Something new has come to recreational boaters, an unanticipated but long-needed creative surprise drawing a familiar cry of “Why didn’t somebody think of that sooner?”
It’s Indmar’s EcoJet propulsion system for pontoons. We’ve had a limited test of the system, and without a doubt, it fills a new niche in marine propulsion that may shoulder out some outboards typically found on pontoon transoms.
What is it all about?
EcoJet is a 310 hp Ford 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine mated to a high-power, nimble but durable jet-pump drive, and installed on a pontoon in a way that completely isolates the engine and jet-pump noise and vibration from the rest of the hull. It dramatically dampens the high-pitched sound inherent with jets, offering all the advantages of jet propulsion while mitigating its chief liability—noise.
First, Indmar has tuned the EcoBoost engine for optimal horsepower at low rpm (2,400 to 4,800) when compared to most jet engines. That’s one step of noise knockdown. Next, it mounted the jet to the motor, and the motor and jet to the center engine pod in a way that isolates the hard parts of the propulsion system from the pontoon chassis to minimize vibration. Third, by tuning EcoBoost’s turbocharger for instant activation, Indmar knocked down the turbo lag typical of many turbocharged motors so that the boat responds quickly to throttle at lower, quieter speeds.
Another important advantage is the EcoJet’s penchant for maneuverability. Jets are known for being nimble and, in the hands of experienced skippers, can outmaneuver prop-driven vessels. EcoJet brings that maneuverability to a platform notorious for being slow to answer the helm.
Three factors contribute to that maneuverability in slow speeds. First, Indmar gave the jet-pump steering nozzle 45 degrees of turn, 15 degrees greater than most outboards and sterndrives. In our test boat, that steering went lock to lock in just over a half-turn of the wheel, so there’s no waiting when it comes to the propulsion’s direction reversal needed to turn the vessel.
We could pivot the 24-foot pontoon with a combination of wheel and throttle handling, making it the most maneuverable pontoon we’ve skippered.
Our initial demo was in a speed- and wake-restricted area that didn’t let us experience the effect of a small rudder under the jet nozzle, designed to aid the boat in tracking around turns, mitigating the sideways slipping or skidding experienced on many jets. That skidding phenomenon comes from not having running gear below the water’s surface.
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Closed cooling makes the EcoJet corrosion-resistant for saltwater use. It also enables adding heating ducts to the deck for cool-weather comfort. The engine is deep belowdecks in its pod, leaving ample room for routine service while clearing the aft deck for a spacious swim platform unobstructed by motors. The intake grate is designed to eliminate ingestion of debris and vegetation, supplying optimal water to the impeller.
With no running gear below the bottom of the pontoons, the EcoJet renders a vessel friendly to grassy flats, requiring only 1 or 2 feet of water to maneuver. Plus, there’s no risk of dragging the gear case when trailering because there isn’t one.
- The 2.3-liter Ford EcoBoost engine block generates 310 hp and earns Carb 4-Star emissions certification.
- Propulsion system is completely belowdecks, clearing the stern for a large swim platform.
- No exposed propeller to injure swimmers.
- Shallow draft prevents grass-bed damage.
- Optimal maneuverability from sharp steering angles.