Formula’s dealer network includes a vast network (125+) of professional, factory-trained service providers who are authorized to perform and coordinate service and warranty work on Formula boats. Invited to partner with Formula based on their skill sets, product knowledge and reputations for professionalism, Formula’s Authorized Service Centers provide Formula owners some of the finest service alternatives available anywhere. To locate Formula sales and/or service dealers (click here).
Formula is pleased to announce a new service available for all Formula boats. Product/technical support is now available to Formula customers after normal business hours – i.e., evenings, weekends and holidays – via Formula’s main service line, (260) 724-1412. While Formula’s Technical Assistance Group (TAG) personnel will not be accessible during these off-hours, the support line will be manned by service professionals with full access to both Vessel Vanguard and Formula informational systems
We are pleased to recognize our South Florida factory support contact, Ryan Van De Weg, as part of theFactory Technical Assistance Group (TAG). You can contact Ryan directly via email or telephone at 260.724.9111.
Owner's Manuals (2009 - present) - these may take a few moments to load.
Commonly Asked Questions
1. IS THERE A PROPELLER THAT IS BEST FOR ALL ASPECTS OF PERFORMANCE - HOLE SHOT, CRUISING, AND TOP END?
Generally speaking, all prop selections are a compromise of some aspect of performance. To prop a boat for maximum top end speed, one generally gives up something on the low end. Conversely, when a prop is selected for its hole shot performance, one generally gives away one or two mph in top end speed. The best hole shot is generally realized with the smallest pitch propeller that allows the engine to operate at the extreme top of the recommended rpm range at wide open throttle. Maximum speed is usually achieved with a propeller pitch that allows the engine to operate between the middle and the upper end of the wide open throttle rpm range. Optimal cruising or mid-range performance is generally a combination of the above two applications. The largest pitch propeller which still allows the engine to operate within the recommended rpm range is generally the best selection for this type of use.
Uneven weight distribution will adversely affect a boat's performance by altering the boat's center of gravity and, consequently, the running attitude (i.e., angle). Overloading the stern of the boat may result in excessive bow rise and poor planing characteristics, while overloading the bow of the boat can result in a dangerous condition known as 'bow steer,' wherein the bow of the boat may dive into waves, causing the boat to veer unpredictably to port or starboard.
High air temperatures, high humidity, and low barometric pressure combine to reduce engine power, which results in reduced boat speeds. Your Formula was equipped from the factory with a general-purpose propeller, sized to operate within a specified rpm range under a variety of conditions. In the adverse conditions noted above, expect reduced engine rpm - and slower boat speeds - at wide open throttle.
Periodic (monthly) inspection is essential to optimum propeller performance, as even small dings and dents can cause vibration, slippage, and cavitation. Propellers used in rocky and/or shallow water conditions should be inspected for damage more frequently. Minor damage, if not addressed promptly, can lead to premature propeller blade and/or engine component failures.
Technical specifications for many Formula models can be found by clicking the 'New Formulas" link on this website. Should you require additional information, feel free to contact Formula Boats South or Formula's Technical Assistance Group at (260)724-1413, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In general, elevation (anything above sea level) will have an adverse effect on a boat's performance, as the 'thin' air of higher altitudes contains less oxygen. Just as humans find it increasingly difficult to breathe as they climb in altitude, so do engines - less oxygen available for combustion results in less horsepower, which means reduced performance. Above certain elevations (2,500 feet and above), propeller - and sometimes transmission gear ratio - changes (relative to sea level selections) are necessary to allow propulsion systems to operate within the manufacturer's specified rpm range.
Cupped propeller blades have their trailing edges turned slightly up, generally resulting in improved 'bite' of the propeller, which is advantageous in planing and cruise conditions. Cupped propellers are also sometimes used for in-between applications, wherein an ideal selection cannot be found using regular propellers.
The power steering found most commonly in boats is very similar to the power steering systems of automobiles. A steering cable is routed between the steering column at the helm and the steering cylinder or ram at the transom. The steering ram is connected to the tiller arm of the outdrive, which consequently moves to port or starboard whenever the steering wheel is turned. A pulley-driven pump is mounted to the engine and delivers pressurized fluid to the steering ram, thereby easing its movement. Generally, only one engine (usually the starboard engine) in a twin-engine installation receives a power steering pump. Consequently, the boat's steering will be power-assisted only when this engine is operating. Some high performance stern drive boats and many larger inboard models are equipped with hydraulic-assisted power steering. In these applications, a pump mounted to one engine or transmission generates hydraulic fluid pressure for the system, facilitating easier operation and less 'slop' and play.
Power trim is the means by which the angle of the propeller is adjusted (stern drive only) in order to change the boat's attitude, thereby optimizing performance.
Water leaks can be the most difficult problems to diagnose and correct. The key is to identify those conditions in which you generally find water in your boat (e.g., after a rain shower, after you wash down the cockpit, only after use in rough seas, etc.) Once you've identified these conditions, you should be able to narrow down the possible sources for the water intrusion. For example, if you find water on your boat's cabin floor, but only after a thorough cockpit wash down, chances are a cockpit drain fitting or a cabin door or window is leaking.
- A float switch or sensor is built into the automatic/manual bilge pump system. When the water level in the bilge reaches the height of the switch/sensor, the pump automatically turns ON. When the water level drops below the float switch or sensor, the pump automatically shuts OFF. If the pump does not appear to be working properly, the circuit breaker between the battery and the pump could be tripped or there could be something physically wrong (e.g., stuck or shorted) with the float switch or sensor. Conversely, a pump that runs continuously may be an indication of a float switch stuck in the ON position or a sensor fouled with residual moisture. To override the automatic feature of the bilge pump, use the manual switch found on the dash. If you use the manual switch to turn ON the pump, you must also use the manual switch to turn it OFF. NOTE: The automatic aspect of the bilge pump system is constantly-powered (i.e., it is wired directly to the batteries), while the manual feature can only be utilized with the auxiliary power switched ON.
The Hull ID/Serial Number is physically located on the starboard (right) side of the transom just below the rub rail. This number is also noted on the warranty registration and other paperwork supplied with your Formula at the time of its manufacture.
Pitch is the distance a propeller would move in one revolution if it was moving through a semi-solid material, such as gelatin. A propeller's pitch is referenced by the second number in the size description (e.g., 14.5' x 28' references a 28' pitch propeller). If this propeller were 100% efficient (i.e., no slip), it would move forward 28 inches in one revolution.
A prop's diameter represents the distance across the circle created by a spinning propeller, as measured to the extreme outer edges of the blades' cutting swath. Diameter is generally referenced first when noting a propeller's size (e.g., 14.5' x 28' references a 14.5' diameter propeller).
A small rubber tube runs from the back of the speedometer to the boat's transom, where it passes through and is connected to a pressure-sensing fitting in the outdrive or a transom-mounted pitot (pick-up). In either case, forward movement of the boat results in changes in air pressure within the tube, which is 'translated' by the speedometer to boat speed in miles per hour. Speedometer accuracy can be influenced by many factors, including damage to the pitot tube and/or obstructions created by weeds, mud, or debris. For more accurate speed readings, use a GPS or a radar gun.
To prevent structural damage to your Formula boat, the proper procedure must be used when lifting your boat. The recommended method of removing the boat from the water is to use lifting slings. Slings must be the flat, wide-belt type. The spreader bars used with the sling must be long enough to avoid pressure to the gunwales. DO NOT USE CABLE TYPE SLINGS. To ensure proper balance and hull integrity, the rear sling should be located under the front motor mounts, to support the engine weight. Locating the sling under the motor mounts will help ensure that the bottom of the hull will remain straight over time. If the lift uses bunks instead of slings, the rear ones should extend past the transom for proper hull support. The forward sling or bunk location will vary depending on boat weight and length. The forward lifting position will usually be one to two feet forward of the windshield. The slings or bunks on the lift should be adjusted so the boat will rest in the lift with the stern three to six inches lower than the bow. When the lift is adjusted properly, any rainwater which may enter the boat will run to the transom. If the batteries are charged and the auto/manual bilge pump is working properly, any water entering the boat will be removed by the pump.
Prior to model year 2004, owner's manuals were general in nature and not specific to individual model boats. Consequently, specific information may be limited to that which accompanies components and accessories (e.g., stereos, water heaters, etc.) used in current production models. Wiring diagrams and prop charts and other technical information can be obtained by contacting the Technical Assistance Group (TAG). For model year 2004 boats and newer, more detailed, model-specific manuals are available for purchase. For further information, please contact the Technical Assistance Group (TAG) at (260)724-1413.
Parts and accessories can be purchased from a Formula Boats South since we are a dealer and Authorized Service Center (ASC). Local marine repair facilities can order the part(s) directly from Thunderbird Products. Thunderbird Products also sells parts directly to retail customers through the Technical Assistance Group (TAG) at (260) 724-1412.
Although Formula Reliability Centers (Formula dealers and Authorized Service Centers) are the preferred source for replacement parts and service relating to your Formula boat, Formula will work with local marinas in an attempt to help owners obtain whatever it is they require. Please have your marina (armed with your boat's hull identification number) call Formula's Technical Assistance Group (TAG) at (260)724-1412 to speak with a service representative.
- All Formula Reliability Centers offer gelcoat repair and may even have the required gelcoat in their inventory. You may also call Formula's Technical Assistance Group (TAG) at (260) 724-1412 to speak to a service representative regarding part numbers and availability. NOTE: You will need your hull identification number when contacting your dealer or the factory. For help in obtaining gelcoats used prior to 1990, call Gelcoat Products (GCP) at (206) 781-1162 or fax GCP at 1-800-753-8861.
Formula boats are sold exclusively by authorized Formula dealers such as Formula Boats South. Formula parts and accessories are sold through authorized Formula Reliability Centers, participating marine businesses, and also the Technical Assistance Group at (260) 724-1412 or email email@example.com. Contact Formula Customer Support for assistance in locating your nearest retail source.
For a complete listing of covered components, please go to: http://www.formulaboats.com/owners/formulaguard.aspx. Here, you will be able to download the Formula Guard booklet specific to the model year of your boat. If you need any further assistance on this matter, please email Formula Customer Support (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Formula Guard administrator for model year boats 2016 through present is Cornerstone United. Call (877) 434-5672, or email email@example.com. The Formula Guard administrator for model year boats 2010 through 2015 is Warrantech, a division of AMT Warranty (an AmTrust Financial company). Call 1-866-327-6906, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Formula Guard administrator for model year boats 2006 thru 2009 is INDS (Interstate National Dealer Services). Call 1-800-526-0929, or visit their website at www.inds.com.
Copies of Formula Guard policy booklets/owners manuals are available for viewing and download in the 'About Formula' section of the corporate website. Keep in mind coverage is dependent on model year. Formula Guard is administered by a third party (see details at http://www.formulaboats.com/owners/formulaguard.aspx) and is subject to their guidelines.
Please visit this link, courtesy of The American Boating Association: http://americanboating.org/safety_dealing_with_current_high_winds.asp
- Many marine communication devices, including marine radios equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) and Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) equipment rely upon a 9-digit Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number to identify itself and more importantly the user of the device. Most new marine radios have a special Distress Alerting Capability that will, upon the touch of a button, transmit a distress message which can include its identity (MMSI) and location - only if the radio has been programmed with a MMSI and is connected to a electronic positioning system (e.g. GPS, LORAN). The Coast Guard recommends DSC-equipped VHF radios for all mariners because of these capabilities. The U.S. Coast Guard and the National GMDSS Task Force are concerned that many users of these devices are not obtaining, registering and/or properly entering their assigned MMSI into these devices. Lack of an MMSI will make some of these devices inoperable, such as AIS, or incapable of operating advanced features or distress alerting capabilities of the device. Leaving the MMSI unprogrammed, entering a false identity or not updating a previously-programmed device with your own identity may delay a rescue and under certain situations is unlawful. MMSI use and registration greatly assists the U.S. Coast Guard in responding to an alert since it contains a description of the vessel and telephone numbers used to contact the vessel's owner or point of contact in an emergency. MMSI numbers are issued by the FCC if the vessel requires a Station License, otherwise they can be obtained from Boat U.S. (www.boatus.com/mmsi), Sea Tow (www.seatow.com/boating_safety/mmsi), and Shine Micro (www.shinemicro.com) often at no charge. Those having MMSIs should keep registration information current, including phone numbers, address, name and type of boat.
The first three characters in every hull identification number (HIN) are the manufacturer's identification code (i.e., TNR for Thunderbird). The only way to obtain a manufacturer identification code is through the U.S. Coast Guard. Characters four through eight are the boat's serial number, which must consist of letters in the English alphabet, Arabic numerals, or both; except the letters 'I', 'O' or 'Q' (because of their similarity to the characters '!' and '0'). The boat manufacturer chooses a boat's hull serial number. The fourth character in Formula's HIN identifies the plant location of manufacture ('M' is for Miami, and 'D' is for Decatur) NOTE: The Miami, Florida plant is no longer in operation. Characters nine and ten in each HIN indicate the month and year the boat was manufactured. Character nine, the month of manufacture, must be indicated using the letters of the English alphabet, starting with January as 'A' and ending with December as 'L'. A=January B=February C=March D=April E=May F=June G=July H=August I=September J=October K=November L=December A boat is considered certified to comply with the safety standards in effect on the first day of the month shown in the ninth character of the HIN. Character ten is the last digit of the year of certification (or manufacture). This is a typical Formula Manufacture Identification Code for a hull serial number manufactured on August 1993 - TNRD1234H3. Characters 11 and 12 are the model year of the boat and must be indicated using Arabic numerals. A complete HIN would look similar to TNRD1234H394. (Formula's model year changes in July.) Each HIN must be carved, burned, stamped, embossed, molded, bonded, or otherwise permanently affixed to the boat so altercation, removal, or replacement would be obvious. WARNING: ALTERATION OF A HULL IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (HIN) WITHOUT THE SPECIFIC WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE COMMANDANT OF THE US COAST GUARD IS SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITED BY FEDERAL STATUTES AND COAST GUARD REGULATIONS. PERSONS CONVICTED OF THE ALTERTION OF A HULL IDENTIFICATION NUMBER ARE LIABLE FOR CIVIL PENALTIES.
- The hand-polished aluminum spokes of Dino brand steering wheels is a unique alloy available only in Italy and specially formulated for marine use. If exposed to water and not dried immediately, the spokes' finish may spot; this spotting is not corrosion and can usually be removed completely by using a soft cloth and an aluminum polishing paste (e.g., Mothers brand, product #05100), such as those commonly found in auto parts stores. Periodic polishing (every 60 days or so) is also recommended.
Please consult your engine operator's manual for answers to any questions pertaining to your boat's propulsion system components.
Resins in gel coat, paints and clear coat finishes continue to cure for weeks, months and even years (at a progressively slower rate). To allow the resultant gases to escape and the finish to harden properly, care should be taken to facilitate the natural 'breathing' of the materials. As some waxes and polishes create a protective layer that could prevent proper out-gassing, a good rule of thumb is to wait 90 days before applying these products. Many manufacturers offer 'breathable' alternatives in their lines of cleaners and polishes, so you should be able to find a suitable product by consulting with your local retailer.
Flush the engine(s) and spray down the boat's exterior - especially hardware - with fresh water to remove salt residue after each use. If not removed promptly, salt deposits will accelerate corrosion of the boat's metal components and cause a general decline in the boat's condition.
Depending on the fuel's composition, fuel tanks should either be topped off or drained as close to empty as possible. In either case, stabilizer should be added to the fuel. In those areas where alcohol-based fuels (e.g., ethanol) are prevalent, store your boat with as little fuel in the tanks as possible. Alcohol-based fuels break down much faster than traditional fuels and tend to promote a greater build-up of condensation inside the fuel tank. This condensation not only interferes with the proper operation of engines, it can also lead to internal corrosion of the fuel tank. Where observance of this practice is not feasible, fill the tank(s) to about 95% capacity, leaving just enough room for expansion that occurs during temperature changes. The key is to leave as little air in the tank(s) as possible, as the air will eventually become moisture-laden and further exacerbate the problem.