USA +1 248.579.4295
Froude, Inc. USA
41123 Jo Drive, Novi, MI USA
Froude, Ltd. UK
Blackpole Rd, Worcester WR3 8YB

Can lifeboat engines be tested without launching?

It was taking a standard dyno and putting it into an application that it's never seen before and that takes quite a bit of creative engineering work to accomplish.


A leading developer of lifeboats needed a reliable and repeatable dynamometer solution for testing lifeboat engines in situ. Traditional methods of launching a boat and testing in the water were logistically impractical and expensive. 


The challenge was to develop a system that could test the lifeboat engine while it remained in its normal holding state on a ship or platform without making any modifications to the boat itself. The system had to be non-invasive, portable, and adaptable to various boat models.

The customer needed to be able to test the lifeboat’s engine in situ, and they needed to be able to provide load to the engine on a recurring basis to ensure it operates properly once it's dispatched.

“Since the lifeboat can't be launched and retrieved, it had to be tested on the platform and run without any coolant or any special equipment,” explained Technical Director, Mike Golda. “Add to that there’s a power and a water limitation.” The test system had to be portable and capable of running under the water pressure that is available on the vessel, so it couldn’t be anything beyond the output of a typical garden hose.


Froude's engineering team collaborated closely with the customer to design a custom dynamometer system that addressed the unique requirements of lifeboat engine testing.

“After initial trials, a small Go Power D100 water brake was chosen as the most suitable load absorption device due to its ability to handle the engine’s torque and its portability. The small size and lower water pressure feature allowed us to design a system around it to fit the remaining requirements,” said Mike Golda.

To ensure compliance with the customer’s requirement of not altering the boat’s structure, Froude application engineers designed the system to mount above the engine. Coupling to the engine required developing a set of bearings and a pulley system that connected to the engine’s crankshaft via a long drive belt. The entire structure was designed to be portable and easily transferable between boats on the same platform ensuring efficient testing across the fleet.

“You can’t go to an industrial catalog and expect to find a pulley or a drive belt for such an extreme application. The space limitation called for a small drive pulley which then required a high belt tension to prevent any slip. The Froude application engineers designed a novel tensioning system to meet these extreme requirements.” 

The final component included a Go Power DC200 instrument console to allow operators to verify engine performance. The portable DC200 electronically calculates and displays RPM, torque, and horsepower. 


The collaborative effort between Froude's engineering team and the customer resulted in a successful solution that met and exceeded the requirements. The development of this innovative dynamometer system provided efficient, practical load testing for lifeboat engines while meeting the constraints of the platform environment. 

By offering both testing capabilities and performance verification, the solution ensured that the engines would operate optimally in case of an emergency. “The application or the mechanical apparatus around it was the uniqueness of the project. It was taking a standard dyno and putting it into an application that it's never seen before and that takes quite a bit of creative engineering work to accomplish.” said Mike Golda.

dyno for testing lifeboat engines


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Froude, Inc. 
41123 Jo Drive, 
Novi, MI 48375 USA
+1 248.579.4295

Froude, Ltd. 
Blackpole Road, Worcester WR3 8YB 
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