As Peter Osbourne, Curt Leonard, and Rick Gilbert returned to Australia's Port Phillip Bay after the Mussel Festival in Portarlington, their boat, April, was taking a heavy pounding. A fierce southerly wind sent water well over the bow, splashing right up to the windscreen. Yet the boat behaved almost as if it were moored, and everyone on board felt safe and sound. As Gilbert recalls, "The John Deere 4.5L engine didn't miss a beat, doing 1800 rpm and 7 knots into the wind and defying 1.5- to 2-meter (5- to 6.5-foot) swells."
The three gentlemen bought April in 2016 to cruise around Port Phillip, the entrance to Australia's busiest port — Melbourne — and one of Victoria's most popular recreational destinations. The 11.2-meter-long (36.7-foot-long) classic cabin cruiser, made of Huon pine, has a 3.96-meter (13-foot) beam that displaces 9 metric tons (9.9 U.S. tons). April is beautifully proportioned, with a generous deck area where the owners and their families and friends can comfortably enjoy cruises around the port and beyond.
Fresh look, new 4-cylinder marine engine
April's new owners agreed that the 1972 boat was ready for a refresh, including a repower. In particular, the original 112-kW (150-hp) engine had become somewhat unreliable to safely navigate both the busy shipping channels of Port Phillip Bay and trips into the Bass Strait.
Wooden Boat Shop in Sorrento, Victoria, handled the upgrades. They replaced the deck, gunwales, steering, and propeller shaft, installed a bow thruster, and revamped the cabin. They also repowered April by installing a new 112-kW (150-hp) John Deere PowerTech™ 4045TFM engine. "Given the size and weight of the boat, we knew we wanted a 150- to 160-hp (112- to 119-kW) engine," Gilbert says.
Performance, after-sale service, and supply
The engine choice for the repower portion of April's refresh was made on the recommendations of Power Equipment in Lynbrook, Victoria, a John Deere marine engine distributor of Australia and New Zealand. "The 4.5L engine is commercially rated, with a long, 3,000-hour annual duty cycle and 250-hour service intervals," describes Darren Bird, marine sales engineer at Power Equipment. "It also produces lower rpm and has more mid-range torque than various comparable engines. Overall, it's a quiet engine that delivers comfortable cruising."
Curt Leonard, co-owner of April, has considerable experience in agricultural supply chains and food processing, so he was quite familiar with the outstanding reputation of John Deere equipment. "We also felt comfortable that we could rely on Power Equipment for swift supply of spare parts and top-quality after-sale service and customer support," he adds.
Fit and trim
The owners were convinced that the John Deere marine engine was the right choice to repower their boat, as did Wooden Boat Shop Shipwright General Manager Wayne Parr. "It was the best option given its high horsepower and low rpm relative to the physical size of the engine. It is a quality piece of equipment that has greatly reduced noise and vibration," Parr relates.
The compact, 4-cylinder marine engine fit readily into the existing engine room. Producing 112 kW (150 hp) at a rated speed of 2600 rpm, it includes a reliable mechanical speed control and other features that deliver service flexibility and fast, easy maintenance. A water-cooled exhaust manifold, internal balancers, and a lower-rated speed enhance comfort for crew and passengers.
The Wooden Boat Shop also installed a large-diameter, five-blade propeller, enabling April to cruise at 8 knots with the engine running at only 1800 rpm and the prop turning at just 725 rpm.
A comfortable ride
"We're very satisfied with our new engine," comments Leonard. "It was able to propel the heavy launch effortlessly in the rough conditions coming back from Portarlington, and it's much quieter than the original engine. We can now have a normal conversation in the cabin, which was not possible before."
"We're pleased to have added the John Deere range of engines to our lineup; it enables us to offer our customers more choices when it comes to selecting the perfect engine for their boats," concludes Parr.
“We’re very satisfied with our new engine. It was able to propel the heavy launch effortlessly in the rough conditions coming back from Portarlington, and it’s much quieter than the original engine. We can now have a normal conversation in the cabin, which was not possible before.”