Several people has asked how to make upgrades to Harbor Freight boat trailers. Here you go.
Oh, I just figured out how to give Darth Predt more power without him totally disintegrating. (Darth Predt is my SPS longtail for those of you who don’t know.) It’s the old stage system. In auto racing drivers and builders refer to a system of escalating stages for any motor build.
Here’s how it works. You buy a basic engine like a 212cc, 6.5 hp Predator, then follow this sequence:
- Engine acquisition
- Engine break-in with cheap oil
- First oil change replace cheap oil with high-end synthetic oil
- Zero modifications
- cheap or easy modifications without modifying the motor’s interior components
- this leads to significant increases in power because you remove the EPA’s restrictive exterior system components
- add performance intake and exhaust
- jet the carburetor
- more power virtually no loss in reliability
- more expensive or more difficult modifications without modifying the motor’s interior components.
- billeted fly wheel
- advanced timing key
- stiffer springs
- performance carburetor
- even more power with little loss in reliability
- cost effective but more difficult modifications made to the interior engine components
- governor removal
- billet rod
- high RPM
- good balance between high power and engine reliability
- all out, Mad Max, Evel Knievel mods of epic doom
- high compression cylinder head
- big carburetor
- high lift rocker arms
- lightweight push rods
- basically a total rebuild from the bottom up with all racing grade components.
- a custom build for a specific application. high torque vs high RPM.
- most power output, least reliability: get ready to build a new motor after about five trips.
Keep in mind each stage builds off the previous stage.
If you want to know how to build and hot rod mud motors kind these, consider the free Hot Rod Your Mud Motor eCourse.
I searched for several years to buy an outboard motor. The kinds of motors you see all the time here in the United States, the Johnsons, Mercuries, Yamahas and Suzukis of the world. Don’t get me wrong these are all nice motors, well built, but being a poor, country man like myself, these motors were out of my reach. The cost of acquisition was too high, maintenance and repair too complicated, and the closed architecture of these units meant I could not work on them myself without a diploma in marine outboard repair or mechanical engineering. Let’s look at these concepts:
Overly Complicated Motors
Have you ever noticed how cars have become as complicated as airplanes? Computer controlled this, that and the other. Well, outboard manufacturers have followed the same path. I love technology, and advances in such have brought better fuel economy to outboard motors that electronic fuel injection and computer controlled ignition brought to automobiles.
The cost? Well, good luck working on it yourself. If something goes wrong, unless you have the tools and training to work on a modern fighter jet, you’ll have to rely on technicians at the shop. Than means money. Not only that but get ready to have your boat in the shop for up to two weeks even for an oil change or tune up with $100 per hour shop rate.
That sets up the next point.
I went to Academy Sports to see what outboards they had. I needed something for less than $1,000, as that was all I could afford. Well, they had a 2.5 horsepower Mercury short shaft motor for $864. Do the math. That’s $345.60 per horsepower.
2.5 hp motor would have made a great trolling motor, but I needed speed, enough power to get up on a plane and get to my spots quicker so I could spend more time gunning and less time running. Eight to 10 horsepower would have been more like it.
As far as cost, hey, buy it online and save right? If you looks at some of the online outboard discount places, a 2.5 hp four stroke Tohatsu runs $869.99, more that the local Mercury. (Mercury power heads are made by Tohatsu, by the way.) The cheapest motor I could buy was almost out of my budget range with nowhere near enough power for my needs. An 8 hp Tohatsu? $1,599.99 or $199.99 per horsepower. A 9.8 hp Tohatsu? $1,799.99 or $183.67 per horsepower.
Notice how the cost per horsepower decreases as you buy more motor.
Build & Modify Yourself
Over Thanksgiving 2014 I built my own mud motor using a kit from SPS North America at $464.92, the power head a simple 6.5 hp go-kart motor from Harbor Freight at $106.82, and I bought a few hot rod go-kart upgrade parts for $48.99 from OMB Warehouse. That totals $620.73 or $95.49 per horsepower. That’s stock horsepower.
I don’t have access to a small engine dyno, but according to go-kart engine builders to do test these things, they have measured just shy of 9 hp with similar upgrades: intake, exhaust and carburetor mods. Let’s say 8.5 hp with the upgrades. The price per horsepower drops to $73.02.
These were mild upgrades, only removing the restrictive external components replacing them high-flow, high-performance parts. Just imagine if you went inside the motor and upgraded cam shafts, value trains, fly wheels and such. Would the costs continue to drop? That a post for another day!
Longtail mud motors are a great value-per-dollar option for anyone needing an outboard motor.
Good times, tight lines
P.S., If you have want to learn how to upgrade your SPS Longtail to get the kind of horsepower mentioned above without breaking the bank or ruining your motor, check out my new Hot Rod Your Mud Motor e-Course. It’s free.
I sat in my dinky old rowboat, the one with the green paint peeling off, the lettering “Pine Crest Day Camp” barely visible. My fishing pole was propped against the side of the boat as I reached in my pocket and plucked out a peppermint my grandfather had given me earlier that day. The glare of the sun on the candy wrapper made me squint and as I shut my eyes I thought back to the story Granddad had told all us kids just that morning.
“Story! Story! Story!” Suzie screamed impatiently as her tiny fists pummeled Grandad’s knee. At two, my little sister was a constant annoyance because she had to have everything immediately. At ten, I was a man and knew the value in being still and waiting. ‘Course I probably learned that ‘cause Grandad taught me that the first time he took me fishing. But, the screeching didn’t seem to upset Grandad. He just leaned back in his rocker and scratched his whiskered chin and appeared to think. “A story? Well, now, I don’t know if I know of a story.” The gleam in his eye gave him away and my brothers and sisters and cousins all stopped their playing and squabbling and studied him for a moment before running across the yard and settling onto the porch at the foot of Grandad’s rocking chair. “I suppose I could tell you about Big Henry, but, nah, you’d never believe it.” A chorus of “I’d believe it!” rang out and that was enough to get Grandad started.
“Well, let’s see, the first time I encountered Big Henry I was about your size,” Grandad poked me in the chest. “I was out on Lake Wheeler with the Nicholsons. We lived next door to the Nicholsons. Nice folks. Mr. Nicholson was some kind of salesman and traveled a lot and Mrs. Nicholson always had fresh baked cookies. They didn’t have any kids of their own, but they always welcomed the neighborhood kids and loved ‘em just like we were their own.” Some of us started shuffling our feet, getting restless; we already knew all about the Nicholsons. “Anyway,” Grandad continued, “this one Saturday Mr. and Mrs. Nicholson decided to take their boat out and asked me if I wanted to come along. I sure did love being on the water, and I sure did love the Nicholsons, and I especially loved Mrs. Nicholson’s homemade cookies.” Grandad closed his eyes and a slow smile spread across his face as he remembered the taste of those cookies. A few seconds later his eyelids fluttered open and he resumed his story. “An hour later we were out on Lake Wheeler and Mr. Nicholson was showing me how to bait my line and instructing me on when and how to toss it in the water to get a fish to bite. He even joked that if I was really good I might snag me Big Henry.” All us kids took a collective breath and leaned closer. “’Big Henry?’ I asked. ‘Who’s Big Henry?’ ‘Who’s Big Henry?!’ Mr. Nicholson repeated like he’d never heard such a dumb question. But, he went right on and answered me without even pausing for breath. ‘Why, Big Henry’s the biggest catfish in these here waters. Folks say he’s a good sixty pounds.’ I laughed, knowing Mr. Nicholson was just telling me a fish story. I sure hadn’t seen or heard about anybody catching a sixty pound catfish. But, Mr. Nicholson just smiled. A few hours later, we were hot and tired and about ready to head in when I begged to throw the line just one more time. It hit the water with a satisfying plop and almost immediately I hooked a fish. A big one. One so big I couldn’t get it in by myself. Mr. Nicholson came over and helped me reel it in. After a few minutes of struggling I stood there, gaping, while I stared at the fish in the bottom of the boat. A catfish. A catfish as big as I was. Mr. Nicholson clapped me on the back and said, ‘Well, son, you done caught Big Henry!’ I nodded, still too stunned to speak. Mr. Nicholson unhooked him and said, ‘Let’s throw him back now.’ I quickly found my voice. ‘Throw him back? Throw him back? Gee whiz, I’m not throwing him back!’ Mr. Nicholson bent down on one knee and said, ‘Do you know that feeling of pride and joy you have right now from catching Big Henry?’ I bobbed my head slowly. ‘Well, you see, if we throw him back, not only will he continue to grow, but you’ll be giving someone else a chance to have that same feeling.’ As much as I still longed to keep Big Henry, a part of me wanted to have a chance to catch him again so I slid him into the water and promised him I’d be back.”
Grandad paused and the screen door creaked open as Granny came out with a tray of lemonade and a stack of glasses. After we all got a glassful and Granny had bustled off into the house we settled back down. “Well, Grandad,” one of my cousins asked, “did you ever see him again?” “Yeah, did you get a chance to catch Big Henry after that?” another one piped up. “Did I? Did I ever! Let me tell you…” Grandad answered.
“I went fishing on Lake Wheeler, Holt Reservoir, and down by the dam every chance I got. But, I didn’t see Big Henry again. I was beginning to think I had imagined the whole afternoon when one day, while in my twenties, I saw a large, dark shadow glide by and I knew – I just knew – it was Big Henry. I stuck a piece of Skipjack on my circle hook and tossed my line overboard. In less than a minute I had a bite and I could tell by the way he was pulling, I’d snagged Big Henry. He put up a hard fight, and although he’s powerful, catfish that size don’t have much endurance, so I had him in the boat in ten minutes. And sure enough, just as Mr. Nicholson had promised, Big Henry had grown. He was now almost 100 pounds. As I stood there exulting in my prize catch I remembered a little boy over a decade earlier, chest puffed out in pride, joy filling his heart over landing Big Henry; and I knew what I had to do. I reached down and hauled Big Henry up. I looked him in the eye and told him once more that I’d be back.”
We were sitting in shock that Grandad would have released Big Henry again. Grandad nodded and said, “Yep. In fact, I’ve caught Big Henry now so many times I’ve lost count. But, I always let him go because there’s a little boy out there who needs to catch him a lot more than I do. Although it won’t do him much good, since Big Henry probably weighs close to 200 pounds by now.” The slamming of the screen door made us all jump. Granny came stomping out on the porch, shaking her finger at Grandad. “Damon Toney, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, telling these kids about Big Henry. You know they’re gonna’ believe you and you’re just telling them fish stories again.” Granny shook her head and clumped back in the house. Grandad just smiled.
My peppermint was nearly gone and I opened my eyes and breathed out feeling the fresh, minty tingle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a dark shadow. I turned and watched as a very large, very slow something swam right past my boat. It couldn’t have been Big Henry, because Big Henry was just a story. Right?
~ from a lady friend named Misty
Hey, guys. I just finished putting together a new video e-course teaching how to hot rod you mud motors. If you’ve been wondering how to get more horsepower and torque out of your mud motor without ruining the engine or breaking your bank account, this e-course might be for you. It’s free.
Good times, tight lines
The LORD is my Lord. He stretched the heavens and brought forth the many lights. He named them and taught them to shine. He girded Orion’s loins, and gave him his strength. He placed His dipper the Big Dipper on His table the sky. With His Little Dipper He scoops a bowl of soup for a meal.
He gave Pegasus wings; to Aquila He gave a beak. The great Crab He gave pincers. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah he placed in the sky with a great mane as Leo. The Twins He placed in the heavens, Gemini.
He gave all the stars their place, and gave them their light according to their distance form the earth. He filled the universe with their light, with His glory He filled them.
The Lord is the light of the sky. The LORD is my Lord.
A lady friend of mine wrote this poem about man-sized catfish below the dam:
Every town has a legend or myth
That locals are familiar with.
Ours is more truth than myth,
‘Bout a man-sized fish named Biggie.
That in the waters around here
Is a creature that strikes fear
When the story reaches the ear
Of a man-sized fish named Biggie.
A puppy wandered too close to the lake—
I’ll spare the details for your sake—
But a tail was all that remained in the wake
Of a man-sized fish named Biggie.
One day, to the lake a stranger came.
No one even knew his name.
He made clear his single aim:
The man-sized fish name Biggie.
I heard this from a trusted source:
A battle raged, force against force.
No one knows what happened, of course,
‘Cept the man-sized fish named Biggie.
The folks still yearned throughout the years
For a hero who’d be met with cheers,
For someone to set aside his fears
Of a man-sized fish named Biggie.
At last Damon had his say
And boldly stepped into the fray.
He said I’ll use my secret way
On a man-sized fish named Biggie.
And when the struggle was complete
The giant lay crushed at Damon’s feet.
And so it seemed it was defeat
For a man-sized fish named Biggie.
But the foe was thrown into the water
So that some other son or daughter
Could once again pull from the water
A man-sized fish named Biggie.
~a lady friend named Misty.
Someone asked about setting the throttle tension the Predator Series motors. It’s a simple deal, there’s one bolt on the throttle body that sets it.
From interesting discussion over o the Swamp Runner Forums about what would make the ideal hull for a longtail mud motor.