Hydraulic Propulsion Systems ‘aboard’ Narrowboats

Hydraulic Propulsion Systems Narrowboats

Why choose a hydraulic propulsion system for your narrowboat? Hydraulically powered drive systems highlight many advantages, from their operating time & ease of use, to their life expectancy of up to 30 years if correctly maintained. Narrowboats are given their names, because they need to be slender in order to navigate down canal networks. Therefore, effective use of space is required and that’s why ARS hydraulic propulsion systems are perfect, due to their compact and innovate system design.

Commonly, it is preferable to drive the system by using hydraulic components and in this blog, we will explain the reasons behind this.

How hydraulic propulsion systems work:

So, how does an ARS hydraulic propulsion system work? Well, the engine drives the hydraulic pump which is bolted where a conventional gearbox would normally be on a narrowboat. Hydraulic hose runs to the hydraulic motor or a specially constructed drive pod, mounted where the conventional stern gland is located. Then, the stern shaft or pod goes through the hull via a stern gland (or sealed tube if a pod is used) which connects on the outside of the hull to the propeller.

Furthermore, as the flywheel of the engine rotates, the pump shaft also rotates allowing oil to be drawn from the hydraulic reservoir. Then, hydraulic oil is forced out of the pumps pressure port and down to the hydraulic drive motor via hydraulic hoses. The hydraulic motor will begin to rotate, causing the stern shaft or the drive pod & propeller to rotate. Increasing the engine speed and water resistance will allow the propeller to turn faster, which creates more water resistance needed to propel the vessel forward.


  • Easy installation
  • Engine positioning – engines can be placed anywhere within the vessel with our hydraulic propulsion systems
  • Multiple drive systems
  • Hydraulic hoses replace the run of a prop shaft – freeing space and making for a quieter steering position
  • Reduced vibration
  • Instant response
  • Reduced maintenance costs

However, if you do require maintenance or repair services for your hydraulic propulsion system, take a look at our previous blog all about hydraulic pump repair! We do also offer in-house & on-site repair services; click here to see how we can help you.

Why choose an ARS hydraulic propulsion system?

ARS Anglian Diesels have over 50 years of experience in the supply and servicing of hydraulic system. All our hydraulic propulsion systems are customised to your exact requirements allowing for smooth performance and operation. Our hydraulic propulsion systems are compact in design and we provide innovative system solutions no matter what space is available on your narrowboat.  

Still need convincing about our hydraulic propulsion systems? See below a few customer testimonials…

‘Engine room has more space, looks neater, and better access down to a reduction in hydraulic hoses and no external valve. Also, significantly more power at the propellers.’

‘We have more space onboard and the movements are easily controlled.’

‘The overall power at the propeller has hugely improved.’

We don’t just supply hydraulic propulsion systems for narrowboats, we have the ability to match your exact requirements, whether this be for inland waterway use or commercial boating. Interested in Electric Propulsion? Click here to see one of our electric propulsion systems in action…

Please contact us today or call 01924 332492 to discuss your requirements!

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