Boat owners will debate and argue about what the biggest frustration and reoccurring problem with their boat might be, but the one consistent issue among high performance boats is controlling water pressure. This has always been a problem but it was limited to a very short list of guys who would see speeds in excess of 100 MPH. Today with so many boats running at speeds well above 100 MPH the problem has gained higher visibility. With the evolution of hull design and higher horsepower that 100 MPH that once eluded so many is now the commonplace of the industry and even now there are lots of boats exceeding the 140 MPH realm. Additionally, new engine management systems have limited thresholds for water temp and pressure making it a challenge to keep the engines out of their safe or guardian modes.
There is a limited number of people that have the good fortune to test a products reliability and performance at over 140 MPH and fewer yet that have the same opportunity in excess of 180 MPH. This is not a journey of the faint of heart. In the last five years we have seen the speed numbers climb from 125 mph, 150 mph, and now into the stratosphere of 180 MPH in open cockpit pleasure boats running on plain old pump gas.
With the advent of bigger horsepower, better props, and refined setup boat speeds have climbed exponentially. With these increased speeds we have seen virtually every component of a boats drive train stressed, strained and destroyed in the attempt to reach big speed numbers. The speeds have literally wreaked havoc on engine builders, boat builders, and especially riggers sending them searching for answers and solutions to maintain the integrity of the machinery they are responsible for.
Quite possibly the single biggest challenge for the engine builder and boat manufacture is how to get water for the cooling system properly balanced. Most engine development is done in a controlled environment, a Dyno room with a static foundation and an array of engine management configurations that can be applied. The entire engine system can be monitored and tailored for the perfect scenario.The problem occurs when these finished engines are installed in the boat and it’s quickly recognized the additional horsepower certainly makes the boat go faster but the new speed created a HUGE problem with the cooling water pressure and flow.
Water distribution is not a problem as the engines water pump is in place and all modern high HP engines use multi-stage pumps to feed individual cooling needs. The dilemma comes with the speed increase,the difference in water pressure from a 100 MPH boat to 125 MPH boat will see the pressure and volume increases of as much as 100%. A 125 MPH boat to a 150 MPH boat often sees increases of nearly 200% and spikes of water pressure nearing 200 PSI. Escalate that speed to 180 MPH and those pressure spike reach 400 psi on the inlet or sea strainer pressures. These high pressures can break apart sea strainers, blowout head gaskets, blow off hoses and tear up exhaust systems.
When it comes to rigging, preparing, and maintaining boats of the industry elite, high caliber owners, you know the kind of people that expect nothing but the very best. These type of owners turn to Jason Ventura from Brand X Hi Performance in Pompano Beach FL. Brand X is not only a full service high performance center, but a company with a history of knowledge that starts with boat construction and goes all the way to the actual tuning, dial in, and operation of these boats.
Jason’s whole professional career has been spent with a clientele that typically cruise around in excess of 100 MPH and reach top speeds beyond 180 MPH. Brand X is the esteemed service provider of Bill Pyburn Jr’s 388 Skater “Pure Platinum”. There is likely not a more recognized boat on the poker run circuit today. Bill was the first to really prove the 388 Skaters real potential. What came with proving that was a ton of R&D and test time. Bill is a perfectionist and has become the real spokesperson for the brands model. Rarely is a new 388 considered by a prospective buyer without a phone call to Mr. Pyburn asking for suggestions about the boat and specific set-up details. This knowledge came from piloting Pure Platinum for 100’s of hours at speed, finding the weak link in anything that had it, and really paying attention to the details.Bill and Jason both knew that the installation the latest high horsepower engine creations developed with Chief engines that the challenge would be to control water pressure with the consistent increase in speed.
Both guys are favored customers of Hardin Marine as the boat is rigged extensively with Hardin Products. They know that when the chips are down and they need something they can make the call and The Hardin guys will respond immediately. So making the call was easy and finding the solution was fate. The guys at Hardin had spent the previous year developing a Brad Smith designed water pressure control system. Brad like a number of engine builders was plagued by high water pressure situation in one of his customer’s turbocharged boats.
Brad convinced the Hardin team to tackle the problem. Brad pointed out that while there were numerous off the counter crude home plumbing supply type options with the correct thread size none had a valve large enough to displace the water volume these boats were dealing with. With a hand sketch and a few prototypes the Hardin engineering team went to work turning concept into reality. This new valve features a massive 2″internal valve and multiple plumbing ports for options as well as an auxiliary pressure port for additional engine water pressure relief.
Installation of the new Hardin Marine High Pressure Water Control Valve has been the answer to creating the perfect cooling system for the Pyburn 388 Skater but the rigging from Brand X of the system is nothing short of a show quality product. Special thanks to Brand X Hi Performance for pictures and allowing me to assist in the decision to help with the placement and routing of the valve in the boat.