Necessity is the Mother of invention

Where Did It Come From?

Bigtiller1 comes from a whole lot of history. The word big tiller comes from a background of working with tiller boats and the need for better performance.
The number one (1) is bragging rights for being first off the block with a high horsepower tiller boat.

My family owned and operated a boat rental business for many years. I spent many summer holidays taking customers and friends fishing.
One summer, I spent 30 days straight on the water, with charters in the morning and the afternoon. As the days piled on, my thoughts turned to how I could improve the tiller boat and make it more user friendly.

Our family used 14′-0 and 16′-0 Lund boats with 20 – 30 h.p. motors. This might not seem like much horsepower, but hanging on the stick and fighting tides for 12- 14 hours a day, day after day, can wear anyone down.

The other thought that came to mind was horsepower. When sitting in a boat with 30 h.p. you often feel inadequate as boats of approximate size zip by with bigger engines. Why couldn’t I have the same speed as a runabout and the manoeuvrability of a tiller?

About twenty years later, (1997) I was about to purchase my second boat.
I was tournament fishing and boat size, speed and handling was important.
I decided I wanted to buy a tiller boat with specific design features and chose a Crestliner 1850 tiller. The boat dealer I was working with was listening as I was determining what was important but jumped the gun and brought in a Crestliner 1750 tiller. Not wanting to see the boat sit, I bought the boat and only gave up one foot of length.
This boat became the basis of the big tiller project and ended as the patented Total Control Concept.

What did I do to make a tiller boat user friendly? I installed a hydraulic steering system currently rated to 400 h.p. In the process of installing a hydraulic steering system, I eliminated the tiller handle and mounted the device on the helm. The steering changed from a normal wheel to s a single spoke steering arm that rotated on the manual hydraulic steering pump.
The shift control was repositioned and mounted on the opposite side of the operator’s helm as well.

This put the steering, throttle and shifter on the seat arms where the operator sits. No more sitting sideways or reaching back to shift the transmission and no more twisting the wrist to adjust the throttle.
Added to this was the positioning of the sonars and GPS. All these amenities were now on the operators seat and all functions at one’s finger tip.

The 1750 Crestliner boat was rated for 80 h.p. as a standard tiller, but 150 h.p. as a runabout with a steering wheel.
The original testing of the total control concept was done with a 90 h.p. Evinrude two stroke. Within one month, an application went to Crestliner for a horsepower rating plate change and a 150 h.p. Evinrude Fast Strike was mounted. Currently, the boat has an Evinrude Ficht, 150 h.p. This is the maximum horsepower rating for a boat hull this size.

Crestliner Boats had no issues with the request to change the rating plate from the original 80 h.p. to 150 h.p.in 1998 and did a factory inspection in 2000 on two boats.
This project started in 1997 and Patents were issued in 2002 and 2006, with two more pending.

In 2000, the Total Control Concept was installed in a 202 Crestliner Tournament Series boat with a 225 high performance Evinrude Ficht engine. During trials, this boat managed a GPS speed of 73.2 mph with the operator and passenger on board. Unknown to us, this was a land speed record for a tiller boat that I believe has never been beat.

Most tiller boats can be converted to the Total Control Concept without investing a new boat or motor.
The ease of operation, boat control, added speed and efficiency of a rotating helm might overwhelm and definitely surprise most tiller boat owners.

I hope you enjoyed the story of the Bigtiller 1. I still use the project boat today and it has never failed.

Nov 20, 2001