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Posted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 8:29pm

Post Subject: Dutch Barge Narrowboats

Is it possible to have a conventional 'engine - prop shaft - prop' arrangement on a mid wheelhouse Dutch Barge Narrowboat, or must these inevitably be hydraulic drive due to headroom restrictions. In anticipation of the latter, are all hydraulic drived doomed to relatively low efficiency or are there products available for narrowboats that have similar levels of efficiency to a direst drive? I am considering a Dutch Barge style narrowboat, and everything points in the direction of a hydraulic drive being the preferred option - except mechanical efficiency, which is reported widely to be significantly reduced, and with rapidly rising fuel prices this is not an attractive prospect!


Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 8:52am

Post Subject: Dutch Barge Narrowboats

Mechanically I can see no reason why a narrowboat shaped like a Dutch barge should be any different to a mid-engine traditional boat. However the design has to address the issue of getting the propshaft under the floor without restricting headroom. I suspect this will mean a side passage at the back of the boat and wasted space under the double bed and built in furniture on the non-access side of the propshaft. I suspect it is just easier and more flexible to use a hydraulic drive. You also have to remember a long shift requires several intermediate support bearings and these will reduce the mechanical efficiency a little. The efficiency of a hydraulic system involves more than the basic pump and motor. For instance I am sure I know of a hydraulic narrowboat that suffered inefficiency because the pipes were too small. Personally I would put reliability of the hydraulic units above absolute efficiency despite a possible fuel penalty. There is also the need to consider the noise generated from various designs of pump and motor. I think that you need to have an independent talk with your local hydraulic equipment specialist to get a better idea of relative efficiencies. Tony Brooks

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