It's always fun to try a product that promises new innovation that will make things easier on the water. I recently added a Minn Kota Ulterra 112 to our Sportsman Tournament 234 bay boat. We knew that we would need a lot of thrust to push a 23 foot boat against heavy currents and winds. The Charter Captain that I purchased the trolling motor from told me I should try the ShuttleSlide mount so the motor would never stick out and hit the bow roller when unloading or loading the boat on the trailer.
I contacted the helpful people at ShuttleSlide and described what type of fishing we do and the type of trolling motor we would be using. In turn, they provided me with the mount that is designed to withstand the thrust output of the trolling motor I purchased. In this case it was the SS-9-HD. When I received it and opened the box, I found all the parts necessary to assemble (some assembly required) and mount it to the boat. The product arrived with the required hardware and instructions to access an animated video for assembly. In our modern world where we try to limit the amount of paper we use, I was fine with the digital format. However, I found the individual parts had no paint, primer or conversion coatings to protect them from corrosion. The mount itself consisted of 2 aluminum plates approximately 1/4" thick that were predrilled and tapped for the mounting hardware, 2 thumbscrews for easy removal of the trolling motor, a nylon guide board approximately 1/2" thick, with the same width as the aluminum plates, and 2 angle brackets to serve as guides for the trolling motor.
Having spent most of my adult life in the aviation industry as an aircraft maintenance and structures technician, I've become quite familiar with metals, composites, stress limitations and corrosion. After performing a test fit of the product against the trolling motor, I was skeptical, but committed to the installation for an approaching tournament.
The mount holes do not align with any other mount that is currently on the market, so be prepared to fill old holes and drill new ones if you are concerned about aesthetics. In my case, I have Marine Mat covering the bow deck where the previous mount had been placed. Not wanting to cut the Marine Mat, and to provide an element of barrier protection against corrosion, I left it in place. I would later discover that was a mistake and have to cut the mat to try and eliminate twisting of the plates. Once installed, I began to wish God had made me with longer arms, or made me short enough to crawl into the anchor locker so I could reach the forwardmost hardware. This proved to be quite the task that I ultimately received help from my son with.
After a week of fishing in preparation for an IFA tournament, I found the base plate provided did not work well with the heavy torque put out by the motor. Not only did the Marine Mat cause it to give, but the assembly would literally twist under a heavy side-load. The mount includes screws that apply pressure to the nylon glide plate to apply the friction necessary to keep the motor from sliding back so easily when under power. If you fail to set this adjustment, do not be surprised if the thrust causes it to slide back hard against the bow rail. This can create a problem if your trolling motor has auto deploy and stow features, causing it to jam in the partially deployed position.
After my return home, I contacted the people at ShuttleSlide to explain any issues I had encountered. I was not disappointed with their customer service. Along with shipping a larger base plate overnight, they also provided two Z angles to replace the existing brackets and provide a more stable and tighter mount. To correct the flexing caused by the Marine Mat installed in our boat, I traced the area around the edge of the ShuttleSlide and removed the mount so I could access and remove the mat. Although I expected the bare metal to eventually corrode due to the salt water, I was surprised to find just how quickly the pitting and exfoliation corrosion had begun. As an aircraft structures technician this concerned me so I performed a combination of chemical etching, application of an Alodine conversion coating, primer and white paint. An examination of the mount holes drilled through the bow deck revealed the twisting had cracked the gel-coat and it would need to be repaired. This was primarily due to the Marine Mat that was left in place. The new base plate provided additional stability required for the loads provided by the Ulterra 112. I would recommend requesting the larger base plate regardless of what trolling motor you are using. If possible, I would recommend adding a backing plate on the underside of the bow to remove the tendency for the fiberglass to flex under heavy loads. This was not possible on our boat.
As with any product, there is always room for improvement, but overall, I am happy with the design. I did find the initial quality of the product to be questionable due to the lack of corrosion protection and the need to obtain more robust components to withstand the applied torque. I also feel the tiny screws that apply friction to the nylon guides could be improved with the incorporation of a mechanical detent. Changing the guides to accommodate the brackets in reverse (facing outboard) would also provide a wider surface area and mitigate any remaining twist that may be applied when the larger trolling motors are pushing at full speed from the side. I have to give the designer credit for his innovation. On a previous boat, I nearly lost a trolling motor while unloading the boat, as the roller hit the motor with enough force to shear the mount bolts. The sliding design of the ShuttleSlide eliminates that problem. Price point for this product is better than most available mounts designed to handle a trolling motor of this size. I would recommend the product to anyone that is familiar with the necessary care and corrosion prevention required to maintain this product.