Santee Cooper Cats - Catfish USA
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Rigging a trolling motor for the pontoon.
The trolling motor is ordered on, or purchased as an accessory to, the pontoon
boat with increasing frequency.  Fisherman are finding that the pontoon boat
can be maneuvered with a trolling motor.  Striper addicts often do their trolling
with the noiseless, electric motor, and they even serve as emergency power,
when needed.

Trolling motors come in all sizes and shapes ith a few actually made specifically
for the pontoon boat.  The littel guy can be foot operated, radio controlled, or it
can even be ordered with electronic devices that respond to voice commands.

Regardless of what model you prefer or which brand you pick, there are certain
traits that all trolling motors share.  We are going to explore those with you and
try to end the mysteries appended to the operation and care of a trolling motor.
Trolling motors for pontoon boats tend to be larger than those for small fishing
boats and a 41 pound thrust motor is my choice for a minimum size.  You can
get capacities up to 50 pounds thrust for use with a 12-volt battery, so think 40
pounds thrust to 50 pounds thrust is a 12-volt area.

Trolling motors above 50 pounds thrust definitely should have a 24-volt or
36-volt system.  You will get motors up into the 75 pounds thrust category in
24-volt models and above that you should have the 36-volt system.  What do
the sizes based upon thrust indicate?
Generally 25 pounds of thrust is considered the approximate equal of a one
horsepower, gasoline fueled engine.  Some argue upward and some may
argue downward but you can use this figure as an approximation.  Thus the
50 pounds thrust troller has about 2 horsepower to offer as a maximum
output.  You can easily make the other conversions for yourself.  When you
know how much power you want, this will give you a working hypothesis on
which to figure the motor size that will suffice.  I do believe in trying things
out.  If you can get a pontoon of the same model or a like size to your own
with a troller installed, you should definitely try it out.

What are the pros and cons of the various sizes?  Besides power there is
weight consideration.  Unless we embrace one of the special battery
configurations, every 12-volt increment requires another 12-volt battery.  A
two battery, 24-volt bank adds considerable weight to the vessel.  This is a
weight equal to another grown person and with the troller itself represents
close to 200 pounds!  This much weight requires careful placement.

Think about where the batteries will go and think about routing the cables.  I
use a minimum Number Six conductor for trolling motors.  Direct Current (DC)
requires a heavy conductor for its transmission of power and you will lose
voltage rapidly if you employ smaller wires.  Naturally this reduces the
performance of the troller.
(See our article "Wiring your pontoon" for more information on wiring).
Route your conductors carefully, making certain that these cables are never
given a chance to ground upon the frame of the pontoon.  In or around
saltwater this much current can be deadly to the pontoons.  Ground fault
circuit breakers should be employed on all conductors.  Read the wiring
instructions carefully!
Keep the batteries well charged, always use a volt meter to monitor the charge
condition, and remember that 10.5 volts is considered effectively discharged.  
The trolling motor resembles the engine starter in that it will be damaged if it's
operated on a low voltage power supply.

I like the custom connector plugs for the trolling motor due to the safety and
convenience which they represent.  There are charging systems, which charge
from one to three batteries simultaneously.  These systems purport to charge the
most needy battery first and shut themselves off when all the batteries are
charged.  The Bass Pro Shop offers these systems and there are other sources,
both local and mail order available.  I would hesitate to leave any charging
system connected to a power source while the pontoon is in the water, especially
saltwater.

Apparently the idea of buying a larger motor than you need and letting it coast
may be valid for gasoline powered engines but we are told that it does not apply
to trolling motors.  Apparently the throttle or speed control operates, at least to
some degree, on resistance.

Resistance creates heat and wastes energy, so buy a motor size that will keep
you operating at half speed or above, most of the time.  Trolling motors equipped
with MaxiMizer or other patented energy savers use less battery power to the
pontoon boater.

We try not to make any effort to completely describe the installation process
since that procedure varies from motor to motor and situation to situation.  The
author will not accept any liability for damage from electrolysis, galvanic
corrosion, or any other source due to installation or operation of any trolling
motor on a pontoon boat or other vessel that you may have.

I do believe that the trolling motor brings an added dimension to the many facets
of pontoon boating and I recommend to you, the use of one.  However, use your
own judgement and counsel about purchase and installation.

Source: Pontoon and Deck boat
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