A Radical Proposal

December 10, 2021

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and being up in Maine all summer surrounded by classic motorboats and new “Downeast” styles solidified my thinking.

One of the fun things about Tardis is having so many dockwalkers and folks calling up on the radio with, “Great-looking boat, when was she built?” and then being very surprised when I say 2017 instead of 1927 or 1953. The giveaway, of course, is the outboard peeking out the back of the motor box.

But that comes at a cost. The motor enclosure takes up a lot of cockpit space, adds weight and is hard to get sized right, since Tardis we’ll be very happy with almost any eggbeater in existence from 70-115 hp. I had what I thought was a pretty good diagram from Evinrude, but it wasn’t all that accurate and the box is about 20% too big. It also has to have an opening in the top to get the motor all the way out of the water when at the dock. I was able to use a lot of the excess space for storage, but I really wish I had that area back for seating and moving around.

So I think Mark should consider a Mark 2 version that simply hangs the engine off the transom in a splashwell. It would simplify construction and open up the cockpit a lot. It’s a matter of personal preference, but I think the Olga 28 would still be the best-looking boat of its type on the water. As I look at boats I like, so many of them are outboard powered now, it’s just something I barely notice.

The weight distribution would change, but based on my experience, perhaps for the better. Frankly, if you put in a bow thruster, windlass and anchor up front, I think you need more weight at the back to balance the boat out. And during the time I’ve had the boat, the manufacturers have taken about 20 pounds out of the 90-115 hp four stokes, plus you would save the weight of the box itself.

I don’t think sound is much of an issue, because the new outboards are so quiet, and 95% of your time is spent in the cabin house. I run without the cover over the top opening, because I just can’t hear much difference and so I can see the orientation of the engine while docking.

Here are some pictures of decent-looking boats with transom or bracket-hung outboards. If anybody is still out there following, what do you think?

7 comments on “A Radical Proposal

  1. Ray Gaulke
    December 10, 2021 at 4:04 pm #

    As always a great idea Paul, glad to help with the refit


  2. Dale Niemann
    December 10, 2021 at 4:51 pm #

    I think transom hung is best way to go.

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. Jim Jones
    December 10, 2021 at 6:13 pm #

    My 22’ trawler build called for an inboard diesel, but with a desire to maximize interior space, and reduce noise I chose to modify the transom, add a splashwell, and hang an outboard. Decided against an inboard motor well for the reasons you summarized.

    While mine is a displacement hull (doesn’t need much Hp to achieve hull speed), all it took was experimenting with 300 lbs of lead ballast to get the trim right.

    I’ll send a photo if you tell me how to insert



  4. Dan Reisert
    December 11, 2021 at 12:10 pm #

    I am on your same wavelength. I considered the first boat in your line up, a Bluejacket, but decided on the boat in pic 6, a B&B design OB26. I am building this with a bracket to allow a full rear seat. We moved the fuel tank forward a bit. I wanted the noise back behind the transom as much as possible.
    I don’t think it takes away from the looks too much.



  5. Steve White
    December 12, 2021 at 2:22 pm #

    I can’t help it. I like the inboard diesel better. Then again, it’s not my money.
    Steve White


  6. Ton Schoenmakers
    December 12, 2021 at 4:48 pm #

    Both Sytse and I have concerns that lead to the same conclusion you made in this post. In the building of Olga “Arnhem” we are making steady progress, but the cockpit is still completely bare, and for a reason.
    Evinrude last year quit making light 2-stroke engines, so Sytse was looking at a 4-stroke 115hp engine. He made a plywood mockup from an existing engine and tried to fit that in the engine well. The transom opening needs to be cut up to leave only a meager 2 inches, and needs some serious fortification.
    So we second your request to Mark. I’ll send some pictures of our build to you -I can’t post to your blog- and Mark.

    Your post actually came on the moment Sytse was picking up his Mercury in Norfolk, VA. Coincidence?


  7. Mark Smaalders
    December 12, 2021 at 11:53 pm #

    It seems we’re all on the same wavelength. I worked up some drawings last year of a slightly stretched Olga (31′) without the well, both a transom and a “pod” (swim step) version. I haven’t done full drawings but it is a pretty simple idea: same hull, just no well. The transom mount would work just as well on the 28 hull as the stretched 31, with reinforcing of the transom and a flat section to fill in the well.

    Thanks Paul for the post and Ton for your comment and email, which prodded me to post the drawings on my blog, which is here (not on the website yet):


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