Classic launch more spritely than ever with new John Deere engine

The owners of the classic launch April are now enjoying its new amenities and additional power after a refurbishment by the Wooden Boat Shop, which included a new 112kW John Deere PowerTech™ marine diesel engine.

Built in 1972 from Huon pine, April is an 11.2 metre long cabin cruiser with a 3.96 metre beam that displaces 9 tonnes. Formerly named Antonella, she is beautifully proportioned and has a generous deck area where the owners and their families and friends can comfortably enjoy cruises around Port Phillip and beyond.

Co-owners Peter Osbourne, Curt Leonard and Rick Gilbert took over April in 2016. They loved her classic appearance, spacious interior and solid construction. Given her age, however, they decided she needed a re-power and refurbishment.

This included a new deck, new gunwales, new steering and propshaft, the addition of a bow thruster, and a revamped cabin.


April Wooden Boat powered by the John Deere 4045TFM50


After its long service, the original 150hp engine had become a little unreliable for the busy shipping channels of Port Phillip, much less trips out through the Heads.

“We were always concerned about the size and weight of this boat so we were looking for a 150-160 hp engine,” Rick says.

“We found the compact John Deere 4045 would fit readily into the existing space and deliver the power we needed.”

Power Equipment marine sales engineer Darren Bird consulted with April’s owners and the Wooden Boat Shop about the benefits of the John Deere 4045 engine.


John Deere 4045TFM50 in its new home

“These include fact that the John Deere 4050TFM50 is a commercially rated engine with long, 3000-hour per year duty cycle and 250 hour service intervals,” Darren says. “It also produces lower RPM and has more mid-range torque, so it is a quiet engine that delivers comfortable cruising.”

Curt says he and the other owners were convinced. He has considerable experience in agricultural supply chains and food processing, so he was familiar with the outstanding reputation of John Deere engines.

The owners were also comfortable with the parts, service and customer support that is available through Power Equipment, the Australasian distributor of John Deere marine engines.

With an M4 performance rating the four-cylinder 4.5 litre turbocharged John Deere 4045TFM50 engine produces 112kW (150hp) at a rated speed of 2600 rpm. It is fitted with a reliable mechanical speed control and other features that deliver service flexibility and fast, easy maintenance.

Comfort for crew and passengers is enhanced by the use of a water-cooled exhaust manifold, internal balancers, and a lower rated speed. The owners of April say the boat’s low noise levels now allow normal conversation in the cabin, which was not possible before.

Wooden Boat Shop shipwright general manger, Wayne Parr says the John Deere 4045TFM50 is a good fit for the boat.

“The John Deere worked out well. It is a very nice engine and was the best option for the job, given its high horsepower and low rpm relative to the physical size of the engine.

“It is a quality piece of equipment and it has greatly reduced noise and vibration. We also installed a large diameter five-blade propeller. This means April can cruise at 8 knots with the engine cantering at only 1800 rpm and the prop turning at just 725 rpm,” Wayne says.

Curt Leonard (Left), Peter Osbourne (Center), and Rick Gilbert (Right), April’s Co-Owners

Wooden Boat Shop even modified the John Deere control panel to suit the boat’s small dashboard.

Rick says he and the other owners are enjoying the launch’s new look and feel.

“We had a really good run last year to the Portarlington Mussel Festival. We were coming back into a southerly. It was rough. Water was coming well over the bow and splashing on the windscreen, yet the boat felt almost like it was moored in a pen.

“The engine didn’t miss a beat doing 1800 rpm and 7 knots into that wind and 1.5-2m swells. There were six or seven of us on board and we felt very safe.”

Curt says the John Deere 4045TFM50 was able to propel the heavy launch effortlessly in the rough conditions. “And it is a helluva lot quieter, which is an important thing for us,” he says.

Wayne Parr says that now the Wooden Boat Shop has added the John Deere range of engines to its line-up it can offer its customers more choice when it comes to selecting the right engine for their boats.