6 Common Problems with Duffy Boats You Need to Know

The top 6 common problems with Duffy boats are – Battery charging problems, Fuel meter reading problems, Battery condition problems, Motor problems, Infra-Speed Control systems, and Power surges problems.

Duffy boats are quite popular for small cruises in canals and lakes. South California houses many Duffy boats in its seashores. These boats are simple boats with some electrical wiring, a motor, and a battery attached to them. There’s nothing complicated about it, really.

The first Duffy-like boat came about through the hands of Marshal Duffy Duffield when he was a teenager. He only needed an almost broken down boat and a motor from a used old golf cart.

While there aren’t as many complications as other cruise boats, there are a few common problems with Duffy boats. If you’re considering owning a Duffy boat, it’s a good idea to take note of those issues before you encounter them on the water.

We’ve done the research. And now, it’s your turn to read.

6 Common Issues with Duffy Boats (Find and Solve the Problem)

We don’t see a lot of complications with Duffy boats because of their simple and straightforward design. But once in a while, even a horse cart needs fixes. Here are 6 problems usually seen in Duffy Boats:

NO.1 Issue – Battery Charge Issue

As you might have guessed, the most common issue faced by Duffy boats is about charging the battery. It’s a battery-powered boat, so it’s expected. But since it’s the most essential part of the Duffy boat, it also needs the most of your attention.

Suppose you’re preparing for a cruise, and there’s no charge left in the battery, and it’s not charging properly either. What do you do in this situation? It’s time to panic, isn’t it? I’m sure many of the Duffy owners can attest to it.

Simple troubleshooting could mitigate the situation fairly quickly. Here are a few troubleshooting steps you should follow,

Indicator Light Isn’t Lit Up

This light tells us if the battery is being charged or not. And it also lets you know when it has finished charging. When it doesn’t light up, it means either the battery isn’t charging, or it’s broken. If it’s broken, you could just replace it.

But in case the light is okay, there are problems with the electrical connection.

  • AC voltage in the power outlet could be lower than the required 105 volts
  • Charger and cable could be defective
  • Fuse in the charger might have blown up
  • There might be no power supply to the power outlet
  • Circuit breaker may be off

How to Fix Charging Issue in Duffy Boats

Out of these probable causes, you can solve a few by yourself. If you have a first-aid kit for electrical problems, you can replace the fuse. And while you’re at it, turn on the circuit breaker.

Don’t attempt to fix the issues with electrical wiring and voltage. Call a technician to see the issue.

It’s Charging, But the Boat Seems Slow

When the boat’s not charging, the fix is fairly simple. However, when you see the battery is charging but the boat isn’t up to its required performance, the fix is usually more complex.

The most probable reason for a sluggish Duffy boat is old batteries. Old batteries are extremely poor at holding power and recharging.

However, sometimes, the issue is much bigger. The motor could also start to show signs of damage and wear. It’s getting juice from the battery but not running properly.

It could also be a problem with the extension cord. If it’s damaged or corroded, it can’t transfer power steadily. There will be voltage up-downs.

How to Solve Sluggish Boat Issue

Replacing the battery unit is simple, but it isn’t like your remote that you could just change a battery. There are many cells in a large battery system. You have to troubleshoot and find out which unit is causing the issue.

But if the issue is with the motor, call an expert. It’ll most likely cost you hundreds of dollars.

NO.2 Issue – Issues with Fuel Meter Reading

Fuel Meter Reading Drops

Sometimes the fuel meter shows the reading abruptly dropping from full to empty. Common sense tells us it’s not normal, especially when you’re not cruising at high speeds. It’s the batteries. The batteries might lack water, or they have lost their temper.

How to Solve Meter Reading Drops

Check the connection between the battery and the fuel meter. It might be loose and can disconnect when the boat is in the open water.

You need to also check the batteries and replenish their water.

Idle Fuel Meter

This issue isn’t particularly related to Duffy boats; rather, it’s seen in all kinds of electrical devices and machines. If the fuel meter reading indicator needle isn’t moving at all, the fuel meter could be busted. Or the fuel meter might be disconnected from the battery.

How to Solve Idle Fuel Meter Needle

Reconnect the wires or change the whole fuel meter.

NO.3 Issue – Critical Battery Condition

Being an electric boat, the Duffy depends heavily on batteries. And if these show any sign of deterioration, it’s a red signal.

Just like any battery-powered vehicle, it faces common battery issues, and the solution is pretty much the same. The only difficulty is when the complications arise when you’re in the middle of a cruise.

Swollen Battery

Battery increasing in size is a common scenario. So, it’s nothing to worry about. It happens when there’s not enough water in them. In such cases, the batteries crack and become swollen.

Extra Water Required by the Batteries

This issue isn’t as common as the ones on the list, but nonetheless, it never hurts to have an idea.

When you notice that you have to pour more water into the batteries than you are normally used to, it means there is a leak in the battery casing.

As mentioned earlier, it is not a huge problem because water is readily available.

Batteries Not Charging

If you notice the batteries are not charging even after leaving them plugged in for hours, the batteries are most likely expired or busted.It may also be caused by low voltage in the dock’s outlet or the lack of water inside.

Battery Gets Too Hot

With chemical reactions constantly happening inside, it’s normal for a battery to reach high temperatures. But sometimes, the temperature rises above the normal (–20°C to 60°C) range for a Li-ion battery. It means the battery is most likely dead.

How to Solve Issues with Duffy Battery

Changing the batteries is required,

  • If the batteries are swollen and cracked
  • If there is a leak in the battery casing
  • If the battery is getting too hot

If there is no issue with the battery, replace and fill up the water inside the battery. And check the electrical connection between the dock and the boat. Voltage instability can cause damage to a battery.

NO.4 Issue – Motor Failure

The motor in your Duffy boat might be the most important component after the batteries. If it’s not running, it’s going to halt your plans for an untold amount of time.

But there is good news! A motor failure is mainly caused by a lack of power. If your battery is supplying power correctly, the issue is with the armature inside the motor.

It may have frozen due to cold, and the brush inside could have become worn.

How to Fix Motor Failure

Unfortunately for us, a complication like this isn’t considered DIY. Unless you’re a seasoned technician, you shouldn’t go near the motor and bring an expert to deal with the situation.

You’ll most likely be asked to pay for a replacement motor. If you’re lucky, a simple brush replacement could save you hundreds of dollars.

NO.5 Issue – Infra-Speed Control System

The Duffy boat design includes a set of plug fittings to install and remove the control board and electronic actuator.

Boat Doesn’t Operate

When everything is in place, the battery is charged, and the motor runs, but the boat isn’t operating; it may be because of a key and control switch combination.

If the key is in position, but the control switch is in either forward or reverse, the boat won’t operate due to a safety feature.

How to Fix Duffy Boat Operating Issue

To get the boat to operate, you need to put the key in the off position and change the control switch to neutral. Then, again change the key to on position. Now, you can operate and move the boat.

NO.6 Issue – Damage Caused by Power Surges

This is one of the rare but crucial issues that any boat owners should take note of. More than a few Duffy boat owners have experienced such damages caused by surges in the coastal regions of the USA, namely in the state of Florida.

These power surges can destroy the batteries, battery charger, and control board. If you have other electronics such as TV and Refrigerator, you can also expect them to fry.

How can you determine if it’s caused by power surges? If your battery is charged and the converter box starts normally, check the wiring and the fuses. Those are probably fried.

How to Prevent Duffy Boat Damage by Power Surge

Install surge protectors in front of all electronic devices.

General Drawbacks of Duffy Boats

While Duffy boats are quite amazing at what they do, they are not without blemishes. Have a look at some of the perceived negatives,

Limited Speed

They have a very limited speed range which is not a problem if you only want a peaceful cruise. But with the 5 miles per hour average speed, it does take quite a bit of time to reach a place you picked.

Plastic Props

One of the non-major issues all Duffy owners have faced is the props made of plastic instead of metal. It was a necessary sacrifice as a part of the design to keep the total weight down.

Distance Limited by Battery

It’s the issue with all battery-powered transportation. Since the battery cannot hold unlimited energy, you can only cover the distance allowed by the battery storage. Nuclear power sounds lovely in such cases, doesn’t it?

You can think of replacing the batteries with spare batteries in the middle of a cruise, but it is risky,especially without an expert hand.

Caution about Battery Safety

While Lithium-ion batteries are good for storing power, they are also riskier. European Union deems them to be more dangerous than a sinking ship if they explode. Have a look at this article from Lithium Safe.

It is an alarming issue, no doubt. But thankfully, Duffy boat uses the 6-volt deep cycle marine batteries that haven’t yet experienced such disastrous events.

Tip: When you notice that your batteries are showing higher temperatures, it can mean that the battery is losing longevity. It gives you an idea about replacing the batteries.

Why and when does the battery reach extreme temperatures? It happens when you leave the boat in the open under the sun for too long without any shade. The battery shouldn’t get too dry, i.e., there should be enough water inside when you leave it for charging.

How long does a Duffy boat battery last?

Duffy boats use deep cycle marine batteries that are known to last long. On average, they will last up to 800 cycles, and if taken well care of, they can go up to 1200 cycles. The amount of battery usage has an effect on battery longevity.

How many batteries does a Duffy boat take?

The number of batteries depends on the boat model. For example, the Duffy 22’ Cuddy Cabin needs 16 6-volt marine batteries to run its 48-volt DC motor.

How long does it take to charge a Duffy boat?

Depending on the number of batteries, it can take from 12 hours to a full day to recharge the batteries on a Duffy boat. The general rule is that with 3 hours of charge, it can run the boat for 1 hour.

Final Words

As the original luxury cruise boat, Duffy boat has a huge reputation. The above-mentioned common problems with Duffy boats aren’t something to be worried about.

You’d have to deal with most of them with any boat with electrical components. It’s good to have an idea about these issues so that you don’t panic when you face them on the water.

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