View Full Version : MOTORs

01-09-2001, 04:12 PM
Has anyone had any experience using golf cart motors (gas or electric) to power small craft?

01-09-2001, 05:54 PM
No, not yet, but have been playing with the idea of a very small gas engine to run a generator/alternator in turn supplying power to an electric motor on a shaft or leg. I have a chain saw engine striped down to it's case, fan and shaft. I mounted a "V" belt pulley on it and it easily drives a 90 amp alternator under full load, though don't know how long this rig will hold up. I've muffled down the engine to a whisper, robbing considerable power I'm sure, but the can of pissed off bee's was a bit much to take for long. I figured the chain saw engine was intended for hard duty and was a good choice. A four stroke would be a better one and diesel even better, but where can you find a real small diesel? I played with the alternator pulley sizes to keep from frying the bearings and now have a 2" on the engine and 6 1/2" on the alternator. Wish I had one of those place on shaft type tachs so I could avoid the by ear method.

Seems it could be used to charge batteries and they could run the motor(s) The engine wouldn't have to run all the time and the quite would be enjoyable. Would also seem off the shelf parts for switching batteries, isolating, rev control, over heating and auto shut down are available. I dislike the idea of a large bank of batteries.

Any thoughts?

01-10-2001, 10:19 AM
I seem to remember seeing a magazine ad somewhere recently for a small launch powered by an electric golf-cart motor. I think it might have been a Glen-L ad. Check their website: www.glen-l.com (http://www.glen-l.com)

01-10-2001, 12:00 PM
Keep in mind, whatever engine is ued it needs to be marinarized otherwise a spark could ignite any vapors and you boat could EXPLODE!!

There's some good articls in WoodenBoat on the subject. They ran a contest to design a boat using a converted Subaru engine. Followed by an article on how to properly mariarize it.

David Tabor (sailordave)
01-10-2001, 12:23 PM
See WB 137 about building a new hull for the 8 METER ANGELITA. It's a big boat but they put in an electric motor, batteries and a generator. I would love to do this as MOST folks use their boats for daysailing/light cruising. Hook up to shore power each eve. to recharge! I imagine you could do something similar.
BTW at the ANNAP. boat show the ELCO companyhad a display of a small motor setup like you envision.

PS There's only Yankees, Damn(ed) Yankees, and GOD Damn Yankees! Which are you? ;) David in VA Born, raised and lived south of the M-D line all my life!

G. Schollmeier
01-10-2001, 01:55 PM
Boatbuilder had an artical on adapting a gulf cart motor to a small boat. Using a lower unit from an outboard. I will dig it up if interested. Gary

01-11-2001, 12:55 PM
Yes I do have experience in using golf cart motors in boats. Almost 20 years ago I worked at a commercial shipyard in R.I. that had a sideline of building reproduction, late 1800's fantail launches of about 22'. The hulls were 'of that other stuff'which we then fitted out with mahogany & teak decks, floorboards, seats, etc. They were offered with either steam engines, one cylinder Easthope gasoline engines, or as electric launches. I was in charge of building them whenever an order came in. For the electric versions, the owner of the yard sent me up to Providence R.I. one snowy day to look at a bunch old electric Harley Davidson golf carts. After picking out the best half dozen I made arranfgements to have them delivered to the shipyard. As I remember we used about six big six volt batteries. I used a flat timing belt between the motor and the prop. shaft. I had to do a bit calculating to come up with approriate size pullies on either side. Being an open launch with the batteries and motor all in separate isolated compartments (not in the bilge) there did not seem to be a spark/explosion issue (very important as already noted). I don't know how they control the motor voltage now, but there were some good size wire wound resistors in those golf carts which got pretty hot in use, so I had to address that heat issue. They actually turned out rather well and performed well for the hull design. Good Luck.

01-15-2001, 11:30 AM
I'd also like to put an electric in my sailboat. I've done some searching on the web; Solomon Technologies (Electric Wheel) and ELCO seem to have the most info. Drawback to Electric Wheel is they won't let a do-it-yourselfer install alone. I've also hit some good European Electric vehicle pages.

steve sparhawk
01-18-2001, 05:35 PM
The DC electric golf cart motors give the (almost)free reverse too. They are mostly about three HP. I hav ean open offer at about $100.00ea, Get the controls ., The newer carts are really sophisticated and 36 Volt. Stay away from them unless you want to pay for the advanced charging control systems etc. BTW, the motors regenerate when going downhill. The circuitry for that is there and maybe one could use the motor as gererator somehow. hey,, we could motor up the wave and generate DOWN the wave. No, don't respond to that. I tried it once and it still adds up to a net loss. It's the old persuit of the perpetual motion machine dream. Check out Northern Supply for the small (5HP) diesel motor.

Tim S
01-18-2001, 10:08 PM
It always makes me wonder why we want to use a ton of un-necessary equipment to power a boat with electric motors. If you are going to have a combustion engine driving something it might as well be a transmission with a prop on the end! Think of the "power loss", not to mention all the pollution, when using a gas/diesel powered electrical generating device to power an electric motor to drive a boat....what's the reasoning???? I have (2) Minn Kotas(52lbs. thrust) driving my Columbia 26'Mkll...I plug into shore power..for free...I have (6)group27 Deep Cycle batteries,with a total run time at full power of about 6-7 hours, and longer if I don't run at full power. If you plan on using electrics for a few hours at a time..GREAT !..If you're going to need plenty of motoring time..stick with a combustion engine. That,s my story and I'm stick'n to it! Happy Sailing!!

[This message has been edited by Tim S (edited 01-19-2001).]

Bob Adams
01-19-2001, 12:39 PM
if you want smooth control without the waste heat of resistors, find someone who works on industrial trucks. (forklifts) The SCR or transistorized cotrols from small lift truck work great in this application, I have done several.

Paul B
11-19-2001, 01:27 PM
...Solomon Technologies (Electric Wheel)...[/B]

I'm taking a look at the Electric Wheel for a 33' wood sail boat--similar to ones they demonstrate on the web site. Anyone here with some experience or opinion about these engines?

11-19-2001, 07:07 PM
If you want to become truely knowledgeable re electric boats, go to
http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/electricboats and read their posts start to end.

My biased notion is WalMart based: buy their MinnKota elec outboard trolling motor(s), their deepcycle batteries, their 10amp deepcycle charger, and buzz on.

I do know also that while the Annapolis boat show was up and running, six of us out of StMichaels powered up our electrics for a 21 mile race. The Elco won. My boat, and unmentionable F-boat, 36v system, 230amphour capacity, came in penultimate after six hours of running--batts WAAAY down. MinKota 101 lb thrust, drawing (for the race)22 amps, puttin out about 1hp

My 24' Maxwell cutter ran for a while with a 50 lb thrust MKota, but I gave it up when the windfunnel at the Bridge of Lions swopped me about and almost ran my bowsprit, all 7', into the pilings. Panic and a week later I had a Tohatsu 5hp....BUT

My notion is now to plug two elec trolling motors into a portable genset and batteries, and cure the outboard curse of 1)hand starting 2)prop outta the water (elec trollin g motors can go DEEP) 3)Noise. When I need to regen, I'll dingy off, and noone will crowd my anchorage while the gen is running....

Bob Cleek
11-20-2001, 02:34 AM
Well, being interested in the alchemy of "clean electric powered auxilliaries," I followed up that WB article on Angelita's electric engine and got in touch with the guys that did it. Truth of the matter was they said the WB article grossly overated the engine's performance... it wasn't good for much else than backing out of the slip! They didn't advise doing it again. Very easily driven hull, the 8 meter boats. Electrics are okay for a lake launch on a quiet Sunday afternoon, but I wouldn't want to rely on one to claw off a rocky lee shore... know whadda mean?

11-21-2001, 07:08 AM
there is another thread on this on


if you haven't taken a look for a while...