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OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

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  • OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

    I have read mixed reviews on the OMC 800 Stinger.

    Claims like "Bullet proof" or "Poorly engineered," or "Works great as long as the fluids are changed."

    What is the truth? Yes parts cost a bit more I know. OMC is out of business, I know that too.

    What about the RELAIABILITY?

    The OMC year range I'm talking about here is 80 - 85.


  • #2
    Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

    The answer to your question is "all of the above."

    They are a pretty robust drive for the most part with some very positive features. There probably were some engineering faults with the design that makes 'em a little funky to deal with. Add in that they are now antiques and not too many Marine Mechanics want to deal with them, and you've got a drive that not too many people want.

    I purchased mine not really knowing what a Stringer was (mine's electric shift), and if I knew then what I know now - I probably would have moved on to a Merc. HOWEVER, I've gotten to like the drive system and even enjoy working on it. The Stringer will make a mechanic out of you for sure. But, I'm not that mechanical and I've been able to keep mine on the water and running fairly nicely for relatively little expense.

    I have the 250 Inline 6 with an electric shift (165HP). The engine is pretty much bullet proof - it just runs. The outdrive has given me the bigger problems, but by the end of next year I hope to have "Frankenstein-ed" a second unit together as a spare to keep me going. The boat runs very quiet, takes a little to get up on plane and is pretty efficient.

    Others will have far worse experiences, but there are a reasonable cache of crazies out there who like 'em and keep 'em running.
    ---------

    Murfreesboro, Tennessee

    Comment



    • #3
      Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

      Originally posted by southkogs View Post
      The answer to your question is "all of the above."

      They are a pretty robust drive for the most part with some very positive features. There probably were some engineering faults with the design that makes 'em a little funky to deal with. Add in that they are now antiques and not too many Marine Mechanics want to deal with them, and you've got a drive that not too many people want.

      I purchased mine not really knowing what a Stringer was (mine's electric shift), and if I knew then what I know now - I probably would have moved on to a Merc. HOWEVER, I've gotten to like the drive system and even enjoy working on it. The Stringer will make a mechanic out of you for sure. But, I'm not that mechanical and I've been able to keep mine on the water and running fairly nicely for relatively little expense.

      I have the 250 Inline 6 with an electric shift (165HP). The engine is pretty much bullet proof - it just runs. The outdrive has given me the bigger problems, but by the end of next year I hope to have "Frankenstein-ed" a second unit together as a spare to keep me going. The boat runs very quiet, takes a little to get up on plane and is pretty efficient.

      Others will have far worse experiences, but there are a reasonable cache of crazies out there who like 'em and keep 'em running.
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Do you regret buying your boat?

      You also mention that you have gotten to like the drive & enjoy working on it?

      Do you find it to be fairly straight forward to work on?

      Only one seal on the drive that can sink the boat right?

      **The thing I have researched on the Merc & Cobra's is I get the impression every 6-10 years they need bellows replaced (3 rubber boots) that can sink your boat, ruin your gimbal bearing, and seems like alot of people have to replace the transom seal every 10-15 years.

      The Merc * Cobra's don't seem to be as simple to work on as people may think based on you tube video's I have seen and even those out drives are very expensive to have worked on professionally..

      Bellows alone are $700 professionally replaced and the transom seal I believe adds another $400 then you'll end-up replacing your gimbal bearing $100 - $200 which easily make's for $1,200 - $1,300 over a 10 year to 15 year spread not including other items such as hoses or shift cables, etc..

      How much money have you stuck in your OMC Stringer so far?

      How long have you owned it?

      Do you think the Merc / Cobra's are less to own / maintance VS. OMC Stringer?

      Comment



      • #4
        Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

        Long post - waited until everybody went to bed so I could type it all out:

        Originally posted by jmw129 View Post
        Do you regret buying your boat?
        No. I really like my boat. I'm kinda' partial to older fiberglass boats, and this one has some classic looks to it. It functions very well for me, and the layout is right on. I even like the stringer drive.

        Originally posted by jmw129 View Post
        You also mention that you have gotten to like the drive & enjoy working on it?
        The Stringer offers a few advantages: It runs pretty quietly compared to the Mercs I've been on (even newer ones), I think the radius of the swivel gives a little tighter control (tighter turns) and even considering how finicky they can be - I like electric shift. The reason I've come to enjoy working on it is that I'm not that mechanical and doing wrench work is soooo different from my day to day stuff (commercial artist).

        Originally posted by jmw129 View Post
        Do you find it to be fairly straight forward to work on?
        Well - for the most part yes. On the overall it's not that complicated, and for someone not mechanically inclined (yours truly) I can wade through it okay. These forums help immensely.

        Originally posted by jmw129 View Post
        Only one seal on the drive that can sink the boat right?
        Correct. It's a BIG FLIPPIN' hole if that seal comes undone on you - but it's just that one (outside of things like your drain hole).

        Originally posted by jmw129 View Post
        The thing I have researched on the Merc & Cobra's is I get the impression every 6-10 years they need bellows replaced (3 rubber boots) that can sink your boat, ruin your gimbal bearing, and seems like alot of people have to replace the transom seal every 10-15 years.
        I would suggest it's probably a wash. If you buy an OMC transom seal on a stringer, there's a reasonable chance it'll last you a long time (20 years). If you buy aftermarket seal, you'll probably change it more often. They're $100-ish and should be considered regular maintenance.

        Originally posted by jmw129 View Post
        The Merc * Cobra's don't seem to be as simple to work on as people may think based on you tube video's I have seen and even those out drives are very expensive to have worked on professionally..
        ANY marine mechanic is going to be expensive on ANY drive. The Cobra's seem to be starting to be treated like the Stringer (nobody wants to work on 'em). I think the Mercs and the Cobras do seem a little more complicated, but I think the complicated stuff is generally the stuff that would be beyond me anyhow (cracking into a gearcase, for example). I've done some work on my Dad's Mercruiser and I don't think it's any more difficult to deal with than the Stringer is.

        Originally posted by jmw129 View Post
        Bellows alone are $700 professionally replaced and the transom seal I believe adds another $400 then you'll end-up replacing your gimbal bearing $100 - $200 which easily make's for $1,200 - $1,300 over a 10 year to 15 year spread not including other items such as hoses or shift cables, etc..

        How much money have you stuck in your OMC Stringer so far?
        $2k in maintenance and repairs on a boat over 10 years sounds pretty reasonable to me. They say you can simulate the joys of boating by standing in a cold shower and tearing up $100 bills I've got about $1,800 into my boat - purchase, registration and repairs. I'm going to wind up close to $2,500 by the start of next spring when I get done doing a few more repairs this winter and fix the trailer. I bought her with a bad upper gearcase, and was fortunate to find a replacement cheap. When I bought the boat, I decided that I could afford to completely risk the purchase price if I couldn't fix it - and so decided to take the chance.

        Originally posted by jmw129 View Post
        How long have you owned it?
        2 years.

        Originally posted by jmw129 View Post
        Do you think the Merc / Cobra's are less to own / maintance VS. OMC Stringer?
        All of them are the same maintenance. That's just being a boat. A Cobra is going to cause you some of the same things a Stringer is (mainly tracking down parts and finding people to help you fix things you can't). The advantage of the Mercruiser is that they're still in business making drives. They are THE mainstay of the sterndrive business (not necessarily the best), and they're all over the place. And, quite frankly, Merc makes a good sterndrive.

        At the end of the day, I would probably recommend away from OMC if you haven't already bought a boat. HOWEVER, if you find a boat that fits your budget, and you REALLY like the boat and you're not afraid of having to work on it ... then an OMC is not the kiss of death.
        ---------

        Murfreesboro, Tennessee

        Comment



        • #5
          Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

          Southkogs,

          Yeah there is a 18ft 260hp 1980 crestliner I like. Needs a tilt & trim motor $300 part I assume and he told me that the transom seal was replaced 3 years ago. The interior is torn out for restore but has the seats. The exterior is a nice blue with white under neath. He is willing to accept $550 for the boat.

          Here is the link:

          http://rmn.craigslist.org/boa/2620199408.html

          Click image for larger version

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          Let me know what you think of this boat for the price?

          Comment



          • #6
            Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

            Originally posted by jmw129 View Post
            Yeah there is a 18ft 260hp 1980 crestliner I like. Needs a tilt & trim motor $300 part I assume and he told me that the transom seal was replaced 3 years ago. The interior is torn out for restore but has the seats. The exterior is a nice blue with white under neath. He is willing to accept $550 for the boat.
            What you're dealing with here is a project, and that is going to become a question of work vs. risk. First, determine if you can afford to lose $550 - if so, the next question is if you're okay with a boat that has a 50/50 chance of getting on the water next season. I say that not because you can't get the job done, but rather according to the seller the engine hasn't run in 3 years. God Himself is the only one who knows what you're up again there - could fix easy, might need a whole new engine. On top of that, you can't test the outdrive to see what kind of shape it's really in ... and again it's not been run in 3 years (presumably). Expect about $2,000 to get her on the water (hopefully not, but that's what I would plan for). If you're up for all the wrench turning ... okay with the risk ... and like the boat, go for it.

            As a note: a new tilt motor probably will run you close to $200, but you might be able to have it rebuilt for about $50 at the local parts shop.

            For $500 more, this boat might be worth a look: http://rmn.craigslist.org/boa/2616896778.html Not a bow rider, but seems to be more lake ready. And for $1,500 you could get into this one: http://rmn.craigslist.org/boa/2638344071.html. You're not losing a lot of seating, Glastron is a pretty boat and this one looks to be in good shape, and those 3 cyl. Johnson/Evinrudes are great motors. - - my point being, the difference between a $500 boat and a $1,500 boat is pretty steep. Not as much work to do on the Glastron, and it's lake ready now.

            It may be a question of budget for you, and I can appreciate that. Just weigh out the risks carefully.
            ---------

            Murfreesboro, Tennessee

            Comment



            • #7
              Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

              I called the seller. Told me the boat was winterized 3 years ago. He offered to run the engine in person & allow me to check it over. He also told me he is a certified auto mechanic and understands marine engines very well. He went on to say that he has other boats and this boat isn't on the top of his priority list.

              Asked about the outdrive. He told me the tramson seal was replaced 3 years ago. Also said the outdrive works great and the only item that needs replaced is the trim motor.

              Your thought if you were the buyer in this situation?

              Comment



              • #8
                Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

                Your thought if you were the buyer in this situation?
                Ayuh,.... A Seller will tell ya anything that needs to be said to sell the boat...

                Believe Nothing yer told, 'n only 1/2 of what ya see...
                Any Grease is Better,..... Than No Grease at All.......

                Comment



                • #9
                  Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

                  Still kinda' staying with what I said above. If you could put her on the water for an hour or so and run her out, might change my mind after the sea trial - but, beyond that ... it's still too many "ifs."

                  For myself, on inland lakes - I'd probably switch gears toward the Glastron I posted in my last post. It looks a little more promising (not trying to sell you on the idea).
                  ---------

                  Murfreesboro, Tennessee

                  Comment



                  • #10
                    Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

                    the stringer is easy to work on with the right tools. a big blue-point internal c-clip pliers is needed to pull the lower apart. other than that, a helping hand every once in a while to remove the drive.

                    the drive is man-made, and will fail eventually (just like everything else). keep up with the maintenance and it would last. if there is signs of abuse or severe corrosion, keep looking.
                    1988 Cruisers Rogue 2420 - VP AQ271C / 290DP "Rock'n Along"
                    http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=500145
                    1970 Wooster Hellion 7' of cool mini boat with a Merc 9.8
                    Recent Boats
                    2002 SeaRay 190BR - MC 5.0 / Alpha I series II "Cheasheads in Paradise"
                    1984 Avanti 170DLI - OMC 3.0 / OMC Stringer 400 "Ship Happens"

                    The problems we face today can not be addressed at the same level of intelligence we were at when we created them - Albert Einstein Or with the same level of $ - Me

                    Comment



                    • #11
                      Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

                      Originally posted by Scott Danforth View Post
                      the stringer is easy to work on with the right tools. a big blue-point internal c-clip pliers is needed to pull the lower apart. other than that, a helping hand every once in a while to remove the drive.

                      the drive is man-made, and will fail eventually (just like everything else). keep up with the maintenance and it would last. if there is signs of abuse or severe corrosion, keep looking.
                      Good to hear that this drive is fairly reasonable to work on. My dad said my uncle had a boat back in the 80's that had the 800 stringer and said that the outdrive always performed very well.

                      He said the key was to keep the fluids changed and keep up on the maintance. Overall, he didn't seem too concerend about these older drives. He wasn't tooo concered about the transom seal either but my dad was young when these drives were very young as well.

                      Thanks!

                      Comment



                      • #12
                        Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

                        My experience with an OMC 190 (electric shift) and a Crestliner Crusader 190, both 1976 models (see Liberty's photo below with my signature below):

                        >The rig was given to me
                        >I loved the lines of the hull - a closed bow deep vee
                        >Everything needed an overhaul - trailer, boat interior, deck, stringers, transom, engine, and outdrive
                        >Took me a year and challenged everthing I know about mechanics, carpentry, and glasswork
                        >Spent $5,500.00
                        >Was very satifying to do everything myself
                        >This forum, the iBoats marine store, *********, and eBay provide access to every part you need - just be patient

                        I could have bought a much newer boat with either an outboard or Merc stern drive for the same or less money - but wouldn't have had a "project" - I love having a project

                        Good Lord willing, I plan to keep this rig for a long time

                        The heavy duty snap ring comment made me smile. If you ever have to get into the lower unit to replace the prop shaft like I did - you'll need them. The shaft itself was brand new OMC part shipped to my door off eBay for $100.00

                        Decisions, decisions - as for me I feel I made a good one
                        1976 AMF Crestliner 995 'Liberty'
                        190 OMC I/O
                        Easy Loader Trailer
                        All restored 2009/2010

                        Comment



                        • #13
                          Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

                          Originally posted by mrlassi1 View Post
                          My experience with an OMC 190 (electric shift) and a Crestliner Crusader 190, both 1976 models (see Liberty's photo below with my signature below):

                          >The rig was given to me
                          >I loved the lines of the hull - a closed bow deep vee
                          >Everything needed an overhaul - trailer, boat interior, deck, stringers, transom, engine, and outdrive
                          >Took me a year and challenged everthing I know about mechanics, carpentry, and glasswork
                          >Spent $5,500.00
                          >Was very satifying to do everything myself
                          >This forum, the iBoats marine store, *********, and eBay provide access to every part you need - just be patient

                          I could have bought a much newer boat with either an outboard or Merc stern drive for the same or less money - but wouldn't have had a "project" - I love having a project

                          Good Lord willing, I plan to keep this rig for a long time

                          The heavy duty snap ring comment made me smile. If you ever have to get into the lower unit to replace the prop shaft like I did - you'll need them. The shaft itself was brand new OMC part shipped to my door off eBay for $100.00

                          Decisions, decisions - as for me I feel I made a good one
                          You said the boat was given to you so I assume the floor was trashed?

                          Stringer's were rotted?

                          How did you know the transom was bad?

                          This seller claims the boat has been stored the whole time he has owned it. Said the floor & transom was solid, transom seal replaced 3 years ago.

                          I can afford $300 - $500 to stick in it by spring but $5,500 like what you spent makes me want to run FAST!

                          Seller claims the engine is solid, no blow by, no ticks, no knocks, is willing to let me run up to opertaing temp and check over. Getting late for test run in the water.

                          Comment



                          • #14
                            Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

                            Originally posted by mrlassi1 View Post
                            My experience with an OMC 190 (electric shift) and a Crestliner Crusader 190, both 1976 models (see Liberty's photo below with my signature below):

                            >The rig was given to me
                            >I loved the lines of the hull - a closed bow deep vee
                            >Everything needed an overhaul - trailer, boat interior, deck, stringers, transom, engine, and outdrive
                            >Took me a year and challenged everthing I know about mechanics, carpentry, and glasswork
                            >Spent $5,500.00
                            >Was very satifying to do everything myself
                            >This forum, the iBoats marine store, *********, and eBay provide access to every part you need - just be patient

                            I could have bought a much newer boat with either an outboard or Merc stern drive for the same or less money - but wouldn't have had a "project" - I love having a project

                            Good Lord willing, I plan to keep this rig for a long time

                            The heavy duty snap ring comment made me smile. If you ever have to get into the lower unit to replace the prop shaft like I did - you'll need them. The shaft itself was brand new OMC part shipped to my door off eBay for $100.00

                            Decisions, decisions - as for me I feel I made a good one
                            How does your unit handle big waves, wakes, chop?

                            Ride quality?

                            Top end speed?

                            Comment



                            • #15
                              Sign up today
                              Re: OMC 800 Stringer - Reliable? Bullet Proof? Garbage?

                              JMW, since the rig your are considering has been in dry storage, you would definately be starting from a better place than I did.

                              As to handling big waves - Liberty is a 19' deep vee. I take her out on lake Oconee (East of Atlanta) so the largest waves come only from other boat's wakes - she hanldles them wonderfuly. Her ride is sure and comfortable.

                              The OMC 190 is based on a Ford 302 V8 with a 2bbl Holley Marine carb. She sounds like a Mustang GT and tops out at 40 mph per my Garmin GPS. When crusing I run her @ 2,200 RPM which gets us around the lake just at just under 30 mph.

                              Hope this helps. Decisons, decisions, decisions...
                              1976 AMF Crestliner 995 'Liberty'
                              190 OMC I/O
                              Easy Loader Trailer
                              All restored 2009/2010

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