Trolling motor as bow thruster for houseboat

Discussion in 'Electric Propulsion' started by amSteve, Oct 24, 2020.

  1. amSteve
    Joined: Jan 2017
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    Location: wisconsin

    amSteve Junior Member

    I've repowered a 36' Gibson (~10k lbs) with a pair of Merc 60 outboards. I have better steerage than the original single IO drive but with any wind present things still get a little dicy when docking. The bow has the typical Gibson exaggerated over-hang -- the fore deck being about 2.5 feet above waterline and maybe 3 feet from where the bow meets water to the extent of the deck.

    That's a pretty big area created that's basically 'dead space' and it's easy to imagine creating an enclosure that could house a retracting trolling motor head. One image that comes to mind would be creating a tube that extends down toward water level -- retracted when not needed but the head is lowered when docking.

    Obviously a typical trolling motor isn't designed for such usage but is there a way to spec a really high torque motor/prop combination that might be pressed into service for something like this? I'm willing to consider a full-grown electric motor as well.

    looking forward to your thoughts.
     
  2. BlueBell
    Joined: May 2017
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    BlueBell Ahhhhh...

    What about a little, self contained 2.5HP?
    Swivels 360 degrees.
    Ideal.
    It can even be used for economy trolling, cruising, added thrust in any direction, ie brakes!
     
  3. ondarvr
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    Location: Monroe WA

    ondarvr Senior Member

    You can get an auto deploying wireless remote operated electric motor right off the shelf.

    They are designed for large pontoon boats.
     
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  4. amSteve
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    Location: wisconsin

    amSteve Junior Member

    This sounds encouraging -- built-in remote control would be important. Any specific manufacture to point at? Is this still in the 'trolling motor' category?
     
  5. brendan gardam
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    brendan gardam Senior Member

    google minkota ulterra. they are the best brand. you could put the foot control near the helm and operate the trolling motor with your foot while you steer the boat.
     
  6. brendan gardam
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    brendan gardam Senior Member

    i would not have thought pontoon boats, they were specifically designed for pro bass fisherman.
     
  7. brendan gardam
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    brendan gardam Senior Member

  8. ondarvr
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    ondarvr Senior Member

    Yes there are Pontoon boat versions, not that much different, but marketed for them.

    Sometimes a different mount is used on a pontoon boat.
     
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  9. amSteve
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    amSteve Junior Member

    The price tag doesn't bother me so much has the cost going to so many things that don't apply to my application. E.G imaging & auto-pilot not to mention that I'd need to have a fabricator customize how the thing is mounted (my deck is close to 30 inches above the waterline).

    I'm pretty sure I'll need to build the system by combining off-the-shelf components with custom fab (including a remote steerage system). Googling is leading me to explore 'pod drive' systems.
     
  10. brendan gardam
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    Location: east gippsland australia

    brendan gardam Senior Member

    I would say the price tag does worry you because no one else mentioned it. 30 inches is no problem for a trolling motor and you could buy a normal manual deploy system for a quarter the cost of an ulterra. Trolling motors are pod drives.
     
  11. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    Location: Monroe WA

    ondarvr Senior Member

    Your application doesn't present a challenge for the current off the shelf offerings.

    Mine has a 60" shaft, and that's not the longest available.

    You can go fully optioned with auto deploy, GPS, tracking and following a route, or basic manual controlls.
     
  12. kerosene
    Joined: Jul 2006
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    Location: finland

    kerosene Senior Member

    you can use cheap PWM (pulse width modulator) controllers on most (brushed) trolling motors.

    A DIY solution but I believe quite reliable and not very hard. you can sort control where you want and have all control via the controller (motor set at full speed on the handle)

    there are a lot of videos. here is one but not necessarily the most informative.

     

  13. amSteve
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    amSteve Junior Member

    Many thanks for the feedback. It has pushed me to a different line of thinking -- first I realized that steerage isn't applicable. A fixed perpendicular thrust seems much more effective. That lead me to admit that trying to mount something at the bow wouldn't matter enough to justify the complexity involved. This product seems is made for a boat my size: ST340 Stern Thruster https://shop-us.sideshift.com/collections/monohull-bow-stern-thruster-products/products/st340-stern-thruster-2. But at 5 grand seems very over priced since $600 would get me roughly the same HP - two of 100lb thrust MinnKotas: https://www.amazon.com/Minn-Kota-Ma...1&s=boating-water-sports&sr=1-5&ts_id=3397951 seems functionally equal to the 5hp advertised by SideShift.

    I'd much prefer to give my fabricator the business and a semi-DIY solution for the controller as kerosene's suggestion.
     
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