The Great Torqeedo Challenge
Because of a generous loan from Kevin and Alison Jeffries I was able to test the Torqeedo 1003 electric outboard motor. I have an inexpensive 7.5′ roll up inflatable boat that I used as a test boat. What I found was a little surprising to me.
I did not expect “Mr. T” to have as much power as it did. I ran it fast and slow for about 30 minutes and put it through it’s paces. I docked it and approached the boat and swim platform to simulate being on the hook.
The Pros: Powerful, quiet and simple are the selling points but you never know. It is definitely true. The motor is easy to put on the transom of the dinghy because it is so light with the battery off. You can easily hold it in place with one hand and tighten the clamps with the other. It looks like the handles can be lined up and locked like most small outboards. The battery slips easily in place and locks with a special pin. I think if I was leaving the boat on shore I might run a bicycle cable through the battery handle and lock it to the boat as a precaution. The motor tilts easily like a normal outboard and locks in place so you can drag the boat up the beach. I didn’t see the lock down on the other side until after the first time I tested reverse. It was just like when I was a little kid again and the prop popped up out of the water. It was a little embarrassing with the Dockmaster watching. Surprisingly I was able to get the little 7.5′ boat on plane when I leaned forward in the boat. That was a shock.
The Cons: Care must be taken when connecting the cables not to cross thread the plastic fittings. The tiller and throttle were very stiff. If this wasn’t a borrowed motor I probably would have tried a few modifications to make these easier. The throttle was similar to the early electric shift controls on boats with a slight delay. Initially I had a tendency to click the throttle out of the detent and keep turning until the motor started going. By the time the prop was engaged it jumped forward (or reverse). After a few near water landings I learned to turn and wait. It starts out so slow that you have better maneuverability than a gas motor when placed in gear. Same thing for the stiffness of turning the motor. It is so tight when you want to make small adjustments the stiffness makes you over correct. There is a collar that looks like it could be adjusted. The last con is interesting that Torqeedo didn’t think of it. The tiller arm easily lifts up and down like most outboards but if you lift it all the way up it comes out. There is no stop that I found to have it up but not held in place. It’s minor but I wanted to lift it up out of the way and have it secure. I worried that I would lift the tiller and have it hang by the two cables.
Final thoughts: All in all I loved it. Mr. T could easily power a larger tender. The boat I have has a flat bottom and would have benefited from a keel. Even the inflatable type keel in some small boats would have helped. I used 8% of the battery during 30 minutes I was running it. The charger is the size of a computer adapter rated at 2.0 amps. It took an hour or so to top off. The charger draws so little it can recharge the unit from our house batteries and inverter overnight. With a little throttle modification kids (or grandkids!) can run the dinghy for a long period of time. Maybe all day. The next test would be to run it a lot and row home if necessary.
A BIG THANK YOU to Kevin and Alison!