Most of us begin our boating life with an entry level boat knowing or at least hoping it is only just a first step to a bigger, better,badder, and faster model. Sam Jirik from Cabot, Arkansas is no different, and has had many boats over the years; most currently was a 28’ Skater with 300xs Mercury Outboards. A 28 Skater with outboards has to be one of the best performing boats and the set up is incredibly reliable, not to mention the dollar value and cost of ownership is fantastic in this world of high performance. When you think about moving out of this type of ride you really need to evaluate the criteria to make sure the move is really up, forward, and faster than where you are already at. For Sam this upgrade needed to happen without spending a small fortune,losing performance, and sacrificing reliability.
No boat is an absolute, and they are always a compromise. Even a 28 Skater with Mercury Outboards can suffer issues. First it’s a boat, second it’s a performance boat so breakdowns come with the territory. From owning this Skater with outboards Sam recognized they are great but not infallible, so much so he kept a spare power head in his truck when he went boating so that if the “just in case” happened he would be prepared to handle the problem and still be able to go boating.
Sam had heard about and seen the boat Dale Rayzor of Northern, CA had built, a 30’ Skater with naturally aspirated Sterling 750 HP engines and Arneson #7M Drive Units . If you are not familiar with Dales boat it is practically a West Coast legend. Rik with Arneson industries has become the set up guru for most if not all of the fastest Arneson drive equipped boats. This boat and its moderate horsepower have set some blistering speeds in excess of 160 mph while remaining a well mannered and reliable pleasure boats with way less horsepower than comparable boats attempting similar speeds that are pouring in more and more HP. Dale’s Arneson boat has created lots of interest and been a catalyst and driving factor in numerous under 35 foot sales and inquiries for Skater Power Boats.
The real deal closer for Sam came after conversations with Dale when he explained how well the boat handled, steered, docked, planed out, and accelerated with the Arneson Drives. Armed with this first hand information and confidence his decision was solidified. Sam knew he wanted very similar boat but was not looking for the speed to be as fast as Dales boat. Sam’s plan is to build a boat he could share and enjoy with his family. After consulting with several industry people and seeing what Louie Marchese was building at Skater with his new Skater 338, the decision was made to build a Skater 338 Fatboy but use smaller power to achieve the goals of less cost, less weight and greater reliability.
Sam,like most well informed power boaters put a lot of effort into the design of his new boat, its engines, and drive package. Sam knew that a critical success factor in achieving the goals identified of handling, stability, reliability, and performance was the selection of the Arneson #7M Drive, it was the clear choice. What was not clear was the endless power options available. With outboards the selection process is pretty well controlled for you, now he had a big wave of options and of course opinions.
The LSA’s from Indmar couldn’t make the power at
5,400 RPM that GM limited Indmar’s engineers to.
What is coming over the horizon? Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave somewhere and have ignored everything the automotive and hot rod industry are doing then you know that the GM LS platform is coming to he marine industry with a large head of steam. The light weight affordable horsepower these engines are generating is incredible and this seemed like a great initial option. Sam originally looked at the Indmar LSA marine engine package. These power plants are derived from the Cadillac CTS-V engines that Indmar is supplying to the ski boat manufacturers. The goal was 600 hp and 6,000 rpm. On paper it read like a dream, 600 lbs, 600 hp and 6,000rpm’s all for $22,000.00 each COMPLETE! Drop in ready with headers, what was not to like? After nine months of waiting and consulting with Indmar on the changes required for the set up; dry sumping the engines and some computer mapping work the engines went on the dyno and then; Indmar received a call from GM advising not to run the motors more than 5,400 rpm. Not good news at all, 5,400 would not bring the power needed to achieve the goals. The lower rpm brought the horse power in too low. Had the engineer’s at GM allowed Indmar to run them to 6,000 rpm the engines would have reached their goal but GM was clearly advising heavily against it.
A Completed Motor from Smith Power
Now with the boat in production and the drive units ready, Sam is faced with a dilemma? Should he go forward with the LSA small blocks,which were light weight and inexpensive yet were not going to make the power or rpm he needed for his new build to reach what he felt was an acceptable level of performance and speed or should they change plans. After some consulting, price comparisons, time line projections from several people, Sam relied on his relationship with Rik from Arneson, Rik recommended Brad Smith of Smith Power in Joplin MO. Brad’s name comes up a lot these days as his power is turning up in many elite boats around the country including our recent story on Jeff Asbell’s 40SS Skater. Smith Power offers a wide range of options so coming up with a budget, time line and power level for Sam was easy. What wasn’t easy was keeping Sam contained to the original power level. Once you get the ball rolling with a custom engine builder like Brad Smith adding additional reliable power becomes a simple request and cost effective option. The solution was a 588 cubic inch engine with a 4 liter Whipple Blower,and all the latest and best hardware from Hardin Marine such as Hardin’s Hurricane Headers, Dual Cooler Bellhousings,Serpentine supercharger accessory drives to name a few. The boat is receiving full attention from the crew at Skater to get the boat ready for the upcoming Skater get together of the year at 2013 FlightClub Skater Fest 2013 at Ron Szolack’s place near Detroit June 28-29th.
Congratulations to Sam and everyone involved. We look forward to seeing this new and innovative build running! We will also provide a follow up on the engine build from Brad Smith.