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Fast Times At Sterling Performance Engines

Despite that he’s swamped with work and “knock wood, just trying to keep from going crazy,” Mike D’Anniballe, the man behind Sterling Performance Engines in Milford, Mich., was in a particularly upbeat and chatty mood when I caught up with by phone him yesterday morning. No doubt, he was pleased to be finished with the pair of turbocharged 1,900-hp engines he built for a 40-foot Fountain V-bottom that will be used for an attempt to establish a new kilometer speed record in the near future, perhaps even later this month. But what really has D’Anniballe buzzing is the booming demand for marine engine building and rebuilding that he said has taken his business by storm.

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More potent versions of the same turbocharged engines that powered this 36-foot Skater catamaran to 195 mph during the 2013 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout will power Fountain’s new kilo-run V-bottom. Photo Jay Nichols/Naples Image.

“Racing engines, pleasure boat engines—you name it, we’re doing it and we’re doing a lot of it,” he said. “When people call now, I’m telling them immediately that turnaround time is at least seven months.

“What’s really unfortunate is that about a third of the rebuild, repair work and service we’re getting is fixing work done by other shops,” he said. “Of the few independent marine engine outfits still around, there does not seem to be many doing good work.”

In less than two weeks, D’Anniballe will head to the Miami International Boat Show. Either before or after the show, he’ll travel to Fountain Powerboats headquarters in Washington, N.C., where he’ll help Ben Robertson, Jr., dial in the powerboat’s Sterling engines.

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Said D’Anniballe of the Sterling 1900 engines going into the Fountain kilo boat, “Everything went great with them on the dyno. They’re solid pieces that actually produce the horsepower we say they’re going to.”

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