Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Propulsion: Latest Tier 3 Engines Hit the Sweet Spot


July 1, 2019

The Reutov Boats-built Bristol Bay gillnetter Plain Jane is motivated by two Cummins QSC 8.3 liter diesels each producing 600 hp at 2,800 rpm for a top speed of 42 knots in trials, with full tanks and a load of supplies. Photo by Joe Reutov.

Once again, a majority of new boat and new engine sales were for Alaska gillnetters over the last year, despite the unpredictable 2018 season. Apparently, enough money was made on Bristol Bay to send another wave of orders back to the boatyards of the Pacific Northwest. This year, we've cast our journalistic net as far as possible to land a good catch of reports from most of the marine engine dealers and the leading builders.

With the latest generation of gillnet boats being pretty well maxed out for capacity, speed continues to be the biggest factor for all these owners, followed by fuel efficiency, and reduced noise and vibration. The new performance standard appears to be a single-engine boat that can reach 30 knots unladen, and 40 knots is fast becoming the target for twin engines. The engine manufacturers are well aware of the 805 horsepower barrier, where an engine jumps from EPA Tier 3 to Tier 4, which is far more demanding, so they are all offering products with power ratings in the 600-800 hp range. This gives gillnetters a wide range of brands and systems to choose from.

For those skippers who want to upgrade with a limited budget, we also have accounts of some interesting re-powers. If you are thinking about a conversion, don't assume you can just drop a new engine in an old boat and hook it up. Engine ratings and power curves change, but your reduction gear ratio is fixed and your waterjet needs a specific power and rpm to reach peak efficiency. So check with the engine dealer first! All the engines described below are diesels based on six-cylinder inline blocks with common-rail fuel systems unless stated otherwise. They all meet the EPA's Tier 3 standards.

Ford Raptor (Gasoline)

We'll kick this off with the only gasoline engines we encountered. Reutov Boats in rural Clackamas County, Oregon (southeast of Portland) keeps a low profile, but has sent almost 70 aluminum bowpickers to the Copper River and Prince William Sound in the last decade, Fred Reutov told me. The latest pair are the Chow Chow and the Colorado, 33 feet by 11.6 feet and powered by twin 410-hp Ford Raptor 460 mains, coupled to HamiltonJet HJ241 jets. "I've fished the Copper River for more than 20 years and that combination has worked very well for us, easily making 30 to 40 knots," he stated.

The Raptor marine V-8 by Indmar is based on the Ford Tough 6.2L 16 Valve V8 SOHC block that powers the F-Series Super Duty trucks. It features dual spark plugs and a new marine oil-pan. Indmar also has its own proprietary waterjet – the EcoJet – with an exclusive rudder and steering nozzle to deliver good maneuverability at all speeds.


However, Reutov set his sights on a Bristol Bay boat last year and designed a new sternpicker for his own use. The Plain Jane is 32 feet by 15 feet with a new bottom shape that can handle the output of two Cummins QSC 8.3 liter diesels each producing 600 hp at 2800 rpm. Pushing Hamilton HJ 364 jets via ZF 305 transmissions, the result is impressive. He has reached a top speed of 42 knots in trials, with full tanks and a load of supplies, he confirmed.

He was just one of several builders taking advantage of an increase in the ratings of Cummins popular QSC 8.3 liter engine. "We've recently changed some of our ratings for smaller boats and have a higher horsepower available for 'Light Duty Commercial' boats now. This opens the door for us in fisheries like Bristol Bay and Prince William Sound," Mike Fourtner of Cummins explained to us.

The Flying Lady is a 1996 aluminum hull built on the Columbia River by the Beaver Valley shop in Clatskanie, Oregon and based in Naknek. Owner Sal Papetti had it shipped down to Colony Wharf in Bellingham, Washington for a complete re-power. Phil Erickson and Nick Downs removed the old 460-hp engines and installed a pair of Cummins QSC 8.3s coupled to Hamilton waterjets via Twin Disc MG5075SC gears at 1.22:1 ratio. The boat sea-trialled at more than 35 knots.

A pair of identical 32-foot by 16-foot tower boats from Alaskan yard Peregrine Falcon are powered by twin 550-hp Cummins turning Thrustmaster 15-inch jets. The boats were trucked from the Eagle River shop near Anchorage to Homer to install wheelhouses and finish rigging. These "through-pickers" weigh about 26,000 pounds with a 16-inch draft and will certainly attract attention on Bristol Bay.


North River Boats in Roseburg in southern Oregon launched its first Bristol Bay boat in 2018 and landed an order for another 32-foot by 15-foot model from a Naknek fisherman last fall. Tim Sandeman of Cascade Engine told us they supplied a compact Scania Di 13 088M, producing 750 hp at 2,300 rpm, turning a Thrustmaster HI500 water Jet via a ZF 360 Gearbox. Mike Blocher with North River said the F/V Double Bluff ran great at 28.5 knots average, maxing out at 30 knots with a little current during the sea trial on the Coos River and in Coos Bay.

Thrustmaster says this model has a 20-inch impeller that delivers high dynamic thrust for speed and will also give more than 3 tons of bollard pull – roughly double that of typical high speed jets. (North River offers two brands of waterjet for a single engine application, the Thrustmaster of Texas Hi500 and the NAMJet Traktor TJ611HH.)

Lee Shore Boats of Port Angeles, Washington launched two more aluminum 32-foot by 16-foot Bristol Bay boats for the 2019 season to the same design as the Osprey in 2018. The original hull design is by Dick Smitha of Norcraft Marine & Design in Anacortes, Washington. The builders say the top house layout gives maximum comfort for the crew while maintaining a large efficient working deck.

They are all powered by a single Scania Di 13L 750-hp engine featuring XPI (Extra High Pressure Injection) for fuel efficiency and high torque. The Osprey is fitted with a NAMjet Traktor TJ611 via a ZF360 reduction gear while the new Mera is propelled by a Thrustmaster Hi500 jet. A third version with a NAMjet was delivered to Colony Wharf Marine in Bellingham for fitting out.


Brian Cook reports that his business, RDI Marine of Seattle, sold a dozen of the popular 730 hp MAN D2676 engines. Seven went to Mavrik Marine in La Conner, Washington where they continue to have a full order book for Bristol Bay boats, with MAN engines the top choice. Mavrik installed the D 2676 in its standard propeller-driven PB32 models, and the first of the new Raised Top House (RTH 32) design by George Dauber. It's called the Venture and is for George's own use.

Velocity Marine and Fabrication in Sedro Wooley, Washington installed a MAN D 2676 in a custom 32-foot by 15-foot hull, the Skitt Fiske of Dillingham, Alaska. It's coupled to another Thrustmaster HI 500 jet. That combination delivered 29 knots at full throttle and still managed to get on plane with an 8,000-lb load, said Velocity founder Rob Smith. (Skitt Fiske means "bad fishing luck" in Norwegian, but is traditionally used as a friendly greeting.)

This German-made 12.42-liter engine produces 537 kW (730 hp) at 2,300 RPM, with a rating of commercial/light duty, yet weighs only 2,623 lbs. in a keel cooled version. It is a development of a truck engine that is used all over the world. Cook noted that he sold a couple more MAN's for repowers, and also distributes Nanni engines from France. He sold four 750- and 800-hp models to Alaskan builders.

John Deere

Jim Wegley recently revived his family's well-known fiberglass boat shop Wegley Boat J Enterprises to mold the prototype of the new XX Jumbo model with a 14.5' beam. The owner is Alaska fisherman Keith "Corky" Singleton who chose a 425-hp John Deere 6090 AFM 85 turning a 26- by 26-inch four-blade propeller through a Twin Disc 2:1 gear. With two feet of extra beam on the XX, the Miss Heather can pack up to 20,000 pounds, Wegley estimated. The catch is chilled by an IMS hydraulic RSW system.

The Graycie Lynn is also a 32-foot fiberglass hull, but that's where the similarity ends, since it's a bowpicker that is waterjet-propelled. The hull was designed in the 1990's with a 10.5-foot beam by Freddie Marine in Homer. Owner Marty Wise fishes on the Copper River Delta and has been running a single 425-hp (317-kW) John Deere 9-liter engine turning an UltraJet 305HT water jet through a ZF transmission. This propulsion system gave the boat a respectable 20 knots at 1,800 rpm with a top-end speed of 30 knots, and the ability to maneuver around drift nets in the shallow waters of the delta.

The engine performed well, but after a few years, Wise realized he wanted more speed: "I work in a high-speed fishery that is dominated by high-speed gas-powered boats. So everybody goes fast, even with a load of fish on," he explained. "If you can't, you're behind everybody." Bill Greenstreet, a longtime friend and John Deere dealer in Homer, suggested Wise convert the Graycie Lynn into a twin-jet and re-power it with four-cylinder JD 4045S 4.5L PowerTech engines producing 275-315 hp (205-235 kW), and new ZF 220 transmissions turning Hamilton 274s with 10-inch jets.

The boat's engine space was gutted and the hull given new engine beds and other upgrades over the winter. Greenstreet noted the engine's high power-to-weight ratio that delivers impressive torque in a compact package. "The first thing I noticed was the power. At half throttle, we cruised 20 knots and hit 36 knots full throttle," Wise recalled. "I am also surprised the two engines are so quiet; they're very smooth-running – I'm very impressed!"

Fuel efficiency improved, too. "I was burning a gallon a mile with the original engine and that's efficient. But now the boat is only consuming 0.6 gallons per mile, so I'm way below what I expected, which I'm very excited about. This has made a huge improvement and there has been a lot of interest in the Graycie Lynn's repower," he explained.

Volvo Penta

Bob Briscoe and Bob Jackson of Bellingham put an 800-hp Volvo Penta D13 engine in the 50-foot fiberglass combo boat they bought from Millennium Marine in New Brunswick in eastern Canada. The wide-bodied hull has a beam of just more than 16 feet and a transom width of 15.5 feet. The recommended propeller is 40 inches by 44 inches for a top speed of 14 knots at 2,300 rpm. Maritime Fabrication of La Conner also fitted a single Volvo D13 engine – known for high torque at low rpm – in one of their 39-foot fiberglass hulls, for Frank White of Haines, Alaska, for gillnetting in SE Alaska.

On the lower power side, Volvo's range begins with small 150-hp units, suitable for skiffs and small crabbers. Matrix Marine in Dillingham, Alaska re-powered two small Bristol Bay boats with single Volvo Penta D6-330-hp engines. West Coast Marine in Bellingham completed a big order for re-powering a fleet of small tribal boats with D6-330-hp engines for gillnetting and crabbing and ACI Boats in Port Townsend fitted twin D4-225-hp sterndrive packages and a big hydraulic system in a 34-foot aluminum troller for Brett Zanglein of Sitka, Alaska.

The Volvo group's wide range includes the original D 13 truck engine found in American truck fleets and currently in operation in more than 450,000 heavy-duty applications, including trucks and construction equipment. Volvo has also introduced a new propulsion option that has not yet been seen in a gillnetter – the Volvo IPS steerable Z-drive. They claim this can dramatically increase performance; it has been successfully fitted in fast patrol boats and pilot boats powered by twin D13's producing 1,600 hp. Field data has shown that the IPS provides up to 20 percent faster speed, 30 percent lower fuel consumption and 15 percent faster acceleration when compared to a traditional inboard shaft drive.

Giddings Boatworks

Of the larger, full displacement boats, the 79-foot by 35-foot trawler Evie Grace launched last summer at Giddings Boatworks in Charleston, Oregon made headlines as the first boat built under the new US Coast Guard rules for fishing vessels under 80 feet. Any longer and an official American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) load line is required, adding expense and red tape. So the aim for the naval architect, Patrick Eberhardt P.E. at Coastwise Corporation in Anchorage, was to match the capacity of the traditional Alaskan trawler in the 90-foot to 100-foot range.

The design features high freeboard and a full bow to maximize the hull volume. The capacity of the fish hold, lined with stainless steel, is 400,000 lbs., which reduces the length of the engine room that houses a total of four Cummins engines. The main propulsion is provided by a Tier 3 QSK38-1,300 hp at 1,800 rpm Continuous Duty that turns an 80-inch five bladed stainless propeller in a Kort nozzle via a 6-inch AQ-17 stainless steel intermediate shaft and an AQ-22 Stainless 7-inch tail shaft with a Thordon dripless seal.

With one 410-hp Cummins QSL9 powering the hydraulics, there was not enough space for the two QSB7-210 kw gen-sets without reducing access for maintenance. The solution was to place them on top of the port and starboard fuel tanks, which opens the space and leaves enough room for a workbench and tool rack. The two IMS chillers are located on the main deck aft of the house in a pair of narrow chiller compartments that also contain the compressors and all controls. Homeport for the F/V Evie Grace is Kodiak, Alaska.

Fred Wahl Marine

Fred Wahl in Reedsport, Oregon, delivered their latest 58-by 28.5-foot combination boat, the F/V Halcyon, to bering sea fisherman and North Pacific Fishery Management Council member Buck Laukitis. Jim Zimmer, Wahl's project manager, said the vessel has two fish holds with a combined capacity of 4,080 cubic feet and a bait hold of 880 cubic feet. The main engine room is a Mitsubishi S6R-Y3MPTAW-1, a propulsion system that puts out 684 hp at 1,800 rpm and is ideal for heavy-duty workboat applications, such as tugboats and cargo ships, says Mitsubishi Turbocharger and Engine America Inc. (MTEA).

The 79-foot by 35-foot trawler Evie Grace is propelled by a Cummins Tier 3 QSK38 providing 1,300 hp at 1,800 rpm. Photo by Peter Marsh.

This powerplant is unique in reaching Tier 3 compliance in a fully mechanically controlled package. The new S6R series from MTEA has a 170 mm x 180 mm engine bore and delivers 24.5 liters of cylinder volume – up to 30 percent more than the 600- to 700-hp electronically controlled systems with an 18- to 19-liter displacement. This means the engine doesn't have to work as hard to produce a given horsepower. It is also up to 30 percent heavier at 6,239 lbs., which leads to longer service life.

Utilizing smart engineering and simple mechanical governor controls, with direct injection and air-cooled turbocharger, the engine is more reliable, more fuel efficient and easier to maintain. Further responding to market requests, the new model includes a mechanical boost compensator to reduce black smoke on acceleration. Hatton Marine is the Pacific Northwest dealer.


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