Decided to upgrade the trolling motor on the big boat from 24 to 36v and install a recessed foot pedal. Here's some learnings.
Starting point: 2006 Champ 198 Elite 80lb Minn Kota Maxxum 24v Two group 29 Everstart batteries
Steps to the upgrade
1. Install .
- On a Champ 198 there are no stays or crossbars that will get in the way. Cut the hole like shown in the photo and you won't hit anything. You will saw through a lot of foam, which is thick and requires a long saw blade.
- Use a long straight item like a net handle to line up between the seat pedestal hole and the bow light so you get the tray lined up straight.
- The cutout they give you seems to be a tiny bit smaller than the actual tray. Probably on purpose. I cut it perfectly but had to cut out a little more on the sides to get it to fit.
- The key to this install is having a really good jigsaw that doesn't wander. Bosch is good. If you have that you can make the cut in a few minutes. A wood/metal combo type blade worked well for me.
2. Rearrange the back of the boat. This is something of a nightmare. Matt Peters sent me the pics of his Champ 196 that he upgraded to 36v as reference. See photo for layout.
3. Install battery trays. This was a huge source of confusion to me. I wanted group 29 or group 31 batteries. I didn't want to pay for the blue top optimas. But the trays for standard group 29/31 batteries were just big enough to where I might have a space issue. What I finally figured out was that you can fit a group 29 or 31 battery in a group 27 tray.
Specifically I bought an Atwood group 27 sized tray and put an Everstart 29, Interstate 29, and Trojan SCS-225 (size 31) battery in it (just to test each one). They all fit. The tray said it would only fit to 12 and 5/8" but it fit a 13" battery. Go figure. The Atwood tray is all plastic which is lame, but I didn't want to drop $60 for aluminum trays. Car trays don't work well because they have sections along the bottom that stick out.
4. Cables. Let's see. Bass Pro has 4 gauge cables for like $27 each. West Marine has them for $50. This seemed insane to me. The Fortrex 101 does come with two 6 gauge cables. The longer cable has a breaker on it. But I wanted 4 gauge. I went to Kragen and got a 48" long 4 gauge cable and four 3/8" ends. This ran about $11. I made the cables from this piece and it worked fine.
- The install guide on the Fortrex 101 recommended a 60 amp breaker. The boat comes standard with a 50 amp breaker. Typical. Still working on getting a larger breaker, though we ran the trolling motor very hard on the first trip with no problems.
5. Plug. I bought a . You need the as well if your boat has 6 ga wiring. It's a 1 and 1/8" plug. My existing plug was only 12/24. It was a 1 and 1/2" plug. So the install was a kluge. Whether you buy a Marinco plug or a Minn Kota plug, they're all made by Marinco. I'm sure there's a Marinco 36v of the proper size but I hate buying things anywhere besides TW so I'm going to deal with the smaller plug and the imperfect install for now.
6. Interference. I have a Lowrance LCX-28HDc. It worked OK with the integrated transducer on the 80 Maxxum. Not great, but OK. This time I went with a separate transducer. Now I get ridiculous black out interference. That should be a super fun project to figure out and fix. Send me your tips and tricks please.
7. Shaft length. No jokes please. Most people seem to go with 45". for two reasons. One being that Champs sit high out of the water at the bow and the other being that Cameron Smith told me to. This doesn't make for the coolest looking rig because the motor is huge but I don't give a rip because if there's 3 foot waves and I need to fish, I'll be fishing.
8. Batteries. People say Kirkland (Costco) and Interstate are the same battery made by Johnson Controls. Don't know about Everstart. These are your basic cheap large marine batteries. I went with Interstate because I could easily get Group 29s. Most stores in the east bay like Walmart and Costco only seem to carry up to Group 27. The first trip out we covered about 6 miles on the trolling motor, most of it on the highest speed. They held strong, but you could feel some tiring at the very end of the day, just a hair.
9. Random Tips
- If you adjust the height of the Fortrex, the head can spin around and get out of alignment. What I mean is that the foot pedal can be in the middle position where the motor should be pointed straight ahead, but instead the motor is pointed to the side. This happened to me immediately. You have to loosen the height adjustment, spin the head around, then tighten. It's an awkward process.
- Hose Clamps for fish finders. Guess what, the for trolling motor transducers doesn't fit around a 101 Fortrex. You can get one click on the clamp but its not enough to hold it. Still need to find a larger hose clamp.
Overall I'm super stoked on the recessed foot pedal tray and the new motor. The Fortrex is very smooth and powerful.