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Compared to outboard motors, inboard engines can provide a higher power rating to a hull, such as in the Quintrex 530 Freedom Cruiser, writes Rick Huckstepp


Even with so many brands of outboard motors available to trailerboats, it is becoming more common to see vessels at the smaller end of the scale powering up with inboard engines.
The reasons for this are many but the ability to up the maximum horsepower rating is among the main ones. This comes about because of the weight of the engine and where it sits in the boat, offering a lower centre of gravity rather than having a powerhead sitting higher above the transom creating less stability.
Quintrex's 530 Freedom Cruiser is the latest we have tested armed with an inboard engine, in this case the 135hp 3.0lt carburetted model. It proved to be a good partnership with the hull, bar a slight blemish concerning a momentary power loss caused by fuel starvation in hard turns. (I'll get to that shortly.)
Take this hull and fit it with an outboard, and the maximum recommended power plant will be 90hp. It's a big difference and one that should be seriously considered if looking for a small skiboat but still wanting to do big boat tricks.

The 530 Freedom Cruiser looks the part fitted with an alloy wakeboard tower by Aussie Wake Towers who are supplying the manufacturer with this type of accessory. It featured a high tow point, a good sized rear-view mirror and finger racks port and starboard to carry boards.
Excess boards and/or skis can be stowed on deck between the helm and passenger seat under the fold-open windscreen section that leads to the bowriding area. The bottom of the partition door sits high off the deck for this reason.
The upholstery in the bowriding section is plush and rounded, and makes for a quite opulent look. The usual stowage below the cushions is available in the modules that form the seating and where rotomoulded inserts keep items from banging against the hull when underway.
The low-profile bowrails on top of the gunwales are the handholds when sitting here underway, but they could be out of reach of small children trying to hang on during tight manoeuvres. To remedy this, aftermarket heavy-duty nylon straps can be fitted around the hull ribs and protrude between the back and seat cushions.

The Quintrex 530 Freedom Cruiser has an open anchor well big enough for the legally required pick and another one for back anchoring the boat off the sand when on the beach.
The helm module has a plastic top in which instrumentation is neatly fitted and the steering is mechanical back to the hydraulic pump that drives the leg. We have tested a few of these systems and have found that due to the mechanical-hydraulic marriage they all seem to have a small amount of lag when turning the wheel left to right rather than no slop at the helm as found with most fully hydraulic systems. It's not something that is detrimental to safety, but something that one needs to get used to as it does produce a small amount of over and understeer.
The bottom of both dash modules angle sharply forward on the companionway edge so that feet do not contact the structure when walking around this area. A net retainer is fixed under each module behind which lifejackets and clothing can be stowed. The stylish wraparound windscreen is supported by a robust handrail contoured behind it.
Quintrex has plastic liners on each side of the cockpit. Drinkholders and other items, such as rods, boat hooks and the like, are stowed here behind toggle straps.

The rear lounge wraps around the engine compartment and features a rebate on each side of the box where people can wedge themselves against the gunwales. There is plenty of cushioning here and the topside is large enough for a single-person sundeck.
The hinged topside of the engine box folds back on gas struts where another lid is removed to access the engine proper. Arms can fit down between the front of the engine and the front wall of the box to adjust belts and idler pulleys. The coolant reservoir and oil dipstick are also here within easy reach.
The seat bases on the rear lounge lift out for accessing more stowage below. Aft of that you will find ample room in the transom corner compartments where the crank battery is housed portside and the power steering pump opposite.
On the deck, in front of the engine box, is a small hatch held down by Velcro that accesses the bilge and the Johnson pump.
Should the dreaded fire situation arise, an extinguisher nozzle can be inserted into the port on the side of the closed engine box and its contents emptied inside without lifting the lid. For engine starting, the bilge blower aerates the compartment and fumes exit via four vents in the transom bulkhead.

The 530 Freedom Cruiser features a good sized swimout platform under which a telescopic fold-down ladder is fitted. The aft gunwale rails run right to the back of the platform making for easy boarding and disembarking.
Underway, with three adults on board, the 3.0lt engine had plenty of grunt for holeshot and spinning a 19-inch prop, it displayed excellent torque throughout the rev range.
The steering issue mentioned earlier is probably here to stay, but moving on from that we did notice on hard turning to port under power the engine experienced power loss momentarily, albeit for only a second or two. This is due to fuel starvation and has been remedied on previous installations with a chock installed under one engine mount to offset the float level in the carburettor fuel bowl.
The power loss would no doubt be more severe with a boarder out the back due to the increase in fuel consumption and might well be disconcerting to skiers and boarders during a critical stage of manoeuvring.
This issue is one that Mercury should investigate as the fuel inlet to the carburettor may well be undersized.
On the cruise, at 3000rpm, the Lowrance handheld GPS registered 33.3kmh and at WOT to 5200rpm realised 66.3kmh. In the calm of the Gold Coast's Coomera River there was the usual large and small boat wash to play on and the Quintrex 530 Freedom Cruiser performed without any bad manners.

Small boat with lots of torque
Under $40K

Fuel starvation needs to be addressed as a priority for this type of boat
Lower handholds in the bowriding section for small children would be appreciated


Specifications: Quintrex 530 Freedom Cruiser

Price as tested: $39,179 (excluding dealer deliver, on water and registration costs)
Options fitted: Wakeboard tower with two racks, mirror, sports upholstery, two-tone paint, and tonneau cover
Priced from: $34,850

Material: Aluminium; 3mm bottom, 2mm topsides
Type: Bowrider
Length overall: 5.66m
Beam: 2.3m
Weight: 622kg (boat only)

Fuel: 95lt
Rec. max. HP: 135
Rec. HP: 135
Max. engine weight: 288kg
Flotation: Basic
People: 7
Maximum load: 918kg (engine, people, luggage)

Make/model: MerCruiser 3.0lt WPS TKS
Type: Carburetted four-cylinder four-stroke petrol
Rated HP: 135
Displacement: 3.0lt
Weight: 288kg
Leg type: Alpha One
Propeller: 19in

53 Waterway Drive,
Coomera, Qld, 4209
Phone: (07) 5585 9805
Fax: (07) 5585 9811

Originally published in TrailerBoat #242

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