Airboats,Ice&proper equipment

Longest running airboat discussion on the internet.
Post Reply
Southern Airboat Member
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2006 4:34 pm

Airboats,Ice&proper equipment

Post by webfoot1 »

Hey guys...I'm new to the forum and the airboating community. I just bought an 02 Marks airboat hull 16x7 with a 350 chevy, but it's direct drive. It also has a 70 in wood prop. This boat was bought for winter use here in Illinois, mostly goose hunting on ice. I bought the boat at a great price, and I'm sure I'll have to put a bit more money into it to make it a top notch rig. Here are my long list of questions...

1. What is the benifit of a gear reduction vs. belt reduction?

2. What simple things besides a low end cam can I do to get more low end power?

3. How much can I expect to spend on a reduction unit, is buying one used safe?

4. What tips & tricks do you guys have for winter running?

Thanks in advance!!!


Olf Art
Site Supporter - VIII
Site Supporter - VIII
Posts: 11851
Joined: Sat Jun 03, 2006 6:33 pm
Location: Plant City, FL

Post by Olf Art »

Webfoot, nice to have you on here. Welcome. There are a lot of duck hunters in our ranks.

At the top of the Forum page there is a Search tab. You can click that on and get a lot of the answers you're looking for right there, from previous discussions on some of those questions.

What area of Illinois are you from?

User avatar
Site Supporter - V
Site Supporter - V
Posts: 1943
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: Orange, Texas

Post by Airboatcapt2 »

I only recommend belt drives but we have a couple guys on here that swear by Gear Drives.

The Belt Drive cost around $2,300+tax+shipping. You will also need a new engine Stand. Many time a nw cage is needed. Instead of swinging a 70" Prop you will be able to swing a 78" prop.
The push and power difference will be night and day.

Most of the time it is recommended to run your boat and enjoy what you have. Learn on it then upgrade next year to a boat that has everything you want.

As for winter running, slow and easy, slow and easy. PFD 100% of the time. and slow and easy! Thats the best advice I can offer.

Welcome to the Forum Nick. I'm sure a bunch of people will answer your post. Usually the weekends are a little slow.
Faron Floyd
American Airboat Corp
Orange, Texas
409-920-0716 Cell

User avatar
Site Supporter - IV
Site Supporter - IV
Posts: 539
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 12:12 pm
Location: Minnesota

Post by roberti53 »

There are no end to the problems that can come up running on snow and ice. Snow conditions can range from light and fluffy, sticky, or slush.
All of which your boat can freeze into. (not good)
Sticky snow can allmost stop you and you will sit there until the temp.
changes a few degrees. Fluffy snow is fun to drive in. Frozen drifts, even very small ones is like driveing down a cobblestone road with your boat.
Very hard on the boat.
That is why we build our boats heavy. Your basic Florida rig can't take the beating the ice gives it.
Glare ice is a different problem. NO CONTROL you will be all over the place. Not good if there is any chance that the boat may break through the ice going sideways and flip over. Breaking ice will put you into a situation, we call it railroading. You can't steer out of it. You need pretty good power to swing your butt end over to change direction.
It all can be a real rush, and every time out will be a different story to tell.
As far as drive units go, we do better with Belt drives up here in Minnesota. Think about the gear oil in the gear drives. When it's cold out these guys can't even turn the motor over by hand. (pulling on the prop)
They have to heat up the drive unit first (pain in the a__)
I'm suppose you could use a lighter gear grease in the winter, but a couple of the guys here were told it would void the warranty.
If I were to buy a boat like yours, I would at least try it out for the season and see if it works for your needs.
Thre are a lot of Direct drives here that do just fine.
GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN..................BOB

Site Supporter - III
Site Supporter - III
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:23 pm
Location: Breckenridge, Michigan

Post by dragonfly470 »

I run in winter up here in Michigan(less and less as I get older).

A couple of key points to rember:
1) on bare ice you've got to plan ahead for manuvering, you've got no brakes or reverse, If you get out of shape in tight areas ypu'll have problems. You got to learn to see things comming before they happen if you're operating in areas with obstacles.

2) I hope your hull is aluminum, when operating in conditions where you are breaking thru the ice and moving thru floating Ice slabs you can beat your hull to death, so always idle around them... ice slabs are like chunks of floating concrete.....Jim J
if your boat doesn't "blow", it sucks

User avatar
Site Supporter - VIII
Site Supporter - VIII
Posts: 16555
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:49 pm
Location: Palm Bay, Fl

Post by Whitebear »

Well you certainbly bought yourself a great airboat to work with. I have a LOT of time in the seat of those Robicheaux hulls and love them to death. ALL of the ones I ran that were 16' had 454 GM Marine engines on them with the Franklin Belt redrive. They are like a tank.....will go anywhere. We had several 13' boats with 350 Chevys (ZZ4 I think) and they ran nearly as well.

I am a fan of the belt drives and a lot of folks are waiting for them to come out with a 2.68 ration. As I understand it now the biggest they offer is 2.3. Thats not to say the 2.3 won't perform, the ones I ran were incredible and only had Florida Wood Props on them.

It is however, probably good advice to run what ya got for this year and get used to airtboating in general before Ya start throwing the $$$$ at it. It will eat enough dollars later. Makes sense to wait and not have to make mistalkes and spend dollars more than once to solve the same problem. BEst of luck.

"The Constitution is not so the government can restrain the people, it is so the people can restrain the government." Patrick Henry
The government cannot give anything --
that they have not first taken from someone else.

User avatar
Site Supporter - IV
Site Supporter - IV
Posts: 954
Joined: Sun May 08, 2005 11:24 am
Location: Geneva,Fl

Post by Skeeter »

I cant answer on running in snow.But as far starting out stay with what you have, to learn with and stay slow at first, biuld confidence and experience. Thats how I started, with a Combee hull and small block Chevy direct drive, Do some head work get the right cam,ignition and carb.I also ran a 72" Whirlwind Stump Puller Prop that worked great.Good Luck

Southern Airboat Member
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2006 4:34 pm

Post by webfoot1 »

Thanks guys....

I love the hull and think it's going to be a great base to work from. What kind of trailers are you guys using? The guy I bought the rig from had the boat ont he BIGGEST POS you've ever seen. I was VERY scared just getting it home 400 miles. I have seen guys here using flat utility trailers....Since this rigs main purpose in life is to be run on ice I thought a tilt utility might be the way to go....any feelings on this guys?

Site Supporter - IV
Site Supporter - IV
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2006 7:41 am
Location: Cape Coral, Florida

Post by loridakid »

If you don't do anything else, get a composite prop!

User avatar
Ron Miller
Site Supporter - V
Site Supporter - V
Posts: 359
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2005 9:39 pm
Location: Dorr Michigan

Post by Ron Miller »

Welcome to Southern Airboat
As for the ice and snow that is the best time for us to have fun here in Michigan. And all of the advice was excellent that you have received so far. The thing I would like to add is for you to remember that you have a 2000 pound TABOGGAN.
(This is a flat bottom wooden sled for you southern folks)
And like a taboggan once you get it going it is hard to stop them without crashing. So as was said earlier GO SLOW. Even after you think you have the hang of it. I have ???15 years experience and I still learn something new every time out because every day has different conditions to run on.
Do you have Polymer on the bottom and sides of you hull. It is a must for winter running in my book.
Ron Miller
Pres. of MACA

User avatar
Site Supporter - II
Site Supporter - II
Posts: 357
Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2005 7:26 am
Location: salt springs florida

Post by Croc1 »

I have a Ram-lin trailer with tilt bed and torsion suspension its made for airboats. Its easy to dry load and trailers great. they are built in Orlando Fl. 1-407-851-1144

Post Reply

Return to “Airboat Talk”