By Ken Schultz
I’ve been using a personal computer since about 1980. But that doesn’t mean I know much about Ram and ROM, processors and display drivers, or can do any more “programming” than I could back in college when I took a course in the now-ancient Cobalt and Fortran computer languages. But I can get normal things done on a computer just fine.
I’ve been driving a car since I was 16. But I can’t repair one and I don’t know a piston from a manifold and I’m lucky if I can even point to the carburetor. But I’m a pretty good auto driver, even with those smaller rental cars I often have to use.
And, I’ve been boating even longer than I’ve been driving a car or using a computer. I had a little hydroplane as a youngster and raced around the lake where my family summered, probably annoying fishermen there much like today’s personal watercraft users do. But I couldn’t tell you a thing about outboard engines other than how to start them, fuel them, and clean them. I retract that last item; I rarely clean the outside of my outboards.
As with the computers and autos that I’ve owned, my boat must have an engine that runs flawlessly, and, in general, is a utilitarian device that I don’t have to spend time tinkering with. I just want to have it start whenever I turn the key, get me where I need to fish, and
(especially today) not burn a hole in my wallet. It would also be nice if I didn’t have to suck in blue smoke and could hear myself think when it’s running.
That’s the way it’s been with a Suzuki 90 hp four-stroke motor that I bought five years ago to replace a 90 hp Honda two-stroke that went bad. And, to-date I love that motor and its reliability, quiet operation, and fuel efficiency. I remember when I first got a taste of then-fairly-new four-stroke technology.
In 2005 I spent a few days on Table Rock Lake in Missouri at the global press launch for Suzuki Marine’s new Big Block 150 and 175 hp four-stroke outboards. Most of the assembled folks were boating gearheads. They drooled over deep-diving commentary about displacement, volumetric efficiency, variable valve timing, composite intake manifolds, downdraft throttle body, multi-stage induction, and fuel coolers, much of which was as meaningful to me as Greek, a language I took for one year in high school and showed no proficiency in.
Mixed in the conversation were sexy, macho phrases like instant blast of power, the smoothest motors you’ll ever experience, bigger is better.
It was most appealing to me to hear these non-technical words: better fuel economy, quiet operation, environmentally friendly (i.e. cleaner) motors.
Suzuki had assembled a dozen boats equipped with these new engines, and the first one that I stepped into was right up my alley: a 17-foot aluminum Triton bass boat with a 150 horsepower engine. There was no smoking with that outboard, as happened with all of those nasty two-stroke motors which must have oil and gas mixed together. And, the motor was so quiet that while sitting in the marina stall I kept looking back to see if it was really on.
That boat, and others that I tested, ran like melted butter, with super acceleration. You could hold a conversation in the back of the boat and actually hear what someone else was saying. And, they ran at very slow trolling speeds without fouling (no oil in the gas).
I remember instantly falling in love with the the safety restart feature. Seems that so many people were turning the ignition key when the motor was already on (there’s the quiet thing again), that Suzuki’s engineers put in an override feature to prevent you from re-cranking when the motor’s already running. I have since done that more than once with my own engine.
I love not having to mix oil and gas anymore, I regularly get my motor serviced, just like my cars, and I only feed it non-ethanol fuel (that’s a whole differrent topic). I was pretty upset when my 7-year-old Honda, which I bought used and had very low hours on it, became a worthless piece of crap and I had to spend the money for a new engine. I have many friends who are still using a two-stroke motor (and who admire the fuel efficiency of my motor, btw), but I wouldn’t go back for anything.
Thanks for checking out my blog commentary on all things fishing-related. Please follow, share, and enjoy, but make sure you get out on the water as often as possible. Good fishing!
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