UFlex Trim tabs -- Initial Review

Rating: Not Rated Yet
SKU: Uflex electric trim tabs
Manufacturer: UFLEX
Quick overview
  • Operating system with hardened steel ballscrew, suitable to withstand high push loads.
  • Prompt and easy control with the innovative use of a Joystick.
  • AUTO LINE-UP: automatic flap re-alignment function .
  • Stainless steel rod and tabs, double sealed, IP68.


Electric Trim Tabs with Joystick
Trim tabs are an essential part to nearly all boats, not just for additional control, but some boats just plain out need trim tabs.  Many boats on the water have been repowered, rebuilt, had weight distribution changes, and possibly more aspects have  been changed from the original layout, thus causing the boat to ride different.  I'm not going to go into how trim tabs make your boat handle better, as you can read that in one of my other articles, however, I will tell you my thoughts on the UFlex electric trim tabs.
UFlex polished trim tabsThe first thing I noticed when I unboxed the UFlex electric trim tab set was the quality of the trim tab finish.  They are polished to a mirror finish on the top, which will help keep them stain free longer. The bottom is unpolished matte finish. The thickness of the stainless steel trim tab is a little over 1/16th, somewhere around 15-16 gauge.  The tabs are very rigid with the multiple bends across the surface, and downward batwing edges.  This batwing style of trim tab is the most efficient design for stabilizing side to side shifts, as the wings act as mini rudders.  The wings also compress the water and give the trim tab more performance. I ran a set of batwings on my Hewes flats boat and the performance was far superior to flat tabs that i removed.  
The hinge plates are a little thinner just under 1/16 thickness, but have a nice size hinge pin, are polished, and look very durable.  UFlex predrilled 7 holes for 1/4   inch diameter screws, thus ensuring you have big screws to hold the tabs on.
Uflex actuator and bracket
The actuators feel very well designed by weight, looks, and available data. While both brackets are made of plastic, the bottom bracket has a 1/4 inch stainless pin with a cotter pin holding it on, while the upper bracket (shown to the left) just snaps in by angling the bracket up, sliding it onto the actuator, then turning the bracket angle down.  There only appears to be 1/8 inch of recessed socket on each side to hold the bracket on, which makes me a little nervous. 
Uflex provides quality tinned copper cable podded into the actuator, and extension cables to reach your helm.  The cables come with Deutsch connectors for each end, but the connectors are not installed.  You'll need to assemble the connectors for each end of the cables, about 6 connections if only using 2 extension cables (one per side).  You'll need to build the entire connection, from crimping the wires and inserting the molex pins, gaskets, wedgelock  etc.  If you've never done it before, check the video below for help. The alternative is to just wire it traditionally, but then you loose the value of such a great connector.
UFlex easy joystickThe Uflex Easy Joy joystick control was the main feature that grabbed my attention when I first saw this system, it was something I knew I had to have.  With all my other boats I had the traditional rocker switch with tabs up and tabs down rockers, a bit archaic and often confusing if you ask me.  Press the left tab down to lean right and vice versa.  Too much down on the port, drop the starboard or raise the port.  Press both switches together.  Yeah, that's a bit too much thinking, and try to get your hands on the rockers in rough seas...it's a task. 
Wouldn't it be nice if you pressed a joystick to the right and that's the way your boat went?  How about pulling the stick back and both tabs go up, or forward for both tabs down...now that's a concept!   That's the UFlex joystick.  It's simple to get your hands on in rough seas, and keep your controls at your fingertips.  It's simple to know which way to push the stick!  It has auto tab retractor when shifting into neutral.  It raises one tab while dropping the other for much quicker response.   
To the left you'll see some images of the Uflex trim tabs I installed on my 225 Aquasport Osprey.  In my case, I had to move them over the chine about an inch to get the actuator to bolt on properly inside the recessed locations.  This doesn't affect the tabs much, but may cause a little spray or a slight cavitation that won't be noticeable.  
The first test run was a good day to test the tabs, as the winds were blowing about 12 knots from port to starboard, and the seas were about 2 feet of chop in the Gulf. I dropped the tabs all the way down for the get up test, gunned the 250 EFI and watched the boat jump up within seconds and the bow dig in pretty hard. I pulled back on the stick and immediately watched the bow raise. After a few seconds I was dialed in and trimmed right, but the wind was pushing the boat to the starboard side.
I moved the stick to the port and the tabs reacted immediately, and over corrected to heeling into the wind.  I wasn't expecting these trim tabs to be so quick, but wow they are as crisp as the throttle on my 250 Mercury EFI.  I had the boat dialed in in no time and was running 40 mph in that nasty, and it was riding like a champ.  I intentionally switched course enough to cause the boat to heel over again.  I hit the stick for maybe 1.5 seconds and she corrected perfectly from the heel, and a quick tap down got my bow where I needed it.
As the winds and current changed along the run, all it took was a tap or two on the stick to get it corrected.  The trial run was a success with the new Uflex Trim tabs, and I'm exteremly happy with them, and even more so with the the joystick.
Uflex Trim Tabs fishing tripThe following week I took her 45 miles offshore and loaded up on red grouper.  The seas were less than a foot going out, but I stilled needed to use the tabs, as the boat was porpoising over the 1 foot 5 second rollers.  The four blade prop wants to lift the boat out of the water too much, so a little tab action and she ran nice and smooth.  
On the way back things changed.  The seas grew to 3-4 footers at about mile 15 from shore, and around mile 8 they were solid 4 with a few 5's now and then.  I trimmed the tabs to about three qtr down and powered through the waves.  They kept the bow down and the boat handled as well as expected in 5 footers..rough!  
The above review is just the initial introduction as I experienced in Aug of 2013.  I will update this review periodically and let you know how they are holding up, and add my thoughts along the way.  Below are my initial thoughts.
1.  They respond very quickly with dual movement.  Independently, each tabs goes from full up to full down and vice versa in 5 seconds.  Because of the dual movement, they are much more crisp and responsive over any hydraulic system I've used.
2. You feel the corrections instantly.  It's very easy to over correct port to starboard, and in most cases just a simple tap or two on the stick puts your were you want to be.  
3) Design looks good.  Actuators seem durable.  Not many moving parts that can break.  No hydraulic fluid to leak!!!    Feel free to leave your comments.  Stay tuned for an update. 

UPDATE:  Aug 2015:   I just made it through the 2nd season of use on these Uflex trim tabs and they continue to impress.  No signs of rust or fatigue on any metal parts. The plastic actuators look very close to new with no fade or signs of wear.  The joystick has worked flawlessly and the tabs remain straight.  

UPDATE Aug 2016:  With 3 seasons on these I see no weakness or negative points to report on.  They continue to function as new.  The plastic actuators are still black with no hints of weathering.  The trim on the joystick still shines with no corrosion. Functional as new.  I bought a new 2016 Suzuki 300ap and had it installed.  It weights about 100 pounds more than the 250, and I can tell the tabs need to go down just a tad further to compensate the weight.  The low end torque also increased, but these tabs do a great job at not allowing the stern to get sucked down.  Low speed plane at 15mph is still very doable.

UPDATE: April 2018:  Season 5 is starting to show some weathering effects on the rubber and a little surface rusting, but nothing major.  The rubber boots are dry rotting and will need to be replaced. 

The boat has been out of the water since October of 17, so a bit over 6 months.  I'm in the process of my pre summer maintenance, and I didn't notice this at the end of last season, so no telling when it rotted.  I'm not concerned with the light surface rust, as it's not degrading the metal, but more of a stain.  As you can see, there is no rusting or spotting on the polished side.  I have never waxed or sprayed and type of protectant on them.   Performance is still spot on with no issues. 

There is one aspect that I was a bit disappointed with, which is the fact that UFlex hasn't got a solution for the nuetral  switch retraction option for the new Suzuki.  This means that I have to remember to retract the tabs each time I trailer the boat, and I've already come very close to running it up with tabs down.  Hopefully they will bring a solution out, or perhaps they have in the last 2 years.  Expect the next update at the end of this season.   





UFlex Trim Tabs Review


Allen Applegarth is a published author and outdoor writer.   He's an avid boater and angler with over 30 years of experience in the marine industry. He is also a product designer / fabricator and experienced electronics tech, with a few medical devices designed and implemented under his accomplishments .  He owns and operates a communications and IT company providing service to many industries, from cellular tower and satellite transmission, hospital and sports arena DAS systems, and large scale commercial networks, to RFID, CCTV, Fiber optic, automation and more.   Whether it be a high-tech power load controller center, an automated series of motors and actuators, or a simple fishing rod guide, Allen's broad range of skills enables him to test products with accuracy and provide valuable insight to help consumers make informed decisions. 

UFlex Electric Trim Tabs
UFlex Trim Tabs
UFlex Joystick control for Trim Tabs
UFlex Joystick control
As detailed from UFlex:
Operating system with hardened steel ballscrew, suitable to withstand high push loads.
Prompt and easy control with the innovative use of a Joystick (PATENTED) 
AUTO LINE-UP: automatic flap re-alignment function
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