5 Reasons to Convert Your Boat to an Outboard Motor
Volume I of the Transom Pod Series
Before we dive in, let’s get some terminology out of the way: what is a transom pod? A pod is an air-tight enclosure mounted to a boat’s transom to support an outboard motor and provide enough floatation to offset the weight of the engine. Sometimes this can be confused with a motor bracket or transom extension. These are not the same. A bracket is not considered to be air-tight or provide any flotation; they support the motor only. A transom extension is like a pod but spans the entire width of the boat, effectively extending your transom.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can focus on why you might want to consider converting your inboard motorboat to an outboard version using a transom pod. Here are 5 reasons, in no particular order.
Inboard Maintenance Gymnastics
It’s that time of the year again! You’ve got to change the oil on your inboard. You open up the hatch, do some stretches, put on your coveralls, and prepare to go headfirst into the bowels of the boat. You’re looking forward to the smell of salt water mixed with oil and coolant that’s been mixing in your bilge for a season. You gaze over at your neighbor who is also changing the oil on his boat. He has an outboard motor. You notice he unclips the two latches on the cover and removes it with ease. One bolt and the oil is draining into the pan. You haven’t even crawled into your vessel yet and are considering what it will cost to have someone else do this task for you.
Inboard maintenance is difficult, cramped, and often results in more costly repairs because someone else has to perform the gymnastics on your behalf. Improper maintenance is the leading cause of engine damage, and not completing these tasks is extremely detrimental to the health of your boat. The ease of outboard maintenance is a contributing factor to their increased longevity.
Increased Longevity of Outboards
Inboard motors are car motors. They were never designed for the marine environment. They are often heavy, have many components that can rust, and require complicated heat exchanges, blower fans, and a host of other components that make them less suitable for boats. Because of the high friction of water, a boat motor is subject to continuous and high loads. This is similar to towing a trailer up a steep hill all day long every day for the entire life of the motor. As a result, these motors tend to fail long before their car/truck brothers ever do.
Outboard motors, on the other hand, were designed in the factory to meet the needs of the marine environment. Every component was engineered to be on the water and subjected to the high loads typical of boating. These motors are purpose-built and will log many more hours before replacement than a similar performing inboard will.
When you have a transom pod with the motor mounted aft, that huge area that was taken up by the inboard motor is now available to be converted into anything you like. This, of course, will take some creative fiberglass work, but the options are endless: live wells, more deck space, more storage, and so on. That old motor took up a lot of room that now can be converted into improving the boating experience.
Increased Redundancy & Safety.
One of the main upgrades I see my clients performing is adding twin outboards. For many people, having a second motor on the boat not only improves performance but also gives them the added security of knowing that one can fail and one can still get them home.
Contrary to popular belief, sinking is not the greatest hazard on the water. In fact, fire is the most dangerous scenario for any boater. Inboard motors are located low in the boat and often contain oil residue – if subject to a fuel leak, this represents an explosion hazard. The ignition system of a running engine can ignite any fuel vapors present. As a result, inboard motorboats often come with expensive fire suppression systems and blower fans. Despite this, every year, boat fires kill and injure people.
Having that source of ignition on the back of your boat is the safest way to prevent this scenario from ever happening in the first place.
Ease of Installation
Finally, if you keep your boat for a long time, there will be a time when the motor exceeds its lifespan and a new one is required. Removing an outboard motor can be done by disconnecting the fuel lines and control cables, removing the bolts, and lifting it off with an engine hoist. It’s a very straightforward process and can be done by just about anyone.
Alternatively, your inboard motor has an exhaust, transmission, and cooling system all protruding through the hull. The connections are deep in the bilge and difficult to get at. Adding to the complexity is that a standard engine crane will not reach over the boat and into the engine bay – you will need some kind of overhead crane to retrieve the motor and lift it high enough to pull the boat out from under it. Not to mention the fact that all the bolts and hardware will likely be nicely corroded from sitting in a saltwater bath for years. It’s not a fun task even with the right tools, and I have seen many dreams crushed when the reality of an inboard motor overhaul rears its ugly head. Beware of that great deal on a used inboard motorboat at the end of the season!
I hope that this has helped you understand why it might be advantageous to have a transom pod built and installed on your boat. Adventure Marine can work with you to design a pod that will meet your needs and maximizes the benefits of outboard motors. The cost of adding a pod and converting to outboards will likely be less expensive than purchasing a new boat.
We recommend you follow the link below to learn more about what’s involved in the process.
Thank you for reading.