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Jet drive??


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Any of you guys have experience with an outboard jet drive on your boat? I was thinking about upgrading from my 40 hp mercury to a jet. I asked a guy on the river today if he liked his and he said it was a pain in the butt with a lot upkeep, just wondering if this is the norm or if he just had some bad luck. I don't know anyone else that has one so any info would be appreciated.

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Up here in Alaska we use jet drives a lot...in both inboard and outboard configuration. Conventional wisdom says you'll lose roughly 1/3 of your horsepower with the impeller vs the propeller. Not only will weeds clog your intake grate, rocks will too. Really small rocks and gravel will make it through the grate and be spit out the back. Over time this erodes your impeller which will then require sharpening and shimming. Occasionally, some rocks will lodge in the intake grate and you'll quickly notice the loss in thrust. When that happens, you kill the motor, tilt it up and pull the rocks out...usually with a pliers.


If you plan on running in really shallow water your other options are a Go-devil type of surface drive or what some people up here call a jack&$$ lift. In other words, you run a prop and when the water gets too shallow, you slam the prop out of the water to glide over the shallow gravel bar and then drop it back down once the water is deeper. The jack&$$ lift isn't really a viable option IMHO.


Most people up here run jets in shallow water and props in deeper rivers, lakes and saltwater. Some swap between jet and prop drives based on where they are running. In some rivers up here you really don't have a choice. If you want to hunt or fish it ya gotta run a jet.


As far as maintainance goes, after each use, ya take your grease gun and lube one fitting and you're done. There's not much to jet drives. Be sure to check all your bolts connecting the jet "foot' to the "bowl" to make sure they are tight and you're ready to go.


They are very reliable. Without a second thought to reliability, we will run 60 miles up a river to go pike fishing, camp for a couple days and come home. I know folks who will run them for several hundred miles down the Yukon River before stopping to hunt or fish. We even take em into saltwater and halibut fish when the weather cooperates. The only time I've had a serious problem with a jet we couldn't fix on the spot was when the entire foot held on by 9 bolts fell off in the Yukon River. I had to drive 100+ miles back to Fairbanks to pick up a replacement. Had we checked those bolts before putting the boat in the water that wouldn't have happened.


In my view, the most cost effective solution is to buy a new lower unit with a jet for your current 40 horsepower motor and swap out between jet and prop when you need to. Of course, you could always buy a new motor with factory jet and buy a seperate lower unit and prop for it if you're itchin to get a new one. Feel free to email me with more specific questions if you have any.

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I'm not sure how old or what brand of motor you're runnin but I've seen jets on just about everything. I would start by contacting the manufacturer of your motor or a local dealer to find out what's available. I don't know what state you are in but the west coast (Washington, Oregon etc.) should have some for sale. This link should get you started. http://www.outboardjets.com/index.php


When it comes time to mount it, you'll need to ensure it sits at the correct height to get the maximum performance. Many folks in my area are now running boats with tunnel hulls so the jet foot is slightly above the bottom of the boat in line with the tunnel. Flat bottom boats work too, the jet foot is mounted slightly below the bottom of the boat when viewed from behind.



Jets will run in pretty shallow water. It all depends on your horsepower and load. My concept of a marsh might be different from yours based on where I live. In a marsh up here, folks use airboats cause a jet will just suck weeds into the intake grate and clog it. Sandy creeks are no problem as the sand usually just gets sucked in and blown out the back. We often run a 20ft Alweld with a 115 e-tec through a couple inches of water with no problem. As long as we stay on step we're good. If we slow down we run the risk of gettin hung up. Jets are not the end all be all of watercraft but with the right boat and horsepower and load you can run in water a lot shallower than you think.

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After doing some research and talking to some dealers it looks like a jet on my 40hp mercury with my boat wouldn't be much more than a strong trolling motor:eek: It looks like I will need a bigger motor to get some decent perfomance. I priced the Mercury Optimax 80hp Jet at $6885 so I need to start saving.

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