Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that can improve the way we boat. When we first heard about this Funnel from LilliPad Marine we instantly wanted to know more. The idea actually stems out of necessity for John Merrifield who was tired of filling his pontoon boat and personal water crafts the hard way with a gas can on his dock.
“I took an empty propane bottle from my grill and cut it in half and made a rough-looking funnel that helped make fueling our boat easy,” recalls John. “It wasn’t much to look at it and while it worked okay, I knew I had a good idea but it could be done a lot better.”
This is when John and his wife Joanne first considered partnering with LilliPad Marine, which is best known for its diving boards that have quickly earned the reputation for being the next must-have boating accessory in the industry. LilliPad owners Corey and Ann Schaub had spent years marketing their own products and had made a lot of contacts that could help John’s idea grow.
“When I first saw it I was impressed and knew it was a great idea,” says Corey. “But I didn’t like the design and I knew I couldn’t take a product to market that looked like it was made in a garage. It had to be built well, be effective and simple and also be aesthetically pleasing.”
This was John’s first-ever attempt at doing something like this and admits if it wasn’t for his wife, his idea never would have gotten very far.
“John had a great idea and so I continued to help push him and let him know that we needed to do this,” says Joanne. “But I also knew we couldn’t do it on our own and we needed a little help from Corey and Ann.”
With the goal to make the Funnel more efficient as well as attractive-looking, Corey got to work and designed a finished product where each component was designed and built for a specific purpose.
“The mesh screen inside prevents splash with a little cutout to rest the mouth of the gas can on when you’re pouring,” explains Corey. “The door on the cabinet for the hose storage also allows air flow and the stainless steel coil inside the hose grounds the Funnel.”
Time To Test
With the product now in production, it was time for PDB to get involved and see firsthand how it works. With the majority of the country covered in snow this time of year, we reached out to Geof Goodell, the sales manager at
Three Rivers Marine (www.threeriversmarineinc.com) in Crystal River, Fla., to see if we could test the Funnel. Sales rep Jake Stoer offered the use of his dock as well as his pontoon for our test. Three Rivers Marine is the largest Qwest dealer in the state of Florida so naturally the pontoon we would be fueling up would be his Qwest.
The installation is about as simple as it comes. It takes less than five minutes to install with just two screws needed to secure the mounting bracket that is available for a flat or a curved surface. Note, for those with larger docks, you could purchase two mounts and relocate the funnel as needed since it weighs just 11 pounds.
The Funnel comes standard with a 6-foot hose, but an optional 10-and-a-half-foot hose is available and either hose will coil up and store inside the cabinet when not in use. The unit holds up to two gallons at a time and is designed as a transfer-only system and not designed to store the fuel. With the valve open, there is a chimney effect that pulls the vapors out so there is no fuel smell after.
Controlling The Flow
We were able to pour in five gallons of fuel in about 50 seconds, but you can throttle it down if desired. The stainless steel ball valve allows maximum flow with exceptional corrosion resistance and you can start and stop fuel from flowing or minimize the flow when fueling smaller tanks. Plus the aircraft-grade, machined, aluminum-construction nozzle provides decades of effective, no-drip fueling.
The clean look of the sleek and compact cabinet helps it blend in and not look out of place. The system makes transferring fuel very easy and as an added bonus, the LilliPad Marine Funnel is also ideal for keeping fuel out of the water since we could all be a little more environmentally conscious. During our photo shoot we noticed the manatees swimming around the Qwest pontoon and you know if there was even a drop of fuel in the water they could smell it and would have been out of there, so this really drove home the fact that it’s not only easy, but environmentally responsible too.
Priced at $289.99, we feel the value is here to support it and like Lillipad’s diving boards, this might just become the next big thing for our segment of the boating industry.
Product Score 93
Video on LilliPad website