By Capt. Ken Kreisler — January 2002
If you have a twin-screw boat equipped with electronic controls, whether the engines are fully electronic or not, the chances of both systems going down are rather low. That’s because most electronic controls on twin-screw applications are stand-alone systems–if one goes out, the other will keep running. Are the chances of a double failure nonexistent? Of course not. But according to most company guidelines, even if one goes completely down, you’ll still have the other to get you home or to the nearest safe harbor. And since most builders are using American Boat and Yacht Council standards for power supplies, they are putting in redundant systems to take up the slack in case of a power failure aboard.
If your vessel has multiple stations, as in a cockpit, bridge/wing station, or lower station, you will know which one is in control by the light on the control head. If the station changes, the control box will transfer the signal. Options include a trolling valve setting and various levels of slow idle (typically set by the engine manufacturer). Most companies also offer a variety of control head designs, handheld remotes, engine synchronizers, and displays.
You can have your pick of models from the utilitarian to the exotic. It all depends on your needs and budget. Some of the more popular ones are Detroit Diesel’s DDEC system, MagicBus from Teleflex Morse, Twin Disc’s EC150, EC 200, and 250 models, Volvo Penta’s EDC, and ZF Mathers Microcommander, Cruise Commander, and Master Command systems.
If you have your boat tricked out with the latest in electronics and equipment, you may want to also move up to electronic controls. You can probably set up a test drive on all the available systems and judge which one is best for your needs. They take a little getting used to, but once you’re accustomed to them, you’ll never understand why you didn’t do this sooner. Smooth control and operation of your vessel was never easier.
Detroit Diesel Phone: (313) 592-5000. Fax: (313) 592-8176. www.detroitdiesel.com.
Teleflex Morse Phone: (610) 495-7011. Fax: (610) 495-7470. www.tfxmagicbus.com.
Twin Disc Phone: (262 638-4001. Fax: (262) 638-4482. www.twindisc.com.
Volvo Penta Phone: (757) 436-5173. Fax: (757) 436-5154. www.volvopenta.com.
ZF Mathers Phone: (800) 546-5455. Fax: (360) 757-2500. www.zf-marine.com.
This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.