The first instalment of a ground-breaking outboard engine testing program sees Yamaha* go head to head with E-TEC. By Jim Harnwell.
FISHOS have more choice than ever before when it comes to outboards. However, new technologies, increases in fuel prices, concern over greenhouse issues and a marketing war amongst the big manufacturers means it's increasingly difficult to know which way to jump when it comes to buying a new engine.
In order to provide an independent and unbiased perspective on the pros and cons of the various outboard options available, Fisho has embarked on an ambitious testing schedule which will see a range of 200hp outboards fitted to the Fishing World Stabi-Craft 659 Super Cab and tested over a 50-hour period.
Most outboard "tests" published in the fishing/boating media involve less than an hour of onwater use by a writer using an unfamiliar boat in calm, protected waters. That's enough for any switched-on boating journalist to write up a general overview on the engine, but it's definitely not a detailed test. Running different engines for extended periods in typical fishing conditions on the same hull will allow for apples for apples comparisons which you, the reader, can use when you're making a purchase decision.
Engines to be tested on the Fisho Stabi will include the Evinrude E-TEC 200 H.O. DI 3.3 litre two-stroke, the Yamaha F200* four-stroke, the Suzuki DF 200 four-stroke, a Honda BF 200 four-stroke, Mercury's 200 Optimax DI two-stroke and the E-TEC 200 DI 2.6l two-stroke. We're really keen to test out one of the Mercury Verado 200 supercharged four-strokes but there are some installation issues which we need to solve. We'll keep you updated on this.
So far we've put the E-TEC 200 H.O. and the Yammie F200 to the test. The Fisho Stabi project boat was purchased in December 2005 with the E-TEC 200 H.O. as the powerplant and we've knocked up more than 350 hours with this hi-tech two-stroke donk. Detailed test reports are contained in the April 2006, October 2006 and February 2008 issues of Fishing World.
In September 2008 the E-TEC was replaced with a F200* Yamaha and the following test data relates to that engine, which has been run for 48 hours at the time of writing. Comparisons between the Yammie and the E-TEC will be augmented with the other engines as they are tested, with a final wrap up featuring all six (possibly seven) test engines to be published in early 2010.
(* Note: This model has now been superseded)
The Yammie @ 48 hours
Yamaha's F200 is a 3.3 litre V6 four-stroke with a DOHC Fuel Injection system. The test unit runs a 19-inch SS prop and was installed by Nowra-based Yamaha dealer Abbys Autos & Marine.
At just over 48 hours of use involving bay and offshore fishing, the motor has proven 100 per cent reliable (ie, it starts first time every time and hasn't failed or broken down), is quiet and emits minimal fumes.
After running a factory tuned DI two-stroke, swapping over to the Yamaha four-stroke revealed some interesting performance differences between the two engine technologies.
The Yamaha four-stroke is not as quick out of the hole as the E-TEC but once on the plane performance is comparable.
A lack of instantaneous "grunt" has been the defining difference between the E-TEC and the Yammie in regards to performance. With the E-TEC, if you knock the throttle down, you almost go through the windscreen; the Yamaha displays a less radical acceleration curve. This is evident throughout the rev range.
It needs to be noted that the E-TEC is fitted with a performance 17-inch prop which obviously will allow for faster hole shots than the 19-incher on the Yammie. The engines also have different gearing ratios, which influence performance.
Most fishos aren't all that interested in how quick a boat is, rather how it performs at trolls speeds and at cruise when you are heading back from the shelf. That said, fast hole shots are something to consider if you travel across nasty bars on a regular basis.
If you're weighing up between a four-stroke and a DI two-stroke, you need to understand that most fours don't have the acceleration performance of two-strokes. This is why Mercury invented its supercharged Verado - the supercharger gives the engine significantly more torque compared to that produced by a non-supercharged four-stroke - and other companies such as Honda have worked on systems such as BLAST (boosted low speed torque) to augment hole shot performance. Weight and fuel use are tradeoffs for this increased performance, especially with the early model Verados, although ongoing technical refinement is seeing four-strokes in general become lighter and more grunty.
* Like all modern outboards, the Yammie maintains speed in a variety of ocean conditions without having to adjust the throttle (ie, minimal surges in a following sea).
* It trolls well at low revs (ie, when downrigging) and when running at troll speed (8 knots @ 2000 RPM) is very quiet with no fumes (even running with the wind).
* GPS measured top speed at WOT in calm water is 37 knots; the E-TEC recorded 42 knots in the same conditions. A top speed of over 35 knots is more than adequate, in Fisho's view, for an offshore fishing boat.
* At a cruise of about 3500 RPM (22-24 knots) the Yammie is marginally quieter than the E-TEC; at high speed engine noise is about the same. At idle, the Yammie is quieter, although E-TEC employs a "signature sound" designed to differenciate it from four-stroke competitors. Both engines are considerably quieter than traditional two-strokes.
Ease of use
There are some differences between the E-TEC and the F200 relating to ease of use.
* Shifting gears with the Yammie is noticeably "clunkier" than with the E-TEC. There's a definite "bang" when you shift into forward or reverse. In comparison, the E-TEC's gear shift is much smoother.
* The tilt/trim hydraulic system is marginally noisier on the Yammie than it is with the E-TEC.
* At low revs/idle, the Yamaha vibrates, causing a rattle in the portside cabin window. This is not evident with the E-TEC.
* There are no noticeable fumes or smoke from the Yamaha; a burnt oil smell is sometimes apparent from the E-TEC when trolling with the wind.
* Both engines feature innovative engine and fuel data systems to provide incredibly accurate fuel use and engine system information via dedicated gauges. Both the Yamaha and the E-TEC can be connected to compatible marine electronic units via NMEA 2000 for further customisation of data.
* Both engines have factory backed warranties and both comply with the latest international pollution control regulations. RRP for both is about $23,000. One point that needs to be noted is that Yamaha four-strokes definitely have the runs on the board for longevity and reliability. Fisho has spent time aboard boats powered by Yammies that have clocked up thousands of hours and which are still going strong. Evinrude's E-TEC system, on the other hand, is much newer technology.
Size & weight
The Yamaha is substantially larger and heavier than the E-TEC. When it was first bolted to the transom, I was surprised at how big it is. It can only be described as an "imposing" engine when seen on the back of a 6.6m tinny. The Yammie weighs in at 269kgs, some 31 kilos heavier than the E-TEC H.O, which comes in at 238kg. Due to its inherent buoyancy, the Fishing World Stabi-Craft handles the extra size and weight of the Yamaha but it needs to be noted that the engine is at the upper level of the recommended outboard HP and weight for this hull.
Fuel & oil
* Fuel use is better in the Yammie at mid range (around 3000-4000 RPM) than with the E-TEC. It is slightly behind E-TEC at idle and low revs. Both engines have proven to be reasonably similar at high speed. The E-TEC runs at 5 knots faster and uses 14 litres an hour more than the Yammie at WOT. At troll speed of about 8 knots, the Yamaha uses 3 litres of fuel per hour more than the E-TEC. Based on these figures, we'd suggest neither engine has a significant advantage in regards to fuel use when used in typical offshore fishing scenarios. Most boats either troll or travel at a cruise of about 20-25 knots - it's rare you can go flat out for extended periods out at sea - so average use between long periods spent trolling and shorter periods spent travelling would, in our view, see overall fuel use for both engines be similar. The Yammie would offer benefits if you travel more than you troll and vice versa with the E-TEC if you troll more than you travel. Both engines use significantly less fuel than a traditional two-stroke 200hp outboard.
* Both engines have been operated with 91 octane unleaded fuel with fuel data provided by NMEA 2000 connections between engine EMMs and a Lowrance X37c sounder/chartplotter for maximum accuracy.
See comparison chart below for detailed fuel use data.
* The Yammie offers a benefit over the E-TEC in that it has a wet sump and thus doesn't require the addition of expensive XD100, a synthetic DI two-stroke oil recommended for use with E-TECs. XD100 is ridiculously pricy - it retails for about $65 for four litres (or more than $16 a litre).
* The cost of oil needs to be considered when comparing fuel use between DI two-strokes such as Evinrude's E-TEC and Mercury's Optimax and their four-stroke competitors. The DI engines use very little oil compared to traditional two-strokes, but the cost of the new-age synthetic oils is far more than what you'd pay for a bottle of standard marine two-stroke oil. Our data indicates that the Fisho E-TEC used about 330ml of XD100, worth about $5.20, per 100 litres of fuel .
* The Yammie requires about six litres of engine oil when the sump oil is changed annually or once every 100 hours. Based on current prices for Yamalube engine oil, this involves a cost of about $54 (or $9 a litre)
Evinrude's main claim to fame is that its E-TEC engines only require servicing once every three years, or 300 hours. This gives the Canadian outboard company a significant advantage over its competitors in regards to savings on servicing costs and reducing time off the water.
The Yamaha F200 requires an initial 20 hour service and then a service once a year or every 100 hours
A typical 300 hour E-TEC service would cost about $550 (not including impellor change), Nowra-based E-TEC specialist Noel Hill, from Dave Hill Marine, said. According to Abbys Autos & Marine, a 100 hour service on an F200 would be about $450 (not including impellor).
Extrapolated over a three year period, a Yamaha F200 would cost about $1350 to service while an E-TEC would cost $550, resulting in an $800 saving and at least two extra days on the water. You need to consider oil use, however, when considering these figures. The $54 of oil used in a year by the Yammie is included in the above service cost but E-TEC XD-100 oil use isn't.
The E-TEC 300 hour servicing schedule is based on typical use. If you damage your impellor, contaminate your fuel or have any other issue, then the engine would require professional attention outside the recommended servicing period. The E-TEC service manual also recommends the owner perform basic maintenance (lubrication etc) annually.
When I first drove the Yamaha, I found the performance differences between it and the DI two-stroke Evinrude to be significant. I was used to neck-snapping performance out of the hole so the more refined acceleration characteristics of the Yammie defined my early impressions of the engine. However, with almost 50 hours on the clock I've become used to the controlled power of this proven four-stroke and have adjusted my driving style and expectations to suit. There's no doubt the Yamaha has plenty of power - it just comes on differently than the E-TEC. Instead of a two-stroke blast, the Yamaha four-stroke builds up and delivers a more gradual acceleration curve.
It's important to realise here that each engine as tested is revealed as being essentially no better or more efficient than the other - they simply feature different technologies. At the end of the day, both engines power the Stabi at 35+ knot speeds and both troll and cruise very efficiently. They are similar in price, offer similar warranties and are backed up by major global companies. I can recommend both as being prime examples of "clean" outboard technology.
Compared to a traditional carby or EFI two-stroke, or even one of the early four-strokes, the Yammie and the E-TEC are both brilliant donks.
While these outboards are essentially equal in regards to performance and efficiency, no engine is perfect. The E-TEC and the Yamaha both have pros and cons which anyone considering investing in a new engine would need to consider.
In Fisho's opinion, the Yammie loses out in regards to weight, size and servicing costs while the E-TEC is unproven in regards to longevity, uses of expensive synthetic oil and is thirster at mid range and high RPMs.
Less important, but worth noting, is the fact that the Yammie is available only in grey while the E-TEC comes in white or blue!
The above observations are based on an extensive testing program and presented in an attempt to provide a comprehensive, unbiased and fair comparison on performance and fuel use. It's likely that neither Yamaha nor Evinrude will agree totally with what I have to say in this piece, but this is a test, not an advertisement. And I'm a fisho, not a mechanical engineer, rev head, skier, pleasure boater or wakeboarder.
Stand-by for the April issue when we'll put the Suzuki DF200 head to head against the Yammie and the E-TEC.
Yamaha F200 Specs
Transom Height: 643mm
Weight (dry): 269kg (inc SS prop)
Engine Type 24-Valve DOHC Direct Action, 60° V6
Displacement: 3352 cc
Output (hp) 200
Max RPM: 5500-6000
Fuel management: EFI
Alternator: 12V 45 AMP
Limited Warranty: 4 years
Compliance: CARB 2008
Colours: Grey Metallic Silver
RRP: About $23,200
Evinrude E-TEC 200 H.O. Specs
Transom height: 635mm
Weight (dry): 238kg
Engine Type: Loop Charged V6 90° E-TEC Direct Injection
Displacement: 3279 cc
Output: Factory Tuned for High Performance
Max RPM: 4500-5800
Fuel management: E-TEC Direct Fuel Injection w/stratified low RPM combustion mode
Alternator: Variable Voltage Computer Controlled 133 Amp / 1800 watt output w/ regulator
Limited Warranty: 3 Years Non-Declining
Compliance: EPA 2006 / CARB 3 STAR / European Union 2006
Yamaha F200 Fuel/Speed Data
700RPM - idle - 2.3 litres per hour
1000RPM - 4 knots - 3.8 litres per hour
2000RPM - 7 knots - 9.7 litres per hour
3000RPM - 12.6 knots - 22.7 litres per hour
4000RPM - 26.5 knots - 30.5 litres per hour
5000RPM - 32.6 knots - 44.4 litres per hour
5800 (WOT) - 37 knots - 65 litres per hour
Evinrude E-TEC Fuel/Speed Data
700RPM - idle - 0.7 litres per hour
1000RPM - 3.6 knots - 1.54 litres per hour
2000RPM - 8.7 knots - 10.1res per hour
3000RPM - 18.5 knots - 29 litres per hour
4000RPM- 28 knots - 44 litres per hour
5000RPM - 36 knots - 65 litres per hour
5500RPM (WOT) 42 knots - 79 litres per hour.
OFFSHORE LURE TROLL AVERAGE SPEED COMPARISONS
Yammie: 2100RPM - 8 knots -12.6 litres per hour
E-TEC: 1800RPM - 8 knots - 9.6 litres per hour
OFFSHORE DOWNRIGGING/LIVIE AVERAGE TROLL SPEED COMPARISONS
Yammie: 700-900RPM - 1-2 knots - 2.3-3.2 litres per hour
E-TEC: 700-900 - 1-2 knots - 0.7-1.2 litres per hour.