Shafts V Legs



Overheard two chaps discussing my boat the other day.
One said 'nice looking boat, 'yeah' replied the other 'but I wouldn't touch it, i'ts on legs'.

This set me thinking why so many people seem to be anti leg (is there some propaganda machine pumping away out there?).

I have owned outdrive boats for seven years and never had a problem (oops! shouldn't have said that, probably get a bellows go this weekend), in fact often praising the benefits of legs.

Whilst I have heard most arguments for and against both, it always seems that legs seem to come out as the poor relation.

What do you think?


Active member
21 Jun 2001
N Hampshire
Whilst I am not a "leg man" myself, I am sure that a properly maintained outdrive is every bit as good as a shaft.

Therein lies the problem. When a boat gets to middle age, maybe 10 years old, a poorly maintained shaft generates less problem than a similarly maintained outdrive.

Regrettably, many people seem to skimp on maintenance. Strange after laying out all that hard earned cash. Stranger still, they dedicatedly take their £10 to £20k car in for every service!

Deleted User YDKXO

I'm very surprised you have'nt experienced any problems or big bills with outdrives; I think most people have. I've had both types of boat and I definitely favour shaft drive for a number of reasons including better manouevrability at slow speed, less maintenance and the fact that the engines are more in the centre of the boat which I think makes for a more seaworthy boat. I do recognise that outdrives are more power efficient, more space efficient and you can raise the legs in shallow water or to clear debris but, on balance, I prefer shaft driven boats and I think most people who've tried both will think the same


I run a 1982 boat with legs and have had no problems in the 5 years plus that I have owned the boat. True I have had them serviced every season but other than routine replacements, have had absolutely no bother.

Contrary to what Deleted User says, I find legs to be more manoevreable in tight spaces but do admit that you loose all steering once out of gear! That is the only down side.

I also know people who have bent shafts & damaged props because they are so exposed down there.

I prefer legs.


I have owned both and serviced the legs (Volvo 280's) every year - new bellows/anodes/oil/grease, etc. That did not stop me having to pay the Volvo man around £1000 (at eighties prices) every year for various problems including duff clutches, etc.

My Fairline Mirage also had petrol engines which may also temper my judgement. She was awkward to handle at marina speeds and stern heavy, especially when loaded with fuel and people. Very few passengers want to be below when under way. The water tank was right in the bow but did not help a lot.

I now have a mid engined shaft drive boat and

a) She is much better balanced and does not slam anything like as much - a better sea boat all round.

b)Low speed handling is much more precise.

c)Even having recently had to replace the shafts (after 12 years), I can say that they are much more reliable. It can't be otherwise. If you dangle an expensive marine gearbox in salt water, trouble must follow.

I like shafts!