Turbine Powered Boat
Gas Turbine Engine
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T-58 Gas Turbine
T-58 Turbine Powered Boat
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Kevlar race boat

I needed a Turbine Boat hull about 28' to 32' in length that would be stable at speeds in excess of 120 mph

poker run boat

In selecting my boat, I've looked closely at the Eliminator Daytona 28, Eliminator Daytona 30, Spektre 30, Spektre 32, and Skater 32 hulls. Ranging in price from about $65,000 on up to over $255,000 I quickly realized fitting the proper boat hull into my budget may turn out to be a challenge.

I've also contacted several Offshore Super Series Cat Lite racing teams to see about purchasing their hull (when the team upgrades to a newer one).

poker run boat

After much careful consideration, it appears to me the Eliminator Daytona 28 is the best hull for my purpose (and budget).

Now if only I can locate one at an affordable price. I visited a local Daytona Dealer and the salesman must have thought I was 'made of money'. Instead of looking up the options I asked about and quoting me a figure, he seemed to 'pull numbers out of the air'. For example; "Oh a trailer like that will run you about ten grand" he said. I'm thinking a professional would have opened the book and kindly quoted me the cost.

When I explained I needed a bare hull (with no power or drive as I was going to install my T58 turbine) he insisted I could not purchase just a bare hull. Supposedly all Daytonas must be delivered with Mercury power. So I'm supposed to pay retail, pull the new motor and drive, patch the transom, then install my surface drive and turbine? What a bunch of BS! Needless to say, I was definitely not impressed with their customer service and could not exit fast enough. I'd love to post the name of the dealer here, but that's just not my style. I'll reserve that information for 'in person' conversations.

I found out later that I should have asked for the Sales Manager himself, as he's reputed to be a 'straight shooter'. Too late. I don't believe they'll get my future business.

Eliminator Daytona

My current boat has an "open bow" and I really like that option for the easy forward access and versatility it offers. A canvas cover would be installed for high-speed running.

Daytona Eliminator 28 Cat

This Eliminator Daytona 28 features the Integrated Cockpit Canopies styled after the F-16 canopies and features lots of forward storage areas for your gear.

Turbine boat Eliminator Daytona
Eliminator Daytona 28

There's also plenty of room in the aft cockpit for a turbine engine.

Daytona Eliminator Cat

Nice graphics and matching trailer make an attractive package. The bimini cover has got to go; it has no function in a turbine boat running at 110+ mph.

Eliminator Daytona

Many other cat boat builders are 'getting onboard' by also offering an open bow option. Several that are definitely worth a 'closer look' include the 28 Sport Cat by Advantage Boats, the 260 Venom by Cobra Performance Boats, the 28 Scepter by Magic Power Boats, the 27 Shadow by Ultra Boats, and of course the 27 Daytona by Eliminator Boats.

We have T-58 & Rolls Royce Gnome gas turbines available to power your project.
We also have starters, manuals, instruments, and gearboxes for T-58 and Gnome gas turbine engines.

turbine offshore cat

After lot's of 'shopping around', I got my boat: a 30' Cobra 'Terminator' Cat!

Here's some 'before' photos of my project boat. I got a great deal on a Cobra 30' Terminator Cat. Originally designed for offshore racing by Peter Casini, this hull won numerous regional, national, and world offshore championships.

Peter Casini race boat

After racking up several years of race victories including regional and national offshore championships (and the World Championship in 1992), Cobra Boats went into production and made this same hull available to the general public for a short period of only three years.

This hull is constructed with a specially developed Dupont laminate of Kevlar E-glass, combined with a tough vinylester resin, hand-laid over an aircraft-grade balsa core. The resulting light weight hull has substantially improved impact resistance and is extremely rigid. This is pretty obvious from the photo above- I estimate they must be at least six feet in the air!

Cobra Terminator Cat

I found this gem 'lounging around' down in the desert. It's been stored for several years and was way under powered with a 385 HP Mercruiser Big Block 454. It was pretty obvious to me it had a real 'hard life' as I inspected the hull and fittings. But, it was perfect for my project and I bought it just for the hull. I intended to 'gut' everything, pull the motor + drive and replace it with my turbine. Perfect for someone's' re-power project, I'll package up the entire EFI motor, manifolds, exhaust system, outdrive, power trim pump, hydraulic steering, stainless prop and drive shower. I'll even include the motor mounts and instruments. Here's a performance review of how well this motor/outdrive performs.

turbine powered Kevlar Cobra Terminator Cat
turbine boat Cobra Kevlar Cat

In addition to being extremely rigid, this Kevlar hull weighs only 2455 pounds. Compare to the Spektre 30 which weighs 5,800 lbs. and the Eliminator Daytona 30 which weighs in at 6,800 lbs. This Cobra Terminator is going to rip- What we have here is a thoroughbred race horse!

Cobra Terminator Cat

Can you image how my Cobra Terminator will handle after I reduce the overall engine/drive-train weight (by almost half) and more than triple the horsepower? . . . . in a word, AWESOME! With my 1400 HP General Electric turbine installed, I'm quite sure this Cobra Terminator will live up to it's name and will meet the textbook definition of "haul ass". We'll have a thoroughbred race horse on steroids!

I inspected the interior (as I scrubbed the bilge) and found no cracks, zero soft spots, or any defects of any kind. It's just as solid as the day it came out of the mold. I used my 60,000 BTU propane shop heater to dry it all out, got it properly preserved, then tarped it down for the winter.

Turbine powered Cobra Terminator

The following Spring I pulled the engine and outdrive and it sold in less than 24 hours. Everything I won't need for the turbine went with; external steering cylinder, gauges, harness, it's all gone. I ripped out wiring, carpeting, right down to the bare shell. Now I guess I'm committed. Come to think of it, some folks have already told me I should be committed.

The rear bench seat will also be removed (it's only left in place to support the tarp cover in this view on the right looking down from my shop). I should have enough room for seating on each side of the turbine (two up front and two in the rear). Lot's of soundproofing lining a 'doghouse' over the turbine should keep the noise down to manageable levels.

T58 powered Cobra Cat

All the boats I've had were all right-hand drive so I'll relocate the controls on this hull also.

My composite transom has been repaired and new topcoat finish has been applied.

turbine offshore cat

Now we're installing the 1400 HP monster gas turbine

Gas Turbine powered boat

The T58 is bolted in; now it's officially a 'Turbine Powered Boat'.

The rear mounts secure the gearbox to the composite motor mounts.

Gas Turbine powered boat
Gas Turbine powered boat

I used 'quick disconnect' pins so pulling the motor only takes a couple minutes.

While I was in a 'metal cutting mood' I also got the tail pipe cutout.

Gas Turbine powered boat
Gas turbine throttle control

Brackets have been fabricated to route my throttle cables.

I'm using 'push rod' connected to two-wire aircraft 'pull pull' style (same as the old warbirds).

Gas turbine throttle control
Gas turbine lube oil stainless braided hose

I'm 'dry fitting' all my hoses. This dry sump tank supplies synthetic lube oil to the gas turbine engine through AN16 Stainless Steel Aircraft Braided Hoses. I'm using 'quick disconnects' everywhere so my engine can be removed in just a couple minutes.

The throttle linkage is visible on this side. This lube oil tank is plumbed to the reduction gearbox (also known as the Speed Decreaser Gearbox or SDG). I plumbed through a heat exchanger from an old warbird to cool the gearbox oil.

Gas turbine lube oil stainless braided hose
Stainless Steel turbine engine support bracket

I fabricated a bracket to support the end of the Fuel Control.

The use of a connecting link allows the Gas Generator to expand lengthwise while still providing vertical support.

Stainless Steel turbine engine support bracket
Stainless Steel turbine engine support bracket

Another bracket supports the center of the combustion chamber; allowing for expansion while still providing support.

The stainless exhaust has been fabricated.

Gas turbine engine exhaust
Gas turbine engine exhaust

With the exhaust duct in place I can trim the engine hatch to fit Then I'll fabricate a stainless 'collar' to go around the exhaust pipe. This will keep the heat off the fiberglass and allow an exit point (1" gap) for the hot air being vented out of the engine area.

The rear bulkhead is split, so I fabricated a stainless stiff arm for support. Quick disconnect pins allow fast removal for easy access.

Aluminum honeycomb board composite bulkhead
6-rib serpentine alternator belt

A friend of mine over at Hardy Engineering and Manufacturing did some nice machine work on my coupling. Now my 6 Rib serpentine belt runs on the surface drive coupling to power my alternator.

Here's my Disk Brake setup. This allows me to stop the output shaft from turning during the start cycle (effectively provides 'neutral' as it prevents the prop from turning and keeps the boat stationary).

output shaft high speed disk brake
6-rib serpentine alternator belt

Once the rpm of the gas turbine has stabilized at idle, I release the shaft brake, the prop starts turning, my alternator starts charging, and away we go. Here my alternator bracket is in place; I used a carbon fiber bracket for the top support.

More to follow.

T58 gas turbine boat testing area

Now the rigging begins

The engine bay has been primed, painted with 'Vivid Red' AwlGrip 2 polyurethane, and clear coated, so we're 'all clear' to install components. I used composites for the brackets wherever I could for the exceptional strength and light weight. All bare metal has been powder coated or painted to prevent corrosion. I got a great deal on marine carpet through Ingles Carpet for the cockpit.

Rigging the gas turbine engine bay

On this side the fuel filters, pumps, and pressure regulators are mounted. The power steering pump has a black shroud over the cooling fins with a fan drawing air out the top to ensure proper cooling.

The gearbox lube oil tank and oil cooler can be seen on this side.

Rigging the gas turbine engine bay
Rigging the gas turbine engine bay

This is where the lube oil lines cross under the gearbox- it's an example of the attention to detail that I consider critical to the success of this project. It takes time, but is worth doing it correctly the first time.

The alternator and brake assembly bracket is installed. Next I'll route the AN3 stainless braided hoses to a "T", then all the way up to the brake valve and brake pedal. The alternator bracket is electrically isolated from the brake caliper bracket, surface drive and gas turbine to reduce stray voltage (which contributes to electrolysis).

Rigging the gas turbine engine bay

The plumbing is now hooked up.

Rigging the gas turbine engine bay

With two independent fuel systems dependability is assured. If either tank has a problem, that side can be bypassed and the other tank will provide fuel to the gas turbine. I used AN8 stainless steel braided hose for the fuel supply and return lines.

The hydraulic pumps that power the Arneson Surface Drive trim and Power Hinges are tucked away on the transom above the alternator and shaft brake. The small orange tank supplies 80W-90W gear lube to the surface drive.

Rigging the gas turbine engine bay

We've mounted a wheel barrow load of components and pulled a few miles of wire.

Rigging the gas turbine engine bay

Aircraft 'adel clamps' properly support the bundles of aircraft wire (to prevent chafing).

A complete set of analog aircraft instruments monitors every system. Analog instruments were selected as these greatly simplify the drivers workload: I can glance at the position of the pointers (quickly noticing any abnormal readings).

Rigging the gas turbine engine bay

The instruments are (top row from left) Left Volts, Right Volts, Left Fuel Quantity, Right Fuel Quantity, Gearbox Oil Pressure, Turbine Oil Pressure. Bottom row (from left) Ammeter, Fuel Pressure, Fuel Flow, Gearbox Oil Temp, Turbine Oil Temp. The Garmin GPSMAP 545s Chartplotter is centered in front of the pilot and the top two large instruments on either side are Percent RPM (Power Turbine and Gas Generator) and below that the Trim Indicator on the left and Exhaust Gas Temp on the right. Gearbox Torque is on the far right.

Mounting the Minn Kota maneuvering thrusters

My gas turbine powered boat is only made to do one thing; go very fast. It's not designed to maneuver around the marina. And I don't want the noise from the gas turbine to upset other boaters. To satisfy these requirements, I'm using using a pair of 80 Lb. Minn Kota RT-160/EM electric trolling motors (controlled by an 8-way joystick) to quietly get me out from the dock.

Quietly maneuvering out of the marina

It's been taking a while to fabricate the thruster mounts out of stainless steel and powder coat all the parts. They're finally done. On the left you see the thruster in the 'down' position.

The thrusters are raised electrically for high speed running. Here the right thruster is in the 'stowed' (up) position.

Quietly maneuvering out of the marina

The thruster brackets use the K-Planes hinge pins for mounting (this prevents me from having to bore holes in my transom). A dashboard switch controls two electric actuators that tilt each thruster up and out of the way prior to high speed running (completely independent of the K-Plane trim tabs). An aircraft landing gear indicator mounted on the instrument panel displays the actual position of the thrusters. An interlock allows them to run only when down (fully submerged for proper cooling). It's a fairly complex system, but well worth the effort.

Wrapping up the interior

The wiring is done: I've designed my electrical systems, fabricated brackets, mounted components and strung miles of wires.
It didn't take long to install the carpet and seats.

Raceboat Navigator station

The Navigator is seated comfortably with a Garmin GPSMAP 545s Chartplotter centered in front.

The Drivers station is laid out with analog instruments all within easy view. At the drivers feet, the accelerator pedal is on the right, the shaft brake in the center, and a black bar (foot rest) on the left. A horn button is mounted on the bulkhead above the footrest (pressed with the left foot) which allows both hands to remain on the wheel.

Driving the Offshore Powerboat
Quietly maneuvering out of the marina

Emergency battery disconnect switches are located on the rear cockpit bulkhead.

The interior is comfortable with enough room for four adults and plenty of space to move around to handle mooring lines, stow gear, etc.

Quietly maneuvering out of the marina

Not just 'another pretty boat', I've incorporated many features that make it safe and easier to live with.

I used Akzo Nobel black Aircraft Walkway Paint to add a non-skid strip down the fore deck.

Offshore Racing deck hardware

A row of handles allows safe access to the bow eye in any weather.

Bomar deck hatch

I rebuilt my forward Bomar deck hatches (sandblasted, powder coated, new gaskets) and used XtraBond 9500 Polyurethane Sealant to seal them. The hatches were relocated forward to allow easy access to the front cleats.

Available in over 100 colors, XtraBond 9500 is a good match to the AwlGrip 'sun yellow' 2-part polyurethane paint and 'safety yellow' powder coating I've been using throughout my turbine powered boat project.

Bomar deck hatch

I've completed the last major task of installing rollers on the trailer.
Next we'll service the lube oil systems and get ready to fire up the gas turbine in the boat for the first time.

We should be testing on the water in a few months. More to follow.

I can hardly wait to run my turbine boat through Deception Pass and out into the San Juan Islands at 125+ mph!
After testing, I'll take lots of photos and add another web page showing the details of the finished project (with several videos of high speed passes).

See the details of my composite repair.

My turbine powered boat is now complete.

poker run boat

Why put so much money and time into a boat?

My story began many years ago with inspiration from a magazine article. Judging by the response I sometimes get from folks (when I describe my turbine powered Kevlar Race Boat project), there's still a lot of people that just don't get it. Driving a turbine powered cat is not just recreation. And it's certainly not just another 'boat ride'. It's fun, relatively safe, great recreation. Definitely a 'legal high'.

Turbine Boat

Try your best to imagine this; Do you recall your first ride on a roller coaster? You know how you go from the feeling of 'sheer terror' on that first big drop to 'adrenalized elation' when you realize you're still alive (and seated safely in the car)?

That's the feeling you get when you ride in a turbine powered cat!

Kevlar race boat
offshore turbine boat

Over and over, the ride takes you from one thrill to the next. Get some air while jumping across the 'whitecaps'. Taking long sweeping turns at speed. Running full-throttle across the 'flat-as-glass' open bay. It's just one wicked adrenaline rush to the next. All heads turn wherever you take the boat. There's always many technical questions to be answered. And those who 'resist the urge' to look the first time just stop and stare when they hear the unmistakable sound of the turbine. It's quite the legal high. Now that's just what you are able to imagine.

Just wait till you take a ride in the 'real thing' at speeds in excess of 120 mph through the beautiful San Juan Islands! In a word awesome!

poker run boat

I'm interested in learning about the early race days of the Cobra Terminator. I've searched and searched, but just can't seem to locate any more details or photos of Peter Casini's early race victories with this boat. If you have any information or photos relating to the history of the Cobra Terminator (likely in the early to mid 90's time frame) please contact me

Kevlar race boat

Thanks to all those folks who have provided tips, technical advice, and information to help me with this project.
Soon I hope to be skimming across the waves at 120 miles an hour with a permanent grim etched on my face!

Please take a look at my "items wanted" list.

My Dream   T58-GE-3   4 Sale   T58-GE-8F   Projects   Gathering   Composite   SDG   Boathouse   History   Gnome   Cobra 30   ASD8   Wanted   Trailer

offshore turbine boat

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