In the June issue of Trailer Boat, we reviewed the Johnson 250 the most powerful outboard in the OMC line-up. Now we can report its low emission Evinrude FICHT 225 counterpart provides performance almost as good, along with substantial fuel and oil consumption savings. And for all its performance, it's still 2% lighter than a Honda BF130!
Recently, I tried the FICHT 225 fitted to a 5.9 metre Seafarer Vermont sportsboat. The test made for a very interesting comparison with the Johnson 250 on the same hull.
Basically, the FICHT 225 utilises the same FICHT Fuel Injection (FFI) system as Evinrude's 90-175 hp models which injects fuel directly into the combustion chambers and operates on a 300:1 petrol/oil ratio at Dead Slow Troll (DST), and up to 60:1 at Wide Open Throttle (WOT). Indeed the major mechanical difference is that the injectors are arranged at right angles to the cylinders to enable them to fit inside the upper cowl on this relatively wide powerhead.
When we tested the FICHT 225, starting was instant, hot or cold, the latter assisted by a fast-idle warm-up feature. Providing the engine is kept above 2000 revs, the fuel/oil ratio is automatically doubled by the electronic engine management for a break-in period of five hours, then reverts back to normal ratios. Once warm, the engine idles at 800rpm in or out of gear, with none of the 'clunk' that often occurs in carbie engines.
Pushing an estimated total of 1500kg (including three adults), the same load as with the Johno, the 225 provided all the performance you'd ever need on this hull. Spinning a 20-inch pitch stainless steel prop, it planed us at 34kmh on 2800 revs compared to 35kmh and 2200 revs for the 22-inch propped Johno.
At 4000 revs across a 30cm chop near the Southport Bar, we averaged 61kmh compared to 68 at the same revs for the Johno. But unlike the Johno, which consumed 65lt/hr, we used an estimated 50lt/hr (there was insufficient time to conduct full consumption tests). This translates to an efficiency improvement of 16%.
Like the Johno, power came in with a bang above 4000 revs, and although acceleration out to WOT was not quite as good, it still gave the impression not unlike a turbocharged powerplant. At 5400 revs we averaged 88kmh compared to 92 at the same revs. Compared to the 110lt/hr for the Johno, the FICHT used an estimated 80lt/hr.
Both Mercury Marine and OMC claim 40-50% better overall fuel efficiency with their direct-injected (DFI) two-strokes over carbie competition. But considering the FICHT 225 results and examples such as a four-stroke Evinrude 70, which compared directly to its two-stroke Johnson 70 (on the same hull it was 14% more efficient at 4000 revs but 65% better at WOT), the real improvement seems to occur above 4000 revs. With a carbie engine, this is when the throttle butterflies open right out after the engine has reached its maximum ignition timing advance, and fuel is literally sucked in like there's no tomorrow!
It's at DST when DFI and four-stroke outboards also score, because they can operate on much leaner air/fuel mixes than carbie outboards, where the idle jets have to be set richer than the mains. But at midrange throttle openings there doesn't appear to be a lot of difference!
Servicing the FICHT 225 is no more complex than its smaller counterparts and under-cowl components are much easier to reach than the Optimax competition. Recommended intervals are every 100 operating hours or once a year (also for the waterpump impeller) after the first 20 hours or three months. After the first year, the long service intervals should make the FICHT 225 cheaper to maintain than a big four-stroke such as Honda's BF130.
From my brief acquaintance with the FICHT 225, I got the impression it was a beautifully-engineered package, well-suited to the needs of canyon-runner owners who need two-stroke performance with four-stroke fuel economy.
|Evinrude Ficht 225|
|Type: Loopcharged DFI 90° V-six, two-stroke|
|Prop hp/rpm: 225.2/5500|
|WOT rev range: 5000-6000|
|Piston displacement: 3000cc|
|Bore x stroke (mm): 94 x 73|
|Ignition system: Electronic engine management|
|Charging circuit (amps): 35 regulated|
|Fuel: Straight ULP|
|Gear ratio: 1.86:1|
|Transom height: 25-inch|
|Rec. retail: $21,870|
|Spare S/S prop: $500 (approx)|
|Waterpump impeller: $45|
|Year One: $390|
|Year Two, etc: $220|
|*As per manufacturer's recommended schedule, but excluding parts. Demo engine from OMC Australia, tel (1800) 811 090, spares and servicing prices (as of June 1999) from Hirecraft Marine, Toronto (NSW), tel (02) 4959 1444.|