Gear Review: Lehr 2.5hp Propane Outboard

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
TwistNGo

For a long time, I really liked my old Tohatsu 3.5 outboard, smelly little two-stroke that it was, for its willing power and easy starting. Then it started to not want to start. Then, once started, it would run fine just long enough to get me a decent distance from the boat, whereupon it would conk out. No amount of invective or cord-pulling would get it running again until it felt like starting, which sometimes was never. I’m here to tell you that rowing an inflatable upstream and into a headwind gets very old very quickly.

The outboard service guy pointed an accusing finger at me for leaving fuel to age in the tank—in this age of ethanol blends there is nothing worse for a carburetor’s tender inner parts—and he was partly right. Except when cruising over a weekend, we hardly used the outboard. Although I knew to turn the fuel off and let the motor run the carb dry, sometimes that didn’t happen. It was time to look for alternatives that weren’t subject to the ethanol plague.

I’d been curious about the Lehr range of propane-powered outboards, and early last year I took the leap. Except for its fuel supply, the Lehr 2.5hp model is your typical four-stroke kicker; at 37lb it’s nearly 10lb heavier than the old Tohatsu and has almost the same cylinder capacity, at 73cc. Its fuel supply comes from either a 1lb propane canister of the type available just about anywhere, or from a bigger tank—a hose to connect to one is included.

I used the little Lehr extensively last summer, almost daily for several weeks, on an 8ft inflatable. It never started first pull, usually second or third, but always before I started to curse. A small propane tank lasted anywhere from one to two hours, depending on how much of a hurry I was in. Here’s the thing; while you can look in the tank of a gas-powered outboard and guesstimate how much run time you have left, you can’t do that with the small propane cylinders, so I took to carrying a full one with me anytime I used the dinghy. I wound up changing cylinders several times in the dark of night, a fiddly process that soon becomes second nature.

It would have been more sensible (and much cheaper) to use a large propane tank, but I had no room to store an 11lb or 20lb composite tank. I’ve just purchased a steel 5lb tank, which I’ll have to coat with epoxy paint in an effort to stave off rust. This should give me plenty of runtime, but I expect the rust factor will be a nuisance. I also bought an adaptor to let me fill the small cylinders from the ship’s propane tank.

In terms of power, I guess it’s no different from any other small kicker out there. You don’t buy a 2.5hp outboard for wind-in-the-hair thrills. In retrospect, I should have gone for the next size up, the 5hp, which has more grunt to help you fight an outgoing tide, but I wanted light weight—the 5hp is 10lb heavier.

In terms of reliability, so far so good. It hasn’t missed a beat. One thing that I intended to address over last winter—but of course didn’t—is that the dead-man switch died early in the season, but I can stop the motor by tuning the throttle all the way down; I just have to remember not to fall out of the dink with the motor running. With the remote tank hooked up, you can also turn off the gas at the tank. If I remember I’ll have the switch replaced under the three-year warranty over the upcoming winter.

All in all, I’ve been happy with this little motor; it seems to have about the same amount of power as any of its competitors, i.e. about as much as you’d expect from a small kicker, and winterizing consists merely of firing it up in a bucket of freshwater mixed with antifreeze. After a nine-month layup, it started on the fifth pull. Lehr, golehr.com

October 2018

Related

Meridian-X-Spin_2

MOB: A Whistle in the Wind

Mark Wheeler went overboard a few minutes before midnight. He was in the middle of Lake Michigan, 30 miles offshore in 40 knots of wind. As he fumbled for the lanyard to inflate his lifejacket he watched his racing sailboat, Meridian X, disappear into the night at more than 18 ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Slapper stopper  When I came on deck at 0800 to hoist my colors on a visitors’ mooring recently, there was an awkward slop running in. This doesn’t trouble my Mason 44, which has a traditional counter ...read more

Tilly-1

Gear: Tilley Polaris Hat

A True Blue Tilley Sailing is all about fun in the sun, but it sometimes doesn’t take long to get too much of a good thing, especially when on a prolonged cruise or offshore passage. Enter the Tilley Polaris, the latest lid developed by iconic Canadian hat-maker Tilley. ...read more

Sand-TOWEL_MODEL-3

CGear Sand-Free Beach Towel

Sand Be Gone! The summer is hot and full of terrors—not the least of which is the sand that sticks in your beach towel in the hopes of a free ride back to your car or boat. Fortunately, there's now the CGear Sand-Free Beach Towel, engineered in polyester to not only dry quickly ...read more

01-Blowup-Tiwal2_sailing-(3)

Gear: Tiwal Inflatable Sailing Dinghy

Blow-up Boating A few years ago, the French company Tiwal arrived on U.S. shores with that most improbable of products, an inflatable sailing dinghy that actually sails the way a boat is supposed to. Now, nearly 1,000 Tiwal 3’s later, the company is back with its Tiwal 2, an ...read more

Koozy

Gear: 22 Below Koozie

Killer Koozie For all that sailors love the warmth of this time of year, that same warmth can also wreak havoc on their otherwise icy-cold beers. (Unless, of course, you drink them very, very fast. But we won’t go there.) To help deal with this terrible hardship, North ...read more

Cool-Specs

Gear: Gill's Race Fusion Sunglasses

Wicked Cool Specs Is there anything in the world of sailing more fun than a cool pair of shades? Heck, no! And it would hard to find a cooler pair than these new Race Fusion specs from longtime weather-gear manufacture Gill. In addition to looking great, they include a number of ...read more

North_new

Gear: North Sails Waterproof Pack

A few years ago, North Sails made a big push into the apparel business with all kinds of sharp-looking button-down shirts, shorts and fleeces. That doesn’t mean, though, that the North Sails Collection isn’t still plenty practical, as is evident in its new roll-over waterproof ...read more