ZF Marine today introduced the “Project Disruption” concept at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The new propulsion package is the first contra-rotating system for inboards with traditional shaft-drive systems.
The concept lets inboard-boat builders take advantage of contra-rotating propellers; the most obvious advantage is improved efficiency. The concept takes a standard ZF Marine transmission and utilizes a strut-housed underwater gearbox to transmit power to the twin propellers. Initially, the concept was designed for water-sports towboats and ZF said it can be scaled to larger boats.
“For many years, there has been little innovation in inboard shaftline technology,” Keith Stanley, pleasure craft product line manager for ZF Marine, said in a statement. “ZF saw the opportunity to bring all the benefits of contra-rotating propellers to this most traditional of propulsion systems. We started with tow sports because it presented a unique opportunity to investigate the concept at full scale while subjecting it to a wide variation of loading conditions.”
In addition to increasing efficiency and acceleration, ZF said the concept will give boatbuilders the chance to consider a wider range of transmission ratios than what is possible with single-prop applications. It should give naval architects the ability to optimize the propeller-to-gear ratio.
Lastly, the contra-rotating propellers will address one of the biggest shortcomings of single-prop inboards — poor performance when backing up. They will eliminate the propeller torque, which basically only lets a boat back up in one direction.