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PERFORMANCE


have decreased and the few that remain produce drive units that fi ll niche markets. One such company is Konrad Marine. The business was founded by Ken and Kathy Konrad in 1981. Ken joined the US Navy in 1966, served in Vietnam and after returning home in 67, joined his father’s machine shop. It was not long before he felt the urge to enhance his career, and after gaining a degree in mechanical engineering Ken set about carving a career in that profession. It started when he developed a method of rebuilding and restoring parts off the rolling mills where metal is rolled and shaped as it cools. This innovative method saved companies tens of thousands of dollars. The Konrad’s moved into a new factory where they started producing universal joints that could handle a vast amount of horsepower i.e three 1200hp motors into one gearbox turning at 100rpm with Konrad’s universal joints absorbing 100,000 pounds of torque. Entry into the marine market came about almost by accident. An employee of the company came to Ken and said that his Mercury Alpha drive kept breaking and there could be a big market rebuilding them. Konrad arrived at a 1990’s Miami Boat Show with one of his Alpha One aftermarket drive units which he called the Omaga. Not long after that show, diesel engine makers were asking Konrad if they could design a driver unit capable of handling the higher torque produced by diesel engines. The Konrad 500 was created specifi cally for diesel power but unlike the Merc, Volvo mass produced units, Konrads were manufactured on a much lower scale. After launching the 500 Series, Konrad stopped marketing Mercury aftermarket


drives to concentrate on their own products. One of Konrad’s key to success has been a willingness to invest in the best tools and machinery to produce the ultimate drive that can handle big torque for long periods of time, where life expectancy of 4000 hours was quite normal. The 500 series has a bigger and more robust relation in the shape of the 600 series and it made its debut at the Miami Show. The 600 include the 620 single prop drive that handle a 20 inch wheel, the 640 which can take a 16 inch prop and the 660 duel prop drive spinning counter- rotating props up to 20 inches. Ken points out “One of the main


30 WORLD OF POWERBOATS AUTUMN 2011


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