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Not your average Iron Ladies

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 24 Jan 22:00 UTC
OTAM 70HT © Alberto Cocchi

m t u - Now anytime you say or read those three letters, one just about adds in the Friedrichshafen out loud. Nothing quite says the epitome of high-end engineering in the same way. So if the four rings of Auto Union morphed into Audi, then the three letters of the Maybach's Motoren und Turbinen Union must have ended up a distinguished, and highly decorated Three Star Admiral.

With all of that going on, it is really no surprise then that today it is Rolls Royce that owns mtu, and the official, full title is Rolls Royce Power Solutions mtu engines.

Additionally, mtu deliver power in the form of high-speed Diesels, gas turbines, hybrids, and also generators across a massive array of the marine sector. Given who we are, and what we deal in, pretty white yacht motors was easy to land on, and even more specifically, here we are talking about the 10V2000M96L, and her slightly bigger sister 12V2000M96X.

OK. Hunker down. Lot to get through, and you won't need to be a full geek to get into it, but it if you are, then it will only add to the whole experience. Firstly, mtu 2000CR engines are made solely for marine use, where things like power to weight, reliability, service life, and physical dimensions are cornerstones. Secondly, the entire package is all mtu, except for the injectors. They're by Bosch.

Thirdly, they are delightfully brilliant in their simplicity, but by no means confuse that word with archaic, for the technological marvels that deliver said brilliance abound the motor over. Now this latter point is something you can only achieve total comprehension of literally by being with the motor, right up close and personal, and definitely not in situ in an engine room.

Thankfully, I recently had that joy. The problem afterwards was where to start, and the hint is that it is not with the key in the ignition, even though that would have been easy to use, for they run off the first crank, even when cold. Impressive. If you have ever 'enjoyed' an old W123 Benz Diesel, then you know all there is about living with glow plugs...

However, in the end, no matter which way I looked at, it always came back to Iron Ladies.

So the reason for the headline is that they are certainly not average at all, they're also not iron either, and these are absolutely the cool bits in oh-so-many ways. As for the former, well we'll establish that over the course of journey, and now for the latter...

No iron (well ladies anyway...)

The pistons are sodium filled alloy with chrome-ceramic rings. The conrods are forged alloy. They are all heat-treated and ceramic coated, and this all goes to long service life and running as cool as possible. You also have significantly lower reciprocating mass flying about at 12m/s, which means you can rev higher, which is more power, any day of the week. Also less vibration, too.

Speaking of that, bore gives you power, but it is stroke that gives you torque and fuel efficiency. Remember too that power makes you fast, but it is torque that makes you quick. Now the entire mtu 2000CR series features a common bore of 135mm and stroke of 156mm, so this is what is referred to as under-square. Whatever! Right?

Except for the fact that there are 10 (12 or 16) 2l milk cartons going up and down, or if you prefer, 10 large coke bottles. That's for illustrative purposes only, for they are actually closer to 2.5 litres, as each pot is 2.32l, meaning the V10 displaces 23.2 litres in total, the 12 is 27.84, and the 16 is a huge 37.12l.

Still not seeing it? Well, Ferrari's most famous model ever (250 GTO), had a pot size of 250 (hence it's nomenclature) and that's in ccs, so these muscular girls are like ten times bigger. Now you get it? I think so...

The V10 weighs 2305kg, and near enough to 2800kg with the ZF2050A 2.5:1 gearbox, plus shaft, skeg, and screw. Aluminium is used for the sump, and titanium in the really, really cool, plate heat exchanger. I was amazed just how compact it could be given all the work it has to do. mtu power plants are always at the lower end of the mass spectrum for their class, but excel in terms of power, torque and fuel efficiency. You'll always find them as class leading in the power to weight title fight, which is absolute gold if you're in any sort of planning hull.

If it all seems to good to be true, keep going, for you also get to rev. The mtu will run to an incredible 2450RPM, whereas the others top out at 2300. Also, in the case of mtu, they're all continuously rated, so pick your RPM and away you go. No more being worried about the magical 80% load question. In the real world that means get to the fishing grounds first, or get to your anchorage faster and have a swim before lunch.

Well that just means it's time for the brilliance

The mtu 10V2000M96L that I got up close and personal with is 1604 x 1165 x 1347mm (L × W × H). They are all Tier II (IMO) and Tier3 EPA compliant, and can go to Tier III (IMO) via Selective Catalytic Reduction that adds to the height, as the SCR 'box', sits atop and not outside of the original footprint, which is true for the whole 2000 series range.

The two very clever elements that stood out were the serviceability and modular nature of the beast. It does mean the valley is a very busy place, but somehow it all just seems to work. It's just a bit more complicated than the six twin-throat Webbers with polished alloy trumpets proudly pointing skyward from our GTO example earlier.

Let's break it down, front first with modular included as we go. As a dressed motor, everything works off the front gear. Low and left, tucked under the exhaust manifold is the brilliant 2200bar L'Orange fuel pump. On the opposing side is the alternator, with a spare spot to drive any additional hydraulic or other pump you may require.

Low and right is the significant brass raw water intake with brass impellor. On the left is the alloy fresh coolant pump, which funnily enough is around the same diameter as one of the two turbos! Atop them is the utterly stunning heat exchanger in the middle of the front.

Then there are two fuel filters to the top and left, and immediately behind the fuel gets cooled before making its way to the injectors that spray not once but multiple times on the compression stroke to deliver high potency, accurate spray pattern, and in the end, maximum efficiency (read power).

Next to them are the two oil filters, with their neat drip tray for when they are exchanged at 500 hours, before said oil goes back into the galleries once more, but not until it too has been cooled. On the right is the control module that makes it all occur so well and tucked in behind that is the raw water running off to be the second intercool of the charge packet. The first has already been done by fresh coolant.

The valley itself is not to be seen for the large raw coolant pipe running back over the turbo plenum on the way to cool the exhaust stack, and the array of oil, fuel, and control devices for the charge packet that dominate, but again you get to see just how modular it is, should you (read technicians) ever need to take it off piece by piece.

Here you also get to see the incredible diameter of the air intakes, with the left one constantly open to serve the left turbo that is on song from around 800RPM. The second one on the right opens via butterfly valve to feed the second sequential turbo that kicks in just before 1500RPM. The 12 and 16 use three turbos in sequence, with the centre one spooled up from idle, before kicking in the left and then the right.

Of course all the while it is hard to miss the silver hairdos on the heads just below the intakes and immediately above the cooled, triple-walled exhaust manifolds, but lurking in there, almost under disguise courtesy of their black silicon jackets are the turbos, and it all means it is cool to the touch under SOLAS (safety of life at sea) regulations. That'll be another tick.

At the back there is obviously the enormous flywheel, but it is the turbo plenum above that is a work of art. It too is cool to the touch when under way, has a massive exit port (funny about that) and two wastegates either side. Peering in you can see the butterfly to access the second turbo, and realise just how much gas is being used cleverly to deliver the whallop these motors are known the world over for.

Simplicity delivers

Hard not to get into the control module on the engine, for it is just the one harness that makes its way up off the engine to the control box mounted on the firewall. OK. One for each engine. That's got to make for a better set up, certainly cleaner, and it links in all the mtu dynamic position joystick and everything, making the engine room even tidier. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Having all that on offer makes you think sure, but is it any good? Well there is 120l of coolant in the V10, near as good enough 80l of oil, but it's not synthetic, and good mineral oil is far cheaper to buy, which means that's one more tick right there. However, take a second to ponder this. If you need over 1500HP from each of your iron ladies to propel your craft, most manufacturers only have a V12 to offer you. With mtu, you also have the choice of the V10, which is smaller, lighter, and burns less fuel than the big girls. Kind of handy, don't you think...?

The V10 makes 1193kW or 1625HP and smacks out an eye watering 5500nm of torque. The 'Barracuda' V12 delivers 1472kW or 2002HP with 6781nm from its 2810kg dry mass, and because we're at it, the V16 that you'll find in really large Sportsfishermen and massive Italian Speedsters brings on 1939kW or 2636HP from its 3450kilos.

Now it is true if you wanted to go for absolute bragging rights that the CAT C32B does deliver 20 more horsepower and has a top end torque advantage, but tips the scales at over 3400 kilos, so a lot of its own grunt gets absorbed straight back into hauling itself around.

Then there's efficiency

Once upon a time, this question was always answered rhetorically with the old 'If you have to ask then you can't afford' statement. Those days are gone.

Let's use the mtu 12V2000M96X, against CAT C32B, and MAN V12-2000 at full noise, all the while remembering that the mtu goes through to 2450RPM all day, every day if you want, and the others top out at 2300, but also for short bursts only.

BrandPower kWTorque nmFuel Burn lphDifferential
mtu
@ 2450RPM
14726112382 
CAT14916190395+3.40%
(+13lph)
MAN14716107401+4.97%
(+19lph)
mtu
@ 2300RPM
14726510319-23.82%
(-76lph) over CAT
-25.71%
(-82lph) over MAN

Now let's call it 2000RPM for all, which is close to 80% across the board. This is also far more indicative of the equation from idle through to cruising speed.

BrandPower kWTorque nmFuel Burn lphDifferential
mtu13506866201 
CAT14917119265+31.84%
(+64lph)
MAN13656517258+28.36%
(+57lph)

And we're still not done

Lifetime cost is a real world way to look at the full scenario, and you're already in front because of the efficiency that a better burn provides for. That more consistent operating envelope also means less carbon in the oil, and with everything running at optimal temperatures because of all that cooling, your consumables are also taking less of a beating.

On average, vessels like the ones you'll find these sorts of donks in do 250 hours per annum. That means with mtu's 10V2000M96L and 12V2000M96X engines, in year one you actually don't do any servicing. Zero dollars right there. At 500 hours you drop the oil and do oil and fuel filters. Year three you'll change all that coolant, and do the air filter and alternator belt. 1000 hours is oil and filters once more, plus a valve set, and then in year five it is like year one again, and you don't call Penske (here in Australia & New Zealand) to come and service the girls. Depending on engine model, it equates to $25k all up.

Now by way of comparison, other brands require a full service, including the more expensive synthetic oil, and filters for oil, fuel and air every year, along with tune (valve set), as well. At year five, you also have the charge air cooler, heat exchanger, all the coolant and associated hoses, along with all the annual items to attend to, and you must also check the turbos themselves, and replace if necessary.

Even if you do not have to replace the hairdryers, it is at least $45k you'll shell out over the same five-year period. So then, if you carry 10k litres on board, that's one free bunkering, and a massive lunch for the entire clan to celebrate your choice of going with mtu 2000CR engines (or you could just put it back into the skiing fund).

If you're the Admiral of your Flagship...

Do you like peace of mind? Well think telemetry. Just like Scotty, it is all beamed back up to the Enterprise, so the mtu crew can keep more than a weather eye on your investment for you. Check the dipstick if you want, and it makes you feel better, but they've kind of already done it for you...

So yes, you will pay a little bit more on the way into an mtu life, but if you intend to live with your boat, use it and enjoy it, expect the best available, and do so both efficiently and economically, then I'm pretty sure you're not into average at all. Accordingly, don't let the heart of your boat be anything but the marine world's best in show.

OK. Today you will find that our website has an abundance of material from right across the globe, and if you cannot find something, just try the search button right up the top of the landing page, above our logo.

So as you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other parts of the group, go to the top of the Powerboat.World home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the site you want to see and, voila, it's all there for you.

Finally. Please look after yourselves.

John Curnow
Global Editor, Powerboat.World

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