FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #175, Jan 2004
Every now and then you come across a boat that raises the bar a little. Pardon the pun, but the Bar Crusher is one of those. There were times during our testing session when I thought I was in a ’glass boat rather than a “tinnie”.
The Bar Crusher 560C is, indeed, a plate-aluminium job, part-built in New Zealand and finished in Australia by Peter Cleland and his team at Dandenong South in Victoria. So successful has the brand been since its introduction to Australia about four years ago that the factory is now churning out two to three a week — and there’s a waiting list.
Cleland claims the Bar Crusher range has three distinct competitive advantages: its “Waveslicer” deep-vee hull design; its “Quickflow” stability ballast system; and its “Rigideck” floor and sub-frame construction.
Now let’s go back to basics for a moment to explain all that. Because aluminium boats are light, they tend to sit “on” the water, rather than “in” it like heavier GRP boats do. That means they are not as stable. So to avoid the “Elvis effect” (rock ’n’ roll), tinnie builders usually go for fairly flat deadrise angles at the transom — because the flatter the bottom of a boat, the better the stability. And this is how you suck the egg, Grandma...
But that creates another challenge: the flatter the bottom, the harder the ride. Most tinnies bang very uncomfortably in a bit of a chop, particularly into a head sea. So the challenge for tinnie builders is how to match on-water hull performance to GRP boats. So far, with limited success.
Until now. The Bar Crusher comes very close indeed. The hull bottom is 4mm plate aluminium matched to 3mm side plate. It has a fine entry, no strakes, wide chines and very prominent spray rails on the forward chines. Deadrise is a deep 18° (for a tinnie). What keeps it stable at rest is the stability ballast system, which is simplicity in itself.
Running the full length of the keel is a cavity or tunnel, which is open at the transom and has “breather” holes on the other end in the anchor well.
At rest, this tunnel fills with water — around 400lt, in fact — adding considerable at-rest weight to the hull, lowering it in the water so that the submerged chines act as stabilisers. When the boat moves forward this water is immediately released and the boat jumps on to the plane.
There is no time lag whatsoever.
The Bar Crusher hull is constructed with six longitudinal stringers fully welded to cross frames forming a structurally-strong, triangulated subfloor frame. A strong chequerplate floor is then welded on top of that to give a fully-sealed deck with a centrally-mounted 150lt fuel tank and a large, underfloor killtank towards the stern. The fuel filler is in the floor directly into the tank between the two seats. Please don’t spill any, Billy.
The boat has a fine reputation in rough water — something for which tinnies are not generally noted — and I was keen to check this out. But alas, Port Phillip Bay was virtually windless on the test day and all we could manage to do was run hard on a half-metre chop and try to get the thing out of the water over our own wake. It just didn’t work — the Bar Crusher sat in the water too well.
But we did ascertain that there was an absence of “tinnie slap” in these conditions, where you feel every little wavelet through the boat. In some other tinnies, it’s a bit like driving on a corrugated dirt road. The 560C rode very smoothly indeed, but we’ll come back to performance later.
YOU GOTTA PRESENT…
The Bar Crusher 560C presents well. It appears to be constructed with exceptional craftsmanship, and that includes the paint job. They are built for fishermen and divers, and are designed accordingly with a great deal of purpose and thought.
Our test doubled as this boat’s first time on the water and customer pre-delivery run, and we found the 19in alloy prop on the Suzuki 140 four-stroke had a tendency to cavitate as soon as we went off a straight line. Peter surmised that the motor needed to be dropped a notch on its mount, and that sounded about right. Our camera boat, a Bar Crusher 530C was similarly set up and performed brilliantly with no sign of cavitation — so obviously it was a problem easily fixed.
The 560C was heavily optioned (to owner’s specs) and those started at the bow with an electric winch to haul aboard the anchor, which nestles into a bowsprit-roller combination flanked by a split bowrail. An open anchor well is large enough to hold sufficient anchor rope for a boat this size. Twin bow posts are mounted behind the winch fitting and immediately in front of the very large side-opening hatch, which sits on a substantial rubber seal.
The foredeck is steeply raked back to the relatively high windscreen, and there is no sidedeck access to the bow — so that large hatch through the cuddy is the only way to go for’ard.
The cuddy bunks are vinyl covered and are the only concessions to creature comfort in the boat, apart from the carpeted deck — which is an option. Headroom is good and there’s plenty of storage under the bunks — but small internal pockets will carry only a
The cuddy is open to the cockpit. The ends of the wide bunks have footrests for driver and passenger — the driver’s being more of a strong, non-slip step while the passenger has a rail only.
Speakers are mounted at the front of the cabin and there’s a small spotlight at the entry, and drinkholders are mounted everywhere. The glass windscreen is very small, but built into the heaviest matt-black frame I think I’ve ever seen. To get into very low carports, the whole unit can be unclipped and swung down over the steering wheel.
This boat was fitted with the optional hardtop, which was interesting in itself. The leading edge attaches directly to the top of the screen, or it can be detached and raised about 30cm on gas struts, giving clear vision forward above the windscreen for driving while standing. While there are side clears, there are no forward clears to cover this “open space”.
It seemed an odd arrangement to me, especially since we did get some spray through the gap even though the day was relatively calm. I also found the thickness of the windscreen surround — particularly the top rail — quite distracting. I seemed to do a lot of neck stretching and bobbing up and down to ensure it didn’t block my view. I suppose you’d get used to it.
THE SIMPLE THINGS
The twin swivel seats are adjustable, moulded plastic with clip-on cushions mounted on open-fronted storage boxes, which have footrests built into the backs. The dash layout is simple, with VDO instruments mounted in a carbon fibre imitation panel. The switch panel and trim tab control buttons are on the right of the Morse Teleflex wheel and there’s also a power source for accessories.
Mounted low under the dash is the CD player, and it isn’t easy to get at. Even worse are the two marine radios, which are mounted inside the cuddy, out of harm’s way — but this also means they are very difficult to reach quickly. There’s really nowhere else to mount them, and maybe a little more thought has to go into the dash design to put all controls within easy sight and reach.
A Furuno sounder was mounted centrally on top of the very narrow, carpeted dash, but there was precious little room for anything else. Small sidepockets either side would be useful, and grabrails either side of the chairs and in front of the passenger are usefully placed.
A solid six-pot rodholder is attached to the trailing edge of the hardtop, which is an exceptionally good height.
WORKIN’ CLASS PLAN
The cockpit is a very good work area with enormous gunwales (270mm wide) featuring six rodholders and a couple of non-slip panels stuck on for good measure. Sidepockets are long, wide and carpet lined on the bottom.
The underfloor killtank has been designed to accommodate a couple of dive bottles, and behind that in the bilge is the livebait and bilge pumps. The stern treatment is interesting, with a full-width swim platform on which the Suzuki 140 was mounted. A swing-down, solid boarding ladder leads to a walkthrough space in the transom on the portside, and a berley pot is cut through the platform on the starboard. This lifts out quite easily for washing. Grabrails help out on either side. There are no rear cleats, so these rails double as tie-off points.
Once in the boat, a Teflon-insert baitboard — which has three rodholders and knife slots incorporated — is mounted centrally.
The starboard transom features a livebait tank. Beneath are twin batteries and, for two-strokes, room for oil bottles. These are protected by a swing-down, full-width transom seat covered in a fairly tough, rubberised material. Cleverly, this seat — when raised — doubles as a door for the walkthrough.
FLAT OUT ON FLAT SEAS
Our test was somewhat compromised by flat seas conditions and a slipping prop, but the boat still performed very well — achieving 67kmh at Wide Open Throttle at 5800rpm — and it cruised at 40kmh at 4000rpm.
The boat performed best with the motor trimmed right out. There was no tendency to chine-walk when the nose is poked in. The boat backed down quite flat. With the rear door “shut” (i.e. the rear lounge in the up position) no water should come in.
The Bar Crusher was a very comfortable boat to drive, giving no hint of any idiosyncrasies — and as I mentioned earlier, stability was good. It sits on an EasyTow trailer, and tow weight is a mere 1310kg, which will be attractive to those wanting a large boat without having to spend another $50,000+ on a 4WD. Packages begin at around 38 grand — and that’s competitive too.
BAR CRUSHER 560C
Price as tested: $45,000
Options fitted: Hardtop, winch, baitboard, livebait tank plumbing, skipole, two radios, CD player, trim tabs, sounder, carpet
Priced from: $37,900
Material: Plate aluminium
Length (overall): 6.1m
Rec/max hp: 140
Weight (on trailer): 1310kg
Type: DFI four-stroke
Rated hp: 140
Prop: Three-blade 19in alloy
Bar Crusher Boats, Dandenong South, Vic, tel (03) 9702 8555 or visit www.barcrusher.com.au
Very smooth riding and stable at rest.
Attractive and well presented.
Huge cockpit a great working area.
No forward clears let in some spray.
CD player and marine radios are hard to reach.
Thickness of the windscreen surround is distracting.
Story: Bernard Clancy Photos: Stuart Grant
First published in TrailerBoat #175
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