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Old 04-20-2013, 07:51 AM
kgrove kgrove is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Boat: 2011 X-25
Location: Phoenix
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How to identify salt or brackish water use?

I'm going to be inspecting a one year old boat in an area close enough to the shore it could have seen salt water or brackish water, though I've been told it has not. What are tell tale signs I should look for? Being only one year old and only 75 hrs engine time, evn if it had seen half its usage in salt water I would not expect it to be overwhelming evidence that wouldn't have been hidden by a detailer. And how much exposure to salt water would matter? If it saw salt water once could it set in motion corrosion I might not notice for a couple years? Or can you get away with an occasional ocean dunk without necessarily causing problems?
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:16 AM
46Chief 46Chief is offline
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Boat: 2002 Prostar 209 "Tarbaby", 2001 Prostar 190 Donor "Holestar"
Location: MidAtlantic
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From my experience of tearing apart a saltwater boat. I would try and inspect the base of the pylon,there is a plate that is aluminum that looks like it would indicate accelerated corrosion. The end of the steering cable has an aluminum tube where it bolts to the rudder is aluminum and will show saltwater corrosion. Look at overall cleanliness of the bilge and look for clues of white salt like deposits. also check the color of the rudder tracking fins and freshwater intake grate, if they are black or really dark that may be an indicator. My carpet also had a very rough feel it was dry and had salt crystals in it that made it feel gritty I couldn't see the crystals but could feel them.

Going over the engine, Look around the seams of the exhaust manifolds and look for rust staining. Pull the thermostat and have a look inside the intake manifold. look for salt buildup. Maybe you can get a dealer to do the pre-buy and have an exhaust manifold removed to inspect the cooling passages.

If the boat is clean, doesn't have significant corrosion and has a closed cooling system you'd be good to go.
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:21 AM
TxsRiverRat TxsRiverRat is offline
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 4,018
Rusted Trailer... Or a New trailer on an old boat!

My GFs boat is a 98 and the trailer only lasted 13 years before it literally fell apart due to the rust!

(My trailer is 20 this year and used on brackish less than 5x!)
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Old 04-20-2013, 07:22 PM
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BriEOD BriEOD is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Boat: 2000 MasterCraft ProStar 205 DD
Location: Severn River, MD
Posts: 9,087
I agree with the River Rat.

I use my boat exclusively in brackish water. I bet the contents of my engine box and the interior of my boat look better than most boats that are the same age as mine. I religiously flush the motor and keep all the metal pieces coated with a anti-rust spray.

Now the trailer, on the other hand, is another story. I used the painted steel trailer one season in brackish water. Despite my diligence (and OCD) to flush the rails and keep it clean, it was very noticeable that the brackish water was having an adverse effect. As a result, I went to a galvanized trailer.
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Old 04-20-2013, 07:31 PM
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AZDave AZDave is offline
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Boat: 1993 Stars & Stripes Prostar 190 351 285 hp
Location: sw
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X2 to the above. Trailer is a give away. Also, is a flush kit installed? If so, why? If it is a tube trailer, bring a small ball peen hammer and do some light taps. If it doesn't have a ringing echo, there is some rust. Test all the crossmembers at their lowest point. If the trailer is not origional, that is not a good sign.
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Old 04-20-2013, 08:20 PM
kgrove kgrove is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Boat: 2011 X-25
Location: Phoenix
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This boat does not have a closed cooling system. It's only 1-2 years and shows some rust around the engine mounts and manifold - not a ton, but surprising to me since my boat is 5 yrs old and probably doesn't have a speck of rust anywhere. I haven't had a chance to dig through the boat yet... Relying on photos. It is in a much more humid environment than I am used to, so maybe I'm overreacting.

Lets assume for a second there was some saltwater or brackish water use, but I buy it anyway and relocate it to dry Arizona and pure fresh water use. Will that by itself stop the corrosn and I'd be fine? Or once it starts, does it just keep eating away at the boat and the engine innards even when it's no longer in as harsh an environment? We don't generally worry about rust around here. I know rust more by reputation than experience.
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:23 PM
46Chief 46Chief is offline
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Boat: 2002 Prostar 209 "Tarbaby", 2001 Prostar 190 Donor "Holestar"
Location: MidAtlantic
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I think once you get salt starting the process of plugging the waterjackets, they will never break free and open the passages up. It may still cool the engine effectively but not as efficiently as new. I would be concerned if your lake water temp is above 85.

I'm not sure about salt continually eating away parts. I would say that it will, as long as there are crystals to help with the chemical reaction.

Humidity will take it's toll on unprotected parts, accelerated corrosion is normal around here in WV, where it's always above 80% in the summer. Google the average humidity in the area the boat is in.

I hope you are able to do a thorough pre-buy and can at least pull the thermostat to get an indication. A borescope would be a good tool to take to a pre-buy.
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Old 04-21-2013, 03:01 PM
88 PS190 88 PS190 is offline
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Boat: 1988 MC Prostar 190, 351 Ford
Location: Midwest
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There are some products like:


If the boat seems otherwise like you want, and the price is right, I would not hesitate to purchase, and spend sometime flushing and cleaning up corrosion. You can probably get some good use out of it.
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Old 04-21-2013, 03:06 PM
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1redTA 1redTA is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Boat: 1981 MasterCraft 351W slot
Location: Pace, FL
Posts: 1,485
I use mine in brackish and salt water, the trailers should be galvanized not painted, and I flush the engine and trailer after using it
1981 MasterCraft
19' Skier 351W PowerSlot
Long gone is the Trans AM waiting for another
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Old 04-21-2013, 03:37 PM
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welshprostar welshprostar is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Boat: 2005 prostar 190 evo with X7 tower ballast etc
Location: united kingdom
Posts: 14
I,ve Used boats in salt for over 17 years and do run closed cooling but found that flushing with anti freeze every now and again held off corrosion in manifolds etc my risers lasted 10 years in salt water so i wouldn`t worry about a boat that`s seen the odd use.A big can of anti rust spray and good clean up should see it right
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