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Pod drives?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Richie89, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. Richie89

    Richie89 Active Member

    596
    Aug 20, 2012
    Miami Beach, FL
    450 Sundancer
    Twin Cummins 480 Zeus
    More research, and came across the Zeus and Volvo IPS systems. Are these as good as inboards for full time sitting in the water? More maintenance, because the control seems awesome?
     
  2. DF470DA

    DF470DA New Member

    193
    Mar 14, 2012
    Cincinnati
    2012 470DA
    480 HO Cummins
    I've had the Zues propulsion system for 3 seasons now and each year I am even more a fan of the pods. The amount of control they give you for slow speed maneuvering is nothing short of amazing. I have about 8 inches of play on each side of my slip, and never have a problem getting my 470 in my slip, almost always by myself. My next door dockmate, just recently bought an 09/44dA with Zues, and the boat runs a solid 40mph. One of the really fun things the pods allow, is for a vey tight, high speed turn, no loss of speed....as well as on the Zues system - the Skyhook feature does a great job of holding the boat exactly where you want it to hold the boat for as long as you want it to. I use it when I intend to dock anywhere, while getting lines and fenders ready, then I use the pods to walk the boat sideways into the dock. It's truly parallel parking for a boat lol, and makes you look like you really can park a boat in minimal space. The pods do give you better top end, as well as better economy - mine are attached to Cummins QSB480HO's - a great perf combo. As far as service/maintenance costs go, not really much different, just make sure your dealer/service provider has certified technicians for whatever pod system you end up with so the updates can be done (always warranteed on mine by Mercruiser- so no cost to us). If you want more detail, PM me with a number ...good luck...Oh - before you get anything else, have someone give you a demo on the Zues, you'll be hard pressed not spend the extra money upfront to get the pods....they are well worth it IMHO...don
     
  3. Red Stripe

    Red Stripe Member

    312
    Nov 6, 2006
    East Coast
    N/A
    N/A
    After four seasons with Zeus pod drives I am also a fan but they are not for everyone.

    As pointed out, close-quarter maneuvering is exceptional and the Skyhook and Precision Pilot (integrated autopilot) systems are truly excellent. What is often missed when people are talking about pod drives, but a significant benefit for many people, is the reduced noise levels. Added speed and fuel efficiency over a similar vessel with traditional propulsion is impressive although I would not look at the fuel cost savings as a primary motivator for going with the technology as you will likely never realize the benefit given the typical additional cost of the drives and added maintenance costs. And this is where I have to respectfully disagree with the previous respondent who mentions, "As far as service/maintenance costs go, not really much different". If you maintain the drives by the book, which I firmly believe should be done due to their complex nature and as a generally good practice, there is a manufacturer-prescribed annual service. The certified company I used on Long Island, while certainly on the high end of the pricing spectrum, charges approximately $2100 for the full service including parts (zincs, fluids etc). That's just for the drives, not the engines. Others I have spoken with around the country tell me their numbers are at least within striking distance of that. I personally would not own pod drives without having a qualified technician going through the system each year. Also keep in mind that a Zeus boat uses four expensive props. Carrying at least one set of spares is a smart move unless you don't travel far.

    As mentioned, having qualified mechanics within a reasonable distance of your home or your anticipated cruising grounds is an important consideration. The drives are essentially adding two more "engines" to your boat, each with three fluid reservoirs that need to be incorporated into your daily checks. Knowing how to maneuver the boat without the joystick is essential in the event of a failure.
    And you have to have a general comfort level with the added amount of complexity and computer control now on board and the resultant additional points of possible failure. I had the good fortune of essentially problem-free ownership with mine but know people with both Zeus and IPS who have had the gamut of issues specific to the technology. Some people are happy to hop on board, fire up the engines and go without implementing best practices and due diligence, but I would hope most would agree that that's nothing but problems waiting to happen regardless of what level at which you do your boating. I would buy another Zeus boat again tomorrow but, as I mentioned, it's not for everyone.

    To answer your original question, because of the materials used, they are essentially as good as inboards in terms of drives that sit in the water.
     
  4. Fabio

    Fabio New Member

    1
    Jan 21, 2015
    Miami, FL
    Sea Ray 45 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins Zeus Drive
    Just got my FIRST Cummins 600 with Zeus Drive on my SeaRay 450 Sedan Bridge. That was one of the main reasons i purchased this boat. On my first trip with the family around Biscayne Bay, I got two alams on the console: 1: HELM1-STBD(CCM:TVM Standby) and 2: DRIVE-STBD(TVM: Low Hydraulic Oil Level). I wonder if someone has had these alarms before and if you recommend any transmission mechanic in Miami, FL. The good news is that I was able to get back to the marina without any problems, even docked into slip using the zeus drives.
     
  5. JamesT

    JamesT Member

    195
    Oct 7, 2013
    Longport, NJ
    2011 470 Sundancer
    Cummins 480s w/ Zeus PODs
    Knock wood, my experience has been the same as Don's above. No issues to complain about and my experience thus far after 1.5 years is that maintenance has not been an issue $$ wise and I am by the book with scheduled service intervals. Prior to my Zeus package, in my previous boat I had twin Volvo 5.0L gas engines mated to Volvo joystick outdrives. I had occasional drive fault errors which were strictly software issues that a system reboot always fixed. Reboot meaning turn engines off, turn batteries off/then on, then restart engines. Whatever issue I had, cleared itself for at least 5 or 6 weeks. Then, fault, rinse, repeat, clear. It was a minor PIA. But so far I've had zero software or hardware issues with my Zeus package and the performance is just as Don described.

    Your original question: The Zeus drives are not nearly as sensitive to corrosion as I/O outdrives and can be left in the water year round, just change your zincs on a regular basis. I am storing my boat in-water all winter and by spring, the boat will have been in the salt for a solid year. Previous owner always stored his boat in-water too, but he was on Lake Ontario and not in salt. Before pulling the trigger on in-salt-water storage, I checked with a lot of sources at Cummins, MarineMax, insurance reps, etc. and all concurred that I should not worry about Zeus pod corrosion. If my memory serves me, they said the pods are a special copper alloy that is anti-corrosive. I did see my outdrives briefly during a short-haul out after 6+ months of being in salt water and they looked fantastic and "like new."
     
  6. Red Stripe

    Red Stripe Member

    312
    Nov 6, 2006
    East Coast
    N/A
    N/A
    Congratulations on your purchase. At first blush it simply sounds like your hydraulic fluid is low on your starboard drive forcing it into standby mode (TVM, by the way, is Thrust Vector Module). Stating the obvious, your first order of business would be to check the fluid level and correct if necessary. If there was a recent fluid service it s very possible that air in the line may have worked its way out causing the fluid level to drop below the sensor's lower limit. As previously mentioned, there are three fluid reservoirs in each pod drive that should be a part of your daily checks and it is very important to familiarize yourself with how things should look under ordinary circumstances so leaks can be more easily identified. There was a series of Zeus drives a few years ago that were recalled to have the hydraulic lines replaced. It's worth checking to see if your drives were a part of that recall and serviced if they were. There are many faults that will render the joystick inoperable so due diligence is particularly essential if you rely on it - but spend some time learning to maneuver the boat without it. You'll be happy you did - it will handle differently than a boat with traditional drives. And always test the joystick before untying the lines or approaching a fairway/dock. If it's going to throw a fault, better to have it happen before arriving in close quarters.

    I'm afraid I don't have a recommendation in your area but when you find a certified Zeus mechanic, spend an hour in your ER with them going through your drives and engines - what you'll learn will be invaluable. Good luck and enjoy!
     
  7. DF470DA

    DF470DA New Member

    193
    Mar 14, 2012
    Cincinnati
    2012 470DA
    480 HO Cummins
    Fabio - I started throwing those alarms a couple seasons ago, and as it tuned out - had 5 pressure sensors that needed replaced . Once done no more occurrences so you may want to ask your Sea Ray dealer to check if your pods need them. Red Stripe is right as to the pod fluid level, as the tolerance for even a slightly low level kicks an audible alarm as well on my 470. They are easy to see and located to stern at the top (in ER) - mine are clear so it's easy to see the level. Also, last winter based on a Merc service bulletin my pods required a modification adding an anode for further electrolysis protection, you may want to inquire about that as well. If you need a service dealer in So Fla, you may want to PM Cap't Rusty Higgins on this forum. Oh and I also had to have new skegs installed on another Merc service notice, all of the work was warranty .....
     
  8. Rich122

    Rich122 Member

    295
    Aug 7, 2007
    MYC-Stony Point, NY
    '10 540DA, t/t:Amanzi350-40hp
    Raymarine G150s HD MFDs/48kw Radar/DSM300 Sounder
    Cummins QSC8.3-600s
    Pod Drive/Skyhook
    21.5kw Onan
    Same again, 3 years and they are great. since all my boats have been new, they all have been professional maintained by the dealer, and now with the 540DA by Cummins. Maintenance such as checking fluid levels is fine but anything should be left to the professionals.

    Two things to note:
    A) Watch your batteries closely. The CPUs that control the pods are very sensitive to voltage swings. I had issues the first year, with alarms going off and the joy stick cutting out and engine shutdown. Found 1 of the 4 8D batteries had 2 bad cell and the voltage drop caused the issue. Changed all 4 and no problems

    B) Starting sequence. This sounds odd, but Cummins told me there is a sequence that as to be followed with the pod boats or you will get alarms. At least on the large yachts. It's not in the captain's briefing, but they found this out while trouble shooting issues as more pods went into service.
    1) Must turn off A/C battery charge breaker before starting engines. The Pod CPU gets confused when it see the batteries being charge by both the A/C charger (GenSet running) and alternator.
    2) Strbd key on first, then port key on
    3) Strbd eng start first, then start Port

    Reverse the process when shutting down. On the 540DA the Strbd alternator powers everything so when I was doing port key, strbd key, port start strbd start it would spike the voltage and set an alarm. Since I've been following this sequence I haven't had any issues.


    Rich
     

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