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U.S. Chrome Helps Mercury Racing Raise the Bar by Unlining the Block

NiCom Plated Cylinder Bores on QC4v Race Engine Enables HP Boost from 1350 to 1650

Case History: Mercury Racing 1650 HP 


The need for speed in offshore powerboat racing is beyond obvious, but breaking barriers is easier said than done. The engineers at Mercury Racing (Fond du Lac, WI) wanted to create the world’s most powerful recreational inboard marine engine, setting a goal of 1350 HP. In the process, they exceeded their own expectations and developed the 1650 Race Sterndrive, a state-of-the-art, turbo-charged, 32 valve V-8 engine which runs on pure 112 Octane plus race gas. It is the most powerful production engine Mercury Racing has ever offered. Critical to achieving this breakthrough was collaboration with U.S. Chrome’s Wisconsin cylinder plating team on a “linerless” engine block maximizing displacement in all eight cylinder bores.


Typical boat racing engine designs call for iron lining of the bores, but U.S. Chrome felt performance could be achieved with its NiCom plating (an electro-composite coating consisting of a nickel metal matrix with hard particulate dispersed uniformly within it). Its process electroplates nickel in the presence of hard particulates, specifically silicon carbide, under closely controlled conditions that permit the hard particulate to co-deposit with the nickel. NiCom offers increased wear resistance over standard hard chromium plating.


Incredibly, the NiCom plating of the cylinder bores was so successful that Mercury Racing was able to boost horsepower beyond its goal of 1350, all the way to 1650. What’s more, cylinder plating vs. lining led to added benefits such as improved durability, oil retention and better frictional properties overall.


Mercury Racing unveiled the new 1650 at the 2013 Miami International Boat Show, generated a ton of industry buzz, and had to limit availability to professional racing teams only. The QC4v is for select customers, the first being the Miss GEICO racing team.


Marc Granet, driver for the Miss GEICO catamaran noted at the time of signing, “This is more than just the best-known offshore racing team running the latest and greatest power from the world’s leading high-performance marine engine builder. This is two 825-pound gorillas teaming up to form one 1,650-pound gorilla.”


According to Scott Reath, of U.S. Chrome, “The QC4v platform is an engineering marvel and we are proud to have been a critical part of it.” Erik Christiansen, Mercury Racing’s GM and project team head, notes “Reliability is always your greatest concern during development and achieving it is a balancing act. We’ve changed some of the base internal components, upgraded the crank train, added larger turbos, and remapped the computer control system.”