Installing pusher air drives on boats

We’ve used our own experience and feedback from many customers to put together some general guidelines about installing air drives on jon boats and bowfishing boats. See below our reduction drive categories and advice for choosing the right drive for your application:

1. Predator 22 reduction drive: Our most popular drive setup. Simply bolt on to your Predator 22 and go, $799 for reduction drive only, $1099 including propeller.

2. Standard reduction drive for engines up to 25 hp. Similar to our Predator 22 drive but with a more universal backing plate for use on Briggs, Kohler, Honda, etc. This drive uses a simple and rugged banded V belt. Starting at $799.

3. Standard reduction drive for engines between 26 and 40 hp. This is a higher capacity drive that uses a cogged belt with carbon fiber tensile elements, suitable for higher power and bigger propellers. Starting at $1,049.

Jon Boats:
Many people install air drives on jon boats and this can work quite well in areas that tear up outboards. The Predator 22 engine is a good choice for small jon boats (1236, 1240, 1436, 1440, 1448, etc), but you should have realistic expectations about the performance. Jon boats sit lower in the water than a similar airboat hull and require more thrust to plane out.

In a small jon boat, a Predator 22 air drive setup will typically plane out:

1 person + gear in deepwater
2 people + gear in shallow water

For higher payloads, consider one of the larger V-twin engines such as the Kohler or Briggs 35 hp engines.

In small jon boats, it is important to keep the engine and air drive as low as possible. For this reason, we generally recommend only using our full-size 59″ propeller in larger jon boats (48″, 60″, and higher bottom widths). For smaller jon boats, we recommend using a 52″ or smaller propeller. If you have questions about the best fit for your jon boat, send us an email or give us a call.

We’ve worked for a long time to optimize our Predator 22 reduction drive and propeller package. With the 59″ propeller, you can expect about 160 lbs of thrust. With the 52″ propeller, you can expect about 140 lbs of thrust. Note that the performance guidelines provided here are very rough, and can vary a lot depending on what type of jon boat you have, how much weight you’re carrying, the weight distribution in the boat, and water conditions.

Bowfishing boats:

Air drives are very useful on bowfishing boats, where debris and vegetation in shallow water often destroy trolling motors. We build many drives for bowfishing setups in 1860, 1960, 2072, and similar boats, and have found that the best setup depends on how you intend to use the air drive.

1. If you only intend to use the air drive while you’re shooting, the Predator 22 belt reduction with a 52″ propeller is a great fit. With the engine idling, you will move at around 1 mph. Adjust the engine idle speed to change the speed while you’re shooting. At full throttle, you’ll likely get 4-5 mph out of this setup. If you have space constraints and can’t fit a 52″ propeller, a smaller propeller can also work. Send us an email or give us a call for a recommendation for your boat.

2. If you intend to use the air drive for shooting AND for getting to your shooting location, you’ll want more thrust to move faster. For this we recommend at minimum the Predator 22 belt reduction with a 59″ propeller. At idle, you’ll get 1-1.5 mph for shooting. And at full throttle, you’ll get 6-7 mph. If you want more speed at full throttle in a typical bowfishing rig, you’ll need to consider a larger engine.

Note these speeds can vary a lot depending on the size and weight of your boat.

Our belt reduction drives and propellers have been used in many other applications such as hovercraft, mini airboats, ultralight aircraft, wind and ventilation machines, and more. If you have a question about how one of our drives might work for your application, feel free to email us or give us a call!