Newbie - pods are scary?

Steven746

New Member
Nov 24, 2023
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I'm new to boating, but I love it. Between shaft, stern, outboard, and pod... I only wanted shaft because of the maintenance benefits. I've since added stern because they're so prevalent and I was too limited with v-drive only. Now, I'm coming across boats with pods. IPS and Zeus.

With all the reading I'm doing, it seems pods are a 'when' they fail, not 'if'. Cost of maintenance and repairs are higher, and replacement cost is devastating.

I'm in Los Angeles (Marina Del Rey) and need help to sort this out. I know the benefits of pods - but what of the rest? My boat will be in salt 365 days a year. I believe in maintenance but I'm buying a used boat so there's that.

I loved an older Tiara I saw, but it was an early generation pod. Have pods become more reliable, easier to work on? What years should I stay within?

I've truly looked across the internet, but I'm not finding clear answers... other than to stay away from pods. I want to ask this forum what they think.

Thank you in advance.
 
If you can find a boat you like with straight shafts, that's the ticket. Everything else has a downside. V-drive would be my second choice. Pods would be the last, unless I had a bottomless checkbook.
 
Pods are not scary.
Pods have their place in the boating world. You need to treat Pods like any other mechanical system on your vessel.
They offer superior performance, control and fuel consumption. imho, more control than the same boat with shafts and thrusters.
With those benefits comes the cost of preventive maintenance.
Like any other purchase I would recommend you go in with your eyes open and if possible, experience pods v shafts personally.
 
IPS has a better reputation than Zeus, but both are expensive to repair and hard to find service…Unless you are in a boating hotspot like South FL.

There is a Regal hauled out at the yard we are at with an IPS issue. Owner is thinking he might have to launch and have it towed up to the Annapolis/Kent island area.
 
IPS has a better reputation than Zeus, but both are expensive to repair and hard to find service…Unless you are in a boating hotspot like South FL.

There is a Regal hauled out at the yard we are at with an IPS issue. Owner is thinking he might have to launch and have it towed up to the Annapolis/Kent island area.
I'm on long Island, and have choices of people to service my pods.
Don't buy into the hysteria.

Buddy of mine has a 2013 58 sundancer, beautiful boat with twin man 900s.
There is a MAN mechanic that comes up from virginia to do all the Man service evidently. Would you recommend to him not to buy his boat for the same reason?
 
I'm on long Island, and have choices of people to service my pods.
Don't buy into the hysteria.

Buddy of mine has a 2013 58 sundancer, beautiful boat with twin man 900s.
There is a MAN mechanic that comes up from virginia to do all the Man service evidently. Would you recommend to him not to buy his boat for the same reason?
Yeah, if there is a similar one engines that have closer service options. Service availability is a big part of the equation when owning a boat. It’s bad enough we may have to wait weeks for an appointment. Even worse when there aren’t enough providers around. And when they travel, you’re paying for that travel, including air fair and hotels.
 
Pods have been around for approximately 15 years now and more and more people are capable of servicing them.
@Steven746 where do you boat?
 
I'm on long Island, and have choices of people to service my pods.
Don't buy into the hysteria.

Buddy of mine has a 2013 58 sundancer, beautiful boat with twin man 900s.
There is a MAN mechanic that comes up from virginia to do all the Man service evidently. Would you recommend to him not to buy his boat for the same reason?
Most diesel shops will work on MAN engines. That’s not the case with IPS and Zeus. I’m not recommending anything. It’s not my money, but if I had to pay a mechanic to fly in to work on the boat, I would keep looking.
 
Most diesel shops will work on MAN engines. That’s not the case with IPS and Zeus. I’m not recommending anything. It’s not my money, but if I had to pay a mechanic to fly in to work on the boat, I would keep looking.
Apologies to the OP for the slight hijack. You make a valid point on wanting a qualified mechanic reasonable nearby. That said , people make choices for all kinds of reasons.
I have first hand knowledge of zeus pods with a reasonable understanding of their inner workings. Not I heard from a guy who had a friend who.....
As far as my buddy with the man engines, there is a difference between an oil change and actual man service. Hence the need for the mechanic from Virginia.
 
Pods are like a 5 year old European sports sedan with an 8 cylinder twin turbo, with 60,000 miles on it. When they work, they are an absolute joy to drive, but they require at least twice the maintenance of a regular car, and when they break it can get expensive quickly.

An example. I own a 340 Sundancer with v-Drives. A couple of years ago, I struck something. Bent prop, broken propeller shaft, bent rudder shaft, and damaged transmission. New shaft 3k, new transmission 4.5k, repaired propeller and rudder shaft 1.2k, labor around 4k. 12 grand and change. Back in the water good to go.

A buddy of mine owns a 450 Sundancer with Zeus Pods. Snagged a mooring line in Catalina last year, which damaged the clutch pack. All in around 35k for new transmission, new hull seal, refinished propeller shaft, labor, etc. He loves the pods and has actually had very good luck with them, but he also tests the oil annually, hauls every year to service the drives, has developed a network of knowledgeable folks on these things, etc.

I haul every 3-4 years for bottom point, and change the transmission oil every 2 years.

Pods are great, but you have to be prepared to shell out at least 2-4k annually on maintenance, and if something breaks, 20-40 in repair costs.
 
Pods are like a 5 year old European sports sedan with an 8 cylinder twin turbo, with 60,000 miles on it. When they work, they are an absolute joy to drive, but they require at least twice the maintenance of a regular car, and when they break it can get expensive quickly.

An example. I own a 340 Sundancer with v-Drives. A couple of years ago, I struck something. Bent prop, broken propeller shaft, bent rudder shaft, and damaged transmission. New shaft 3k, new transmission 4.5k, repaired propeller and rudder shaft 1.2k, labor around 4k. 12 grand and change. Back in the water good to go.

A buddy of mine owns a 450 Sundancer with Zeus Pods. Snagged a mooring line in Catalina last year, which damaged the clutch pack. All in around 35k for new transmission, new hull seal, refinished propeller shaft, labor, etc. He loves the pods and has actually had very good luck with them, but he also tests the oil annually, hauls every year to service the drives, has developed a network of knowledgeable folks on these things, etc.

I haul every 3-4 years for bottom point, and change the transmission oil every 2 years.

Pods are great, but you have to be prepared to shell out at least 2-4k annually on maintenance, and if something breaks, 20-40 in repair costs.
Insurance didn't cover his damage?
 
Pods have been around for approximately 15 years now and more and more people are capable of servicing them.
@Steven746 where do you boat?
Hi Shaps,

I'm in Los Angeles and plan to slip at Marina Del Rey.

Are there generational changes which might be pertinent? Is there a year for Zeus drives which came with improvements to prior designs - ones that make a material difference in reliability, serviceability, etc.? I ask the same about IPS.

Steven
 
Hi Shaps,

I'm in Los Angeles and plan to slip at Marina Del Rey.

Are there generational changes which might be pertinent? Is there a year for Zeus drives which came with improvements to prior designs - ones that make a material difference in reliability, serviceability, etc.? I ask the same about IPS.

Steven
The IPS drives are more prevalent and have a larger network of servicers, but they have their downsides as well. As an example, the IPS circulates drive oil through the drive AND transmission. You take on water through the drive, and it takes out drive and transmission. The Zeus pods have separate systems for the drive oil and transmission oil. You get water in the drive, and it doesn't take out the transmission. Now, because of this however, you have two separate oiling systems you have to take care of, which adds to complexity. It's all a series of trade offs. Can't speak specifically to the generational updates. Talk to a good surveyor. Bill Trenkle in San Diego is terrific.

Come join us at the California Yacht Club. We have a well-established powerboating community.
Insurance didn't cover his damage?
It did, and it covered mine. The point is, however, one was 12k and the other 35k, and I suffered considerably more damage.
 
HI Steven,
I would look at JH pods and above.
I would also think most of the pods out there have had the required upgrades done but this document may help give a guide for what serial number ranges we are talking about.
 

Attachments

  • EN_65.pdf
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The IPS drives are more prevalent and have a larger network of servicers, but they have their downsides as well. As an example, the IPS circulates drive oil through the drive AND transmission. You take on water through the drive, and it takes out drive and transmission. The Zeus pods have separate systems for the drive oil and transmission oil. You get water in the drive, and it doesn't take out the transmission. Now, because of this however, you have two separate oiling systems you have to take care of, which adds to complexity. It's all a series of trade offs. Can't speak specifically to the generational updates. Talk to a good surveyor. Bill Trenkle in San Diego is terrific.

Come join us at the California Yacht Club. We have a well-established powerboating community.

It did, and it covered mine. The point is, however, one was 12k and the other 35k, and I suffered considerably more damage.

The IPS drives are more prevalent and have a larger network of servicers, but they have their downsides as well. As an example, the IPS circulates drive oil through the drive AND transmission. You take on water through the drive, and it takes out drive and transmission. The Zeus pods have separate systems for the drive oil and transmission oil. You get water in the drive, and it doesn't take out the transmission. Now, because of this however, you have two separate oiling systems you have to take care of, which adds to complexity. It's all a series of trade offs. Can't speak specifically to the generational updates. Talk to a good surveyor. Bill Trenkle in San Diego is terrific.

Come join us at the California Yacht Club. We have a well-established powerboating community.

It did, and it covered mine. The point is, however, one was 12k and the other 35k, and I suffered considerably more damage.
B - I texted you. (xxx) xxx-xx73
 
HI Steven,
I would look at JH pods and above.
I would also think most of the pods out there have had the required upgrades done but this document may help give a guide for what serial number ranges we are talking about.
Thank you, Shaps!
 
I have been a boater for 53 years and swore I would never touch a pod boat but as you have found it is hard to find a shaft boat these days. I now own a Formula with IPS! When researching this issue I visited a company that services Zeus and IPS. They said in their opinion the IPS was a better system and better supported. Volvo offers a reman that has been updated to the latest level that is sold as an exchange and Zeus does not have anything like it. Since I bought an older boat I built the cost of new pods into the price.
I have not needed to touch these older pods except for service in almost 2 years. I also have friends with Zeus and IPS with no problems yet. One is a brand new Riviera and he was told to not touch them for 5 years.
I will say that I have never had a boat that performs and handles like this boat with pods. It drives like a sports car and is so smooth and quiet.

Good luck with your search!
 
During a discussion with my surveyor a couple of years ago, he made the following point regarding the pod drives not mentioned above.

When holding position, or docking the drives are CONSTANTLY moving, shifting, rotating, engaging/disengaging as they deal with current, wind and operator inputs, thus creating heat and wear that does not apply to vee drives or straight drives.

I do love technology, however sometimes the trade offs are not in balance.

I'm quite happy with my mechanically injected diesel and Vee drives.

While I could have upgraded to the MARETRON system, I replaced the dead Sea Ray SYSTEMS MONITOR with old fashioned alarms and bilge counters, utilizing the factory wiring.

So yes, I'm an old fashioned, old fart with an old boat, but in a harsh saltwater environment IMHO reliability is key and increased complexity can decrease that reliability.

Straight or Vee drives have no sensors, no electrical connections (neutral safety switch aside) and are either engaged or in neutral. The K.I.S.S. principle, Keep It Simple Stupid wins every time.

Just another opinion thrown out there...

BEST !

RWS
 
During a discussion with my surveyor a couple of years ago, he made the following point regarding the pod drives not mentioned above.

When holding position, or docking the drives are CONSTANTLY moving, shifting, rotating, engaging/disengaging as they deal with current, wind and operator inputs, thus creating heat and wear that does not apply to vee drives or straight drives.

I do love technology, however sometimes the trade offs are not in balance.

I'm quite happy with my mechanically injected diesel and Vee drives.

While I could have upgraded to the MARETRON system, I replaced the dead Sea Ray SYSTEMS MONITOR with old fashioned alarms and bilge counters, utilizing the factory wiring.

So yes, I'm an old fashioned, old fart with an old boat, but in a harsh saltwater environment IMHO reliability is key and increased complexity can decrease that reliability.

Straight or Vee drives have no sensors, no electrical connections (neutral safety switch aside) and are either engaged or in neutral. The K.I.S.S. principle, Keep It Simple Stupid wins every time.

Just another opinion thrown out there...

BEST !

RWS
Of course the pods are moving during docking when you are using the joystick. Other than that, they are just operating like an outdrive, for lack of a better description.

In terms of percentage of time using the joystick vs run hours. I would say it's less than 1%, maybe even 0.5%.
 
Of course the pods are moving during docking when you are using the joystick. Other than that, they are just operating like an outdrive, for lack of a better description.

In terms of percentage of time using the joystick vs run hours. I would say it's less than 1%, maybe even 0.5%.
Wouldn't the drives be built heartily enough to withstand the holding of a position in current or the like? Here's one of the reasons I asked this question from the start: when or did the system become hearty enough, well designed enough?

Shap, thank you again for the PDF. How or where do I find whether the drive is JH or above? Is above higher in the alphabet, like KL? The design isn't likely to be the same when initially released as what is installed today. From a mechanical view, there must have been changes which cannot be upgraded. If I consider used boats with pods, I'd think there's a year plus newer I'm better off with given consistent maintenance.
 

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