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Best bow thruster for 60' wide beam


karanight

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I'm getting  a new wide beam and as I've only had a narrowboat in the past I know nothing about bow thrusters.  The builder said he's fitting a "Vetus 96kgf bow thruster" and I can't even find it on the internet. Does anyone on here know anything about it and even if it exist, and also what would you recommend for a 60' wide beam

Edited by karanight
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Try to ensure they fit a bow thruster tunnel that is thick enough to withstand years of rusting, many are very thin. On a wide beam it may be difficult to get to the middle of the tube for blacking/painting. I think some tubes are GRP so don't need painting but goodness knows how they are attached to steel.

 

Also, make sure any guard grids they fit can be easily removed from both ends to give you access.

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2 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

Try to ensure they fit a bow thruster tunnel that is thick enough to withstand years of rusting, many are very thin. On a wide beam it may be difficult to get to the middle of the tube for blacking/painting. I think some tubes are GRP so don't need painting but goodness knows how they are attached to steel.

 

Also, make sure any guard grids they fit can be easily removed from both ends to give you access.

And if it's a long tunnel don't put the thruster in the middle where it's difficult/impossible to reach to clear the prop -- offset it to one side, less than an arms length from the end of the tunnel...

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10 minutes ago, IanD said:

And if it's a long tunnel don't put the thruster in the middle where it's difficult/impossible to reach to clear the prop -- offset it to one side, less than an arms length from the end of the tunnel...

I agree, although an alternative to consider is to have a weed hatch fitted over or to one side of the impeller if it is on or near the centre line. I have had one boat which had one fitted which was useful for the removal of the occasional plastic bag., but easier, and less costly to fit during the build. 

With regard to the bow thrust itself, I prefer a hydraulic system which doesn't have some of the running time constraints unlike an electrical one, and  it is much quieter.

 

Howard

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11 minutes ago, howardang said:

I agree, although an alternative to consider is to have a weed hatch fitted over or to one side of the impeller if it is on or near the centre line. I have had one boat which had one fitted which was useful for the removal of the occasional plastic bag., but easier, and less costly to fit during the build. 

With regard to the bow thrust itself, I prefer a hydraulic system which doesn't have some of the running time constraints unlike an electrical one, and  it is much quieter.

 

Howard

I've been on a wideboat with a hydraulic thruster, and the problem was that it did very little when the engine was idling, and sometimes the last thing you want to do when using a BT is rev the engine up... 😞

 

The modern PMAC electric BTs like the Vetus Bow Pro are quieter than the old ones, are variable speed, maintenance free (no brushes) and don't have running time constraints -- unless you call 10 minutes continuously at full power (and longer at lower power) a constraint.

 

They're more expensive but IIRC still cheaper than hydraulic ones (with pump). But you do need a decent battery setup to power them for any length of time... 😉

Edited by IanD
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39 minutes ago, IanD said:

I've been on a wideboat with a hydraulic thruster, and the problem was that it did very little when the engine was idling, and sometimes the last thing you want to do when using a BT is rev the engine up... 😞

 

The modern PMAC electric BTs like the Vetus Bow Pro are quieter than the old ones, are variable speed, maintenance free (no brushes) and don't have running time constraints -- unless you call 10 minutes continuously at full power (and longer at lower power) a constraint.

 

They're more expensive but IIRC still cheaper than hydraulic ones (with pump). But you do need a decent battery setup to power them for any length of time... 😉

I have used both electric and hydraulic bow thrusts and regarding the lack of power when the engine is in idle , you're right,  but having had three boats,  all with hydraulic thrusters,  within a very short time it was no issue using the thruster, and  when more revs were needed the engine can be slipped into  neutral before applying additional revs. or indeed if required they can both be used at the same time. I would admit that it does sometimes take a little more thought and concentration but I did prefer the extra flexibility when manoeuvring this gave. Horse for courses I suppose but on balance I do prefer a hydraulic BT.

 

Howard

 

 

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5 hours ago, Mike Hurley said:

Bow thruster 95 kgf, 12 V, tunnel Ø 185 mm.

 

Its on Vetus website, took me 10 seconds to find it. Its 95 not 96kgf.

When I looked on the website it only took me 9 seconds to find that one  but I was asking  if the 96 existed because that's the number on the spec for the boat.  

 

 

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22 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

I think some tubes are GRP so don't need painting but goodness knows how they are attached to steel.

 

 

I've never heard of a GRP BT tunnel fitted to a steel canal boat. I think maybe you just invented that system Tony! 🤣

Edited by blackrose
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18 hours ago, howardang said:

I have used both electric and hydraulic bow thrusts and regarding the lack of power when the engine is in idle , you're right,  but having had three boats,  all with hydraulic thrusters,  within a very short time it was no issue using the thruster, and  when more revs were needed the engine can be slipped into  neutral before applying additional revs. or indeed if required they can both be used at the same time. I would admit that it does sometimes take a little more thought and concentration but I did prefer the extra flexibility when manoeuvring this gave. Horse for courses I suppose but on balance I do prefer a hydraulic BT.

 

Howard

 

 

 

I've also used both electric and hydraulic BTs and don't agree with this. I prefer independent systems. The last thing I'd want to do when handling a big boat at close quarters with other boats or structures is having to slip the engine into neutral and rev it to get enough pressure into a hydraulic system to make the BT work and then quickly slip the engine back to propulsion again so as not to crash into anything. On the other hand, if an electric BT system is properly set up and not overused then there should be plenty of power and no messing around with the main engine revs.

Edited by blackrose
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21 minutes ago, blackrose said:

 

I've also used both electric and hydraulic BTs and don't agree with this. I prefer independent systems. The last thing I'd want to do when handling a big boat at close quarters with other boats or structures is having to slip the engine into neutral and rev it to get enough pressure into a hydraulic system to make the BT work and then quickly slip the engine back to propulsion again so as not to crash into anything. On the other hand, if an electric BT system is properly set up and not overused then there should be plenty of power and no messing around with the main engine revs.

Agreed. The hydraulic systems do sound like a better option, but in use apart from the reving the engine factor its also a case of you dont get anything for nothing. If the thruster is needed in anger at the same time as propulsion is needed then power is down at the prop/props. If a suitably sized lectric thruster is matched with plenty of batteries and a suitable charging system its a better option.

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49 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Agreed. The hydraulic systems do sound like a better option, but in use apart from the reving the engine factor its also a case of you dont get anything for nothing. If the thruster is needed in anger at the same time as propulsion is needed then power is down at the prop/props. If a suitably sized lectric thruster is matched with plenty of batteries and a suitable charging system its a better option.

Fair enough;  I did say that it was, on balance,  my own personal  preference. In my view both systems have good and not so good points, both in usage  and cost. It's a good thing I suppose that we are all different, but like many things in boating there there are more ways than one to do things and that happens to be mine.🙂

 

Howard

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Just now, howardang said:

Fair enough;  I did say that it was, on balance,  my own personal  preference. In my view both systems have good and not so good points, both in usage  and cost. It's a good thing I suppose that we are all different, but like many things in boating there there are more ways than one to do things and that happens to be mine.🙂

 

Howard

I wasnt having a go old sport, as you say theres more than one way to skin a cat.

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3 hours ago, blackrose said:

 

I've never heard of a GRP BT tunnel fitted to a steel canal boat. I think maybe you just invented that system Tony! 🤣

 

All I know is that I am sure I have seen GRP bow thruster tubes advertised, Vetus I think. I did say I had no idea how they would be attached to a steel boat

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Well I've taken onboard (pun not intended) everything said on here and I thank you all for your input.  I'm seeing the builder for final specs on Tuesday and I'll use some info from here to get the system I think will be right for me.

You're all stars in your own way

Edited by karanight
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Get your builder to use epoxy blacking inside the tube and weedhatch. If the steel is prepared properly it should last many years (my BT tube epoxy blacking showed no signs of wear after 12 years) as it won't be subject to knocks, only wear from the BT propellor.

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On 25/09/2022 at 10:16, blackrose said:

 

I've also used both electric and hydraulic BTs and don't agree with this. I prefer independent systems. The last thing I'd want to do when handling a big boat at close quarters with other boats or structures is having to slip the engine into neutral and rev it to get enough pressure into a hydraulic system to make the BT work and then quickly slip the engine back to propulsion again so as not to crash into anything. On the other hand, if an electric BT system is properly set up and not overused then there should be plenty of power and no messing around with the main engine revs.

 

Having been in exactly this situation, I agree, What's worse still -- and what I found really annoying -- is that if you're already using the engine/prop to move the stern of the boat, having to rev it up for the BT messes this up -- and taking it out of gear even more so, never mind the sheer hassle (rev down to idle, take out of gear, rev up, BT on, then BT off, rev down to idle, engage gear, rev back up) compared to just turning the BT on. I don't understand Howard's comment about "extra flexibility", the opposite seems to be the case.

 

And I certainly wouldn't have described the hydraulic BT as "quiet" either...

 

The duration/overheating problem with electric BT is certainly an issue with old ones, but not modern ones -- which cost more, but IIRC are still cheaper than a hydraulic one plus the engine pump and piping.

 

Any reputable builder should black the inside of the BT tube as standard -- preferably with two-pack epoxy, like the hull -- at the same time the hull is done. If they don't, it doesn't say much for their quality... 😉

Edited by IanD
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On our barge the BT was electric but a 3phase 10kw motor which ran off the generator so if going to use had to start genny which fired up straight away and leave it running until the need was over. No problem but actually it was very rare that it was needed only reversing out of tight or bendy moorings.

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7 minutes ago, Dav and Pen said:

On our barge the BT was electric but a 3phase 10kw motor which ran off the generator so if going to use had to start genny which fired up straight away and leave it running until the need was over. No problem but actually it was very rare that it was needed only reversing out of tight or bendy moorings.

I think a battery bank should be able to run the BT without having to fire up the generator, same as for "gas-free" boats and cooking.

 

For big BT you need a big battery bank (preferably LFP since currents are high), but more and more boats have these anyway nowadays.

Edited by IanD
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On 24/09/2022 at 11:52, Tony Brooks said:

Try to ensure they fit a bow thruster tunnel that is thick enough to withstand years of rusting, many are very thin. On a wide beam it may be difficult to get to the middle of the tube for blacking/painting. I think some tubes are GRP so don't need painting but goodness knows how they are attached to steel.

 

Also, make sure any guard grids they fit can be easily removed from both ends to give you access.

@Tony BrooksBrooks just a note to say how much I admire your contributions, and your patience.

Jo.

It's two years since I got a gold star on here, I expect you get one most days, well deserved.

Edited by LadyG
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On 25/09/2022 at 13:40, Tony Brooks said:

 

All I know is that I am sure I have seen GRP bow thruster tubes advertised, Vetus I think. I did say I had no idea how they would be attached to a steel boat

 

They're not. They're generally attached to GRP boats.

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