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  1. #1
    Seaman
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Chico, CA
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    74

    Default BUYING A MOTOR: What to check BEFORE buying a Motor???

    So I found the boat I want to buy and am looking for some advice on how I can seriously check out the motor before purchasing it to make sure I don't get a "lemon".It is a 65HP MERC. "650 Four" outboard.The owner drifted into a "clay bar" in a lake and it damaged the prop. The owner then had to drive it all the way across the lake and said it was vibrating. Before I check the motor out - is there any other damage that may have happened from hitting the bottom or driving it with a broken prop? Any physical damage I should immediatley look for on the boat or motor?Since it has a damaged prop, there will be no way to go for a "test ride". I found an aluminum SOLAS PROP here on iboats for $85 which is a good deal considering I was quoted $200 from the local boat shop. I would really like to know what I can do to give the motor a thourogh inspection before I hand the cash over. I have a compression tester and will definitley check compression but don't know what it should be? I was told I should check the fluid? How do I do that? Is there anything else I should/can check? What about spark/electricity etc... Is there a test for that (aside from seeing if it sparks).What other things should I watch out for when buying a used outboard? THANKS IN ADVANCE TO ALL!!!

  2. #2
    Senior Chief Petty Officer
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    727

    Default Re: BUYING A MOTOR: What to check BEFORE buying a Motor???

    Hi,1. Prop shaft could be bent when the prop hit the "objekt" in the water.2. Compresion test: look for the psi about the same on all cylinders, it will at least tell if any cylinder(s) has (much) lower psi then the other cylinders.3. You can always bring muffs and garden house and connect it to lower unit water intakes with good water pressure. That way you can start the outboard and see if it starts and how it runs at idle RPM. If you take the prop away before you testrun it this way and then start and put in gear you will be able to see if the propshaft is rotating in a centered way and not making a larger circle. At least you will get an indication if the propshaft is reasonably straight. I guess you can hold something near the propshaft end while it is spinning and see if it stay in same distance to that "thing".4. Check the lower unit oil. The oil tend to be "milky" if water has been in lower unit and the outboard has been run.Water could enter the lower unit for example trough lower oil plug (bad seal or no seal under the plug) or sealing bad around the propshaft.5. Impeller: make sure there is water stream coming from the telltale. It could however be just a clogged telltale if no water is coming out so do not be to quick there.Anyway, if service status is unknown I would change to a new impellerkit if I where buying this outboard. It should be changed anyway in 2-3 year intervall.6. Depending on how long the outboard sat in "garage" after the prop accident it is possible it needs a carb overhaul also.7. If You buy it, new sparkplugs with correct gap can be a good investment also.It is probably more things You can check but above is what I was thinking of while typing this answer to You. Others will give You more advice also hopefully.Is it a 1972-1976 model You are interested in? Maybe You will find this site interesting then: http://www.oldmercs.com Good luck.

  3. #3
    Seaman
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Chico, CA
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    74

    Default Re: BUYING A MOTOR: What to check BEFORE buying a Motor???

    Hey I really appreciate the info but I have no idea how to do this!!! Is the where the water gets sucked in and out for the cooling etc???5. Impeller: make sure there is water stream coming from the telltale. It could however be just a clogged telltale if no water is coming out so do not be to quick there.Anyway, if service status is unknown I would change to a new impellerkit if I where buying this outboard. It should be changed anyway in 2-3 year intervall.Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Senior Chief Petty Officer
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Sweden
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    727

    Default Re: BUYING A MOTOR: What to check BEFORE buying a Motor???

    Hi,Telltale is a small hole, usually at the backside of the cowl and under the cowl. It is usually on the outboard metal part just under the cowl. A small water stream from this little hole indicate you have water in the cooling system and the impeller is pumping water.I do not know exactly where the telltale hole is on a Mercury 650 four. But the present owner will for sure know. Not all outboards has telltale.Water is sucked in from the lower unit, on both sides of lower unit, the water intakes. That is where You place the muffs over if you want to run the outboard on land with waterhouse as watersupply.

  5. #5
    Admiral
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Miami Fl
    Posts
    7,497

    Default Re: BUYING A MOTOR: What to check BEFORE buying a Motor???

    butteco - I have been following your posts over the past week or so and your passion to own a boat leaps from the screen. This forum has some of the most knowledgeable guys in the businees that you could ever imagine. This forum does not replace someone on the scene who has knowledge of boats and engines. You need to find someone to go with you to protect your interest as you pursue your quest to buy a boat. If not you are going to either get very lucky or get burned.

  6. #6
    Lieutenant Commander
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    1,626

    Default Re: BUYING A MOTOR: What to check BEFORE buying a Motor???

    My advice when ever buying a used engine is to run it in the water for at least 1/2 hour (hour is better) and then check the lower unit oil for water intrusion. Recently bought a used engine - lower unit oil looked good, good compression, ran great. Come to find later there is water intrusion into lower unit and am having trouble solving it - new seals didn't; appears to be corrosion of drive shaft affecting seal there. Just be warned there's more to it than appears at first glance.

  7. #7
    Seaman
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Chico, CA
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    74

    Default Re: BUYING A MOTOR: What to check BEFORE buying a Motor???

    Very good info - I have already made an appointment downtown - but wanted to check it out myself BEFORE spending the $80/hr to have it looked at!!!

  8. #8
    Petty Officer 2nd Class
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    121

    Default Re: BUYING A MOTOR: What to check BEFORE buying a Motor???

    ButteCo,I too have been following your posts; here's a little manuscript I've been working on that I hope will help people in your situation:USED SMALL POWERBOAT BUYING GUIDEI share with you my guide to purchasing a used powerboat. This guide is based on years of experience, and will save you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars, plus untold quantities of aggravation. Also, it will help ensure you obtain a safe, functional, and appropriate vessel.Every scenario described in this guide (perhaps with slight embellishments) has actually happened to me, to my dad, or to one of my brothers. I write from experience!Scope of this WorkThis guide applies to buying a well-used (10+ years old), small-to-medium sized, fiberglass or aluminum hull, 2-cycle outboard motor, and trailer for personal use (i.e., fishing or just cruising; not commercial use) from a private party; say a 14’ to 25’ v-hull or tri-hull, open bow or cuddy cabin, with a 30 or more hp, electric start outboard motor.This guide does NOT apply to buying from a dealer. It is unlikely you will find a small, older boat at a decent price from these guys. Plus, they are not nearly as motivated to sell as the average Joe who needs some dough!Although there is surely some overlap, this guide is not really meant to cover larger boats with inboard or inboard/outboard motors, any type of wooden boat (what are you, a Viking?), or various “specialized” (that is, “high-cost”) boats, such as:· Speedboats/jetboats/waterskiing boats ($$)· Bass boats ($$$)· Displacement hulls/commercial vessels ($$$$+)This guide applies to buying a boat touted as “mechanically sound” and “ready for use,” or possibly “needs cosmetic work only”; this guide does NOT cover—and you do not WANT—any “project” boats…you already have a job.This guide does not endorse any particular brand of motor or boat. There are plenty of web-based forums you can look to for that.Mental PreparationYou should start by formulating an excellent idea as to what style of boat you want, and what you want the boat to be capable of. For example, if you want a nice, wide-open stern for fishing, then don’t consider boats without this design. If you need it to carry six people, make sure it is so rated and equipped. Also, stay in your size and weight range. If you go too small, you won’t be able to take the boat 30 miles offshore like you were dreaming about. If you go too big, your tow vehicle may not be able to handle it. If you need to, find some buddies with various styles of boat similar to what you may be interested in and go out on the water with them. You must be really sure of what you are looking for in a boat.Buying a used boat is like buying a used car: First, NEVER EVER buy from a friend or relative; you will be tempted to bellyache to them about every little problem for ever-after. Also, it is possible that your “friend” simply wants you to “assume the payments” for “his” boat. Second, the seller will misrepresent the product and may lie, cheat, and swindle you as much as he can. This guide will help you to minimize such chicanery. Third, the seller will usually price the boat considerably higher than its true value; indeed, he may not even know its true value. Using this guide, YOU will know its true value.Buying a used boat is also a bit like buying a re-sale home:· There is a “best season” for buying; namely, early-to-mid-autumn, when the boat may have just been put up for storage and the seller is no longer thinking about that fishing trip this coming weekend, AND it is not too late for you to try it out on the water (if you so choose).· Location can affect the value; for example, boats that are inland may not get used as much, particularly in saltwater.· Do not be put off by a 25+ year old boat. Age is far less critical a factor than it is in buying something like a car. Outboards are built to aircraft tolerances, and can last 40-50 years if well-maintained. Hulls have actually gotten poorer in quality in recent years.· You will throw 25% to 50% of the buying price into the boat immediately after buying it, in order to get its condition up to your exacting standards.· You will throw 5% to 10% of the buying price PER YEAR into the boat EACH YEAR that you own it. Better get a second job (preferably at a marine store)!· You might look at five or ten boats before you find the “right one.” This is OK; in fact, it is healthy to “get around” in this fashion.In short, know what you want, know where to look for it, know how to look at it, and, most of all, do not be in a hurry.A Few Words About Shopping AroundEvery serious buyer and seller knows about the “trader”-type, targeted advertisement magazines. But don’t discount the newspaper or even the small, local circulars people tuck into your screen door—these limited-circulation forums reduce buyer competition and are often used by sellers for a week or two before they decide to pony up for the more expensive advertising sources.I’ve never bought a boat in an online auction; frankly, I don’t know how you could properly inspect the boat and arrive at a fair bid unless the boat happened to be in or near your hometown.If you see an ad for a boat that interests you, don’t cross it off your list just because the listed price is far higher than you think it should be. In fact, my advice is to ignore the listed price. You aren’t going to pay more than the boat is worth, no matter what the seller may think. After reading this guide, you will be enabled to make a fair offer…if the seller wants more than that, let some other sucker buy it.Of course, there’s always the boat you casually spy sitting by the curb with the “For Sale” sign on it…this often signifies a boat that the seller has had for awhile, and is desperate to get rid of!Finally, prowl yard sales! If you see an interesting-looking boat in the side yard, ask to have a look…these people are in “Spring cleaning” mode and you just might get lucky! Before You Leave the HouseYou have found an ad in the paper (or other source), and are ready to call. Prepare to spend at least 15 to 30 minutes on the phone with the seller. Try to get ahold of the principal seller/owner of the boat, not the spouse, mother-in-law or 8-year old daughter. Get as much info as possible regarding make, model and year of boat, motor and trailer. If the guy doesn’t know all that stuff, it doesn’t kill the deal, it just means it’s probably not his boat (e.g., “it was my Uncle’s”), and he won’t know diddly-squat else about the boat’s true history or condition. Get the serial number of the motor, even if he has to go looking for it.Ask if the boat and trailer are currently registered; if not, how long since it was? This will be your first clue as to whether the boat has been subjected to that bane of boats: idleness!Ask the guy if he’s got a manufacturer’s shop manual, or even an aftermarket (Clymer or Seloc) manual, for the outboard. If he does, this probably means he takes care of the motor. If he doesn’t, ask if he’s got a regular, professional mechanic (NOTE: this does NOT include “my son-in-law who takes care of it for me”). If the answers to these questions are “no,” this is a big red flag. If the guy says “I don’t need a manual because I’m a mechanic,” then what he really means is “I’m a hack and I have maliciously screwed up this motor in countless, cruel ways.”Do ask over the phone about the seller’s opinion of the condition of the boat (mechanicals, appearance, etc.); that way, you can match up what he SAYS with what you SEE later…an instant check to see if the guy is a shyster (or maybe just a slob).Ask why he is selling. You want to hear something that equates to “I need money and I need it now” (e.g., “alimony’s due” or “Super Bowl is soon and I need that bigscreen”). This is another reason autumn is a good time to buy…Christmas presents are expensive, and people need cash! Another good (for you) reason is desperation (“we are moving to Tucson NEXT WEEK and I’ve got to unload this thing NOW”) or even spite (“I caught my husband with that bimbo for the last time…he’s a tax cheat and has everything in my name, so I’m selling all his stuff while he’s away on business…by the way, do you need golf clubs? Do you like Corvettes?”). You DO NOT want to hear “it was Dad’s boat and he just passed away…oh, the memories I have of our fishing trips together.” This seller will be insulted when you start pointing out all the things you find wrong with sainted ol’ Dad’s pride and joy. Another thing you don’t want to hear is some variation of “I need the space,” such as the retired guy who says, “I’ve got too many boats already.” This is NOT a motivated seller; he couldn’t care less whether he sells it today, five years from now, or ever.One reason for selling I’ve heard lately is “we’re moving to a condo and the association doesn’t allow boats in the driveway.” This guy is obviously not a serious and caring boater, but rather a “weekend mariner.” A true “salt” would have planned for this in advance and either not moved there or found a place to store his boat elsewhere.Ask what the fuel capacity of the boat is, the fuel:oil mixture ratio, and whether the fuel in the boat is “fresh” (i.e., less than about 3 months old). If he can’t tell you any of this information, he is probably not the principal operator/owner of the boat.Ask if he’s got a barrel or large trash can to make up a “test-tank” for the motor (note: a flush bell is NOT ENOUGH…more on this later).Ask the guy just a few other detail-type questions to gauge his knowledge of and attention to his rig: What is the weight of the boat? The trailer tongue weight? Tire size and suspension type? A true and caring owner should be able to immediately and accurately answer ANY question you can imagine about his vessel.Still on the phone, ask what the boat comes with (i.e., VHF, fishfinder, radio, GPS and/or other electronics; PFD’s, fire extinguisher, flares and other safety items; cover, bimini top, paddles, fenders, fishing gear, anchor, etc.). WRITE IT ALL DOWN and stick the list in your back pocket. Do not mention ANY of these items again until after the negotiations. You will pull that list out later and demand these items AFTER you have arrived at a final price for the boat, motor and trailer.Ask the guy if he’s got an hour or two to show you the boat (yes, it WILL take that long). An astute seller will now know that you are not just a “looky-loo,” but are a serious potential buyer. If he says “I’ve got tee-time at 9:30” or some such thing, set up another appointment for when he WILL have time. Do not worry that he might sell the thing to someone else before your appointment…you wouldn’t have had time to properly assess the boat anyway. Remember, you are not in a hurry; it might take weeks (or even months) to find the right boat.Ask the guy if he’d be willing to take you out for a water test if you like what you see. ANY HESITATION AT ALL to this request is an immediate negotiation-killer—the guy knows there is something seriously wrong with this boat.Ask him if he would take a personal check; this will put dollar signs in his eyes, and he just might say yes! Don’t be insulted if the guy says he will only take a cashier’s check (personally, I wouldn’t take anything less!). If he says no, counter with “would you take one just for a deposit?” Most reasonable people would say yes to this; however, if he says no, get ready to stop at the ATM on your way over for about 1% to 2% of the value of the boat (be warned: you might never see this money again).Finally, get the seller to specifically state something to the effect that “this boat, trailer and motor is ready for use as is.” This could become very important later.Now, find a website (or call an outboard dealer) to see if the motor serial number jives with the model, year and hp he told you it was. Also, find out what the idle and WOT rpm’s are supposed to be for this motor. Next, go to one of the boat valuation sites (I will not endorse any in particular), to get an idea of the value of the package. If the asking price is way off, this may be a red flag—depending on the motivation level. The best asking price is “make an offer;” this means that the guy has no idea what the boat is worth; he wants YOU to tell him. Also, he can’t get insulted when you lowball him.You now have a “starting price,” which may or may not be in the same ballpark as the figure the seller is asking. You will make appropriate deductions from your starting price based on what you observe later. You are almost ready to go look at the boat. Get your tools together:· Tape measure· Flashlight· Bathroom scale (300+ lb capacity)· Battery quick-charger/starter OR jumper cables OR a good battery· Basic tool kit (wrenches/screwdrivers/sockets)· Compression tester (cheap, yet CRITICAL!!!)· WD-40 (in case you need to free something up)· Camera (with film or, better yet, digital)· Checkbook and ID OR ATM card· Shop towel or rags (for wiping your hands)Some optional “tools:”· Fuel can with a gallon or two of FRESH 50:1 mix gasoline/2-cycle oil· An empty fuel can equal to the fuel capacity of the boat, and some funnels (if you have any reason to believe the fuel in the boat is NOT fresh)· Large plastic trash can/barrel (for the test tank, if seller doesn’t have one)· A “witness.” Good witnesses include a good friend or a sibling. Poor witnesses include children, spouses, significant others, etc. The witness’ job is to look and listen, and not to speakAnd wear working clothes; you will be getting dirty.Inspecting the BoatAn obvious first check: make sure that the boat is properly represented. If the seller said it was a 115hp but it is really a 75hp, or that its an 18’ but really is a 16’, be very wary of the seller’s capability for honesty…the boat still may be worth buying, but be sure to adjust your starting price accordingly, and that it is still the type/size of boat you want.Does the motor fit the boat? The anti-cavitation plate should be about level with the bottom of the hull when the motor is trimmed fully down.Was the boat really used “twice a week, with no problems” like the guy says, or has it been sitting idle for years? If any of the following applies, you don’t know WHEN the boat was last run:· Seller can’t find the plug, keys, or registration/paperwork· Trailer tires are deflated· Battery drained/dead· No fire extinguisher or discharged· No hold-down straps in use (they’ve been “poached” for other uses)A handy tip: if there are flares on the boat, check their expiration date. In the absence of proof to the contrary, assume the boat was last run about 2-3 years before that date.Hull:Check the hull for the proper registration stickers and call numbers. (Note: No call numbers is a potential sign that this boat is stolen!) Get under the boat with your flashlight and check for unrepaired cracks/holes. Look also for repaired areas. Some small repairs—especially along the keel and/or chine line(s)—are to be expected; any very large repairs, or roundish-shaped repairs in a smooth section of the underside (i.e., an obvious “staving in”) and you are GOING HOME NOW because you do not want this delaminating hull. If he’s got some of those “keel saver” doo-hickey’s on a boat of this type, they probably are covering up irreparable crush damage. Check for significant hooks and rockers. If you see these, go home…this boat will never handle right.Trailer:Always perform a thorough inspection of the trailer. It is unbelievable how many people give only passing notice to trailer condition when buying a used boat. What are you planning to do, put this 2000+ lb behemoth on your roof-rack?While you are under the boat with your flashlight, check the following on the trailer:· What kind of condition is it in? Does it really fit the boat? How poor a fit is it? If it is only a matter of adjusting rollers and bunk boards, this is no big deal. If it is obviously NOT the right trailer for this boat (e.g., trailer 3’ shorter than the boat), OR if it has gaping rust-holes, deduct about $200-$1000 (depending on size and severity) from your starting price, because you will need significant repairs…and maybe even a whole different trailer…very soon.· Is the axle bent? If so, deduct about $150-$200.· Springs; if they are cracked, bent, or off the shackles this is about $75 deduction per spring.It is very possible that any of these trailer-related defects may cause you to want to walk. This is OK, and it depends on their severity and just how “ready for use” you need this rig to be (you do own a boatyard, right?).Get out your scale and verify the tongue weight. Is it appropriate to the size of boat, indicating a well-balanced and well-matched trailer / boat? Can your hitch handle it? If the boat is relatively small, hoist the tongue by hand and move the boat around. Does the trailer “feel” well-balanced? Are there flat spots on the tires indicating long-time idleness?Get up and check the following on the trailer (note, any problems here also indicate the boat hasn’t been used in ages):· Tires, wheels and bearings. If it needs new tires, deduct $25 to $75 per pair. Severely bent wheels and/or seized bearings are worth about $25-$75 per pair.· Hitch. Get the guy to hitch up (his vehicle) to show that the hitch and jack work. A new jack is about $30-$75; a new hitch (including welding) is about $75-$100.· Lights. Get the guy to run the trailer lights from his vehicle. If they don’t work, that’s another $25-$30. If he doesn’t have the right hookup, then you know this isn’t his boat OR he hasn’t used the boat since he got that vehicle.· Winch. Unwind a few turns and wind back up. Check all positions of the ratchet-locking mechanism. If the winch is busted, that’s another $25-$75.· License plate: Is it there? Does it have proper registration stickers? IMPORTANT INTERJECTION: You will have been at the seller’s place for only 20 to 30 minutes by now, and he will already know that you know what you are doing. He shouldn’t dare try to BS you from this point forward.Motor:If you have received ANY SIGN that the boat has sat unused, suggest replacing the fuel with what you brought, as the fuel in the boat is most certainly stale. Offer to take his old fuel off his hands (use it in your lawnmower).Make sure battery is good; if not, pull out your jumper cables (or other provision for electricity). Note: if battery is NOT fully charged and operational, assume it’s trash and deduct about $50 to $75.Take the cowling off. If there are cobwebs and such in there, this boat has sat idle for a LONG time. Remove the spark plugs and inspect them; they should look used (dry, blackish or grayish carbon deposits; a slight “tanning” discoloration on porcelain), but not fouled (wet, oily mess) or burned (whitish/grayish and/or a “corroded” look). If they are brand new and clean as a whistle, this is a sign that the seller may be trying to hide something. Look inside the cylinders with your flashlight; make sure there is no significant scoring of the cylinder walls. Check compression on each cylinder. If you don’t know how, learn! I say again, CHECK COMPRESSION! You want no more than a 10-15 psi range among all cylinders, and of course you want a significant positive reading on each cylinder (this varies from model to model, but is usually between 75 and 125 psi). If compression is not good, RUN AWAY NOW!If electricity is good but you can’t crank to check compression, you might be able to hand crank with a pull-rope. It may be a wiring or starter issue, but you CANNOT buy an outboard without checking compression. If the starter “hums” or “clicks” but won’t engage, deduct about $100 and assume it needs a new starter. If the starter will do nothing, assume the starter is bad AND that it needs a new solenoid (about $25) AND a new harness ($75-$150).Inspect fuel lines for obvious leaks; if you see any, assume they will need replacing (deduct $25 plus your time). Check carburetors for fuel pouring out of the vent holes…if so, assume they will need a complete rebuild (and deduct about $25-$50 per carb).Check the overall condition of the engine wiring…broken insulation and green corrosion means lots of YOUR time brushing and taping and/or replacing…deduct accordingly. It also means this guy didn’t look at the engine much, didn’t use water-displacer regularly on the engine block, and probably didn’t lube the rest of the boat and trailer regularly, either.A note about the wiring harness: galvanic corrosion is a problem on all boats; any boat over 10 years old—especially if it has been used in saltwater—will probably have rolls and rolls of electrical tape wrapped around the battery cables, harness and engine wiring. This is acceptable and is actually a sign that the owner cares!Check the controls…steer hard over full left to right to left again. It should be smooth and responsive, with little play, and a full turning arc to both sides. The steering cable end should show a coating of lube (and no rust!) when exposed. A new steering cable will cost $75-$100 plus LOTS of crappy labor. Check the shifter and throttle. RAM them back and forth with some force (pretend you are in a near-collision at sea, because some day you might be!) and check at the engine that the linkages are good. New control cables are $25 each plus LOTS of crappy labor. If the control box will not move the cables, this could be worth upwards of $150 to$200…and you will have to disconnect the linkage(s) and move them manually at the motor for any further testing.Check the condition of the propeller. A recondition will run $50-$75, and a new aluminum prop will be $75-$125. Stainless steel props cannot be reconditioned…a new S/S prop could range from $150-$500.See if the skeg is broken off; if so, it can be replaced, but this is a $75 to $150 job.IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t be surprised to find that the boat has been found to actually be worthless by this point! At least half of all used boats will make it no further than this point in your inspection.Drain JUST A SMALL AMOUNT (maybe a half-ounce) of the lower unit oil into a paper cup or similar receptacle. If it is dark bluish or blackish, and not foamy, this is good. Check it for metal shavings (NOT a good thing to see!) If it is grayish and foamy, this means there is water leakage in the lower unit…and it might be time to WALK (unless you’ve got some damn good tools at home and are prepared to spend $300 or more if it needs a whole new lower unit). If the lower unit oil is clean, tan and “new-looking,” then this, like new spark plugs, is a sign that the owner is trying to hide something (unless he just replaced the lube for winter lay-up…which then turns this into a GOOD sign that the owner takes care of the motor). If there is no lower unit oil (I’ve seen this!), WALK NOW…heaven knows how much damage has been done to the entire drive train.Now, break out your barrel and tilt the lower unit into it (a good time to check condition of power trim, if applicable…non-working power trim could be a deal buster, as it could cost thousands to repair/replace); fill with water to a few inches above the anti-cavitation plate and you have a test tank! (A flush fitting is NOT enough…you must put some strain on the prop AND you want to submerge the lower unit to check for leaks!).Prime the fuel system (if bulb won’t get hard, deduct $25 for new external fuel lines) and start the motor…judge for yourself how “hard” or “easy” it is to start…everyone has their own feeling for what they can tolerate from a cold engine. After about 5-10 seconds, the water pump should spit a good stream of water out the tell-tale…if this does not occur, or it looks pathetically weak, it may simply need a new impeller or a flush with “salt-away”; however, it is TIME TO WALK…you DO NOT KNOW how long the water pump has been inactive, and what damage has been sustained by the engine in the past as a result.Idle the motor for about 5 minutes. Ensure the motor will shift into forward and reverse (and that the prop follows suit); rev up to check the throttle, but to no more than about 2500 rpm—and then only briefly…you don’t want to destroy the guy’s motor! (Note: If the boat has no (working) tachometer, deduct $50…this is a MUST HAVE). Look into the carburetor throats to ensure that the throttles are all moving synchronously.Judge how well the motor idles…this is another “subjective” thing; however, a severe lope suggests a spark problem…be ready to do a spark test, and to deduct about $50 per bad spark for new coil(s).Shut down and immediately restart…it should start EASY this time. Let the motor idle for another 5-10 minutes, then shut down. Is there a bunch of fuel floating in your test tank (that didn’t come from identifiable leaks in the fuel lines)? If so, there could be a carb, manifold, or spark problem.Interior:Let the motor cool for 20-30 minutes as you check the condition of the interior of the boat. You will have to be subjective as to the value of the “appearance” and condition of most interior items. Do note that boats over 10 years old will invariably have “modifications” or replacements (especially on wear items like seats, hatches, doors, and carpeting)…if these things were replaced with high-quality goods installed properly, you can be sure someone once cared about this boat; conversely, if it was all done with duct tape and used lumber scraps, you know this boat was treated like a Mustang Ranch worker. Take this time to snap many, many photos of the boat from all different angles, so that the seller can’t take things off the boat later and claim they weren’t there.NOTE: your witness can be taking the pictures while you are inspecting; this can save you some time.Is all the hardware (cleats, railings, windshield, etc.) well and firmly attached? Are the seats good and sturdy? Seats take a pounding and must hold up. Busted seats will cost anywhere from $25 to $200 each to replace, depending on type and function.Is the flooring good and solid all over? Soft, spongy spots in the floor are an absolute deal-killer on a supposedly “ready to use” boat; it could be that you simply need to replace a few small sections of floor over a weekend…but it could also mean that the entire floor, stringers, subdeck foam, etc. needs replacing (i.e., weeks or months of work, potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars). DO NOT TAKE THE CHANCE!!!Does the electrical gadgetry (lights, horn, radios, bilge, etc.) work? Get up under the dashboard and check out the wiring, as any boat this age will likely have been at least partially rewired due to galvanic corrosion of the original wiring. Does the electrical system use fused switch panels, buss bars, color-coded wiring, proper weather-proof connectors, and wire ties to bundle wiring up neatly (an excellent sign of proper care by the owner)? Or does it look like a big tangle of multi-colored spaghetti (75% of used boats)? Improper electricals is a hassle, because you will constantly be draining the battery with stray currents. It is also UNSAFE because you don’t want your navigation lights going out on you, or a fire, or whatever. You must adjudicate a deduction based on how much rewiring you think YOU will be doing (complete, of course! You are an electrician, aren’t you?). Things to Re-Check:Now the motor has cooled and it is time to re-check a few items. Are the spark plugs fouled now? If so, this indicates a problem in the fuel system. Drain another half ounce of lower unit oil and check it for foam and metal shavings. These items may not be killers, but they do mean the boat is NOT “ready for use” without some work (and/or money) on your part.By now, at least four out of every five used boats will have “missed the cut.”On-the-Water TestingThere is one very important thing you don’t yet know…will it float? This is what your witness is really for; again get the seller to reiterate that this boat is “ready for use as is.” This way, if the boat goes straight to the bottom (or explodes, or etc.) during your on-the-water test, you (with your witness) will have a good case when you are sued in small claims court by the seller.It is best to take your on-the-water test immediately; however, if scheduling dictates that it must wait for another day, offer a small, nonrefundable, token deposit in an attempt to hold the boat until then. Few boats will interest you enough for a test drive…don’t let one slip away to save 20 bucks.If at all possible, take your test in the place where you anticipate using the boat. If you are planning to ride the chop of a windy bay or the rolling ocean, do not be fooled by the smooth ride of the local lake.Note that this is not a course in piloting or boat safety. I am only going to discuss “transaction-related” things to look for during your test spin.It is OK to bring guests on your test. In fact, I recommend it. If you will be sometimes boating alone, but sometimes with some fishing buddies or family members, it is best to test the performance of the boat both lightly and heavily loaded. Just be sure that, like the witness you brought to the inspection, they keep their eyes and ears open and their mouths shut.That goes for you, too, potential buyer…the seller may want to start “buddying up” now because he feels a close coming on, or simply because he enjoys boating, or because this may be his last sentimental voyage on a favorite vessel. Don’t get all emotionally clouded now…you’ve still got your most important work ahead of you!Before launching, get the tongue weight again, with no one aboard and with all gear stowed on the boat. Make a mark with a pencil where the bow roller/stop touches the bow, so that you can ensure the boat re-loads to exactly the same spot (you will check tongue weight again later).Does the boat unload safely and easily (another check that the trailer is well-matched and properly adjusted)?Does the boat have proper idle rpm’s? If not, there may be a fuel or spark problem, or the idle may simply be set incorrectly.Does the boat shift and accelerate properly? Does it get up on plane OK? Does it have the kind of speed you expect? If not, it may be under-powered, weighed down with 800lbs of water trapped under the flooring, or under-propped.Are the WOT rpm’s right? If high, the boat is under-propped. If low, the boat is either over-propped or the throttle cable is not adjusted properly.Is the boat stern-heavy (porpoises), bow-heavy (digs in) or listing badly to one side? Does it turn and handle well? Can any of these problems be corrected simply by shifting some things around inside the boat? Or by fiddling with tilt and trim? If these problems cannot be easily corrected, this is a sign of a poor (or at least, inadequate to the task) boat design, a mismatched motor, water under the floor in one or more spots, etc.Really put the boat through its paces. Does it handle the way you expect? Does it take wake and waves OK? Is the comfort level acceptable? Do you see anything that will prevent you using the boat the way you envisioned (e.g., inadequate storage areas, stern obstructions that prevent good fishing room, no place to securely fasten a trolling or kicker motor, nowhere to put a ski tow, sits too low in the water to go offshore, etc.). This is the point where you—and only you—have to decide, “is this boat truly right for me?”Be sure to keep the boat out for at least half an hour…you need time to see if the boat takes on water. Check the bilge pump…one day it will save you or your boat.Does the boat re-load onto the trailer safely and easily? After re-trailering the boat (remember your pencil mark), and draining anything you can out of the bilge area, get the tongue weight again. Any significant increase suggests that water was taken on in a place it can’t easily escape from (e.g., under the floorboards).Few boats indeed—perhaps one in ten—will make it far enough for the next step…Making an Offer, and Getting What’s YoursYou have ensured that the boat is appropriate for you. You have fully inspected and tested the boat, motor and trailer. You have made appropriate deductions from your starting price based on all the things you found wrong. Surprisingly, the boat is still worth money.Now, offer the seller 5% to 10% less than the lesser of: your properly-deducted starting price OR his asking price. This gives the seller bargaining room, yet ensures that you are getting—and offering—a fair deal. Don’t worry about offending the guy if your offer is 25% (or even 50%) less than the asking price. This isn’t personal, it is business. If he won’t sell for around your offer, then look elsewhere; you will find a better deal.You’ve negotiated the final price. You’ve made your offer. You and the seller have bargained to an appropriate price. Now, if the seller has stated he will accept a personal check, write it out, but don’t hand it over yet…NOW is the time to get all that “extra stuff” from the list in your back pocket. If the seller hems and haws over this, remind him that he said over the phone all that stuff was included…after all, it’s not YOUR fault he forgot about that stuff during price negotiations. This could be quite a treasure trove of nickel-and-dime stuff that you don’t want to buy at new prices. Besides, unless the guy has a fleet of other boats to absorb this stuff, he’s going to have no use for it anyway.NOTE: If the “extra stuff” amounts to a couple of moth-eaten PFD’s and a broken oar, don’t break the deal over it.If the seller will only take a cashier’s check, then hand over a deposit (usually 1-2% of the value), preferably a check but cash will do, to hold the boat. Get your cashier’s check (this might take a few days, depending what day of the week it is); then demand the “extra stuff” before handing that over.Finally, don’t leave until you are assured that the title looks legit and has the seller’s name on it. If you take possession of stolen property, you could be in big trouble.After the CloseIF there is ever a time to “buddy-buddy” with the seller, it is now. This is when you find out about all those little annoyances that escaped your eye (“I forgot to tell you, the light bulb on the speedometer is burnt out”). Also, you get some good tips (“I used to take this rig off to such-and-such a secret spot just before high tide and catch monster stripers on this-or-that”). You might even get really lucky and get more than you bargained for (“heck, I haven’t gone fishing since the kids moved out…why don’t you just take these rods, too”).Now, fix up those minor problems and get out there and enjoy your boat!

  9. #9
    Seaman
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Chico, CA
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: BUYING A MOTOR: What to check BEFORE buying a Motor???

    EXCELLENT INFO ! WILL DO!! THANKS A MILLION but I CAN'T FIND A BLUEBOOK PRICE FOR THE HULL I WANT!!! It's a 1968 CARLSON !Where should I look to find the bluebook value?

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