IBEX 2015 VIDEO: Engine builders debut new innovations

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The industry unloaded a ton of new product Tuesday at the 25th International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference.
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 Dennis Ashley of Honda explains the performance and value benefits of the Honda BF100.

Dennis Ashley of Honda explains the performance and value benefits of the Honda BF100.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The industry unloaded a ton of new product Tuesday at the 25th International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference at the Kentucky Exposition Center, including engines in all three major segments (outboard, inboard diesel and gas sterndrive), electronics and electrical equipment and refrigeration.

In this report, I’ll run you through all of the propulsion engines and systems I saw on Tuesday. Trade Only previously reported that Volvo Penta would launch at IBEX its new sterndrive gasoline engines — two V8 5.3-liter engines in 300- and 350-hp models and a V6 4.3-liter engine with 280 horses.

I got a chance to test the engines at a media event last month at the Swedish engine maker’s Chesapeake, Va., test site. These powerplants use General Motors Generation V engines with increased technology.

With its engine news previously released, Volvo Penta did not hold a formal press conference. Going into IBEX, we only knew that Honda Marine would debut a “mid-range” outboard. Well, on Tuesday Honda gave us the full scoop — the engine is a 100-hp 4-stroke. The BF100 bridges the gap between Honda’s BF90 and BF115 models.

The Japanese engine maker’s 366-pound inline four-cylinder BF100 uses the same technologies found in other Honda outboards, such as its version of variable valve timing, VTEC (Variable Valve Time Electronic Lift and Control), and Lean Burn Control. This is not a new engine from the inside out, but built using the BF90 block. (This engine is used in the Honda Fit cars.)

Pricing will be available when the engine hits the market in January. "From a business strategy standpoint Honda is focusing on bringing new people into boating," Honda Marine senior manager Mark A. DiPietro said at the press conference. "We want to expand … in the marine marketplace, and we are confident the new BF100 is an excellent tool to bring new boaters into the business. Year over year we're going to be bringing new products into the marketplace, so the BF100 is this year’s new product.”

He declined to provide details about future engines.

Honda also said it has signed an agreement with Northport Commercial Financial that “will help dealers be better able to wholesale-floor boat-motor packages with Honda Motor Co.,” DiPietro said.

Russell Baqir, vice president of business development of Northport, which (like Honda) is based in Alpharetta, Ga., also spoke at the media introduction.

“We've worked to reduce the cost to the OEMs and reduce the cost to the dealers through early-payment discounts,” Baqir said. “The cost savings will eventually benefit the downstream consumer, as well. Business has to be done differently today. Businesses need to work together to find alternative ways to satisfy the marketplace. The customers demand it; the market demands it.”

Cummins has come out with a streamlined version of its QSB6.7 diesel — the QSB6.7 SL (Slim Line). “We’re offering alternatives on some of the marinization components that allow us to align value and price, reduce weight and engine footprint,” Cummins marketing manager Andy Kelly told me at the Cummins booth.

The standard QSB6.7, which hit the market in 2012, is a high-end, high-capacity diesel with all the bells and whistles — and its price indicates that.

“We’re trying to align with the competitors’ price, as well as feature set,” Kelly said. “Our standard package includes some additional features over the competitive offering. This SL package allows us to compare more apples to apples with our competitors from a feature set standpoint, and now the builder can select where they want to upgrade the package.”

The SL gives OEM boatbuilders the opportunity to lower price by replacing advanced and costlier parts with more economical ones and switching to simpler component installation, added Rick Newman, Cummins global business development leader.

For instance, the SL, because it will be offered in lower-horsepower sizes, will have a resized cooling system with a smaller heat exchanger and after-cooler; a disposable air filter instead of a high-end cleanable filter; a steel oil pan instead of cast aluminum; side-mounted filter locations instead of a more complicated front-mount location; and a simpler (but less versatile) engine mounting method.

The QSB6.7 can be engineered for horsepower outputs from 250 to 550. The SL models will be available in 355-, 380- and 425-hp versions. It is about 71 pounds lighter than the standard 6.7, and only 40 pounds heavier than the Cummins 5.9-liter engine. The QSB6.7 SL will be available in the late winter or early spring of 2016, Kelly said.

I bumped into Mercury’s David Foulkes (vice president of product development, engineering and racing) at the show. He told me the engine company had just captured an IBEX Innovation Award for propulsion/propellers for its Flo-Torq SSR_HD propeller hub system. (MotorGuide, a Mercury company, also grabbed the top honor in the outboard category with its MotorGuide X5 trolling motor).

What’s the big deal about Flo-Torq? It reduces noise and vibration (“clunking”) during engine shifting of Mercury multi-engine installations of its big outboards (such as the 350 Verado and 400R Verado). It can be used with or without Mercury Joystick Piloting helm control.

“A lot of times the engines are called upon to shift multiple times [when operated with the joystick] as they’re functioning on these large boats, so we wanted to smooth out the shifting, and that’s what this does,” Foulkes said.

The new hub system was introduced in July. SSR stands for Soft Shift Rubber. It is installed with high-horsepower engines with the heavy-duty 1.25-inch propeller shaft.

In Thursday’s e-newsletter I’ll cover electronics and electrical, which will include a new engine-room camera with thermal imaging (FLIR) and a significant advancement in the connectivity of marine equipment and cellular networks.

I’ll also tell you about a flotation and boatbuilding foam (BASF); some impressive refrigeration and water-purifying units (Dometic); and a few clever electrical gadgets and tools from Blue Sea Systems and Ancor, such as a self-cutting cable tie that jury-riggers and electricians alike will love. A video will accompany the report.

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