As media, we often get the early jump on boat models being released, significant changes being made, as well as the opportunity to test engines that most consumers aren't even aware will be available in the near future. One of our favorite responsibilities is to put these brand spanking new engines through the paces so when they are released, we already know all about them.
All of the major engine manufacturers from time-to-time host media events where journalists come together and drool over the latest offerings, and Yamaha Marine does it as well as anyone.
PDB magazine was invited to Lake Monroe in Indiana earlier this summer to check out the latest and greatest. With Yamaha set to have its big product unveil later this fall, we weren't exactly sure what we'd be looking at. Plus, the engine manufacturer just had a huge product introduction last year when it introduced a total of nine brand-new outboard engines ranging between 4hp to 300hp.
Normally at these events we find shiny new outboards up on a pedestal on display when we first walk in, but this time around we witnessed something a little different. Instead of a new model that has yet to see any real hours, we found a well-used Yamaha 150 on display-scuffs and scrapes included. Considering the 6,800 hours on it, we could see why Yamaha wanted to showcase it.
Back in 2003, Yamaha released the F150 four-stroke outboard and as the manufacturer closes in on 100,000 total models sold in just the U.S., it's clear this engine is special. Just seeing this Yamaha outboard on display with so many hours on it was a good reminder of just how dependable these outboards really have become.
According to Yamaha, the 150hp is the most reliable engine and the most popular outboard in its line because of its durability and versatility. In this business, innovation is needed to create the reliability and Yamaha understands this and its engines are a reflection of it.
At this event on Lake Monroe, the F150 was just one of the engines we were able to get our hands on. Even though it wasn't new, as journalists we could appreciate the design of the tried and true outboard and we're more than happy to get it out on the water.
There were several boats available for us to test, including the Nautic Star 203SC Sport Deck which was powered by a Yamaha 150. At full throttle we reached a top speed of 47.4 miles per hour on this 20-footer. As far as fuel economy, at a cruising RPM of 3000, we recorded 3.7 gallons per hour or 5.43 miles per gallon. The unique V-bottom hull impressed us by the way she handles, plus the 0 to 30 mph time of just 5.57 seconds proved the 150 was a solid match for this deck boat. But the Nautic Star wasn't the only boat we were able to review as other engines were also available for testing like the Yamaha 115.
The F115 is kind of like the little brother to the 150, yet it still has a lot of the same innovations for those wanting a powerful engine, with great fuel economy in a lighter design.
Yamaha recently launched the newly redesigned F115 outboard that is both lighter and more efficient than its predecessor. Based on the venerable DOHC in-line, four-cylinder 16-valve engine that set the standard for reliability and durability, the redesigned F115 also features new technologies that make this outboard a true category leader.
The only thing that could overshadow the power of the 115 on the back of the Sanpan 220O UL is the creature comforts on this high-end luxury pontoon. We especially like the full U-shaped seating in the stern that also has a rear-entry layout. That's not easy to do, but Sanpan pulls it off well.
Designed to be the ultimate cruising `toon, we were pleased with the impressive top speed of 26.2 mph and equally impressed by the small amount of fuel it sipped at a nice cruising RPM of 3000 (2.5 mpg).
The Great 70
A home run for Yamaha when it was first released in 2009, the instant and continued success of the F70 even surprises Yamaha a little. It has continued to be a great outboard for those in search of versatility and power. At the media event we were able to get behind the wheel of the Veranda V 2075 with a Yamaha 70 outboard. Priced well as more of an entry-level model, we were able to reach a top speed of 21.2 miles per hour and even at full throttle you're still looking at only 5.9 gallons of fuel per hour. With this engine combination the Veranda pontoon really is packaged well for family fun on the water.
The performance push in the pontoon industry has added a lot of excitement to our segment. Where pontoons used to just be known for creature comforts, new hull designs and beefed up construction is making way for larger outboards. On Lake Monroe we were able to get our hands on the Bennington 2275 RCW, which was quipped with the Yamaha VF250 HO VMAX outboard. Don't let the plush seating and comfy rear-facing seats fool you, this `toon is designed to really fly across the water. We were able to reach speeds near 50 miles per hour.
The VF250 is part of the performance family that includes the 200hp and 225hp engines. The recently redesigned 3.3L V6 outboards meet the needs of boaters who prefer large, powerful outboards that use mechanical control boxes. This line is extremely powerful and has great low- and mid-range punch. They also provide even more flexibility for re-powers or applications in which drive-by-wire technology is not desired.
Yamaha is all about quality and that extends to the propellers as well. Yamaha purchased Precision Propeller Industries a few years ago as a long term source for future growth. Having the propellers closer to the U.S. headquarters make it easier to test and evaluate, and the process is significantly sped up compared to getting props sent from Japan. Plus this allows the company to get new products to the market even faster than before.
Another advantage to being a member of the working media are tours and the behind closed door access we sometimes get. Yamaha was able to set up a tour so we could see first-hand how propellers are manufactured.
Precision Propeller Industries, Inc., a subsidiary of Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, is an investment casting facility located in Indianapolis, Ind. that has produced stainless steel propellers for the marine industry since 1981. PPI also produces propellers used in the food and drug industry, medical devices used in physical therapy and other assorted castings. The products produced at PPI are supplied to customers globally.
As media we invaded the space of several hard working men and women to take photos and be educated on the process. Currently PPI employees over 90 people at its 67,000-square-foot facility that is located on 4.4 acres.
The annual production is 40,000 units, but the number that stood out to me the most was the number of man hours that go into each propeller. PPI estimates that on average, 100 to 110 man hours go into one prop! After taking the tour it's easy to believe, based on all the quality checks and the physical labor that is involved to create these propellers.
PPI has invested $200,000 in the last two years on new equipment, such as drag finishers, wax press injection machines and many other production-enhancing devices. But despite the advances being made in technology, there will always be a need for hands-on skilled labor. Multiple quality checks are involved and to build propellers you need to combine innovation with old technology.
After leaving PPI I think we all came away with not only a better understanding of the propeller process, but a better respect for the efforts being made to improve our time on the water as well as the hard working people that make it happen. We also came away from the Yamaha media event with a better appreciation for the Yamaha outboard line that has earned NMMA's C.S.I. Customer Satisfaction Index award every year since its inception.
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