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Considering Lehr 5HP for my boat and have some quesitons/concerns

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  • Considering Lehr 5HP for my boat and have some quesitons/concerns

    I own a 21 foot sailboat and I currently have a Tohatsu 6HP Sail-Pro motor. The motor starts on the first or second pull and generally runs well. But I've also had my share of gasoline problems. Now I seem to have finally figured out how to mitigate most of those problems by using stabilizers, keeping the tank full, keeping the gas fresh and running the motor dry at the end of each day and thoroughly cleaning the carb at the beginning of each season. (I know that running the motor dry is controversial, but I'm not interested in re-hashing it here. It works for me, your mileage may vary). However, adding stabilizer, running the motor dry, changing the gas every few weeks and carb cleaning are just added maintenance that I'd like to eliminate. Therefore I'm considering a Lehr propane powered 5HP long shaft outboard. It seems like it could be an ideal solution for someone like me that only runs the motor for short periods to get into and out of my dock.

    With all that being said, I have some questions regarding Lehr products and support:

    1. Service: In the event that I have a problem, where do I bring the motor? I can bring my Tohatsu a couple miles up the road for factory service. I'm not interested in having to bring my motor hundreds of miles for factory service in the event that I have a problem I am unable to solve on my own.

    2. Parts: What is the availability of maintenane parts like impellers, thermostats, etc...? For my motor I can order parts direct from my dealer or from a host of various internet sites. Does Lehr have the same availability of parts?

    3. Safety: I'm not looking to start a war about the perceived dangers of propane versus gasoline. However, there are a host of various regulations for propane powered industrial vehicles such as fork trucks (most notably NFPA 58). I haven't seen the same thing for marine engines. What sort of safety precautions are necessary to ensure safe installation and oepration? Are there any industry regulations that come into play here? How about ABYC recommendations? Any insurance ramifications? Does Lehr offer any guidance when it comes to installing a larger tank into a boat rather than using the 1 lb camping canisters?

    4. Quality: Rumors abound that Lehr motors are manufactured in China and are essentially a poor Yamaha knock off. I have no proof one way or the other and am not looking to propogate potentially false rumors. I'd also like to point out that not all Chinese manufacturers are the same and it is quite possible to get a high quality product built in China. But I am interested in understanding the origin of the main components as well as the final assembly location. What is the design origin of the powerhead and drivetrain? Are they in fact based on Yamaha designs?

    5. Some last, little tidbits: I have only seen a 2.5HP Lehr in person and four things immediately jumped out at me. The first is that the cowl seems very flimsy. The second is that the latches seemed fragile and difficult to use. Third, the tilt mechanism seemed a bit "clunky"...only one position and it just didn't seem as robust as what I'm used to. Finally, what happens when the 1lb camping tank isn't connected? It seems that the cowl is shaped in a way to ensure that any water or debris that might collect will inevitably find it's way directly through the opening in the cowl and into the motor itself. The motor that I looked at was older and I've been lead to understand that at least some of these concerns have been addressed with newer designs. However, what has been the experience here?

    Thanks everyone! Looking forward to learning about this newcomer to the outboard market. Again, I think propane might be the way to go for sailboaters or dinghy's that don't get used very often and I'm hopeful that Lehr can fill this niche.

  • #2
    Re: Considering Lehr 5HP for my boat and have some quesitons/concerns

    Howdy,


    I have similar questions I suppose.... There'll be a lot more answers as more and more people get these engines and report on operation, service, etc. Also, I'll bet there'll be propane Tohatsu and other propane conversions if they become popular.

    I have had my Tohatsu since I bought it new in 2003. I ALWAYS run it "dry", never used Stabil or other snake oil. The last time I ran it dry, it didn't run for 2 years and started on the second pull.

    Quality: Rumors abound that Lehr motors are manufactured in China and are essentially a poor Yamaha knock off.
    Don't know. But when I was at West Marine looking under the hood of one right next to a Mercury, the difference was pretty obvious to me.

    Some last, little tidbits: I have only seen a 2.5HP Lehr in person and four things immediately jumped out at me. The first is that the cowl seems very flimsy. The second is that the latches seemed fragile and difficult to use. Third, the tilt mechanism seemed a bit "clunky"...only one position and it just didn't seem as robust as what I'm used to. Finally, what happens when the 1lb camping tank isn't connected? It seems that the cowl is shaped in a way to ensure that any water or debris that might collect will inevitably find it's way directly through the opening in the cowl and into the motor itself.
    Looking directly at the one at West, I thought the same thing. I wouldn't want to have a wake-boarder roll by me and put a wave over the back of my boat with one of those on the back......
    1987 FourWinns 211 Liberator, Originally an OMC 460 King Cobra.
    Re-powered in 2006 with a 1997 Mercruiser 7.4L Bravo III

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    • #3
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      Re: Considering Lehr 5HP for my boat and have some quesitons/concerns

      In parallel to researching Lehr I'm in the process of researching how to covert my Tohatsu to propane. The initial findings are encouraging and I feel like I may be able to pull it off for a couple hundred dollars. Tohatsu has a proven powerhead design and drive train. The only problem is crappy gas. If I can convert to propane I feel like I end up with a motor of higher quality than Lehr but with the same propane benefits.

      I'm actually very surprised that there aren't already kits to do this. I'm starting off with a generator coversion kit, the trick is getting a demand regulator with an idle circuit. Most generators only run at one speed, but obviously outboards need to run from idle to redline. I'm thinking of doing this as a winter project. If it doesn't work out I can always return it to the as built gasoline arrangment.

      You lose a little bit of power doing a conversion instead of having a motor designed specifically for propane like Lehr. With propane the compressrion ratio could be higher and the ignition timing could be advanced. These are not easily adjustable on my Tohatsu so I'm going to leave them as is. So my 6 HP Tohatsu may end up around 4.5 HP to 5 HP on propane. But for my boat, on my lake, that will be fine.
      Last edited by rsnyder518; July 24th, 2013, 11:23 AM. Reason: Additional information

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