Anyone with Zeus Pods?

Discussion in 'Sport Yachts/Yachts' started by Dissapointed, Jul 18, 2018.

  1. Dissapointed

    Dissapointed New Member

    15
    Jun 30, 2018
    540 Sundancer
    QSM 711 Cummins
    I’ve had significant problems related to the Zeus Pods. Is there anyone else experiencing transmission problems, power steering actuators failing, and premature exhaust leaks?
     
  2. DieselDogg

    DieselDogg Member

    98
    Dec 18, 2013
    Boatless
    Diesel
    Sub'ed... would love to hear in more detail about your experience as the next boat might be one with pods.
     
    400 EC Michigan likes this.
  3. Todd320

    Todd320 Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2016
    St. Petersburg, FL
    2007 Sea Ray 320DA
    Twin V-drive 5.7L 350 Horizon
    Frank Webster had a write up somewhere about pods, my research leads me to the conclusion, stay away. Even if they work correctly, all the time, you have to haul the boat out each year for an expensive service. If something goes wrong, like the OP, now it’s really expensive. They are 100k more expensive than shafts when new (looked up price on new 460, with pods, add 115k, without, add 0k, same exact QSB 6.7 550 engine). Throw in 15k for a bow thruster. 100k pays for a lot of maintenance on shaft drives. Maybe buying used the PO takes the hit on depreciating pod drives. I blame pod drives in part on Sea Ray leaving the high end 50+ boat range. Should have focused on maintainability at a reasonable cost. That’s why outboards are so popular, they are maintainable, same with diesel non-electronic engines to a degree as well, same with gas inboards in an engine room where you can get to everything.
     
  4. Todd320

    Todd320 Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2016
    St. Petersburg, FL
    2007 Sea Ray 320DA
    Twin V-drive 5.7L 350 Horizon
    Search posts with “Zeus pod” written by fwebster, ton of great information.
     
  5. Dissapointed

    Dissapointed New Member

    15
    Jun 30, 2018
    540 Sundancer
    QSM 711 Cummins
    I’ve had nothing but problems related to the Zeus Pods and the propulsion system that comes along with them. I am an experienced boater with over twenty years of experience. This is the sixth boat that I have owned. The pods are very susceptible to easily being knocked off. If you are fortunate enough to locate it while it is submerged, it will cost approximately $1,800 just to retrieve it considering it weighs several hundred pounds. Than the boat has to be hauled and put up on blocks. If the pod is not immediately flushed with fresh water, corrosion of the interior gears will happen immediately. Therefore, the pod will most likely fail within 100 hours. Futhmore, if you are unable to locate the pod, it’s costs $17,000 just for the pod, not including haul out, storage, labor etc. Total cost is about $27,000. But be careful, the word is out with the insurance companies. They are beginning to decline coverage or rate you if you own a boat with pods. If you make a claim, most likely no other carrier with cover you as well. At 600 hours, both upper steer actuators failed as well. This causes power steering fluid to pollute the transmission lube oil, therefore, causing the transmissions to fail as well. The cost of a power steering actuator is about $13,000 and add $17,000 to the transmission. Searay puts the blame on Mercury and Mercury will not stand behind their products. Complete garbage. I would stay away from Sea Ray and Mercury products.
     
  6. Tman

    Tman Member

    284
    Aug 10, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    2014 Sabre 48 Salon Express
    Twin Cummins QSC 550
    Zeus Pod Drives
    What year is your vessel? I know mercury made some design changes along the way primarily to address sealing issues with earlier version pods among a few other susceptible design issues. I have a 2014 vintage and so far so good. Had one power steering filter leak that I replaced myself with ease. I do my own annual items like gear lube drain and refill and while there is the provision to do it without hauling, I do have it hauled for that. Just easier I believe albeit at a cost of hauling. Trim tab zincs are looked at by a diver on a frequency that makes sense for my location. Upon haul, I remove and replace them as needed. There is a nuisance item in their mercathode system which in earlier designs was less than reliable I’m told. So far, mine has been working well. Knock on wood. I grew up on conventional vessels and find that I rarely use the pods at all. Occasionally use skyhook while waiting for locks but otherwise, I captain the boat the old fashion way and it responds around the docks just the same as a conventional twin screw. I keep after fluids like trans and power steering/trim which utilize the same fluid 0W30 but they are not interconnected as you know. As to hitting something at speed, I do fear that and it would be a very bad day for any vessel IMO. I think for me, it’s the voodoo in smartcraft electronics I worry most about. The pods come with auto trim tab system which I’ve found is terrible. I run with them on manual and dial the boat in myself from the helm and get a far better ride, speed, and fuel economy than the auto system could ever achieve.
     
    Bridog and MiLoII like this.
  7. Dissapointed

    Dissapointed New Member

    15
    Jun 30, 2018
    540 Sundancer
    QSM 711 Cummins
     
  8. Tman

    Tman Member

    284
    Aug 10, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    2014 Sabre 48 Salon Express
    Twin Cummins QSC 550
    Zeus Pod Drives
    Disappointed - Were you meaning to leave a reply? I'm interested in your experience which unfortunately, isn't a good one. I have a few friends with Zeus pods and each have had some unfortunate experiences as well. They each have pods that are 2010-ish vintage.
     
  9. Rocket

    Rocket Active Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    597
    Jan 14, 2008
    Long Island NY
    2007 48 Sundancer
    Previous: 2004 420DA, 2007 320DA, 2006 240DA
    Cummins QSC 540 8.3
    I Sea Trialed a new 2017 510da with pods, left the dock with various nuisance alarms. Captain dismissed them and we got underway. During the sea trial the boat ran incredible, I could not believe the steering response and speeds that you can turn. I was really impressed, until we got back to the dock!! alarms went off again, they cleared them and slipped the boat. Its just something I want to deal with. I don't recall the actual alarm condition. My buddy has the IPS 435 HP in his tiara. 200 hrs, not a glitch.....
     
  10. Dissapointed

    Dissapointed New Member

    15
    Jun 30, 2018
    540 Sundancer
    QSM 711 Cummins
    Hi Tman,
    I've been experiencing a complete nightmare and Sea Ray and Mercury do not want to take any responsibility. I've spoken to others who have experienced many problems similar to my problems. There is no reason for Sea Ray to place that responsibility onto their customers. I'm looking for others because I really think Brunswick, Sea Ray and Mercury owe it to their customers to make good on this terrible product design.
     
  11. Tman

    Tman Member

    284
    Aug 10, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    2014 Sabre 48 Salon Express
    Twin Cummins QSC 550
    Zeus Pod Drives
    Your experience matters and unfortunately, it isn't a nice one. I think the divorce between Cummins and Mercury added and still adds much to the discussion here. Several of my friends got the "go talk to Mercury" or "go talk to Cummins". One is a Searay owner and the other is Sabre owner like myself. I'm not offering anything helpful to you here, but do keep posting as your comfortable in doing so. While your experience is not a good one, it may help others as to what to be cautious of or just simply stay away from. I can only hope my pods don't start to show reliability issues. Hope sh*t gets sorted out for you and someone stands up to the product and reliability you purchased.
     
    Handsome Transom likes this.
  12. Chada

    Chada Member

    69
    Jul 10, 2018
    Richmond, VA
    1998 Sea Ray 370 Sundancer
    454 Mercruiser 380 HP
    Your state lemon law is something to look into or the federal Magnusson Moss Warranty Act. I know in Virginia boats are covered by the Lemon Law, not sure about your state. You should see if you qualify. Usually if you do you can get a lawyer to take the case with nothing for you out of pocket.
     
    Boulz likes this.
  13. Dissapointed

    Dissapointed New Member

    15
    Jun 30, 2018
    540 Sundancer
    QSM 711 Cummins
     
    knot at work likes this.
  14. Jethro32

    Jethro32 New Member

    7
    Oct 8, 2018
    2008 Searay 47DB
    2008 Searay 38 sundancer w/Zeus
    2006 Hostar GS3800T triple axle air ride trailer
    Cummins QSC8.3 600’s
    Cummins QSB5.9 380’s
    I too am an extremely unhappy pod owner. I have been dealing with a blown steering actuator seal on my starboard pod.

    Over the 4th of July we had high winds blow through our area (Mississippi River in LaCrosse, Wisconsin). Debris was blowing all over the sandbar we were at so we decided to be safe and push off to head back to the marina. As we were pulling out of the bay I had a “high exhaust temp starboard” warning go off on my vesselview. I brought the engines to idle to check the water spray coming out both sides of the boat. The spray was strong and the alarm went away so we proceeded back to our marina. Two days later we decided to take the boat out on Friday July 6th. I opened up the engine hatch as I always do to check all fluids and strainers. To my amazement I found a piece of cloth stuck In my starboard engine strainer. I removed the debris and discarded it in the trash. All other fluids looked good so I fired up the engines, let them warm up then headed south. We got a mile from our marina when I started to throttle up the engines when I got a severe alarm indicating low hydraulic oil in my starboard pod. I immediately shut the engine down and proceeded to the closest bay on my port engine. I dropped my anchor and opened up my engine hatch to find hydraulic oil spilling out of my drive lube monitor bottle. Since there is NO DEALER THAT HAS TOUCHED A POD IN ANY SERIOUS MANNER ANYWHERE CLOSE TO ME, I called mercruiser only to have their Zeus specialist (who is extremely knowledgeable and helpful) tell me my steering actuator seal had failed and that the seal isn’t serviceable and I would need an entire steering actuator. ($23k quote to fix at my closest authorized dealer)

    My insurance company has all but denied my claim because my vessel view (1st run right after the prototypes) never stored ANY codes. Also, I couldn’t prove that my strainer was clogged because I threw the cloth away. Im left with having to either have the dealer tear down my pod to “prove what caused the seal failure” (not sure how they can prove anything) and be stuck paying for all the labor, or just fix it myself.(yes, I’m very capable and have the facilities to do it)

    My frustration lies with mercury. These parts are 10 years old and they are still sourcing assemblies from companies that won’t allow them the parts to rebuild them. I will never come to grips with a $23k bill to fix a $50,$100 seal?????

    I’ve hit my limit with this company and my insurance company has all but thrown me overboard.

    Not sure where to go from here. I am sick to my stomach and may just let the boat sit on stands at home until parts become available.
     
  15. hottoddie

    hottoddie Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2012
    Boston/Cape Cod
    1986 Sea Ray 390 EC
    Garmin 4212 Chartplotter
    Garmin 24 HD Radar
    Garmin 546s Plotter
    454 Crusaders
    Jethro. It may be worth taking the actuator to a really good hydraulic repair shop to see what they can do. Or go to a bearing specialty store to see if they can match up a replacement seal. You may be surprised.
     
    Boulz and Handsome Transom like this.
  16. Todd320

    Todd320 Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2016
    St. Petersburg, FL
    2007 Sea Ray 320DA
    Twin V-drive 5.7L 350 Horizon
    For 50k, can you remove the pods, and install straight shafts? Probably not, but I sure as hell would think about it based upon the feedback I have read here and other sites. I’m guessing not everyone has these issues, but man, sure seems like the pods are NOT the way to go.
     
  17. Handsome Transom

    Handsome Transom Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    553
    Jan 26, 2018
    Penetanguishene Ontario Canada
    1989 SeaRay Sundancer 268 454 Bravo
    454 Mercruiser bravo drive
    This is beyond asinine . I am not in your position financially our boat is a 30 year old 268 that we manage to afford by hook or crook but if I had a boat and insurance policy in your value range I'd be willing to invest up to 1/2 The value of The claim on a lawyer to go after the insurance company for the cost of repairs. Meanwhile I would have th problem fixed and get a full report from the tech doing the work outlining the cause of the problem . I am a firm believer of fighting a true injustice to the point of fighting a former property management Corp in small claims against a frivolous claim of 700 dollars that I refused to pay.my poor mother was a guarantor on my lease and has worked hard at maintaining a credit record. When she told me if the collection notice that was going to blemish it if I didn't pay I had to tell her that we needed to fight it. Thankfully I had video evidence to prove I had left the unit in good condition and the property management firm was trying to pass on the costs if renovations they chose to undertake before marketing the unit.
    Sorry for the long anecdote but just wanted to illustrate my belief in the adage that if you are right you have to fight
     
  18. Jethro32

    Jethro32 New Member

    7
    Oct 8, 2018
    2008 Searay 47DB
    2008 Searay 38 sundancer w/Zeus
    2006 Hostar GS3800T triple axle air ride trailer
    Cummins QSC8.3 600’s
    Cummins QSB5.9 380’s
    We are planning to pull the pod,remove the transmission, and separate the steering actuator over the winter. There is no procedure for disassembling the actuator so that will be a crap shoot. ZF tells me (from what I’ve been told they did not design but do manufacture this assembly) I need to call mercury for the part. Mercury tells me there is no part.......

    The only thing I keep getting told from mercury is that they have been and will continue to work hard for their customers to get the service procedures/torque specs and parts for these actuators. It could be one more day or years!!!! They have no clue.

    It truly boggles my mind that mercury has put customers in this position. Being able to afford the fix IS NOT THE ISSUE. It’s like telling a customer of a Ford Taurus that his headlight burned out and the only fix is a whole new front end to his car.

    This most likely will turn into legal action if I cannot find a seal/bearing shop to source me parts.

    I know I’m new to this site and never thought my first posts here would be to bash a company whose products I’ve owned many of over the past 15 years and have loved. Already purchased a new Honda for my tender since this all went down.

    I have loved reading from CSR and will continue to post my “progress” as time goes by.

    Who knows, in the end, this may turn into a career change for me as I drive around the country changing out steering actuator seals.....
     
    Rusted Nut and BEH like this.
  19. Carpediem44DB

    Carpediem44DB Well-Known Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    744
    Aug 18, 2015
    Sanfransico Bay area
    2006 44 DB Sedan Bridge Raymarine gs165 w Quantum HD Radar
    Achilles 350 Dink
    Nick Jackson Davit
    Cummins QSC 8.3 500 HD
    I never saw the value from day one on these pods. The concept and the physics make the pods a great idea but looking at the whole thing from a distance it was obvious to me that they are going to be way too much of an exposure to ever want to own a boat with pods.
    Thanks to this site and I’m sure every other owner group site with posts on the subject prospective buyers will have an education on these pods before they make a boat purchase. I pain for you folks that bought boats with pods because selling one to get into a traditional drive boat will be a chore! How do you even sleep knowing the poor bastard that is about to buy your boat is sitting on a virtual hand grenade with a loose pin?
    Thanks for the thread, it really reinforces my decision 4years ago to go with the 44DB when my wife about had us talked into a Cantius 45 for twice the investment.
    Carpe Diem
     
  20. andrewfoley

    andrewfoley New Member

    17
    May 19, 2014
    Kirkland, WA
    "Joyful" - 48 Sundancer 2009
    550 Cummins Diesels / Zues
    Not sure where to start here. From what i have been told, the pods are the units "Inside the boat" while the lower gear is the "underwater" units. My issues have been with the lower gears.

    Mine is an '09 and both lower gears have been replaced already. The PO had replaced one (in 2011) and i replaced the other (about two years ago). After about 200 hours on the gear, i noticed a little gear lube in engine compartment (came out the top of the reservoir). I Had them take a look and what they found, in both units, was a groove in the shaft of the units. This after only 200 hours.

    This allowed water to intrude into the system and popped the lid on the reservoir cans. The groove in both shafts was in the area of the seals on the shafts and the mechanic believes that the shafts were not hardened enough. Not sure how a rubber gasket can make a groove in a stainless shaft but it seams the only way it happened. We tried to get mercury/cummins/ZF to give us the specs for the hardness so i could test the shafts, they wouldn't give it to us.

    The solution that we decided to go down was to ceramic coat the shafts and put them back in. Another boat in our area has done this and they haven't had any issues since. I am hoping that this solves the problem as replacing both lower gears again would, with apparently this ticking time bomb still not addressed, is not something i am looking forward to doing. Was only about $200 each for the ceramic coating but i am told this should eliminate the problem. Not sure how much the service is going to coist me at this point as both gears have just been resealed but it is what is. Curious, anyone else have this issue with the lower gears?
     

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