I absolutely love the Ulterra TM when it works. However, it has now been in the shop 4 times in 1.5 years.
1. Month 2 - the paint peeled off the motor housing and nose cone. Sent back to Minnkota. Replaced nose cone, motor housing, shaft.
2. Month 14 - trim housing was shot. Ruined fishing trip #1. This is what lifts the motor up and down. I was convinced the turning motor was bad but MK wasn't. Thus, trim motor/belt replaced.
3. Month 16 - first time back on water since last repair. Ruined fishing trip #2. Turning motor locked up on anchor lock. Then the belt broke and chewed up the shaft. I was convinced the turning motor was bad but MK wasn't. Thus, trim motor/belt, shaft, motor housing replaced.
4. Month 18 - first time back on water since last repair. Ruined fishing trip #3. Turning motor locked up on anchor lock again. Then the collar that holds belt came undone and the tension screw in the head broke through the head. This chewed up the shaft and the belt again. After inspection, these are the things that now need to be replaced. Trim motor/belt, turning motor, shaft, nose cone is peeling paint again, starboard ramp, control housing, control clip (light and on/off button), lower half of head.
The TM is now back in the shop. I spent 75 bucks for packaging for the first repair. I have driven 25 hours back and forth from the repair shop for repairs 2-4. 2.5 hours each way.
Weird thing is, I still love the Ulterra when it works.
More importantly please for the love of all things put up a cobia report.
Haha. I don't feel right putting up too many cobia reports on a striper board. However, I can tell you quack, that the cobia bite this year was very strong. I had several 10 plus fish days with my son and wife. The biggest fish my ugly stick striper rods managed to get in was 52 lbs and 54.5 inches. I also lost a few fish that were easily above 60 pounds and I finally upgraded my rods to tiger sticks.
Another thing I learned this year was how to find menhaden in open Bay water. Many times this year my creek and river bait holes were dry, thus I gained confidence in cruising the Bay at 25 mph and turning on sonar blobs. This is more fun than anything else. You have no bait, you are in the middle of nowhere, you want to catch a cobia, you feel that you are screwed, then Blop, you pass a ball, turn on it, toss, and your net damn near pulls you in the water! Woooooohooooo!
Ulterra Update: I have now had my new Ulterra for close to a year. Minnkota was nice enough to send me a new one and take back the one that was costing them an arm and a leg to keep fixing under warranty.
I am happy to report that I have not had to take this one to the shop once. However, I have learned something that may be the reason for keeping her running. That is, I have learned how to replace the trim belt. This part costs around 8 bucks and is located under the trim housing. It's a very small belt that will strip if too much resistance is put on the motor. For example, if you run into ground. Or if your net gets caught on the motor and you raise it up. Or, if you deploy or stow while traveling faster than 3 mph. Or if something else blocks your motor from stowing (anchor line, wife's head, fishing pole, etc). You know if your trim belt is stripped if the motor starts clicking when you raise it or if it's really loud when stowing or deploying.
To fix.. There are several star bolts that you need to remove from the top of the trim housing. Once you remove the top cap, there is a special and very fragile silicone gasket that needs to be handled with care. If you get any type of lubricant on this gasket, it will disintegrate. Thus, keep it away from any lubricant you may want to spray. After that the rest is rather easy. A few more bolts and some experimentation should get the job done. If you have the confidence to figure things out, you will be fine. Keep in mind, that your adjustment of the belt tension will correlate to the smoothness of operation. Tinker a bit to find the right spot for you. Also, make sure you carefully seat the silicone gasket back in place before tightening the top cap and tighten each bolt to 10 in/lb. And last but not least, make sure you follow the trim/stow reset procedure on your workbench. This is absolutely necessary to get the motor aligned. I can't do this on my boat due to the way mine is mounted.
I have replaced this belt 3 times in a year and keep several spare belts in my truck just in case. Minnkota will not allow their tech guys to replace the belt, they make them replace the entire trim housing. And although this will be free of charge under warranty, you will be out the gas money to travel to a shop and will be down for god knows how long. My way costs 8 bucks and a few hours.
All in all... If I had to spend money on a new motor right now would I get an Ulterra? The answer is Yes! However, if I didn't have the knowledge of how this thing works and the ability to fix it, I would find something else.
I have 3 of the Riptide Ulterras (all post 2017). I too have a love/hate relationship but until someone else comes out with the self deploy/stow, It would be hard to go back to a different model. I will say that for saltwater use and for using the TM in heavy current such as the ICW, I would probably not buy another Ulterra. Sometimes, you just need to pull you motor up quickly before you end up beached :-)
If I went with a different motor, I would probably give Rhodan a try. I really like the simplicity of their remote, Line-X as opposed to powder coat, and not having to mount the separate heading compass. It will be interesting to see the new units coming out over the next year from Lowrance, Garmin, and Motorguide.