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How To Make Your Boat Faster
Wilson Custom Marine could take a 55 mph runabout and have it running close to 60 mph after blueprinting the bottom.
3. ECM Reflashing
Cost: $595 (Stage 1 ECM reflashing)
Speed Gain: 1-2 mph
Cost Per MPH Gain: $297.50
Bottom Line: A minimal gain for the same price as a new stainless-steel prop
If your boat gets its propulsion from a fuel-injected engine and you want to increase the power output without, arguably, risking the reliability, have the ECM (engine control module) reflashed by Whipple Industries (whipplesuperchargers.com), the company best known for its superchargers. The ECM is the brain of a fuel-injection system. It controls the fuel and airflow as well as the engine timing and spark curve. Increasing the amount of air and fuel going into the engine’s cylinders creates a more potent explosion when the piston compresses the mixture, resulting in greater power output. In a Stage 1 upgrade on a MerCruiser 350 Mag HPI, Whipple increases output by 20 hp and torque by 20 pound-feet by modifying the fuel and spark curve. Reflashing also raises the maximum rpm, which might mean that you have to run a bigger prop. There are downsides, depending upon your priorities.
Reflashing the ECM will void your engine’s warranty and may reduce the drive-train longevity, according to marine engine makers we interviewed. Racers often take these risks in the quest for the checkered flag. Recreational boaters need to carefully weigh these factors before making a decision to reflash their boat motor’s ECM.