R models and the 400R are Digital Throttle & Shift (DTS) Compatible. We also have a full suite of DTS compatible sterndrives; 520, 540, 565, 860, 1100, Dual Calibration 1350/1100, 1350, Dual Calibration 1550/1350, Class 1 Competition, 1100 Competition, 1650 Competition and 1750 Competition. Here – mechanical throttle and shift cables are replaced with a single electronic cable.
Application Specific: Selected 300R models feature a heavy-duty swivel/clamp bracket and trim cylinder to endure the rigors of extended use in rough seas. The trim cylinder is actuated via a remotely mounted pump. A majority of today’s outboards feature trim systems mounted within the swivel clamp bracket assembly. Verado outboards come equipped with integral power trim and steering. 250R and 300R outboards come standard with mechanical steering.
Two steering system types are available: Full Feedback and No Feedback. With Full Feedback, steering loads from an outboard or sterndrive are continually transmitted to the steering wheel. This is the preferred system used by tunnel boat drivers for “feel” of their craft while driving at the limit. One disadvantage: steering forces increase as engine or drive height or trim is increased. The steering wheel must be secured at all times to maintain control.
Mercury Racing sterndrive packages are equipped with power steering. The system requires actuation of external hydraulic steering cylinders. Our Integrated Transom System (ITS) provides external power steering for Bravo One XR, Bravo One XR Sport Master and Bravo Three XR drive engine packages. Power trim and steering cylinders are integrated in the M-series transom plate that comes standard with all engine packages featuring M6 and M8 sterndrives.
Performance boats with two or more outboards or sterndrives are rigged with both external power steering cylinders and tie bars. These components work together to minimize steering backlash and enhance drive stability.
The units tied together (outboards or sterndrives) should be adjusted parallel to each other, at rest, where play in the steering can be adjusted to zero. Always be sure to have a qualified professional check to ensure your outboards or sterndrives and all related components are mounted securely.