Yachting Life June 2014 features Lehr Outboards

New American Outboard is a Gas

Scotland’s first dealer representing a revolutionary new outboard motor has started selling propane fuelled engines from their base at Macduff.

Ian Macdonald’s Buccaneer Chandlery was appointed to represent the US made LEHR outboard range a few months ago and has already found willing buyers as far away as Lewis, writes Dave Morgan.

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Conventional in every aspect apart from a ‘plug in’ fuel supply, the single and twin cylinder units are available in 2.5hp, 5hp and 9.9hp, are easy to operate and sound like any four stroke petrol outboard.

Unlike petrol units, the LEHR units have no choke, start instantly and run smoothly from cold thanks to the 110 octane propane fuel that can be supplied as a 16.4oz plug in canister which slots into the top of the 2.5 and 5hp engines, or conventional 10lb or 20lb stand alone propane tanks that can be linked up to any of the three models.

The ‘twist ‘n go’ fuel canisters are simple to fit and remove and can be used along with a separate piped supply from a larger tank, much like a remote petrol tank.

Clean, allegedly safer than handling petrol when refuelling and offering quick throttle response with no risk of the plug fouling that can plague two strokes, the four stroke LEHR units have taken the US market by storm and are now about to do the same in Scotland, where Buccaneer expect to find customers among small boat fishermen and yachties who can use the propane powered outboards as tenders.

Lubrication

With easy tiller steering, recoil starter, twist throttle and no need for priming, the LEHR engines have electronic ignition, wet sump lubrication, three blade aluminium propellers and come with a three year warranty.

All three currently available models have a neutral gear while the two larger engines get an F-N-R gearbox. The 9.9hp model is also available with electric start as will a 15hp version that is due to be added to the range soon.

One of the big advantages of the propane fuel is that it eliminates the annual bugbear of carburettors gumming up over the winter and the dangers of over or under oiling a two stroke.

Gas consumption on the 2.5hp is claimed to be low with 2.5 hours possible at a steady 3,000rpm and an hour at 4,000rpm. With a 2.5 gallon (10lb) propane tank the same engine will run for 10 hours at 4,000rpm and 25 hours at 3,000rpm. Coupled up to a five gallon (20lb) tank the 2.5 could run for 50 hours.

With propane generally regarded as a more efficient burning fuel than petrol, the new gas outboards are set to make a big impact on the leisure boating market.

Prices start at £729 (including VAT) for a 2.5hp; £1,150 for a 5hp and £2,250 for a 9.9hp.