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The Leash, a tether for large outboard motors, entered the market in early 2016. They especially focus on preventing bass boat outboard motors from entering the boat after striking a floating, submerged, or fixed object.

Their patent application was filed 22 December 2015 and published 18 months later on 22 June 2017 by the U.S. Patent Office as Publication Number US2017/0174303 A1.

Roy John Grohler of Kentucky is the inventor. The patent is assigned to The Leash Tether LLC. of Kentucky.

The Leash: left and right views side by side

The Leash: left and right views side by side

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In December 2013 we published a report, Approaches to Prevent Outboard Motors From Flipping Into Boats After Striking Floating or Submerged Objects in which we identified several ways to prevent outboard motors from breaking off and flipping into boats after striking submerged objects. One of those was was active trim control (see pages 33-34 of our report) by using a magnetic fluid in the trim (tilt) cylinder and using position feedback (how far is the rod extended) during a log strike to adjust how much resistance the cylinder is applying to the upward swinging of the outboard. While the impacts are not as severe, the same approach is used for shocks on several cars.

Magnetic fluids are sometimes called Magneto-Rheological (MR) fluids. Also sometimes spelled as magnetorheological fluids. They change viscosity based on the presence of a magnetic field and upon its intensity.

Active control brings the ability to respond faster than existing systems and limit pressure overshoot today’s relief valves. It also provides the opportunity to measure the magnitude of the collision as it is occurring and then select the best way to respond or possibly to select one of several preprogramed ways to respond. One program could allow the outboard to rise up over the object before maximum resistance is applied (called trailover).

MR fluids are also currently used in some high end, rough water vessel chairs to dampen vibrations (protect your back in very rough water) for the U.S. Navy.

In January 2015, Brunswick filed a patent on this active trim cylinder approach that includes some interesting comments.

Brunswick’s patent, U.S. Patent 9,290,252 was issued 22 March 2016.

Delph Magneride image we posted with our discussion of using MagnetoRheolopical fluids in trim systems in 2013.

Delph Magneride image PropellerSafety.com posted with our discussion of using MagnetoRheolopical fluids in trim systems in 2013.

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We have previously written extensively on log strike testing, the variables involved, and more specifically on trying to prevent outboard motors from breaking off and entering boats after striking floating or submerged objects.

This installment focuses purely on durability testing of prototype outboards. It does NOT address the issue of outboard motors breaking off and flipping into boats, the need to make sure production outboards maintain the same durability, production quality control issues, design changes, or other issues. It purely focuses on developing a test stand and a test protocol to test a single prototype outboard motor for durability in striking floating or submerged objects.

Note – the Asian outboard manufacturers tend to refer to log strike testing by the phrase, driftwood testing.

Note – Log strike testing is DANGEROUS, please read the DISCLAIMER at the bottom of this post.

This post is not meant as a “pick one” offering. It is more of buffet from which manufacturers new to log strike testing consider picking some things if they like them and bring some of their own ideas to the table as well to create something that works for them at the stage they are now in.

On Water Log Strike Testing

Most major outboard manufacturers now have a log strike test procedure in place for durability testing of outboard motors. Some still perform on water testing by running flat bottomed boats over floating logs.

Log strike testing news clip. Corpus Christie Caller-Times. 30 April 1960. Page 6D.

Log strike testing news clip. Corpus Christie Caller-Times. 30 April 1960. Page 6D.

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A college student in Sweden, Fredrik Helgesson, designed a test stand to log strike test outboard motors (outboard motors impact floating logs).

The report is titled, Konstruktion av “log strike”-testrigg for utomboardsmotorer.

Back in early 2016 Mr. Helgesson, a mechanical engineering student at Halmstad University in Sweden, contacted us a few times for technical specifications on how the industry tests log strike systems. He said he was working on a thesis focused on that topic. We supplied him several publicly available materials, some thoughts on the topic, and told him that if he was not teamed with one of the major outboard manufacturers he would likely not have access to the exact specifications manufacturers use for log strike testing.

A couple months ago we noticed his paper had been published by Halmstad University.

We then learned his project was more of a design project teamed with a manufacturer of diesel outboards, Cimco Marine AB.

Cimco Marine OXE diesel outboard

Cimco Marine OXE diesel outboard

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U.S. Coast Guard emblemThe U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) will be holding its 97th meeting on March 23-25, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.

Their March 2, 2018 notice in the Federal Register invited public comments, due by March 6th if they were to be distributed in advance to NBSAC members.

We submitted a pubic comment, our recent Propeller Safety dot com post on our updated design chart for preventing outboard motors from breaking off and flipping into boats when striking floating or submerged objects.

We used a cover letter to point out NBSACs own discovery of this problem as retold in the NBSAC95 minutes and attached a copy of our design chart post. Read More→

U.S. Coast Guard emblemThe U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council met for its regularly scheduled NBSAC 95 meeting April 21-23, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia.

Minutes of that meeting were posted in October 2016.

We have spent considerable effort in recent years encouraging NBSAC to:

  1. Recognize outboard motors are breaking off and entering boats with their propellers still running after striking floating or submerged objects, and that this accident scenario is often associated with bass boats.
  2. Increase awareness level of this accident scenario

As we recently closely read the April 2016 NBSAC meeting minutes we noticed they did mention this accident scenario, but they described it in a manner we have never seen or heard before.
We find that quite odd, since several members of the committee and other industry representatives present were well associated with the problem.

NBSAC 95 minutes composite

NBSAC 95 minutes composite

The image above is a composite of pages 1,7, and 8 of the minutes. Read More→

Back in July 2016, we posted a chart for use in designing and testing outboard motors in a way to prevent them from breaking off and entering boats when striking submerged objects.

Today we are posting an updated / enhanced version of that chart. The new chart specifically identifies three more potential design / testing paths to achieve the objective.

Flip In Design Chart

Flip In Design Chart


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We have been following the rising waters in California which the industry was first touting for the additional sales it would generate as many lakes had been down a while depressing marine sales there.

Now as waters continue to rise, California faced/faces continuing issues at the Lake Oroville Lake spillway evacuation, and now the United States Coast Guard is said to be planing to issue a debris warning for San Francisco Bay today.

ABC News 7 of San Francisco released a video when they learned of the debris warning planning to be issued Wednesday 15 February. They note much debris is still floating down into the bay from the Sacramento Delta.

We cover the hazards of marine drives striking floating debris on PropellerSafety.com including the possibility of outboard motors breaking off and flipping into boats while still under power when striking floating debris at speed.

We suspect high waters will increase debris in many California waters, especially impacting bass tournament fishing. We encourage everybody to be extra safe out there and lookout for debris.

We will post the debris warning when it is released.

Meanwhile, Pressure-Drop, a sailing forum, has some great satellite, aerial, and on water photos of the status of the region. The also have a nice discussion of flow rates at the bridges and how and why they differ at the surface near bridges.

Back in 2012 Mark Barhanovich of Biloxi, Mississippi was going out fishing in his boat with a friend just off Biloxi. The Suzuki outboard motor struck a dredge pipe, broke off, flipped into the boat, and killed Mr. Barhanovich, at least partially with the propeller.

Mark Barhanovich's center console fishing boat. Photo from Edward Fritsch expert witness report

Mark Barhanovich’s center console fishing boat.
Photo from Edward Fritsch expert witness report

Mark Barhanovich

Mark Barhanovich

Bean, the dredging firm, previously settled with the Barhanovich family.

Bean brought Suzuki of Japan into the suit in an effort to recapture some of any potential losses. Suzuki moved for summary judgement in U.S. District Court of Southern Mississippi and the case was dismissed.

We covered the Barahanovich accident and case in several previous posts.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard the Barhanovich case in September 2016.

On 4 November 2016, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals filed its opinion. As is sometimes the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals affirms in part (agree with the lower court on some things), and reverses and remand in part (disagree with some of the lower court’s findings and remand the case back to them). Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

Timothy Clippard

Timothy Clippard

In May 2013 Timothy Clippard of Missouri was killed in a boating accident on Kentucky Lake during a bass fishing tournament. His fishing partner piloted the Ranger bass boat as they passed under a large bridge on the way back to weigh in. The 225 horsepower Yamaha outboard motor struck a barely submerged bridge support beam hidden by high water. The outboard motor broke off the back of the boat, flipped into the boat, and with the propeller still rotating under power, fatally struck Tim Clippard. We previously covered the accident at Timothy Clippard of Missouri Killed on Kentucky Lake in Boat Accident.

Mr. Clippard’s widow sued Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA and Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. (Japan).

Clippard, et al v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., et al
United States District Court
Western District of Kentucky
Case # 5:;14-cv-83-TBR

The complaint alleged:

1. Yamaha was aware of the risk of outboard motors striking submerged objects and flipping into the boat, and was aware of feasible alternative designs to eliminate these risks, and did little to develop and nothing to implement such alternative designs.

2. Yamaha knew or should have known the hazards and dangers associated with the motor and failed to adequately warn expected and foreseeable users.

In addition to traditional damages sought with the death of a loved one in a collision accident, the family also sought punitive damages based on Yamaha’s knowledge of the problem and their failure to develop and implement alternative designs.

Curtis O. Poore of The Limbaugh Law Firm and Peter Perlman of Peter Perlman Law Offices filed the complaint on 30 April 2014. Midway during the case, Morry S. Cole of Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. replaced Mr. Perlman.

Linsey W. West and Kara M. Stewart of Dinsmore & Shohle LLP and Richard A. Mueller of Thompson Colburn LLP represented Yamaha.

The Judge, Judge Thomas B. Russell, issued an Order of Dismissal on 30 September 2016 announcing a settlement had been reached, and the case was dismissed.


0 Categories : Legal Shorts