So I’m a boat nut, and for no good reason other than my inalienable right to pursue happiness in these United States, I took the 2860 out for an impromptu spin later in the day, after I had finished the official test. Sea conditions were different—messy, confused three-footers prevailed, not two-footers. And guess what? The boat felt different, too. Where the morning’s smoother sea state had favored sporting crisply around at the top of the rpm register, rougher conditions were now keeping me well within the midrange, a realm that seemed less oomphy and responsive by comparison.
Some days later, Regal’s propulsion engineering manager Randy Gills clarified the issue. On our Volvo Penta-powered test boat, Gills explained, Regal had decided to experiment with an optional, top-speed-boosting 2.32:1 gear ratio, as opposed to the 1.95:1 ratio the company was already having good results with. Moreover, to compensate for the diminished rotational prop-shaft speeds inherent in the higher ratio, Regal had mounted F7 prop sets (with more pitch, among other things), not the F4s the company normally mates with Volvo Penta’s 4.3 DuoProps.
“The top end you got with 2.32:1 was a couple of miles per hour faster than what we’re getting with 1.95:1,” Gill went on to explain to me. “But nevertheless we’ve decided to stick with the lower ratio exclusively to optimize cruising performance, which means better speeds, fuel economy, and handling in the midrange where our customers tend to operate their boats most of the time.”
Sensible idea? I’d say so. Particularly if the strategy adds a little rough-water handling finesse to what is already a sweetly designed and assembled express cruiser with an interior that’s as bright and shiny as a solarium.
Regal Marine Industries (407) 851-4360. www.regal
Gear on Board >> Faria Instruments
I’ve been a fan of Faria Instruments since the company rapidly replaced a defunct dashboard gauge for me some years ago based on a mere phone call. My intuition at the time was that the customer-service guy I called had no idea I worked for a marine magazine.
Faria Instruments, which supplies all the fog-free backlit gauges on the Regal 2860 Window Express, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the marine business this year. How has it become so popular that it claims to be the largest purveyor of instrumentation to the marine marketplace? One big factor is a limited transferable lifetime warranty on Faria products, all of which are made in the USA.
SPOTLIGHT ON | Diesel vs. Gas
While shooting the breeze with Randy Gills, Regal’s manager of propulsion engineering, about the 2860, some rather compelling information came to light regarding the testing that Regal performed on the boat. The company ran numbers on two identical 2860s with different propulsion pack-
ages: one a set of 160-hp Volvo Penta D3-160/DuoProp diesel stern drives, the other a set of 225-hp Volvo Penta 4.3/DuoProp gasoline stern drives. The complete findings are too lengthy to go into here, but the highlights are intriguing.
Economy’s the biggie, of course. At every rpm setting where Regal took measurements, the diesel boat pro-
duced substantially more miles per gallon. At 3000, 3500, and 4000 rpm, for example, the diesel pulled an additional 0.8 mpg while doing speeds just 2 to 3 mph less than the gasoline version. At top end, the 37.3-mph diesel pulled an additional 1.2 mpg over the 44.4-mph gasoline boat!
The sophistication of today’s common-rail technology helps explain why the diesel-powered 2860 Window Express performed so efficiently in Regal’s testing. Another factor, of course, is weight. According to specs on both Volvo Penta powerplants, the diesel’s dry weight is 727 pounds, and the more powerful gasoline engine’s dry weight is 942 pounds. Figuring two engines, the extra weight in the gasoline boat is then something like 430 pounds.
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