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How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

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  • How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

    Looking to buy first boat ever! A pontoon and on a budget. Found a reasonably priced 1980's Sun Tracker 24 foot. Has a (I assume) same era 40 hp 2 stroke Mariner outboard. I believe the boat specs say max is 75hp.

    I'll be using the boat almost exclusively on a small lake, so the 40hp may be enough...i don't know until I've used it. Being a newbie, I was just thinking if I ever decide I want to replace the motor (or if it goes caput) I just find another motor suitable for a pontoon (shaft length, appropriate HP, etc.).

    The lady at the boat dealer mentioned that motor swaps aren't that easy, and that if I was to say, replace the 40HP Mariner, with a 75HP four stroke non-Mariner, then I would have to replace controls all the way to the helm and possibly re-wire. She said I would probably have to find another Mariner of the same era to have a chance of not having to replace controls and wiring.

    Is that true? Suddenly didn't sound like a DIY job, or an inexpensive proposition. I'm pretty good mechanically and an all-round can fix anything guy, but never worked on a boat before.

    Thanks in advance for any guidance!
    1997 Sun Tracker Party Barge Signature 25



  • #2
    Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

    Outboard motor swaps on a toons are very simple, I changed mine out in about 4 hours by my self. Depending on what your swapping around yes you may have to also change out the controller, and if you do get another motor get the controller with it. I changed from a Nissan to a mariner on mine. So yes i had to change out the controller that added 30 minutes.

    A 40 hp on a 24 footer should push you around at around 15 to 18 mph and thats a decent speed.

    Sounds like a stealership. She has mixed in a good bit of truth and lies, if you have to change controllers , its all plug n play and most controllers will fit the same brand of motors, mariner and mercury will interchange, boats have 2 electrical systems one for the motor and one for ever thing else, so doing a motor swap is simple.

    Sounds like she is trying to sell you a new motor to me, thier lots of decent used motors around. I would ask her what the compression numbers on the existing motor and when the last time the water pump was changed and if the lower unit would pass a pressure test, and watch her face real carfull.
    sigpicJames & Deb

    Bad Dog

    If it aint broke your not having enough fun

    my 1988 Riviera Cruzer pontoon rebuild
    http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=526820

    Comment



    • #3
      Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

      You would need an engine hoist or perhaps the marina can use their fork lift with operator for a small fee. Then, you would need the correct cables for the new engine...hopefully they will come with. Then, steering cable needs to be re-attached to the new engine.
      24' Aqua Patio 115 Johnson 1990, 8hp 1986 Mariner Kicker
      Gunpowder River, Upper Chesapeake

      Comment



      • #4
        Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

        I did this not to long ago, found a 1995 21ft Suntracker with a bad motor, It had a 95 70HP Force (by Mercury Marine) motor. I had a 1985 75hp Mariner outboard. Long story short everything plug and played right together except the power tilt and trim which wasn't to hard to figure out. Being that's a 24 footer your looking at it should handle right up to 115hp or 120hp maybe more. My 21 ft says maximum 90hp on the data plate.

        ON EDIT: I used a cherry picker to do the swap on mine, no problems.

        Tony
        Last edited by Tony T.; July 5th, 2012, 04:35 PM. Reason: extra post
        1998 10' Buster Boat
        1995 21' Suntracker Fishin Barge/75hp Mariner

        Comment



        • #5
          Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

          Pretty ez with the right equipment (as with any project)
          I changed a 115hp to a 110hp on mine by my self in a day (long one) using a stick steer Bobcat - Not the ideal unit but its what i had available-
          sigpic
          MY FISHIN BUDDY
          East Texas Redneck
          SEMPER FI
          USMC '67 - '70

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          • #6
            Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

            I've installed two 60 hp Merc motors by myself without a lift of any kind.(first one was stolen) It's all in the planning. That aside, a Mariner is a Mercury with a different paint scheme. All the controls will interchange. Most Force motors will hook up easily as well, but that's not a direction you want to go in. If you switch to another brand, such as Honda, Evinrude, Yamaha, etc., It will be more difficult as the ignition, tach, etc., may need to change as well.
            Ray

            Never take instruction from a guy with missing fingers.

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            • #7
              Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

              All great feedback! That helps a lot. I've pulled car motors before, but didn't think about the standard rental engine hoist probably isn't tall enough for a boat motor. I don't have the exact model of the motor, but the nadaguide.com site suggests the dry weight is less 200 pounds so I've got ways around that.

              I'm hoping the Mariner motor that's on the boat works out. The boat will be on a small lake 99% of the time. I live in a private lake community, and the motors aren't allowed to be too noisy.

              @MHawker, thanks for the extra tips on questions to ask the dealer about the motor. I doubt they will know much about it since they took the boat in on trade, but I think they have serviced it in the past some. The boat is on their dry lot, so I can't take it out for a spin, so I'll have to settle for just hearing it run. Another newb question...I assume they put a barrel of water under it to run the motor? any tips on what to look for (or do? or listen for?) in that environment.

              @Boss Hawg (and anyone else who served): Thank you for your service to our country!
              1997 Sun Tracker Party Barge Signature 25

              Comment



              • #8
                Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

                Yes hearing it run is ok, but have them do a compression test. Wont take all of 10 minutes and have them drop the lower gear oil and inspect it. It should be dark or look like 90 W, milky white ( white is water contamanation) to honey color can be a sign water is getting in, if its been used on the lake it can be a bit honey colored from air mixed in but not if its sat several days. Again its a very simple thing to do and it will tell you if you are going to have to make expensive repairs.

                On a set of muffs you cant tell if the water pump needs to be changed, the hose pressure will make it look ok or if the carbs need a rebuild or how much of the rings it has left. A on the water test is the very best way.

                More than likely its fine 2 strokes last for ever if treated right. And Mariners are good motors and most parts can still be found.

                Snickers I use a chain rachet and a old oak tree to change motors.
                sigpicJames & Deb

                Bad Dog

                If it aint broke your not having enough fun

                my 1988 Riviera Cruzer pontoon rebuild
                http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=526820

                Comment



                • #9
                  Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

                  Beings it is a dealer tell them you want a test drive before you buy it. You may not be able to drive it yourself but you will see how it runs and handles.

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                  • #10
                    Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

                    I've done one with an engine hoist.. Worked well.. Switching controls isn't that bad. If you have pulled auto engines, you can do this..
                    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

                    -Thomas Jefferson

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                    • #11
                      Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

                      Well, the boat I was looking at sold before I could get back to. Toons seem to sell fast here.

                      Looking at another on Sunday. newer Playbouy model with a 70 hp. Fingers crossed.
                      1997 Sun Tracker Party Barge Signature 25

                      Comment



                      • #12
                        Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

                        Its that time of the year.
                        sigpicJames & Deb

                        Bad Dog

                        If it aint broke your not having enough fun

                        my 1988 Riviera Cruzer pontoon rebuild
                        http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=526820

                        Comment



                        • #13
                          Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

                          The boat will be on a small lake 99% of the time. I live in a private lake community, and the motors aren't allowed to be too noisy.


                          I've heard that 4-stroke engines are much quieter than 2-strokes.........
                          24' Aqua Patio 115 Johnson 1990, 8hp 1986 Mariner Kicker
                          Gunpowder River, Upper Chesapeake

                          Comment



                          • #14
                            Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

                            Originally posted by newcomlr View Post
                            Looking at another on Sunday. newer Playbouy model with a 70 hp. Fingers crossed.
                            Playbuoy is now Avalon/Tahoe. They make nice boats!
                            2012 Tahoe 24' Fish-N-Fun Tritoon.
                            115 Merc 4 Stroke w/13.75 X 13 3 blade aluminum prop
                            Tow rig: The Galactica: 2004 F-250 w/V-10 Triton
                            http://www.boatus.org/onlinecourse/default.asp

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                            • #15
                              Re: How difficult is a motor swap? (Newbie)

                              Update: Didn't like the Playbouy boat that much and it would need the deck replaced.

                              Just bought a 25' Party Barge with all aluminum deck and a newer motor and nice trailer! Paid a bit more, but should be set for a while!
                              1997 Sun Tracker Party Barge Signature 25

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