History of Aluminum Jet Boats
Today's Aluminum Jet boats are a far cry from the early riveted aluminum
fishing boats sold through Sears catalogs or the early jet boats from the 1960s
and 70s. Here's a quick overview of where the industry has come from and what
represents the state-of-the-art today.
First Generation. The water jet pump for boat propulsion was invented by New
Zealander, Sir William Hamilton. In 1953 he constructed his first centrifugal
pump driven by a bevel gear. He installed it in a 11.5 ft plywood boat with a
Ford engine. A year later he began producing jet boats. In the 60s Berkeley
Marine was the first large volume producers of jet pumps in the USA and
popularized jet-powered boats for the American family runabout & skiing markets.
During the 70s jet-powered boats were all the rage. Many boat builders jumped
into the jet-power market segment including well-known companies like Glastron,
Formula and Sea Ray. These boats typically were hi-performance runabouts made
mostly of fiberglass with monster engines from Detroit. The engines were gas
hogs and the jets were about 60% as efficient as conventional props. Then the
80s fuel shortage hit and these boats fell from favor, even though they offered
superior safety and reliability as well as lower maintenance compared to
propeller driven boats.
Second Generation. Through the 1980s and early 90s
development and improvements continued in jet pumps as well as aluminum hull
design & fabrication.
For jet pumps other manufacturers entered the market, such as; Dominator,
American Turbine, Kodiak Marine, and Legend Jet Drive. Each made innovative
contributions to efficiency, versatility and reliability.
For aluminum boats, development continued mostly from small boat
manufacturers in the North West where river running in jet boats continued to
have a strong following. They moved away from the poor maneuverability and hard
ride of the early flat bottom jon-boat styles to V shaped delta as well as
perfecting the reliable all-welded aluminum process.
Third Generation. By the mid 90s improvements in jet
intakes, impeller designs and jet nozzles saw the leading jet pump manufacturers
producing jets with efficiency approaching 90% that of props. And the in-board
gas guzzlers were history, replaced by much more efficient engines mainly from
Chevy and Ford and marinized by engine specialists like Marine Power and Kodiak
Marine. Mercury also entered the market with an integrated in-board/jet
For aluminum boats, by the mid-90s manufacturers had largely converted to
producing a "modified-delta". This is basically a combination of "flat bottom"
and "delta V". The modified-delta typically has a 6' to 14' flat bottom from
mid-ship to stern. It combines the shallow draft advantages of flat-bottom hulls
with the turning and straight-line handling of the "delta V".
The premier Winter 2004 issue of River Jet magazine listed 44
Aluminum Jet Boat Manufacturer throughout the US, but mostly concentrated in
Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Most of these aluminum boat manufacturers still
produce the modified-delta style or 3rd generation hull.
By the way you may be surprised to learn that today's Aluminum boats weight
25% less than a fiberglass (or FRP) boat of similar size and design.
Fourth Generation. Today's four leading jet pump
manufacturers are Mercury, American Turbine, Kodiak Marine and Hamilton Jet.
Mercury produces the entry-level SportJet which is basically their
popular out-drive with the prop/lower drive unit replaced by a compact
intake-impeller-nozzle jet assembly. (The Rogue Jet Sportwater uses the Mercury
SportJet.) American Turbine has developed a lower cost in-board design using a
single stage aluminum impeller that is popular in the mid-range priced boats.
Kodiak also produces a popular mid-range jet. Meanwhile, Hamilton Jet has
continued its 40 years of innovative jet pump design leadership. In the late
90's Hamilton introduced the 212 High Thrust Marine Jet, which set new standards
in reliability and efficiency. Hamilton's optional stainless-steel turbo
impeller further increases efficiency and performance. Today the unquestioned
top-of-the-line jet is the Hamilton Jet 212 with the stainless steel Turbo
impeller. According to Hamilton this design has 50% greater grip in aerated
white water over their non-turbo impellers. Its efficiency is 94% to 95% that of
a prop. And because of its lower weight-to-thrust ratio at low rpm, you will
also get onto plane 50% to 55% faster than a prop. (This is the standard
combination on all Rogue Jet FastWater and WhiteWater models.)
For hull design, experts agree that the current state-of-the-art 4th
generation hull is the modified rounded or radiused bottom. Modified-delta hull
designers have long recognized that replacing the narrow flat bottom section
with a radiused section would produce superior on-water handling and a smoother
ride for passenger comfort. But this type of hull requires fabrication
technology that most manufacturers simply do not have. Furthermore, it is also
more expensive to produce. So in the competitive boat manufacturing business,
only 4 of the current 44 manufacturers produce this advantageous 4th generation
design. Furthermore, Rogue Jet is the only builder that produces the exclusive
tampered-radiused hull with the ½" surfboard keel-plate© and laminar flow jet
intake© for additional safety and efficiency. There is nothing else like it on
the market at any price.
If a no-comprise jet boat is what you are dreaming about, give Rogue Jet
Boatworks a call or register here to arrange a personal touch-and-feel followed
by the most satisfying on-water demonstration you will ever experience. A Rogue Jet truly is "The Ultimate Aluminum Jet Boat Experience".
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