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Mercury Verado 4 stroke supercharged outboards.

 

Updated October 19, 2013

My Story of Mercury Verado

Four Stroke outboard motors have been becoming the mainstay. As we all know the bunny huggers of the world are taking control so the old ways of the presumably dirty engines are gone. The EPA wants the environmental assets, the public wants the seemingly good fuel economy, quiet operation and the presumed longevity of the four stroke engine platform. The days of two strokes are getting behind us now (with a few exceptions) and the future is Four Stroke outboard motors..

My jump into the four stroke outboard world was with Mercury Verado. I started using these motors on one of my boats back in 2004. Since then I have had many of these motors and can tell you that there are few people on the planet that have more time with these engines than me and my crew here at Dream Catcher Charters. Operating over 1400 charters per year on 6 boats running full time we know what it means to have consistent power with no headaches and the Mercury Verado has met that challenge head on.

4 stroke is obviously the way of the future.. Almost every outboard engine manufacturer now has a 4 stroke version of their product, some of them have been making them for years and others are just catching up. Look around the docks today of newer boats and I would say that 80% of the engines on transoms are 4 stroke engines.

Image of Mercury 300 Pro Verado Outboard

Are they better? That’s a matter of opinion and application.

My opinion of four strokes, Well, Until Mercury Verado, I did not even consider them. Which brings me to my reason for this review.

My one year old Pre Loved Mercury motors are for sale on the linked page above.

Mercury Verado,

Mercury Marine has done it again.

Research was done to ensure that this word meant absolutely nothing in any spoken or written language in the world; a process that is not only time consuming but probably very expensive. Mercury went forward with this aggressive approach as the very first of many steps toward changing the world of outboard motors. Unique in every way, Mercury Verado has indeed reached the goal Mercury has set before it, redefining the use of outboard motors once again. Taking boating to the next level.

The short end of the story goes like this: hire the best engine designers in the world, tell them that this motor has to be different than any other, spend a bunch of money on tooling and research, test and evaluate the creation more than ever has been done before, then offer it to the public as the Messiah of outboard motors with confidence. That’s just what Mercury did when they debuted this creation at the 2004 Miami International Boat show.

With this impressive power platform Mercury started with a familiar and competitive lineup. Mercury offers the 6 cylinder Verado in 200, 225, 250 and 275 hp versions in 2007 a 300 hp model came to be and 2008 Mercury Marine introduced the 350 SCI. All with the same 2.6 litre block size and engine platform .Motors came with typical 20, 25 and 30 inch transom shafts to fit in any regular marine application with industry standard bolting patterns. But that may be where the similarities stop. The Verado L6 is an in line 6 cylinder supercharged outboard. Mercury has used an in line power approach in the past; however, this one is totally different not only in the way it was built but in everything else. The only thing that is the same is the name of the manufacturer..

Tons of power at all rpm bands, silent, smooth operation, ease of use and fuel efficient were the target. Many things about this engine are an industry first. An entirely new mid section was created for this motor. The steering pin is much larger disbursing the weight of the motor more evenly allowing for tremendous durability for our offshore anglers heading out in 6 ft seas. The way the engine is mounted the design of the engine itself dampens the vibration completely, this and the insulation of the new cowling offers a no vibration silent idling package. The trim system has been totally redesigned as well to match this new mounting bracket giving the Verado a tough look and functional presence. The mid section was shapely designed as well to compliment the state of the art unique cowling design, giving the motor a powerfully sexy look to compliment any vessel.

On the business end Verado’s gear case also got a work-over in 2010 and 11. The Verado puts out a good bit of torque at the low end, more so than her 2 stroke counterparts so a stronger gear case was needed. Mercury Marine stepped up to the plate here as well with a newer, redesigned, tougher gear case and internals to withstand the punishment. No worries though, the engineers kept the same prop shaft splines to match any of our Mercury hub propellers. There are two versions of Gear cases for the Mercury Verado, The HD with the tougher housing and gear set and the standard. Get with your dealer which one is right for you. We have found in lengthy tests that the HD gear case is a little slower.

Why stop there? When Mercury was designing the Verado they went ahead and redesigned the way a boat operates all together making the Verado the center hub of the boats power and information. Enter, Digital Throttle and Shift with Smart Craft technology.

Smart Craft has been around for a few years operating with the Optimax line of engines. Offering boaters a way to monitor a list of potentially important items, some listed below. All these features can be found in the Smart Craft Systems Vessel View Mercury Engines that are Smart Craft Capable. Always advancing Mercury has taken the Smart Craft network to a level that is truly amazing. Fuel management, steering guidance interface with common brand electronics, total engine monitoring and maintenance tracking.

Along with all of that the processor also keeps a log of information on running history for the life of the engine. This aids in diagnostics and troubleshooting in the event of an engine malfunction. Smart Craft was ahead of its time and still had so much more to offer. Hard to believe, Well its true I have been working with Smart Craft for over 4 years and so far it has not missed a beat in what it is designed to deliver, and it only keeps getting better.

To work with all the possibilities Smart Craft has to offer rose the the need in the industry for a digital throttle and shift system that would communicate with Smart Craft and operate as smooth as their new motor the Verado. Truly a new age in boating was about to emerge. DTS...

D.T.S. Digital Throttle and Shift. DTS is a control that handles shifting operation digitally through data cables instead of Throttle Cables. DTS and Smart Craft together offer a control and information network that really takes the work out of boating. The DTS throttle and shift is hooked up to the Smart Craft Network through a small processor that coordinates all the information. There is one processor needed per engine. Some folks are concerned about the Old “fly by wire” being to slow for reaction time or what ever, I was one of them. News is out. There really is no difference. As a professional boat driver in many applications I can tell the difference, however easily over come like driving one car or the other. This system is absolutely the smoothest operation I have ever used. There is No way a throttle cable can give as good as or as accurate a response as DTS. Plus, Throttle Cables go bad and everyone who has a boat knows what kind of a royal PITA that can be to replace. More about the rigging later in this review.

Like what you see about Digital Throttle and Shift so far? Well, just wait it gets better.

Is your application a triple or quad engine installation? Lets talk about Shadow Mode. Shadow mode is a fabulous application that allows boaters with 3 and 4 engines to only have two throttles. Imagine that. I can have three engines and not have to be a world champ power boat racer to dock my boat with a handful of sticks.

Here is how DTS Shadow mode works.

Two throttles, three engines. (Works the same for 4 too). We all know that docking a dual engine boat is simple, to turn the boat or spin it, one engine forward and one in reverse.. Here it is the same way. The middle engine does the same as the other two together. If one is in reverse and the other is forward the center engine stays neutral. Both forward, center engine goes forward and matches the RPMS through the on board DTS Smart Craft Engine Synchronizers. Reverse, well, you get the picture.

Now, lets talk about the steering. Redesigned for this package was also the whole steering system. The Verado 6 cylinder has its own steering ram and helm. This steering system is power assisted by a very well put together pump that is installed in the boat. Oh, and lets not leave the pump out of the loop for DTS or Smart Craft. It too is also hooked up into the digital network for the user to see things like helm position or auto pilot information.

Now that’s a ton of information to go boating with. When I first started looking into and playing with Verado I could not wait to get into the rigging and technical about this engine. At first I was hugely over whelmed. It took some studying but when I started looking at the whole system I was thinking to myself that Mercury has made this whole network of Engine, Control, Gauges, and Boat more complex and concise however this time not at the cost of more complication. In the past, when a manufacturer came out with some latest and greatest thing it was sometimes too complicated for even a skilled mechanic to understand. Verado, DTS and Smart Craft are not that way; in fact I see this system being the forefront of things to come in the industry. Mercury has once again set the bar.

Being inundated with all this new technology for marine use is a huge undertaking for someone who is looking to re-power their boat with Verado. Mercury even thought of that, and came to the challenge by making a dealer/service tech accessible data driven web site to completely rig out a boat piece by piece Verado style.

The job I did on my Eco Tour boat back in 2005 was a complete re-rigging going from Optimax to Verado. I was fortunate enough to be allowed to use the new data driven site that the dealers can use to order my parts in spec to my boats needs. This worked great! All the parts that I and my service guy needed showed up in days complete and ready for assembly, there was nothing missing and everything was the right size. I was truly amazed.

Doing the job itself was a large undertaking. I was lucky enough to have a week off work and the service center of Murray Marine here in Key West who was gracious enough to allow me to work in their facility to do as much as I could as Joe boat owner with the assistance of their master Mercury Tech when I needed him. The job was tough and it was hot, however, I will say that it seemed to take longer to un-rig that boat than it did to put it back together. Remember there are no throttle cables, the whole installation are plug in and play. They even have the plugs labeled for slow folks like myself. Once we had everything together the master tech plugged in his Mercury Verado computer to “Wake Up” the motors and set the defaults I was on my way.

Keep in mind that I did not install my engines myself to prove that it can be done by Joe boater to save himself some money on service and labor. Nor would I even suggest someone try it themselves. I ran into plenty of snags that were completely foreign to me that only a tech would know how to correct. I did this experience to learn more about how the Verado network works so that I could share it with folks who are interested in buying one of these fantastic machines.

Now that’s a ton of information to go boating with. When I first started looking into and playing with Verado I could not wait to get into the rigging and technical about this engine. At first I was hugely over whelmed. It took some studying but when I started looking at the whole system I was thinking to myself that Mercury has made this whole network of Engine, Control, Gauges, and Boat more complex and concise however this time not at the cost of more complication. In the past, when a manufacturer came out with some latest and greatest thing it was sometimes too complicated for even a skilled mechanic to understand. Verado, DTS and Smart Craft are not that way; in fact I see this system being the forefront of things to come in the industry. Mercury has once again set the bar.

Lets talk about the package now.

I waited a while before I actually wrote this piece on these motors. My first review was in 2009, this is 2012 now. As most of my regular readers know, I will not to jump to an impression about a product to soon but sit back and study not only my first hand experiences with the product but also the experiences that other professionals have shared with me as well. Now I have over 20,000 hours between 10 different boats being used every day and my review is the same.

As I stated my experiences with the Verado are not limited to one boat. I have had the chance to operate several different applications from single engine bass boats, twin engine center consoles and triple engine applications with and without the new Shadow drive DTS innovation. All with Verado and DTS applications. Currently in my charter arsenal we have a 28 ft Pro Line with 2 250 Verado and a 23ft Action Craft Coastal bay with a single Verado 250, a yellowfin 32 with twin 300's and Yellowfin 24 bay boats with single 300 Mercury Verados.

Verado is Quiet, Smooth and Responsive.

I am sure many folks have been at the dock and heard these motors idle, or not heard them. I have made jokes that the motor is so quiet that I will go through starter trying to restart my motors again and again not being able to hear them running back there like the old days. Once again this is a testament to Mercury’s dedication to quality. Many resources were put into this motor being the quietest it can be. Along with silent idle operation there is absolutely no vibration. This in itself is truly, a huge step forward and away from the old days.

General operation of the Mercury Verado is a real treat. Let’s start just around the docks. First there are a few small things that old school guys like myself have to get used to. First, the DTS controls. As a mentioned there is no feed back to the throttles or stickiness or stuck ness, they are all about smooth. When maneuvering around the docks for the first time one may have a tendency to overpower, again we are used to the engine noise and with Verado there is very little engine noise. Gear shift is so smooth and firm, definitely a testament to Mercury’s new gear case design changes. No more grinding gears with a slow shift Verado’s are either in or out of gear. Remember, you now have a computer doing the technical work for you. I can’t tell you how much this will help in an engines life because of less wear and tear.

One note of mention about the Steering pumps performance. I have heard some of my colleagues mention something about pump noise from the older 04, 05 steering units. I went to investigate and found this to be a really silly point. If we had the engines of old days we would not even hear the pump over the engine noise. Mercury has since fixed the issue with even better insulation for those with delicate ears. The power assisted pump does a great job keeping up with helm demand and the engines will turn without the motors running or the pump turned on.

Another thing missing from the old days is the smoke. These motors are truly smoke less. Even the extremely fuel efficient Optimax would smoke just a little. Verado Being 4 stroke engines they does not burn lubricating oil through the combustion chambers of the cylinders rather than more like a car it has an oil plenum and oil pump that showers, the vital engine parts that need it as the engine runs, all to be recollected back at the plenum for re circulation. Reducing the operating cost even more for this engine there is no need to buy oil.

Now we are out of the harbor and getting ready to plane out. I have been looking for a good analogy for this for a while now. I keep coming back to the Old Star Trek television show. Remember when Kirk would give the go ahead to leave the Galaxy and Mr. Chekhov would slide those two levers forward and the ship would just go to warp 3 effortlessly.. Well there ya go. That’s what my twin engine boat feels like coming out of the hole and down the way with Verado. There is a TON of torque in those engines and you will really feel it.

Moving along at Cruise in my boat is about 35 mph @ 3800 rpm. At this speed I can hold a long conversation with a client out to the fishing grounds at normal speaking range. This has not only made my day nicer with less noise, but also helped me build relationships with my people on the way out giving them a better experience on my boat as well. I have been finding lately all they want to talk about though are my engines… Oh well, pretty soon everyone will have them.

Ok, lets put the fire to it and let em eat. Performance of the Verado is truly awe inspiring. I have some very good comparisons. On my 28ft boat I went from the 250xs Optimax from Mercury Racing to the Verado twin 250’s. I lost exactly 2 miles per hour in my top speed. Same props, same load, and same grade of fuel. This to me was truly amazing. The Verado is not only a 4 stroke but also out weighs my other application by roughly 250 lbs over all. I was impressed by that comparison.

On a personal note I never thought I would put as much weight into the engine noise that I have after operating the Verado. As a 20 year veteran captain with a whole lot of thousands of hours with outboards running in my ear for hours on end I can’t tell you how much nicer it is to have a quiet motor back there. At the end of my day I am actually not as tired and feel as though I am enjoying more of what I do out there in god’s nature all because of the Verado.

Environmentally speaking, there is really no point in going here in this article. I have seen lots of propaganda regarding the use of 2 stroke versus four stroke engines and which ones are more Enviro Friendly from both sides. I have even seen some evidence that the Optimax is more environmentally friendly with fewer emissions than any 4 stroke in on the market today. The answer to this section here is, the powers that be are making us change what we use and tightening the laws the way they see fit. By 2010 I am not sure if Mercury will be allowed to make the super efficient Optimax any more. (It is 2010 and the Opti Max program is alive and well). Things are changing, just like the meat in your burger at McDonalds. As consumers we may not have asked for it, in the testing it may show we really don’t need it, but someone is telling us we gotta have it, so there we have the 4 stroke outboard.

In closing The Mercury Verado is not only the next big thing in the marine industry. It will be the thing that all others are based on. Mercury has jumped years ahead and made boating so much safer and enjoyable for everyone. After I have had the chance to run, test, work with, rig, and maintain the Verado I can honestly tell someone that with all that is out there on the market both 2 stroke and 4 stroke, Verado coupled with Smart Craft is the Propulsion system that you need for your boat.


Capt. Steven P. Lamp AKA (Dr Catcher)

Dream Catcher Charters

Key West, Florida