View Full Version : suggestions for buying a boat in winter.

01-17-2011, 11:04 AM
Any ideas on how to protect yourself when purchasing "used" as much as possible, when a test drive isn't possible due to frozen lakes.....other than waiting for spring.
I know to get in checked out at a mechanic, but specifically, what should be looked for beyond general stuff like compression tests and making sure the electrical components are functional.

01-17-2011, 11:35 AM
Fire it up on a garden hose/fake a lake and make sure the engine runs good and doesn't leak any water. You don't want to run the prop very long out of water due to damaging the strut bushing and/or the shaft seal if it's not a dripless seal, but while it's running, pop it into gear fwd and reverse briefly to make sure it shifts fine. Inspect the prop extra close since you won't know by "feel" if it's out of balance or damaged.
Probably the only things you can't test without putting it in the water is the transmisison operation under load and any minor out of balance/alignment of the shaft/strut/prop which would easily reveal itself under load in the water.

01-17-2011, 11:52 AM
ditto the fake a lake - also pull the dipstick - make certain the oil is clean - do it both before and after the engine is run - if the oil looks milky after the boat has been run - go find another boat - you've got issues...

01-17-2011, 12:30 PM
Don't forget, if you test it this way, you will need to drain the water out of the block and exhuast manafolds to prevent it from freezing.

01-17-2011, 01:00 PM
A lot will depend on how old the boat is. I mostly upgrade to newer boats and will look closely to see if the engine or trans has been apart. On any boat with less than 400 hours there really shouldn't be any reason to crack open either unless something has gone seriously wrong. If you see gasket sealer or nicks/scratches on any of the engine/trans bolts you'll know it's been apart and worked on. At that point you'll want to know why.

I'll do the same type of inspection on the hull. I look for any changes in the color or finish of the gelcoat to try and determine if the boat has be hit or worked on. Same goes for the trailer. I also like to check the brake fluid to see if it's still good or if there is even any left in the reservoir. On older drum based trailer brakes the seals will go bad and leak all the fluid out leaving you with no brakes. Good thing to know before you pull the boat home.

01-17-2011, 01:46 PM
Recognize that if you "pop it into gear" while out of the water, you're going to hear the most godawful screeching that you've ever heard. That's normal when the bearings are dry - perhaps running some water down the propshaft into the strut bearing before starting up the motor will reduce the effect.

If the owner is standing there, they probably won't let you do it a second time.


01-17-2011, 02:17 PM
Great thread. I bought my X45 last year in the off season as a bank repo - yes, high risk. In order to protect against issues I had a full boat survey done. It only cost a couple hundred bucks and save thousands in potential issues. Even if you can't run it in the water, the survey combined with a good mechanical inspection is the way to go. It also helps with your insurance when you are trying to establish replacement value.

The short: mechanical inspection found an oil pressure issue (be sure to check that guage with all the others) and the engine had to be completely rebuilt. Fortunately, the dealership/manufacturer covered the cost. In the end, I got a boat with only 65 original hours on it and a virtually new motor. The inspection and survey were the best investments I could have made in buying a boat. I highly recommend.

Live each day as thought it is your first. Live Day1 (http://www.LiveDay1.com).

01-17-2011, 02:27 PM
+1 full survey.