Stacer’s 460 Nomad and Evinrude’s 40hp E-Tec engine provide a happy marriage of fishability and technology
SECTION: boat tests
ALTHOUGH I was giving the Stacer 460 Nomad an evaluation, it was the new technology on the back that took a lot of my interest.
I was keen to have my first ride in a boat powered by the new Evinrude E-Tec engines. There’s been a lot of publicity and hype preceding the release of these motors and I wanted to separate truth from fiction by going for a test run.
This engine marks the latest chapter in the interesting Evinrude/Johnson story. A few years ago, Outboard Marine Corporation, the long-time manufacturers of Johnson and Evinrude, ran into financial difficulty and the brands looked like they might be orphaned.
However, along came Bombardier, a giant Canadian foster-parent with a huge manufacturing base encompassing everything from commercial and executive aircraft to railway locomotives to snowmobiles, quad bikes and personal water craft. Bombardier swept the outboards into its loving, mega-rich arms and offered the engines back to the public with full service and parts back-up.
Money was ladled into the brands, firstly to establish them as one of the best in bolt-on power and, secondly, to comply with the very strict emission codes of the US.
Evinrude was chosen as the brand that would lead with all this new-fangled technology and the direct-injection E-Tec emerged. It was heralded as a two-stroke motor that was as quiet as a four-stroke, belched fewer fumes, was as economical as a four-stroke and needed servicing only every 300 hours or three years.
Tweaking the engine by computer to accept the special Evinrude XD100 lubricant, a tank of outboard oil should last around a year of standard operation.
All this is a big call for an outboard and I must admit I shook my head with more than a degree of scepticism when Roger Huett, of Huett Marine, espoused the virtues of the new Evinrude on a radio show we co-hosted.
It was a cold, windy Winter’s day with the odd spray of rain. Roger and I were well rugged up as we slipped the boat in at Kangaroo Point near Brooklyn, on the mighty Hawkesbury River.
I turned the key and the 40hp Evinrude E-TEC gurgled into life. There is no choke lever or button and, even in the cold conditions, the motor ran smoothly at idle. Evinrude states E-Tecs need no run-in period, which meant that I could operate this engine at all speed right from the start with no break-in period – another unique feature.
I ran my eye and my tape measure over the side-console Nomad to check its functionality as a fishing platform. With a full-flotation Mod Pod, the cockpit is big. Three hefty fellers could move about the boat with no argument.
A beam of 2.2 metres makes for space and plenty of it to fish and maybe store the odd esky or two.
Supplied as standard are two seats and there are four in-deck spigots for different seating plans.
A petite bow roller leads anchor line into a smallish, self-draining, carpeted anchor well. A strong split bollard is well-positioned as an anchor tie-off and there is also a cleat in the anchor well.
Under foredeck, open dry storage will accommodate the necessary lifejackets, flares, bailing bucket as well as a spare anchor and other items needed for safe operation on the water.
A vented 68-litre underfloor tank is covered by a carpeted, marine ply floor. For protection against the elements, a removable bimini top is supplied with an envelope for storage.
The starboard side console has passenger grab rails and a small tinted screen for weather protection. While seated, the driver has a good view of what’s happening in front and the throttle quadrant falls nicely to the right hand.
Standard engine gauges are spaced on the sloped dash and there is just enough room for the compulsory fish finder and maybe a GPS.
A four-way switch panel operates lights, bilge pump, live bait tank and accessories. Two small quarter-pockets hold the nick-knacks and there is also under-floor storage up forward under the casting platform.
The heavy-duty Mod Pod has solid chequerplate boarding platforms either side of the engine pod. A standard fold-away transom ladder with grab rails makes it easy for stiff-boned sailors like me to climb in and out of the boat with ease, whether it’s on the trailer or on the water.
The battery box is easy to get to for its periodical check and there is room for an additional battery for those who use a lot of power and like the comfort of a twin-battery system.
A battery-isolating switch, water-separating filter, bilge pump and automatic float switch with manual override are standard issue. A plumbed, reticulated live-bait tank will hold around a dozen small yellowtail and drains away from the cockpit.
The high-mount cutting board, with an extra four rod holders, drains onto the transom and is at an ergonomic height for bait preparation.
I pushed the throttle down and the engine lifted its voice slightly as the boat edged up on the plane. The Stacer EVO hull design made easy work of the wind chop and gives incredible stability in turns. The large keel rail keeps the boat straight but there was a small degree of tilt when tracking beam on to the wind.
Large chine lips keep spray to a minimum and, driving the boat down near the back, no water came near me at all. Having all the weight towards the stern, the boat has a tendency to rear on quick acceleration – a factor that can be rectified by having someone sit forward.
The lean test sank the hull just past the chines with the two of us well over one side. In reverse, water washed over the pod and splashed around the pan of the outboard with no entry at all into the cockpit. All very safe.
OK. So what was my opinion of the new E-Tec? I can’t comment about the 300 hours between services but the motor was whisper-quiet.
Direct fuel injection does away with induction roar, a noise that comes with carburetted motors, and the E-Tec’s footprint is small compared with similar-horsepower motors.
The Evinrude was very responsive to throttle settings, had heaps of low-down torque and was totally smokeless. After buzzing around on the river for well over an hour at many different throttle settings, the fuel drain was hardly noticeable. In fact, Evinrude boasts that E-Tec engines are up to double the fuel efficiency of conventional two-stroke technologies. Big call!
All in all, I came away very impressed with this new offering from Bombardier and I think the other major players might be a bit miffed with this up-to-the-minute competition. The drawback of E-Tecs is that the price is the same as the equivalent horsepower four-stroke, which could overstretch a few package-seekers’ budgets.
Servicing engines every three years is a whole new world to outboard technicians and only the future will see if motors can last that long under our very harsh saltwater, humidity and heat we experience in Oz.
The 40hp E-Tec and the Stacer 460 Nomad MD was a very happy marriage .
For those who fish around bays and estuaries but like to sneak outside when conditions allow, the 460 Nomad will not let you down.
Take a trip up the Pacific Highway past Hornsby and into Cowan and visit Huett Marine, where Roger, wife Sue and son Craig will put on the jug and show you around their extensive yard.
Stacer 460 Nomad MD
|Sides & top sheets||1.6mm|
|Weight (hull only)||375kg|
|All-up weight||1000kg (approx)|
|Length on trailer||5.7m|
|Height on trailer||1.6m|
|Max transom weight||125kg|
Auto bilge pump; nav lights; 4-gang switch panel; battery isolation switch; bimini and envelope; plumbed live-bait tank; rear boarding ladder; cutting board; ski hooks; water-separating fuel filter; 2 padded seats; 4 rod holders.
Price as tested including Redco galvanised trailer with override brakes, all boat and trailer regos, tie-downs, safety equipment for 5 people and on-water instruction: $21,900.
Boat and motor supplied by Huett Marine Centre, 1131 Pacific Highway, Cowan, NSW 2081. Ph (02) 9456 1444, Fax (02) 9456 2477