Rebuilding a Water-Damaged Torqeedo Motor

5
Travel 801L

We’ve been following the Torqeedo portable electric outboard since our first test of the Travel 801 in 2008. Since then, we’ve put two of these motors into long-term service on test boats. Both are still operating with no major problems, but we have received a few reports from disappointed owners. PS reader US Navy Admiral (ret.) John Poindexter, who sails on the Chesapeake Bay, sent us an account of his experience with the Torqeedo.

The Torqeedo Travel 1003 was purchased in 2013 from West Marine at Annapolis Boat Show and saw little use. At the beginning of the 2017 sailing season, Poindexter tried to start the motor and received error E45 on startup. Torqeedo tech support said there was probably water in motor housing. Since the motor was out of warranty, he decided to open the motor housing.

Upon pulling the prop, he found inner and outer washers and prop-pin were badly corroded and in pieces. According to Torqeedo, these components are now made of more corrosion resistant material. It appears the rust from these components might have degraded the shaft seal, leading to further damage.

When he opened the prop side of housing which contained the reduction gear, there was a small amount of water. On the motor side of the housing, he found some moisture coating the electronics and corrosion on the outside of the electric motor, indicating that moisture had entered this area as well.

One way water might travel between these areas is by following the power cable conduit. The reduction gear side and the motor side has an opening where the power cables come down from the battery. This connection can be seen on the right side of Photo 3 (top right; indicated with an arrow); so there is communication between the two areas.

It appears the initial cause of the water intrusion was a failure of the O-ring seal on the motor side of the housing. There was no physical damage to the motor housing, fin or pylon.

Here are some other observations he made regarding the experience.

Owners should receive notice of the new prop shaft parts so that the more corrosion-prone ones can be been replaced.

The motor needs a better seal. Four screws seated in plastic hold the three-part (plastic-aluminum-plastic) assembly together like a sandwich and compress the O-rings. More screws from each side seated in the aluminum would allow more torque on the screws and more compression around the circumference.

The power and control plugs are very fragile and make it difficult to make a good connection.

Assemblers must apply a dielectric grease on the contacts regularly and be careful in screwing on the connectors.

He could find no detailed repair manual for users beyond changing the prop.

He could locate no exploded view of parts.

There is a lack of repair facilities-nothing in the Annapolis area which is sailing capital of the United States.

A two-year warranty is too short for such an expensive piece of gear.

Because of the complexity of ensuring a good seal, Torqeedo recommended replacing the entire pylon assembly, which extends from the motor to the battery. The price of this assembly is $631 plus shipping. They gave him about 30 percent discount, easing the pain somewhat. He said Daniel Witczak in customer support was very helpful with the technical details. Perhaps the design engineers at Torqeedo will take note of some of these observations as they develop new models.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I too have recently experienced the dreaded 45 error, and I’m waiting for my replacement to arrive. I found rust around the motor, even though the o ring seemed intact and still flexible. With shipping and middleman fees, it cost me $700. Sure would be helpful to see some exploded diagrams of how everything goes together before I start dismantling things.

    After about five years of using mine, I would not recommend the Torqeedo 1003. I bought the extended warranty, which covered a replacement motor at year two, which took over a month to do because of long shipping times. Nothing else happened until the warranty expired, and then I had to buy a new tiller for about $250, after paying a service technician $125 for a diagnostic. Plus, I had to drive two hours each way to Galesville, MD. There was a battery recall last summer, which resulted in three weeks of downtime, again due to shipping times. And now the expensive 45 error.

    I was trying to avoid the mess and general crankiness of gasoline outboards, but the Torqeedo had its own set of problems and is way more expensive to repair.

  2. Similar experience. I’m on my second Travel 1003. The first was beset by various “E” error messages until I took the motor assembly apart to find water in the housing. I thought hard about buying a replacement but already had two batteries and was assured by the rep at West Marine that early quality problems had been resolved.

    The second has been a little better but the design still has major weaknesses. The connectors are feeble – possibly OK if you never remove the battery and charge in place but not suited to swapping over to a spare periodically. The propeller is secured by a nyloc nut which makes it almost impossible to undo if the shear pin goes as there is nothing to lock the shaft.

    Now I am sat in a beautiful anchorage watching enviously as noisy gasoline powered dinghies ferry people to the beach. I’m staring at a E45 error code which won’t clear and renders the machine useless. I suspect my next outboard will be gasoline…..

  3. I have a Travel 1003 and really loved the quietness and the ease of operation. However this season when I used it the battery power level plunged from around 85 to 90 percent to zero in a moment. Running along just fine, then the low battery alarm started beeping. Turned it off and back on, still no charge. Charged it over night, 100%, then it died within minutes. I would not be surprised if there is water in the battery housing as the motor spun on the outboard bracket and cracked a hole in the side of the housing.
    I had just bought a new tiller shell assembly, but won’t bother trying to figure out how to get the old one apart if the battery is shot.
    I have only used this boat twice in the past 2 years so will have to get by with my Lehr propane outboard, another sad experiment.

  4. Very disappointed. The range on the 1003 was just enough to get to shore and back, so I purchased the solar panel. This worked ok until the second day, when I left the panel connected overnight. The Torqueedo people had obviously forgotten to put a diode in the panel because it drained the battery and killed a cell. The battery then did not have enough, at 100%, to get to shore. As the nearest Torqueedo rep is over 4000 Km away I sold the whole thing as broken. Honda 2.3 has been going well since.

  5. I have a cruise 2.0 which has been used around 25 hours total. After having the boat on land over the winter I got a e47 error when trying to start the motor. The dealer I bought it from here in Norway (Bakken Motor in Drammen) has been less than helpful. I suspect they are trying to stall as I have about a month left on the 2 year warranty. I would not buy another Torqeedo.

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