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Zeus Pod Drive System Offered by Yanmar
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Yanmar Zeus Pod Drive System Offered by Yanmar Yanmar Zeus Pod Drive System Offered by Yanmar main video
For the last year or so Yanmar engineers and those at ZF Marine have been working hard to mate the Zeus® pod drive and joystick system to Yanmar's diesel engines from 380-hp to 500-hp. In November Yanmar began shipping their diesels with Zeus® pod drives. This is good news for boat buyers because it means they can now have the lightweight, low profile and cost advantages of Yanmar diesel power and a pod drive/joystick system too. Our head-to-head testing of boats has repeatedly shown that at best cruise speeds diesel-powered boats are 30% to 49% more fuel efficient when they employ pod drives vs. conventional inboard drives. This massive fuel savings means not only lower operating costs, but also significantly more range. Those two benefits, together with the ease of joystick docking, means that Yanmar diesel power should be seriously considered by anyone.

Key Features

  • Entirely compatible with Yanmar diesel engines from 380–575mhp
  • Outstanding improvements in handling and maneuverability
  • Safety of rear-facing tunnel mounted drive and breakaway skeg
  • Horizontal thrust resulting in full use of power from the engines
  • Counter-rotating props stop rotational losses and minimize cavitation
  • Intuitive single-hand joystick control from the cockpit
  • Station-keeping software maintains a fixed heading within a tight area
  • Automated hydraulic trim tabs for best performance and visibility
  • Significant reductions in noise and vibration add to comfort



Yanmar Zeus Pod Drive System Offered by Yanmar Captain's Report

ZF Pod Drive by Yanmar


By Capt. Rob Smith During 2008,

I have been testing several new and improved engines from Yanmar Marine. Yanmar doesn’t rush to meet the competition or one-up the competition, they study, and design and test products until they are sure of what they say it will do. That’s what they did with the Zeus Pod Drive System. This system is designed to be used with Yanmar diesel marine engines from 400-530mph. That means the 6LY3 Series and the new 6CX530 are well suited for duty. The Zeus pod drive system is joystick operated at low speed around the docks and other tight maneuvering situations and continues to offer advantages at cruising and top speed. The Zeus system operates with two independently operated drives which are computer controlled through inputs from the joystick.



Coupled with Yanmar’s lightweight, compact diesel engines, the system significantly reduces weight and space taken up by the engine and marine gear. This space can be used by the builder in a multitude of ways such as expanding the interior space, lowering the cockpit or just having more room in the engine spaces for routine maintenance. At this point, there aren’t plans to use this system in re-power situations as it does require specific stringer and weight distribution considerations that are difficult to do in re-power situations.



The drives are mounted in pockets which mean the drives are protected first by the keel of the boat, then by the design of the drive. Any debris that comes in contact with the drive will likely be deflected by the bullet and leading edge of the gearcase and skeg. The drives are designed to shear away in case of catastrophic contact without leaving a gaping hole that sinks your boat and ruins your day.



The Zeus system utilizes twin counter-rotating props in an aft facing design. This more traditional design not only will be better accepted, but offers additional performance benefits. We the pod drive system, forward thrust is immediate rather than having to “push” as in forward facing designs. Also, the Zeus Pod Drive starts from horizontal rather than a down angle as in inboard systems, therefore delivering thrust immediately forward rather than down until the bow returns to horizontal and/or on plane. The trim tab is integrated into the drive unit, so you don’t have a separate system to install or maintain.



The drive is mated to the hull with two large rubber grommets that seal the water out and significantly reduce noise and vibration. Within the hull, Yanmar runs the wiring harness through an intermediate “black box” then to the Zeus Pod Drive where it delivers the proper “language” for inputs to the on-board computer. One of the only things I saw that involve maintenance that you might do is the filter for the hydraulic fluids on the port side of the drive. The system is protected for electrolysis with a large zinc plate on the trim tab and a Mercathode system.



The exhaust is routed from the engine through the drive via a large connection on the port side of the drive. Yanmar T’s off another 2” bypass line which they claim reduces the rumble often observed with underwater exhaust systems on boats in the slip. Toward the front of the drive on the port side is a raw water ball valve to bring cooling water in to the engine and the drive system where it cools the hydraulic fluid through a heat exchanger on board the drive.



Yanmar is already working with one of its builder partners to install the first units on a Luhr’s which should be ready for the Miami International Boat Show in February 2009. That will be one of the first opportunities for you to try out the joy of joystick drives and the fun of a Yanmar Diesel Marine Engine with the Zeus Pod Drive.

Photo Gallery

Engine Image

Lower pod unit looking aft.

Engine Image

Top of pod drive unit.

Engine Image

Example of independent pod positioning.

Engine Image

Artist rendering of installed pods.

Engine Image

Actual photo of pod lower unit.

Engine Image

Helm joystick control.


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Boats Tested with this Yanmar Zeus Pod Drive System Offered by Yanmar