Propane outboards have been growing in popularity, and it’s no wonder: they’re light and clean-burning, reliable, and it’s incredibly convenient to be able to run them from a regular old camping propane bottle. If you need more range, just hitch up your grill’s propane tank. But naturally, they aren’t perfect. There have been some (valid) complaints about the use of cheap parts in many of the popular propane outboards currently on the market, and they aren’t quite as smooth nor as quiet as a modern four-stroke (though they are smoother than an old two-stroke).
We noticed a big bump in size for propanes in 2015, when the Lehr 25 was introduced at the Miami Boat Show. This year, however, the news is of a smaller model. And, it’s from a rather unexpected source: Tohatsu. They’ve announced a new five horse propane outboard, which should hit the market this spring.
I got a preview of the motor at this year’s show, and had the chance to run one outside the engine tent. It looks good, the parts all look decent, and it ran rather smoothly for a propane outboard. On the other hand, it took me three or four pulls to get it running and these days, I only expect one or two. We can’t be too hard on them, however, because the engine I ran was a prototype which they had just un-crated after being delivered to the show. It hadn’t been adjusted prior to my arrival, and my guess is that 90-percent of the outboards out there would have been a bit tricky at first while in the prototype stages.
Some other details: the engine (tagged the MFS5CLPG) comes in short, long, and extra-long shaft lengths, exhausts 12-percent less carbon dioxide than gas engines and is 30-percent cleaner burning overall, it weighs in at 60 lbs., spins up to 6000 RPM, has a single cylinder, and displaces 7.5 cubic inches. Options to go-with include an alternator, and remote controls. I’d say go to the Tohatsu web site to learn more, but as of now it doesn’t so much as mention this engine just yet. Stay tuned…