Are Two Heads Better Than One?

Motor-Guide not-so-Magic Carpet. 1982.

In the old days, as boats got bigger and their weights got heavier, the need for more thrust from the troller became evident. The technology of the day made it difficult to design a motor that would put out more than 30 pounds of thrust without making the motor too big and/or have to operate on 16 batteries.

So, in order to placate this need, in 1982 Motor Guide came out with their solution to the problem.

If one trolling motor head put out 27 pounds of thrust, all we have to do is add another head and we’ll get 54 pounds of thrust. Right?

Well, the idea was great – what they didn’t consider was: a) the weight of two heads and their geometry wasn’t amenable to the bows of bass boats and b) if one head drains your batteries in 8 hours of fishing, two will certainly drain them in half a day. But those were just menial little problems. They had a 54-pound thrust troller!

What ended up happening was anglers bought the trollers, had them installed and went out for a day’s worth of casting. In some instances, when the weather was great and the water was calm, the motors worked fine – up until around noon whence the batteries failed to operate anymore.

In the other instances, when the weather wasn’t hospitable, the trollers worked great, holding the anglers as advertised in the most inclement of winds. That’s when the other problem reared its ugly mug.

After being blown off the water, because the batteries died and they were no longer able to hold in the wind, the anglers headed back to the boat ramp. It was on this journey where the designers realized they hadn’t taken into consideration the amount of weight the standard bass boat bow was designed for. Therefore, on their woeful journey to safety, a number of the top-heavy trolling motors met their match, broke off the bow of their mother ship and either fell into the abyss or hung on with the aid of the cables and beat the daylights out of the hull of the boat.

Needless to say, the double-headed troller saw a limited lifespan in the world of bass fishing. Thankfully some smart electrical engineers figured out how to get more thrust from a single motor head.

  • Wow. I had completely forgotten about that monstrosity. It was actually the “commercially viable” evolution of Shag Sahid’s setup with one motor on each side of the boat. It steered by varying the power and direction of each of the two motors from the foot pedal. Notice it also had a handle to turn it manually if (when) the electronic steering failed. Which was pretty much any time it got near a weed or two.

    • Further about the poorly engineered ‘magic carpet’. One of the big complaints was that it had nowhere near the advertised thrust in the real world. The two motor pointed at each other at a 45 degree or whatever angle were fighting each other to the tune of about a 30% thrust loss when you tried to go straight ahead.
      But the biggest problem may have been the bracket. It had a very small footprint on the deck, putting all the strain in a tiny area. And when you flipped it up out of the water, the heads hung down over the front of the boat. In fact, if you didn’t take the time and trouble to slide the shaft back and tighten it, the double motors could be hanging way out in front of the boat. If you ran like that, one boat wake and it was toast.
      Seemed like it was poorly conceived and even more poorly engineered, right from the get-go.

      • It was a gem, wasn’t it Rich? Hey, you don’t happen to have anything on Shag’s electric motor design do you? That’s be cool to put up here.

        • I don’t have the piece — just a vivid memory of it. I can conjure up the image of the B&W photo of the setup on an aluminum semi-vee. But for the life of me, I can’t recall what mag it was in. I thought Bassmaster, but Outdoor Life keeps creeping into the forefront in my head.

          • Dang….. That’s a bummer. I need to find a picture of that or an article with it.