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Posted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:37pm

Post Subject: hydraulic drive

I have a mad idea that it would be possible to propel a narrowboat with two ducted propellors (similar to a bow thruster) do you think this would work?


Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:33am

Post Subject: hydraulic drive

What I think is that I agree - it is mad. First of all a ducted anything on canals that is in use for long periods is likely to clog with rubbish. Its hard enough getting stuff off the prop through the weedhatch. Just think what it would be like trying to extract it from the ducts. Even if you fitted a grid across the mouth you still have to decide how to deal with stuff stuck in the grid or that found its way through and was now around the prop. Remember bow thrusters on narrowboats are normally at less depth than the propulsion prop and are only used for perhaps 30 seconds at a time. If you fit your duct entry in the bottom of the boat it is ideally placed to act as a vacuum cleaner on the canal bottom and if on the side of the swim at times it will be close to, or rubbing along the channel side. Secondly take any efficiency data for hydraulic systems with a large pinch of salt. The fact that they need oil coolers proves they waste power. AS they get older and wear they get less efficient. It would not surprise me to find they were only 80% efficient when compared with a mechanical gearbox. Now there is a place for them when other consideration (like say a wheelchair lift) needs hydraulic power or where the engine has to be fitted cross ways or right at the front of the boat but wasting about 20p in every litre of propulsion fuel does not seem very sensible to me. Tony Brooks

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