REVIEW: CHINESE MADE AQUALINE 3.5

By: ANDREW NORTON, Photography by: ANDREW NORTON

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  • Trade-A-Boat

Andrew 'Engine man' Nortons spends some quality time with the Chinese made Aqualine 3.5. His review is based off a decent test of the engines performance, fuel economy and feel.

REVIEW: CHINESE MADE AQUALINE 3.5
When is a clone not a clone? When it’s bigger and better

 

CHINESE OUTBOARD MANUFACTURERS THINK DIFFERENTLY

As the Chinese economy grows and wages increase, its outboard manufacturers have embarked on a policy of value-adding to products. Gone are the days of simply cloning a Tohatsu or Yamaha outboard (the favoured donors), replaced by adding features that make them easier to service and more user-friendly.

An example is the Aqualine 3.5, an entry-level direct-drive two-stroke outboard. First impressions are that it’s basically a cloned Yamaha 2C. And as far as the leg and lower unit are concerned, it is.

But Aqualine has taken the 2C and modified it by fitting a larger displacement power head and twist-grip throttle plus an emergency ignition cut-off switch with lanyard on the long tiller arm that folds down along the leg. The biggest change is that instead of using a screw-together clamshell cowling, Aqualine has opted for a full lift-off cowl attached by two spring clips to the engine pan.

The strongly moulded cowl sits on a rubber seal around the plastic pan, with an air intake for the single-jet carbie beneath. Remove the cowl, and the sparkplug, inline fuel filter and manual recoil starter are instantly accessible. There’s even a grease nipple on the steering pivot tube. These additions make the 3.5 just 2.0kg heavier than the 2C.

THE NITTY GRITTY

By increasing the cylinder bore and piston stroke Aqualine has created a power head with 21 per cent greater piston displacement. Presumably the piston still has two rings as with the 2C, and ignition timing fixed at about 20 degrees before top dead centre.

The 1.3L integral fuel tank gravity feeds via a fuel cock and inline filter to the carbie.

No pilot water discharge or telltale is fitted and the exhaust relief is a plastic baffle attached to the leg that directs cooling water down. To check the water pump is working, operators must run their fingers down the leg to feel for water at the relief hole.

Aqualine was smart to use the anti-ventilation plate design from the 2C. There are two plates, the upper larger than the lower. Water flowing onto the plates is accelerated down the groove either side to a cutaway just ahead of the main exhaust outlet. The accelerated water enters these cutaways and helps scavenge the entire exhaust system.

The twist-grip throttle design is different to any other I’ve ever seen; the throttle is aft of the fixed handle, so that under way you set the throttle opening, then steer from the forward end of the handle.

It gets stranger. Most of us think of ‘L’ as Low and ‘H’ as High but with this outboard, set the throttle at L and the engine revs out. L means fast and H means slow!

Four trim positions are provided, with a stop knob for full tilting. Recommended service intervals are every 100 hours or annually after the first 20 hours or three months. Aqualine provides a toolkit that includes a spare starter cord with handle, sparkplug box wrench, slot and Phillips screwdriver, a cotter pin and two spare drive pins, pliers, a spanner and even lower unit oil drain and refill plug washers. Alas, no spare sparkplug.

If you take the 3.5 back to the dealer for the 20-hour service, the recreational warranty is two years.

 

Aqualine 3.5 Access Points

Access points are easy to get to; Under the cowl, the whole arrangement is well laid out

 

ON THE WATER

Until I realised that H was slow, every time I started the engine it revved out – so embarrassing at my local ramp. With the throttle set at H and the choke lever closed, the 3.5 I’d been loaned normally started cold first pull, with no more effort needed than a 2C, and had a slow enough idle not to make direct drive a problem. However, even after completing the recommended first two hours on 25:1 and switching to 50:1 the 3.5 was smoky at low revs despite premium 95 and semi-synthetic Valvoline two-stroke oil, so trolling ain’t its strong point.

No break-in schedule is mentioned in the owner’s manual so for the first hour I avoided WOT, then in the second hour ran at WOT for one minute in every 10 while constantly varying engine revs. For the third hour onwards I limited WOT to no more than five minutes at a time with a period of at least 15 minutes of midrange revs in between. And no trolling for at least the first 10 hours, which I have yet to clock up.

Mounted on my flat-bottomed Sea Jay 3.4 Punt and set on the third trim hole, the standard prop was perfect, although the 3.5 still had nowhere near as much grunt as Mercury’s four-stroke F2.5 on this hull. Vibration levels were higher at low revs but lower at or near WOT, and the 3.5 was also much quieter.

 

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THE WRAP

This engine is worth considering. It’s designed for transoms up to 15in but on punts like the Sea Jay it’s perfect for plodding to and from a favourite fishing spot. It’s well finished and my initial impressions are that with a bit of TLC it should provide years of saltwater angling pleasure. The more I use it, the more I like it!

SEA TRIALS

Single 3.5 on Sea Jay 3.4 Punt, 5.0in pitch prop, total 275kg including two adults and fishing tackle. Average of two-way runs on Lake Macquarie, NSW, across a measured distance, calm water, using portable fuel flow gear, high tension lead tachometer and decibel meter.

Throttle opening RPM Knots L/hr L/Nm dB at 3m
One quarter  1600 2.5  0.4  0.16  75.3 
Half throttle  2600  3.4  0.6  0.18  78.7 
Three quarters  4000  4.6  0.22  83.6 
Wide Open Throttle  4900  5.3  1.3  0.25  85.6 

‘Loop’ of cruising with 10 per cent WOT operation and averaging 4.0kt equals 1.0L/h.

 

QUICK SPECS

Aqualine 3.5

Engine type Single-cylinder loop-charged premix two-stroke outboard

Rated BHP/MHP* 3.4/3.4 at 4500rpm

Rec. rpm range 4500 to 5000

Displacement 60.4cc

Bore x stroke 45 x 38mm

Gear ratio 2.08:1

Dry weight 12.0kg

RRP A$595

OEDA stars N/A

*Brake horsepower/metric horsepower or PS

 

For more on the 3.5 call +61 0490 117 924 or visit www.aqualineau.net

 


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