I often see many posts on this board relating to how a members boat is running speed wise..........one member will have the same as another, yet the first owner is 3,5,7, etc miles an hour faster on the water. I would like to share with you guys some of my tips and setups that I do on every boat of mine. We have in my opinion one of the best fishing platforms made and that is what Ranger builds, but we all like our boats and engines to perform as well as possible. This involves time and a little patience along with setup knowlege on how to get the boat and engine combo to accomplish this. Please feel free to correct me or add to the thread with your opinions/tips also. The tips will work with 150's as well as with 300's and so on, so bear with me guys and gals. Below I will explain what I do to get the most out of my boats.
1) The boat:
This is what we all work for and wax on like crazy, take care of and baby; After all it is "our" baby in our relaxing time, tournaments, or just recreational fishing. Unfortunately all hulls are not identical, even on identical boats. You can have weight differences, glass buildup differences, and rigging differences. Two identical hulls when rigged totally different, will run differently and wot will represent this. First of all, the hull of the boat must be free of obstructions for maximum performance. No chips, scratches, barnicles,algea buildup,etc.................for a boat to run and attain the best wot speeds, the hull,bottom and pad must be in a good clean and smooth condition. Obstructions on the hull cause turbulance which in turn causes drag which slows the boat down. I am not saying that the bottom and pad have to be like a crystal, but you get my drift.
This is the fella that gets all of the work done to make our boats run the best that they can at wot. First of all to attain our best top end speeds, the engine needs a little love. Feed her a good diet of fuel and carbon buildup additatives to keep it (internally) in good condition so that she "can" run fast. Make sure all fluids on the engine are full with proper compounds...............lower unit, trim and engine oil. A engine can't give you great top end numbers if it isn't given the stuff to do it with. Make sure it is also mechanically sound..................I like to say "sync and link" and make sure that all are perfect. Be sure to get your engine on a scheduled basis to a qualified technician....................he/she knows better than you about your engine believe it or not and will add to the livelyhood and performance of your engine. On the engine, just like the bottom of the boat, make sure that it is clean and free from chips, and burrs......................especially the lower unit. A slick lower slices through the water faster than one that is beat up.
This is what I often find hinders a boat from truly running the speeds that it is capable of and more often than not most people never check the system other than making sure that the wheel turns. Make sure that the helm is good and secure on both cable and fluid systems..................if not take the time to tighten. Most of the newer boats have hydraulic steering. Check for leaks and make sure that the system is full of fluid.................if not top it off or take to a technician to cure the problem. Make sure that the steering system at the engine points are properly secured and under correct specs...............This is very crucial for top end performance of the boat. Make sure steering is tight at the engine on the tube or hydro cylinder. Simple test is to grab lower unit and see if you can shake the lower unit from side to side a little (or a lot). If the lower has any wobble in it at all, the steering system needs adjusting......................there is no way for a boat to balance on the point of a triangle (pad) if you can't hold it there because of a loose steering system...................I can't tell you how many people have mentioned to me that there boat just won't run like Joe's boat does........................same identical boat, but there steering is loose as hell..................It just ain't gonna happen !!
No matter what we think our expensive boats and motors will not move an inch without one of these high dollar pieces of metal. And contrary to what lots of folks think................all props are not the same (even identical wheels). That in a minute though.................First of all for any prop to perform at its best it needs to be in good working order. No chips, dings, burrs,bends, etc. These demons are all performance killers and your boat and engine will not perform to its potential with any of this going on. Secondly, all props are not identical. IE. two identical Fury, Tempest, Trophy, Raker, Yamaha, etc. oftentimes will not run identical with each other and yep, even on the same boat. Most of us run either a 3 blade or a 4 blade wheel. When looking for the outright fastest wheel on a given boat, more often than not a 3 blade wheel will be the fastest of the two. This isn't set in stone though and requires testing on a particular hull. Most modern 3 blade props are "bow" lifters which generally will be faster. Most 4 blade wheels will give stern lift as well as adequate bow lift and are generally good overall wheels for general overall performance. In recent years though some 4 blade configurations run really well (Ex. Fury4) although as a rule aren't as fast as their three blade cousin's. It is owner preference in this case.
This is something that most every bass boat has and has been around for a very long time, yet I see so many times that it isn't being used correctly on our boats. Many, many times I have seen people take off and 100 yards down the lake they are throwing a roostertail 100' in height. Remember this, propellers are made to push a boat forward and not made to throw water in the sky. We all know this, but a good rule of general is that the "tail" should be pretty much even with the top of the cowl when running wot..................above this your performance diminishes quickly. To some folks, it looks good and pretty but it isn't doing anything except killing performance and putting unneeded pressure on the boats trim system. Another point is that most Ranger's that I have ran...................and that is quite a few in 40 years really don't like/need very much positive trim at all to achieve the best wot speeds................ just keep the "trim" in mind and you will become a better driver when looking for the best and fastest wot speeds.
This is something in my opinion that most of us take for granted when setting up our boat for wot speed. We earlier spoke of the steering being secure at both ends and balancing on a triangle. This is easily accomplished, especially with seat time but gets really harder when the boat is out of balance.....................IE tackle/contents in the boat. I know that I will catch griff for this and I have owned both, but my fastest Ranger's have been dual consoles. I think that the extra console helps even more with boat balance. I also like to keep my heavier tackle, especially plastics along the center line of the boat when possible. I fish by myself lots and keep rods and jackets, winter clothing, etc in portside rod box and portside storage...................it offsets my weight and probably pretty darn close (remember balancing on a triangle again). For best speeds, I also keep my seats out or at least in flooring hole................less wind resistance. Also, I will extend my powerpoles ever so slightly for speed runs. not to where they look deployed, but just enough that I feel that the wind isn't slapping them at a square 90 degrees head on an, and possible reduces drag a tad...............just one of my funny hangups though I guess. If I can't keep most or all of my heavy contents along the center line of the boat, it all goes to the back compartments................boat will be faster there and you can achieve bow lift easier.
(6)Seat of the pants:
We have Ranger boats and never from the start have they been fast boats; Forrest and Nina, Randy and now JM want and do build a fine fishing boat first and foremost and in my opinion always have and hope that that tradition continues. With that said, the Ranger I own now is nothing like the one from 96'. Today's Ranger Boats aren't your daddy's boats and can and do run quite well. Even the older Ranger's can and many members on here have those that run very well. Some of the tips I have mentioned can and will help get more out of your Ranger, but to me the "seat of the pants" is what I listen to more than anything. You get to the point that you listen to what the Ranger Boat (any boat for that matter) is telling you...........through your "BOTTOM" and give and receive driver input without even thinking about it...........................This is when you are in "Tune" with your boat and can get the performance out of her that she can give you.
I know that this is a hell of a long post for me, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you guys and gals and would welcome your thoughts also. Looking forward to hearing some other views and comments..................................RR