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The Fishing Nerd

Taking a chance on an older boat - I/O versus outboard

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So this is the year I've finally resolved to buying a boat. I've strongly considered it in years past, but one thing or another got in the way. Mid-life crisis came calling, and I decided to answer.

 

Problem is, my budget isn't the greatest. So I'm left looking at two categories of boat - one in the recently repowered with older hull, and the other being newer hull (~12-15 years old) but power just as old.

 

Some great boats fit into that range (the 15-20k mark). It's not even April, and I've already missed out on two boats that had newer power (both outboard). There's not a huge selection of those to begin with, and they move fast.

 

So now I'm resolved to looking at the boats with older power. It's hard to get a handle on what a repowering of some of these boats would cost, should I decide to get a hull in really good shape that I like but with a motor that I know is reaching the end of it's lifespan. Also hard to know exactly how to judge what's an 'old' motor - some people say to go by the # of hours, others swear by compression numbers, and a few people just insist that when a motor is up in years, it's just about junk.

 

The two boats I'm looking at now are both great hulls - one a Pursuit, the other a Grady-White. Both unfortunately have older power - the Grady was repowered in 2001 with a Johnson FICHT outboard (which I did a few searches on and I found everything from 'this motor STINKS' to 'look at pictures of my explosion'). The pursuit has a 98 Volvo Penta I/O with about 500 hours on it. I've spoken to two marine mechanics and gotten completely different opinions from them; one says it's easier to do anything with the I/O so as a result, anything short of a full rebuild should be cheaper. The other says that it's easy enough to just negotiate down the cost of the Grady, and factor in that a repower would run around 10k to just scrap the old motor, and replace it with a new one (and newer controls/gauges).

 

Basically, in my own long winded kind of way - which would you prefer if you were picking up a boat with older power, an I/O or an outboard? I know the conventional wisdom would be 'whichever was maintained/cared for more meticulously' but I'm looking at boats for sale, where every one was owned and babied by a little old lady from Pasadena.

 

Any help is as always, greatly appreciated!

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tough decision. I like I/O because It is easy for me to work on them and I save alot of money that way. Outboards are a bit more technical to work on. especially the newer stuff. Post the links to the adds I think we will need more info.

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tough decision. I like I/O because It is easy for me to work on them and I save alot of money that way. Outboards are a bit more technical to work on. especially the newer stuff. Post the links to the adds I think we will need more info.

 

Pete-

 

I'm on my work computer so I don't have the links handy, I'll have to post later (one of them was at a local marina, but I'll post a look-alike that I found here).

 

I'm pretty handy and am no stranger to car engine work, so on that hand I'm more comfortable with an inboard. I figure there are other advantages - like the fact that it's going to lower the center of gravity of the boat as opposed to an outboard, so there should be some inherent stability advantage there, along with it possibly being quieter. Plus, I miss having a big car engine. I've been damned to big family car driving, where the SUV is big but the engine aint. I miss having a 350 big block revving up. So there's that.

 

It's the stern drive where I lose all comfort - I know zero about them, and unlike the outboard, which tilts up and out of the water (I'm planning on keeping it in a slip), it's going to sit there in the saltwater and corrode away. I'm sure the zincs and anti-fouling paint help, but metal versus the elements, the elements always win. I looked up the prices of rebuild out drives and nearly needed smelling salts. How the hell can both the stern drive AND the engine cost that much separately?

 

I wouldn't feel the least bit at home with an outboard at first, but I'm sure I'd get to know it. I just don't know how practical doing any of my own work on it would be. But, it does seem a lot less exposed (only in the water when running, all the water drains out). And, something just seems easier about ripping the whole damn thing out should it go south.

 

Also don't know if there's a relative difference in lifespan between the two. Are 400 hours the same on an outboard and an I/O, given both of them were cared for the same way? I would assume it's harder on the I/O, but I'm not sure how an outboard engine runs and what's considered sacrificial in there.

 

Here are two examples of what I'm looking at:

 

 

Pursuit with Volvo Penta I/O

http://www.***************/boats/1996/Pursuit-2460-Denali-2274757/Mattituck/NY/United-States

 

Sea Hawk with an Evinrude FICHT

http://www.****************/forum/showthread.php?t=154330

 

(the second link is just an example of the Grady 208 Adventure I saw with the same FICHT engine, which seemed like an odd combo given the hull was a 94 and the engine was an 02).

 

 

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Guess the links to those sites are banned - but the Pursuit 2460 is a popular combo, just about any search you do for a 96-97 2460 will yield a Volvo Penta (a few will turn up with Mercruisers, but those aren't the ones I'm looking at).

 

That FICHT engine just has too many horror stories for me to want any part of it. The mechanic says to just negotiate it for the book value of the hull and trailer, but I don't feel like starting off boat ownership by spending time dumping an engine and starting from scratch.

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I've had both and I prefer the outboard. My Chris Craft Seahawk WAC was a 230 hp Chevy V8 with I/O. Loved the boat, motor performed great, fairly easy to do routine maintenance, but when the time came to change out the starter and a few other lower engine parts it was a nightmare. Eight hours to do the starter due to poor access, and the design of the areas around the engine had a lot to do with it, but after that I swore I'd never own another I/O. It reminded me of working on my old VW, much easier to pull the motor if you had to do anything major. I'm to the point where I don't want a boat that has a bilge, so that's the direction I'm headed.

 

Open the engine cover on the I/O boat and see how easy it is to reach all the areas you might need to get to (starter, oil filter, hoses, belts, freeze plugs, spark plugs, bilge pumps, battery/ starter cables, etc) and keep in mind you'll be handling tools in those spaces. Enjoy the boat, whatever you get.

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Unless you are really set on it, stay away from an I/O. The bellows, outdrive issues are bad enough, then yoiu have exhaust risers and other parts that go after 5 years or so. The outboard with minimal maintenance is good for 1500 hours with periodic water pump and fluid replacements. Had one for 21 years, no issues, second boat 4 years no issues, although the second engine is the new technology. After plugs and filters, I am lost under that cowling. Both engines were Merc outboards, secon is Optimax. To replace the outboard you are looking at least $8000 for a 115 HP Optimax.

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I woud go with the outboard. l think some of the volvo outdrives had counter rotating props. Cost some money to fix and you have to get two props when you hit something. I had i/o before. I think that the Merc. outdrive is the best and easy to get parts. The outdrives are a pain in the -ss The gimble bearings go, the gimble boot go and if the seal lets water in the boat can sink. The impeller should be changed every year in the water pump. (lower unit) or engine starts to over heat at top end half way through the second season. I have outboards now. I think they are much better. If you have a good boat you buy another motor

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I've had experience with two I/O boats. Both used but in good shape to begin with. No issues with the lower units with mine. The big issue with both was the cooling system/manifolds. After trying several solutions, including acid baths, there was no choice but to buy new manifolds. Without a sweet water system, they closed down with rust and overheated the engines. Not fun with the engine seized and drifting east into the Atlantic. The last time was the last time. I didn't want to use the boat for fear of being afloat and floating away.

 

They were both small block Chevy V8, OMCs. Replacement was not an easy chore with difficult access, and rusted studs through the manifold into the block. Several broke off because the threads were seized. Required EZ Outs to remove them. Lots of bruised knuckles and cuss words.

 

My current boat has an outboard. Much easier maintenance, no cast iron to rust, much easier access, less of the deck space taken up by the engine compartment.

 

Do as you wish. I made my decision and have never regretted it.

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Yeah, I've solicited opinions elsewhere and here, and it looks like the verdict is almost unanimous - since I'm going to keep the boat in the water and I'm using it in saltwater, an outboard is the way to go.

 

Damn shame, because that Pursuit was very attractive for the price, but I don't feel like finding out just how expensive replacing that drivetrain might be.

 

Thanks all for the feedback - a lot of good stuff there!

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Stay away from the volvo outdrive, night mare to work on(unless you like working on watches!!) parts are way too expensive, props are expensive and any work done on them requires special tools from volvo. Go for the boat with the old outboard and just repower with a nice new high tech outboard.

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my experiences with outdrives are not good ones- although fw cooled v-8's are fine. give me a big outboard anytime. i've bought a couple of older quality hulls off lake winni and repowered with new ob's and i believe i got the best of both worlds- a quality non salt used boat and new power.

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i prefer outboards. the year is not as important as the compression tests. you could have an engine 20 years old from ny that was only used 10 times a year but has 140 psi on all cylinders. on the other hand you could have a 5 year old engine that was from florida and was used by a retired guy who went fishing every day 20 miles offshore. it might have 80psi on 4 cylinders and 30 on the other 2. to give you an idea i sold my 20' cc 1978 robalo with a 2001 johnson oceanpro 130 for 4000 last year. there are deals out there you just have to find them. espically with high gas prices people will be looking to get rid of their boats.

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Had a friend with an older Grady with an I/O Volvo straight 6 in it. The engine got tired, and apparently could justify the rebuild cost. The problem was that when he started looking at a re-power job, only V-6 engines were available. - and they would not fit. He ultimately traded in the excellent hull with a very tired engine. He ended up taking a loss. Would not have such an issue with an outboard.

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There are a ton of great boats available for your price range. I am on my second Grady with Yamaha power and I paid around your price range for a 92 hull with 2000 power. Be patient and you will find a cherry.

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