June 15, 2010

Interview - Neil Young from H4 Marine

PowerYacht gets to chat with H4 Marine boss Neil Young. Based in the United Kingdom, Britain in Devon H4 Marine is the European dealer for three of the most innovative and efficient drive line products around, which are the Seatorque Shaft Boss System, Quickutter rope cutters, and Maritex composite bearings.
Questions PY. PowerYacht, Reply NY – Neil Young

PY. Hello Neil Young good to have you here, tell us more about H4 Marine your company and what kind of services you offer to the boater in the UK and in main land Europe?
NY – Over 4 years ago H4 Marine was set up to source and supply new technologies to boat builders, operators and users. We supply three core products to boat builders, operators and owners: The quicKutter rope/line cutter, Maritex bearings and the Seatorque shaft system. However we will be adding new products in the future so keep an eye on our website h4marine.com!

PY. Get into details about the brands you represent for Europe and the UK.
NY – QuicKutter™ started it all, and it is now proven on commercial as well as high performance vessels, as the most effective and robust debris protection cutter on the market. The RNLI have been using it for 4 years and are now removing a scissor cutter on the Severn class lifeboats to fit the quicKutter. QuicKutter is fitted as standard on all Christensen yachts, and Aqua Star 40’ and 80’ models. We have also supplied them to new Sunseeker, Hardy, Princess, Sessa and Grand Banks boats, as well as many more commercial vessels. Seatorque shaft systems came to work with H4 as the result of them looking for a cutter that would protect the seals from fishing line, without disturbing the smooth water flow achieved by putting the shaft in a tube. The Seatorque system is a complete shaft system with integral thrust bearings allowing the engine to be isolated from thrust forces. It runs the shaft in oil on needle roller and plain journal bearings. The result is more hp at the prop and a very clean water flow delivered to the prop. The user will see a quieter boat with less vibration and also lower fuel burn or engine loads at the same speeds as with a conventional drive. (Having a spinning shaft actually spins the water so that when it arrives at the P bracket it is traveling in a spiral causing some turbulence off the side of the P bracket leg.) Maritex bearings, developed in Perth by the owner of the quicKutter technology, offer a number of advantages in rudder, stern tube and stabiliser applications. For example, Maritex Aquarius is the only bearing material which resists marine growth and helps remove marine growth from the shaft. When vessels are not used for a few weeks in warm waters marine growth can leave abrasive particles which rapidly wear the bearings or shafts. You might also find Maritex bearings in superyacht crane systems where it offers low friction and a longer life whilst working at very high loads. We can machine and ship bearings 7 days a week as is often required in the commercial sector.

PY. Visiting the H4 Marine website it is easily felt a big involvement from your company and products with the professional boating world more then to the leisure one. Why is this so?
NY - I decided to target the commercial boating world with these new products first, as this is where they could really prove how effective, and more importantly how robust they were. If you have a system that is effective and easy to maintain or needs very limited maintenance when the vessel is operating for over 2000 hours a year, you know it will have no problems in a leisure boat for many years.

PY. Do you think this is a problem of cost, marketing or something else?
NY – There is something in that, however, the commercial customers provide a solid base which does not seem to be suffering any downturn, and we are slowly but surely moving into more leisure boat applications. You can expect to see more familiar names using Seatorque and Maritex over the next 12 months, either as an option or as standard fittings. And despite not having targeted the leisure boat market, we have sold several hundred quicKutters to individual owners. Part of this is due to being a supplier to the RNLI, we think.

PY. Which of the brands you represent are you most excited about?
NY – That’s a difficult question; Seatorque will be fitted to some new names in the coming months, giving the opportunity for some more good press and boat trials, which will show how efficient it is. But we are also involved with development trials for a new bearing material that could have applications in several hundred high performance ships. This is effectively a new material. We’ve recently introduced a similar material to the carbon spar makers for use as thrust and sheave bearings on very large carbon rigs for yachts over 100’.

PY. Who are the brands World wide and in Europe using Seatorque so far?
NY – So far in Europe we have Marex, which was reviewed recently by MBM, Van der Heijden a Dutch luxury steel yacht builder and Drettman. Commercially, the Port of London have ordered more pilot boats to be built by Alnmaritec with Seatorque shafts. They are also specified on another pilot boat design for Egypt that will be built in the UK. World wide we have Fleming, Dean Catamarans, Donzi yachts, Ocean yachts, Egg harbour, FandS, R and R. Many of these are US East coast builders as this is where Seatorque was developed.

PY. Which of these brands have used H4Marine knowledge to install the system?
NY – Our knowledge of vessel types and duty cycles as well as the detailed requirements of the system is there to pick up any issues that arise in the early stages. The installation itself is so simple that the standard install manual covers everything boat builders need to know. We can also draw on the experience of Peter Stolper (the inventor) who developed the system when he was building boats. He is able to give detailed technical advice on grp and aluminium construction.

PY. Considering its advantages I am still surprised to see none of the major production boat builders using this. Why do you think is this so.
NY – I think there are three reasons. Firstly, we don’t have the marketing budget of the big green engines and their pod drive options, which on paper look very attractive to customers as well as builders. Secondly, the recent downturn, which has meant a slow down in new product development, and thirdly, I honestly think that some builders want to save money in this area of the boat, as it isn’t seen much and customers have become used to the standard perception of what a smooth quiet boat is. Seatorque sets a new bench mark in terms of smooth, quiet and efficient performance.

PY. Did some of the major most renowned European or British powerboat building brands ever contacted you or expressed interest in Seatorque?
NY – Yes, they’ve also been showing a lot of interest in builders like Fleming - who had visits at Southampton boatshow from other builders looking at the installation.

PY. What efficiency ratings does a Seatorque system versus a standard line shaft drive?
NY – This is a difficult area to give figures on as it is affected by a wide range of factors. Our clearest evidence is when back to back trials were carried out on a twin 2000hp MTU set up. This showed around 5-7% reduction in fuel burn and engine loads on the same props. On the British Motor Boat Monthly test of the Marex, their figures on fuel efficiency are 25% saving over the Fairline Targa 38 at 31knots 30% saving over the Sealine SC35 at 31knots 38% saving over the Nimbus 365 Coupe at 24.5knots 50% saving over the Corvette 320 at 25knots It’s always difficult to compare different boat and drive options but these were boats MBM felt were representative in the current market against a 7 tonne 11.37m aft cabin cruiser.

PY. And versus the modern pods how do you compare?
NY – We should have some figures soon, but on paper the mechanics say we have a more efficient way to get the drive to the prop, and in terms of hydrodynamics very similar as the legs are quite thick on pods.

PY. Can Seatorque be fitted to an existent boat? And is this complicated to do?
NY – Yes we have had Seatorque retro fitted. The amount of work very much depends on the drive set up and boat design. It’s something any boat yard should be capable of doing though.

PY. How much would a system on a twin 400hp twelve meter motor boat cost?
NY – The cost is, of course, dependant on a number of factors such as length and gearbox reduction as well as hp but as a guide price a recent quote for a 14m boat with twin 575hp D9’s running 2” shafts was just over $14,000 US per boat as a one off. To a production builder fitting them as standard equipment this would be less. In a production environment there will be savings of a few thousand dollars in man hours on the shop floor. There are also savings over the warranty period as boats will not need shaft realignment or checks in this area.

PY. Are also the Maritex bearings easy to install on an existent boat?
NY – Maritex shaft bearings are a straight replacement for rubber or elastomeric shaft bearings and rudder bearings. We use a fitting system that beds the bearing on epoxy rather than press fitting it. This allows you to confirm the alignment of the carrier and stern tube. With the shaft supported you should be able to spin the bearing in the carrier on the shaft. You then simply coat the bearing in epoxy and slide in. Removal is equally simple as the type of epoxy we use softens with heat. Recent trials on some fast 56m vessels with over 6,000hp have shown noticeable reduction in noise and wear.

PY. Now tells us something more about yourself and how you happen to work in the Professional and Leisure marine industry?
NY – I trained as an Engineer back in the late 70’s in Plymouth and always had an active interest in boats and the sea, with yacht racing, windsurfing and surfing. Following a pretty good career in electronics and then telecoms - which meant I spent too much time commuting to London, Paris or Amsterdam, I took some time out and sailed my own yacht on the Atlantic circuit for a couple of years. I had considered running charters and putting my feet up somewhere hot, but I missed working with technology and new innovations (I was involved with some of the latest telecoms technology around 2000 as H4 consulting). So with all that time on my hands exploring new anchorages and covering many ocean miles I started looking for some new developments that were genuinely different, but most importantly were needed, and worked. I discovered the quicKutter™ shaft line/rope cutter and immediately bought one and set up a test rig. The cutter worked and had many advantages over the existing approach to the problem of debris caught by props. This was what started H4 and we have since added Maritex and Seatorque to our product range.

PY. What events does H4 Marine participate and how can one contact your company?
NY – We attend Seaworks in Southampton, which is in June. This year it starts today the 15 June and goes till after tommorow the 17th. You will find us on the quay side at Q6. We also attend METS in Amsterdam.
Email or phone sales@h4marine.com +44(0)1822 852466. Email any urgent requirements as these are picked up or forwarded 7 days a week.
Thank you for your time Neil and best of luck with spreading the message of your unique propulsion products.

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