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Product Tutorials > Bow Thruster Guide >

SideShift Thrusters Tutorial




Why Choose Sideshift bow stern thruster??

Does the thought of taking your boat out on the water on a windy day make you more stressed out than excited? Are you using your boat less and less because of your fear of docking?  You are not alone.

Docking can be one of the most stressful experiences you will face as a boat owner. Worrying about damaging your boat or your neighbours boat can turn a beautiful day on the water into a stressful nightmare.

That’s where SideShift can help. Most of our customers purchase a SideShift thruster system for one or more of the following reasons:

  • I Want to Be Able to Park My Boat with Confidence:  Slips are getting tighter, and there are times when the wind just won’t cooperate.
  • I Want to Stop Worrying about Damaging My Boat and My Neighbours Boat:  Our boats are major investments and I don’t want to risk damage every time I want to go out on the water.
  • I Want to Be Confident Exploring New Places:  I bought my boat so that I could explore new waters, but I need more precise control to navigate unknown marinas and locks with confidence.
  • I Want to Be Able to Dock in Any Condition:  Windy conditions make docking too unsafe for me to manage on my own or with my spouse.
  • I Want My Boating to Be Fun, Including Docking:  Boating is fun, but docking is stressful and I’m tired of the anxiety that comes with docking in difficult conditions.

Do any of these points hit close to home? Then a Sideshift thruster system might be the perfect answer for you.

Why Sideshift Outperforms Other Docking Solutions

Sideshift bow and stern thrusters rely on a revolutionary design that places the thrusters on the outside of the hull, rather than inside.

This unique design allows for quiet operation, better response and easy installation, all at an affordable price that is unmatched by conventional tunnel thrusters.

Quiet Operation

Sideshift bow and stern thrusters are mounted externally to your boat, Unlike tunnel thrusters that have the motor mounted inside the hull producing significant noise and vibration, Sideshift thrusters are silent and vibration free.

Instant response:

Sideshift thrusters’ external mounting position places our 8” aluminum propellers in direct contact with the water, providing instant response when seconds count. Conventional tunnel thrusters have to move water through a tube or “tunnel” to provide thrust, which can delay response, wasting valuable seconds in a critical docking situation. In addition, our external mounting system places the thruster further forward or astern on the boat, which provides a pivot-point advantage and more immediate response.

Superior expertise

When you buy a bow or stern thruster from Sideshift, you’re dealing with the industry pioneers behind external thruster technology. We help you every step of the way to ensure that you get the right product, along with unlimited phone support from our team of technical experts.

Our team at Sideshift has helped thousands of customers with every kind of boat and installation requirement. You can contact our customer support directly by phone any time.

Is Sideshift Right for Your Boat?

Sideshift’s bow and stern thruster systems are perfect for all boats between 20 and 60 feet in length.

Our bow and stern thrusters are particularly suited to:

  • Cruisers
  • Trawlers
  • Sports Boats
  • Sailboats
  • Houseboats
  • Pontoon Boats
  • Catamarans

Choosing the right bow and stern thruster is as easy as picking the product that matches the length of your boat. And installation is so easy that it can be done while your boat is still in the water!

How does Sideshift Compare to Tunnel Thrusters?

What would you say if we told you that you could get better response, silent performance, less drag and a quicker install for up to 50% less money than a tunnel thruster by purchasing a Sideshift thruster system?

When you choose Sideshift bow and stern thrusters, you get significantly better performance than conventional tunnel thrusters, at up to half the cost. Our thrusters have been proven to out-perform conventional tunnel thrusters, while also being inexpensive and easy to install.

Want to read more about the Sideshift advantage over conventional tunnel thrusters? Take a look at our comparison chart to learn how you can get better performance for less with a Sideshift thruster system.

 

See How Sideshift Compares to Conventional Tunnel Thrusters

At Sideshift, we understand the decision to purchase a bow or stern thruster needs careful consideration to ensure you have the best possible solution for your boat.

See the chart below to learn how Sideshift outperforms the competition. Our results speak for themselves!

Features Sideshift Conventional Thrusters
Easy same-day installation Yes No
No tunnel or holes below waterline Yes No
In-water installation possible Yes No
Virtually silent operation Yes No
Zero drag when planing Yes No
Pivot point advantage for optimal performance Yes No
Prop-in-water design for greater responsiveness Yes No
Canadian built to perform in heavy weather conditions Yes No
Can be retrofitted to a future boat Yes No
Virtually maintenance free Yes No
All-inclusive kit Yes No
2 Year Warranty Yes Yes
Potential to void hull warranty No Yes
Fits any type of boat – cruiser, trawler, cuddy, sailboat, pontoon or houseboat Yes No
Typical installed cost for boats up to 60’ $4,000-$7,200 $7,500-$15,000

 

Total Installed Cost – Detailed Breakdown

  Sideshift Conventional Thrusters
2.5hp – 7.5hp Thruster $2,900-$5,400 $3,000-$7,000
Additional Hardware $100 $300-$500
Batteries/cable $200-$500 $200-$500
Installation – DIY Not Available
Installation – Dealer $800-$1,200 $4,000-$7,000
Total $4,000-$7,200   $7,500-$15,000

How do I Install Sideshift Thrusters?

Installation

Our thrusters mount easily using our unique, universal mounting system. Virtually any V-shaped bow, pontoon or stern can be accommodated. And there are no mounting holes required below waterline, eliminating any concerns about potential leaks! Did you know that according to BoatUS Insurance, a full 44% of sinkings are a result of failed fittings below the waterline?

And, to make things even simpler, our thruster systems now come standard with our wireless joystick technology, The included wireless joystick control offers simple plug and play for the helm to motor controller connection, eliminating the hassle of long wire-runs, and shaving hours off installation time.

Do-It-Yourself

Installing a Sideshift bow and stern thruster is so easy that you can do it yourself in less than a day. Other thruster systems can cost thousands of dollars to install and take up to a week to complete. Not Sideshift! Just follow the easy, step-by-step instructions that are included with every kit to get your boat out on the water faster. And we’re always available to provide phone support if any questions come up.

Local Installers

Or, if you aren’t comfortable installing a Sideshift thruster yourself, you can take it to your local marina or boatyard to let the professionals handle it. Unlike tunnel thrusters which can cost thousands of dollars to install, Sideshift thrusters can be installed for as little as $600-$800. Our thrusters have been specifically designed for easy installation by any marine mechanic, and as always, we’re available to speak with your installer if there are any questions.

 

FAQ

Operation

Is Sideshift easy to use?

Yes, Sideshift’s bow and stern thrusters are very intuitive and easy to use. Just toggle left or toggle right on the joystick for operation. It can’t get any easier than that!

Does the motor pivot to push the boat the other way?

No, the thruster motor stays in a fixed position. The propellers reverse in direction to push the boat left or right.

How long can you run a Sideshift?

Sideshift bow and stern thrusters have a maximum run time of 30 seconds with a 10 second cool down. The immediate response means you will typically run the thruster for only a few seconds at a time

Maintenance

What do I do for maintenance?

Change the anodes once per year to protect your investment from corrosion. Ensure that the airline is in good condition and secured in a dry location. Ensure that the bow and stern thruster mounts are properly secured to the boat and tighten any loose fasteners. As required or when you repaint the hull, paint the unit with anti-fouling paint… That’s it!

 

Installation

How deep should I install the unit into the water?

Your Sideshift thruster must be installed with the top of the propellers five inches or deeper below the water surface.

What is the airline for and where does it go?

The airline serves as a vent for the thruster motor, to avoid pressure build-up on the seals. Please ensure that the airline is in good condition and is secured in a dry location inside the boat.

Do I have to take my boat out of the water to install a Sideshift bow or stern thruster?

No, Sideshift thrusters can be installed while your boat is still in the water since all the mounting locations are above the waterline. However, it is easier to install when your boat is out of the water.

How long does a Sideshift take to install?

The average installation ranges from 5 to 8 hours depending on the size and complexity of the interior wire runs.

General

Does the thruster retract or deploy?

No, our thrusters do not retract or deploy. They are permanently fixed to the hull and rise out of the water when the boat planes, creating zero drag.

What about large waves hitting the bow thruster?

Sideshift thrusters are ruggedly manufactured using high quality cast aluminum, extruded aluminum and stainless steel components. Our unique three point mounting system creates an extremely strong attachment to the hull. Our bow thrusters have been used in some of the harshest environments around the world. Boats that are used in rough water should add checking to ensure all points of installation are secure on a regular basis as part of their maintenance program.

Can I install the thruster myself?

Yes, Sideshift thrusters were designed with the DIY’er in mind. With basic mechanical skills and a little bit of electrical system knowledge, you can easily install your own Sideshift system. Every thruster kit includes a detailed installation manual and unlimited phone support. Installation video’s can be viewed at Sideshift.com

Are Sideshift thrusters installed permanently or can I remove it?

Sideshift thrusters are a permanent mount. However, they can be removed and reinstalled on your next boat. They can also add value to your boat if you sell it.

How noisy are Sideshift thrusters?

Sideshift thrusters are silent and vibration-free since they are mounted on the exterior of the hull.

Can I still put my boat on a trailer after installing a bow or stern thruster?

Our bow and stern thrusters can be trailered for travel. Make sure that you to drive the trailer deep enough in the water to ensure it does not touch the bow thruster.

Do you have a wireless remote key fob?

Yes, we have an optional wireless key-fob available. One key-fob can control either a single thruster or both bow and stern thrusters from anywhere on the boat or dock. The wireless key fob is a great safety and convenient option.

I have an upper helm, can I install a joystick at both stations?

Yes, our motor controller is made for more than one joystick. You can purchase additional joysticks for your extra driving station or you can also choose to install a wireless key-fob controller so that you can control the thruster wirelessly from any location on your boat.

Will the bow and stern thrusters work on a displacement hull?

Yes, the thrusters will work on a displacement type hull and will create no noticeable drag.

What kind of corrosion protection do Sideshift bow and stern thrusters have?

Sideshift thrusters are protected with a two part Interlux epoxy primer and two coats of high quality Interlux anti-fouling paint. In addition, every thruster comes installed with sacrificial anode protection.

What if I hit something?

Sideshift bow and stern thrusters are very ruggedly built from high-grade aluminum and stainless steel to withstand the harshest environments and weather conditions. The Sideshift universal mounting system provides incredible strength that will actually protect the bow of your boat from logs and debris in the water.

What size of boat can Sideshift handle?

We have bow and stern thruster solutions for all types of boats ranging in length 20-60 feet. For larger boats beyond 60 feet we have many customers who have installed two stern thrusters for effective performance.

Do Sideshift bow thrusters create much drag when my boat is on plane?

No, unlike traditional thru-hull thrusters, there is no drag with Sideshift Bow and Stern Thrusters while the boat is on plane. Displacement or semi-displacement speeds create minimal drag that will be unnoticeable to the operator.

 

Batteries

What gauge and length of cable should I use to connect power to the Motor Controller?

Our 340 series units can run on max 40 feet at 2/O.
The 350 series units can run on max 50 feet at 2/O.
Our 230 series units can run on max 30 feet on 1/O.
All amperage, voltage, duty and start-up/run amperage have been calculated and considered in the recommended cable length. All cable used must be high grade tin coated copper, marine grade cable. Cable ends must be high grade cast copper, tin coated compression type terminals with double wall heat shrink moisture protection.

How many batteries do I need?

SS230 require one 12V battery with 850 cold cranking amps.
SS340’s and ST340’s require two 12V batteries with a total of 1700 cold cranking amps in a parallel configuration.
SS350’s and ST350’s require two 12V batteries with a total of 1700 cold cranking amps in a series(24V) configuration.

What is the best type of battery to use for my thruster? Where do I put the thruster batteries?

The most important consideration is meeting the required cold cranking amperes (CCA). Achieving high cranking amps is easier and more typical with a starting type battery vs. deep cycle. When choosing a location to install the batteries keep in mind the batteries need to be installed as close to the thruster as possible for optimum performance. If you are installing batteries in a non-vented area you will need to use AGM sealed batteries or sealed combination batteries. In vented areas you can install flooded starting type batteries or unsealed combination batteries.

Can I use the batteries from my windlass?

For the SS230 if the boat has windlass and the cabling is 1/0 in size the skipper may use this cabling as a power supply instead of a battery at the bow. The battery that is supplying the windlass must be at least 850 CCA. The SS230 draws 300 amps max so if there are fuses or breakers in line they must be able to meet that requirement.
For the SS340 if the boat has windlass and the cabling is 2/0 in size the skipper may use this cabling as a power supply instead of a batteries at the bow. The batteries that are supplying the windlass must be at least 1700 CCA. The SS340 draws 550 amps max so if there are fuses or breakers in line they must be able to meet that requirement.
All Sideshift motor controllers have built in breakers for protection. We do not recommend using windlass batteries for our SS350 bow thruster.

How close should my batteries be to the thruster? How far away can they be?

Batteries should be installed as close as possible to the thruster. Battery cable should not be longer than thirty feet from the motor controller. If you need to run long cables use good quality marine grade cable with correct gauge:
SS230 1/0 marine battery cable
SS/ST340 and SS/ST350 2/0 marine battery cable
Also ensure the use of good quality cable ends. The longer the battery cable the greater the potential for voltage drop and reduced performance.

Can I use my deep cycle battery bank?

We don’t recommend deep cycle batteries for our application. However, if the correct cold cranking amps(CCA) is present this may be an option.

Can I use my existing batteries?

Existing batteries can be used as long as the batteries meet Sideshift’s required cold cranking amps (CCA) and cabling size is adequate. Please remember it is always recommended that the batteries be as close to the thruster as possible.

 

Document Downloads

Bow Thrusters

Pontoon Thruster

Stern Thrusters

Houseboat Thrusters

Joysticks

Replacement Motor Installation Instructions






  
       


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