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Old vs. new: Yamaha puts outboards to the test

After logging 8,700 hours, a 2005 Yamaha F150 can match the performance of a new F150, according to test results released by the engine manufacturer.

Mic Smith/Feature Photo Service for Yamaha

Yamaha had two F150s that had racked up thousands of hours over three years powering a Charleston, S.C., water taxi. Engineers took one of the old outboards, mounted it on a 21-foot runabout and ran performance tests, then mounted the new F150 on the same boat and ran identical tests.

The result: The old engine was just as quick out of the hole and achieved the same top speed and roughly the same fuel economy at 3,500 rpm.

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"It comes down to forward thinking," Yamaha Marine Group product information manager David Meeler told Trade Only Today. "Using materials and processes for high corrosion resistance serves as just one example of that forward thinking."

Meeler pointed out another example: "The ignition coil is built directly into the spark plug cap. It seems like such a minor thing, but if you think about it, because there aren't any external wires and external connections there's no opportunity for corrosion to get in there and cause electrical issues. And as we all know, electrical issues can be very hard to solve."

The engines on the water taxi were operated 10 to 12 hours a day, covering 40 to 45 miles, said Charleston Water Taxi owner Scott Connelly. He estimates the engines were shifted 40,000 times during their three years of service.

The taxi now has two new F150s, Connelly said. “[The old outboards] will probably keep running, but with our business, we need to know for sure and need them every day,” he said. “It was more of a business decision."

Introduced in 2004, the F150 has been Yamaha's best-selling outboard. “It has been a home run for us,” said Meeler. A long-shaft (25 inches) model retails for $15,615.

— Chris Landry

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