Electric Motor Adventure

After seeing enough You Tube videos of full time sailors I noticed there was one common ongoing problem they have. It is ongoing engine trouble. So I started wondering how this nuisance could be avoided. We want to sail and enjoy ourselves, not have to repair an engine constantly. After doing much research on the subject we ended up purchasing and installing our 10 kilowatt electric sailboat motor kit from Thunderstruck Motors . Initially my biggest issue was getting the rusty prop shaft collar off the prob with no electricity. That was interesting to say the least. Battery powered drill and hammer to the rescue!

Anyhow, once we got that off it was pretty smooth from there. No engine mounts needed, just pre-drilled and screwed 2 decent size lag into the engine mount runners, attached the prop shaft collar to motor and then mounted the Sevcon controller and relay mechanism to the wall.

The only other issue I encountered was that the set screw for the upper pulley on the gear reduction unit was way to short and kept falling down the throttle cable attachment. I figured I could deal with the set screw later. Do NOT test the unit before replacing the set screw with a longer one!!!!!!! If you do, your alignment will be off and you will not be able to get the set screw in later which leads to other problems.

I tried to attach my exsisting  (not so great condition) throttle cables to the digital throttle unit, but try as I might I could not get the throttle play I needed to make it fully functional, so the cables went bye bye. I was bummed I would not be able to use my exsisting levers, but at least I could bypass the cables/levers and have a digital throttle assembly in the cockpit. Not the prettiest contraption, but I intend to make it look less like a toy in the future.

Our first real test did not go so well due to the fact I could not get the upper pulley set screw back into the upper pulley system. What ended up happening was that the pulley slid back on the shaft close to the motor and started shaving the metal off the back of the housing and the belt edge started shaving. NOT so good! A LOT of trouble to undo this!!!! Do NOT test system before replacing the set screw!

After undoing the upper pulley and getting a longer stainless steel set screw in (thank you ACE Hardware) our second try went much smoother. We probably ran it about a mile on low throttle and all was well, although the motor was getting a bit warm by the end. Maybe install a fan in the future?

Since this is a 48 volt system , you need to build the battery banks in sets of 4. We currently have a system of 4 group 27/125AH deep cycle marine wet cell batteries running the system for now.

Since we are on a mooring field, we keep them charged using our house battery 195 watt solar panel charging system. We do intend on getting separate solar panels in the future to maintain the batteries.

So far we love the fact that the system is quiet, not stinky, not to ridiculously expensive, no marine mechanic needed and it is more environmentally friendly. We will probably at least double the battery bank in the future and go with AGM batteries.

The magic question: How many nautical miles can the motor run for? Honestly we can not answer that as we have not pushed her to her limit. I hope it continues to work well for us. We encourage others to go the route of an electric motor after seeing and smelling all the pollutants (diesel and oils) that go into the bilge, water, and air. All the boats in the water day after day, year after year adds up to a big contribution in polluting our oceans.

Happy sailing.
Until Next Time,
Señora del Mar

 

 

 

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