Tuesday, November 9, 2010

electric pod

The thinking behind all this mucking about with an electric pod is that when using our current boat, the outboard motor is one of the bits of the experience that I like least. Typically, we find a ramp at a sheltered place, motor out of that place, sail, and then repeat the motoring process. It's nice to have the capacity to move the boat in the event of rigging failure or loss of wind, but the fuel, the noise and the fuss and drama just don't fit the rest of the experience. Then when I get home, I have to run the motor in a bucket to clean it out. Boring.
I quite like pottering slowly. In fact moving slowly is something I'd like to learn to do more frequently. I'd also like to learn how to relax and not feel guilty about not achieving stuff, and not getting things done. Learning to sit still is one of my ambitions. Maybe one day, I'll even sit still long enough to get some line on my rod and fling the hook into some water. And wiggle it about...or whatever it is that people do when they fish.

So this Minn Kota mutation is not about hoping to move fast, but to make the two ends of a sailing trip more beautiful and peaceful. But I don't want an ugly plastic thing hanging off the end of the boat, so I'll stash it under the seat in a way that enables me to replace it with a flat hull plug when I don't need it- but maybe it will let me explore some quiet water with my one true love in peace and quiet, perhaps with a glass of something appropriate to the moment. I do believe in moments. They are one of the few things that I can believe in. And glasses. I believe in the power of a glass to expand the intensity of a moment. But not too many glasses- that is the secret, knowing which glass is the last for the moment.

More mundanely, it will also be a pleasure to be able to re-charge the batteries with home made solar electricity.

So I took courage in both hands and cut the head off a brand new Minn Kota 55lb thrust motor and have frankensteined it to a wooden fairing that will hang from a hole cut in the perfectly waterproof bottom of the boat that still hasn't met the water. The head is lying in absolute disbelief on my workbench since its decapitation. Who said the French Revolution was over? The aristocrat of electric outboards has been cleaved, beheaded, bisected, poleaxed. I cut it off, and it was a pity that my wife was not there to knit and chuckle heartily at the event.

The other complication is that these motors have speed reduction achieved through resistance, apparently. I needed to prove to it that there was no point resisting, so I've found some gadgetry from radio-controlled cars that will provide a more efficient method of controlling speed and direction, and thereby make the battery more efficient. I didn't discover this though. The real inventor was Denny Wolfe- he did this to his Arctic Tern and wrote about it on the Woodenboat Forum. I did draw my pod design a couple of years ago for the Waller 540 I built, but I never had the courage to carry it through until I saw that he had taken a very similar idea, but he KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING...(despite that I still found it hard to cut the motor in half)


  1. Ye gods! I mean you did say that fine piece of machinery was in for the chop, but to go ahead render it headless?

    Honestly, I suspect that as you ripple down the river, glass in hand, many a walker will turn and share a moment with you both.

  2. Yes. I'd love to have a sailboat on the narrow Barwon River...
    Good to hear from you Dale.

  3. I see you resist sharing how you resisted, exactly. Well, possibly your reluctance will recede.

  4. Yep it will...I just have to assemble it all, then I'll detail the bits when they are worth photographing. So at this point it is passive resistance on my part.

    1. hello, did you ever finish the installation of the min kota as a headless pod drive? I got lost trying to follow the progress of the project while meandering from one post to another.
      I have long thought of building Pathfinder, Navigator bigger brother but now I am actively looking for a Montgomery 17. I would like to add a pod behind the stub keel and the rudder and your project is of great interest. In am in the pacific NW, Vancouver Canada.

      Kind regards,