Total Bowpicker Makeover
Ashton Callahan, of Homer, Alaska, recently repowered his aluminum bowpicker with a propulsion package supplied by Motor-Services Hugo Stamp, Inc (MSHS). The 32-foot by 12-foot F/V Brass Monkey, built by Carlson Enterprises in Kenai, Alaska, was originally powered by twin 454-cubic inch GM gas engines driving Volvo outdrives. Callahan participates in the Cook Inlet area sockeye fishery, and the gillnetter has a 10,000-lb capacity insulated hold.
The new package includes twin FNM-HPE-300 diesels providing 300 HP at 4,200 rpm driving 11.5-inch Alamarin 281 jet drives through ZF model 63 gears. With the new propulsion package, Callahan says the boat cruises at 25 knots and tops out at better than 35 knots.
"I chose MSHS primarily because they were happy to show off their product and work with me on financing," Callahan says.
He wanted the work to be done in time for the 2014 fishing season, and was concerned about rushing a complete retrofit and repower from outdrives to jets.
"The Almarin jets made the process easier for two reasons," he says. The first is that the Almarin drives install with a provided template. "You simply cut in and weld the mounting plate directly to the transom and hull, and bolt on a jet," he says. "The whole process only took the better part of a day."
The second reason, he says, is because most out-drive boats don't have room in the existing length of the engine room to accommodate a jet set up. With the majority of the Alamarin jet on the outside of the transom, there's room to mount the machinery without cramping an already small engine bay. Callahan says more space was saved due to the compact size of the FNM 300-HP diesels that are only 42 inches front to back, including the attached ZF transmission.
"This four-cylinder diesel puts out the same horsepower in comparison to a 6 cylinder Cummins," Callahan says. The difference brings not just a reduction in length but in weight as well. "The entire repower – jets, engines, and transmissions – comes in just above 2,000 lbs, with Cummins' and Hamiltons of the same performance pushing 3,000 lbs.
Callahan did all the work himself, with the help of his then-fiancée and now wife, without hiring out any help, in the parking lot of his shop next to the boat yard.
"The actual installation of all the parts was definitely the easy part. Alamarin Jet ships a complete jet unit in a crate with all lube and oil reservoirs mounted to the inside, demonstrating proper installation. They have a very easy to follow step-by-step installation guide from start to finish. Each jet has all of its own coolers, hydraulic pumps and lube and oil reservoirs so if something goes wrong somewhere then the whole system isn't shut down."
"The engine installation was relatively simple as well," Callahan says, "with fabrication of mounting bunks at 5 degrees rise being all that was required." The ZF gears were pre-installed so all that was necessary was to lower the engine onto the bunks, mount the driveshaft between the jet and gear, shim the engine accordingly and bolt it down. "Within three days of receiving the engines I was able to be on the fishing grounds," he says.
Callahan particularly appreciated the Glendinning controls installed as part of the repower. "No matter how good your power package is, the controls are what connect you to it," he says. "The Glendinnings are easy to install, all plug-and-play, and their performance is top notch."
With only a month and a half between the signing of the contract for the engines and the first opener, Callahan was concerned about the logistics of the swap. "Everyone had his work cut out for him," he says, noting that the manufacturers did a very good job of building the propulsion package within weeks of the order. The jets are made in Finland and the engines in Italy, and while there were some delays, everything came together without much holdup. The major holdup, Callahan says, came when Fed-Ex actually lost the engines. "This was a very big holdup, and when MSHS recovered the engines from Fed-Ex the engines were 5 weeks late."
Callahan says the ease of installation helped him catch up on fishing time, and MSHS has worked in compensating him for his lost time while pushing Fed-Ex to do the same.
"The performance is incredible and exactly what I hoped for," Callahan says. "I am now among the fastest boats in my fishery, which offers a huge advantage. Also the 11.5-inch jets have tons of power to be able to work my gear very effectively with ease."
The fisherman says another advantage of having the majority of the jet beyond the transom is that it offers greater maneuverability in reverse. "Most jets lack this maneuverability because the backwash normally hits the transom, but when the buckets are farther back the backwash has time to go below the boat and not hit the transom." Callahan says fuel consumption with the FNMs is also greatly reduced, to less than half of the former installed gas engines. "The performance is everything I paid for."