Mercury Racing Introduces the Verado 400R

The new Mercury Racing 400R.
The new Mercury Racing 400R.

Mercury’s Verado engine series keeps getting revamped, refined, and more powerful. One of the latest offerings — from Mercury Racing — is the Verado 400R, with a liquid-cooled supercharger, a vented flywheel cover, and other components meant to cool down a very sophisticated high-performance engine that runs up to 7,000 rpm but can burn 89-octane fuel.

In the high-end consumer engine market the new Verado will probably compete for reserved box seats with Seven Marine’s behemoth outboards — the original 557 and their  just-introduced 627-hp model, although those engines take a different approach to high-speed boat pushing; they’re based on an automotive cousin, a GM 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that runs in high-performance Cadillacs. Consequently they operate at lower revs at wide-open throttle — 5,500 rpm.

The 400R has an oil capacity of 8 liters (2.1 gallons), a dry weight of 668 lbs., and is available in shaft lengths of 20″, 25″ or 30″. For colors choose Phantom Black or Cold Fusion White. There’s more information on all this at Mercury Racing.

Outboard engine expert Charles Plueddeman discusses the 400R on boats.com. And he goes for a ride with four of them strapped to the back of a NorTech 390 Sport center-console. Yes, that’s 1,600 outboard horsepower, at a cost of over $31,000 per engine. Have a look:

 

 

Cleaver Props and Nose Cones: No Use on Slower Boats

 

Cleaver prop
Leave the Cleaver-style props and sleek nose cones for boats that are already fast, because odds are they won’t make your family boat any faster. Photo: Mercury Racing.

Look through the listings on BoatTrader.com long enough and you’ll find a recreational boat fitted with a Cleaver-style propeller or a sleek nose cone on the leading edge of the stern drive. (For background, see Mercury Racing CNC Cleaver: Props for the Props.)  The owner will tell you the boat is faster with that equipment. Hogwash. Here’s why.

Cleaver-style propellers work best on 100-plus-mph boats with surfacing drives, which means only half the propeller is in the water when the boat is at speed. For recreational boats with submerged drives, cleaver props are incredibly inefficient, particularly at low speeds and in reverse.

“Cleaver propellers supercavitate even if they’re submerged,” said Dr. Christopher Kent, assistant professor of ocean engineering at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla. “You don’t need to be up near the surface to have the entire suction back [front of the propeller] encapsulated in a bubble.”

That cavitation bubble makes for increased slip and vibration, which makes you go slower. Propeller designs for recreational boats have come a long way in the last 10 years. You’re much better off using a modern, stainless round-ear propeller, which can provide increased top speed without sacrificing efficiency.

Likewise, the rhetoric is that nose cones and lower gear cases with built-in nose cones—also known as crescent-leading-edge designs—increase a boat’s performance because of their sleek shape and sharp leading edge. Although it is true that a sharper leading edge can decrease drag, it’s also true that adding a nose cone can lengthen the gear case front to rear, which increases drag, thereby negating any benefits.

“If your boat doesn’t have the horsepower/hull combination to run in excess of 85 mph with the gear case it has, a CLE gear case will actually make it run a fair bit slower because of increased drag,” said Jack Litjens, Mercury Marine’s competitive intelligence manager. “This type of gear case is for a very specific application.”

So, if you are looking at a garden-variety runabout with those items on it, and the current owner claims it makes the boat faster, well, you’ll know better.