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Old 08-20-2016, 10:02 AM
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Akatros Akatros is offline
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Engine Swap Pre Vortech to Vortech 1995 Prostar

I have been around boats all my life and it really surprises me just how little the Mastercraft dealers know about the older boats. I helped a good friend get into his first boat and I thought a 1995 Prostar 190 would be a good fit for him. The boat seemed to run well, great compression, low hours, clean oil, one owner etc.

Well 10 hours into him running this new boat the motor pops with 680 hours on the clock. So I am committed to putting in a new motor. Well the brand new Vortech 5.7 base motor seemed like a great swap. Everything fits perfectly, more power, roller motor, brand new. Well here is where the problems began. The new motor has the Vortech heads require less ignition timing and this ECU system is a TBI fuel injected motor with Indmar components and an MEFI 2 Controller.

First when you get everything swapped this seems almost too easy, well no, not really because you have to set the base timing on the engine. The motor to my surprise instantly started up and idled like new and I quickly ran up the RPMs to properly run in the cam and engine bearings. but the timing has to be set to base. The engine is now running very smoothly and the oil is up to operating temperature so now I need to set the base timing.

Well the manual is long gone and so are any Mastercraft mechanics that know anything about the older boats. Almost every dealer I called said " we don't work on those boats anymore try somewhere else. I kept calling dealers until I contacted a Mastercraft dealer in Texas who had a mechanic that was very helpful for this application. He tells me to put the system into service mode by shorting the contacts on the MEFI adapter between the A and B terminals. very simple and worked perfectly.

I set the base timing at 10 degrees BTDC, simple enough now everything seemed to be perfect, but I cant stop thinking about what might have caused the relatively low hour motor to blow up, and after disassembling the blown up motor I realized it took out a piston and thought about why this might have happened. the most likely reason was detonation.

Well I get an advance timing light and go to the lake to check the timing advance on the engine at different RPMs and by the time the motor hits 2700 rpm i see 39 degrees advance !! I run it to 3000 and it drops to 37 degrees, but now I am beginning to see what is wrong and starting to believe I understand what happened to this other motor.

I did a lot of digging which means calling Indmar, the Texas Mastercraft dealer, MEFI Burn, and look through so many forums trying to find an answer. Well the engine manufacture I bought the motor from tells me the Vortech motor should have no more than 25 degrees total maximum advance. so I go check out my 2004 X-9 and it has 32 degrees maximum advance, so no one can give me a straight answer and no one knows why this 1995 Prostar has so much timing.

My best guess is the MEFI unit was a second hand unit that had been altered or someone had sent the unit off to have a "performance tune" installed.

We contacted the owner and he said his" mechanic" / parts changer, did buy a used ECM to replace his when it went out several years ago, so I am now able to confirm what caused this motor to blow. It was actually a time bomb the way it was set and we were the lucky ones who had it go off on us, the owner used it to pull the grand kids on tubes on a small lake and never actually used the boat to ski or at any high speeds.

The only possible way to correct this is to re-program the ECM or the MEFI unit with either a specialty tuning software or to send the unit to a programmer to re-program. You can not turn the distributor to get the advance out because the ECU will compensate and correct trying to obtain the programmed timing curve.

I luckily found a local boat engine builder who had a copy of MEFI Burn and knew how to program the unit with the Tuner pro program that works with the software. We reset the timing curve and agreed that 28 Degrees maximum advance is what GM recommends for this marine engine. He tells me that the 39 degrees on the pre-Vortech motor would not have been a problem with an off road vehicle or performance car engine tune, but this much advance in a boat could potentially melt valves and or pistons

We downloaded the tune that was on the programmer and saved it as the OEM settings. After downloading the tune and opening the file in Tuner Pro we saw the 39 degees of timing on the chart in tuner pro.

We used the Tuner pro software and at the 4400 RPM level we reprogrammed the MEFI 2 unit to have a maximum timing advance of 28 degrees and dropped the timing to 25 degrees from 4500 and anything above. the rest of the timing curve looked acceptable and we left the settings as they were and adjusted the parameters.

I just wanted to pass this on because these motors can be very expensive and it was very difficult to get the motor in what I felt was a safe operating range. The boat now runs flawlessly and has plenty of power and the local Boat engine builder and I believe the reason the older motor blew was this excessive timing on the aftermarket tune.

Thank you to: Team Talk, Larry at Indmar, Bob at MEFI Burn, Bobby Mills at speed and sport marine, Jared at Mastercraft in Texas .

hope this helps anyone trying to do the engine swap on one of these boats

AK
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  #2  
Old 08-20-2016, 12:36 PM
waterlogged882 waterlogged882 is offline
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Interesting read. Thanks for sharing. Makes sense with what you have discerned, (not that you need my seal of approval).

Larry at Indmar is a TS member here; aka Enginenut. He has always been a valuable contributor here.

Who / where is your local engine builder?

Was the 32 deg setting too much for your engine and did you set it back using the same information?

.
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  #3  
Old 08-20-2016, 12:46 PM
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Very interesting read and thanks for posting. Can't believe the 39 degrees was even found in a marine application ECM and wonder if whomever tuned it actually knew it was going into a boat. Likely not I'm guessing. Looking at your Avatar it looks like you might be familiar with EFI LIVE tuning software. It is what I use on my GM LS engines for tuning.

Hope your friend has many happy hours in his ProStar, he is lucky to have you to help him out.
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  #4  
Old 08-20-2016, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Akatros View Post
I have been around boats all my life and it really surprises me just how little the Mastercraft dealers know about the older boats. I helped a good friend get into his first boat and I thought a 1995 Prostar 190 would be a good fit for him. The boat seemed to run well, great compression, low hours, clean oil, one owner etc.

Well 10 hours into him running this new boat the motor pops with 680 hours on the clock. So I am committed to putting in a new motor. Well the brand new Vortech 5.7 base motor seemed like a great swap. Everything fits perfectly, more power, roller motor, brand new. Well here is where the problems began. The new motor has the Vortech heads require less ignition timing and this ECU system is a TBI fuel injected motor with Indmar components and an MEFI 2 Controller.

First when you get everything swapped this seems almost too easy, well no, not really because you have to set the base timing on the engine. The motor to my surprise instantly started up and idled like new and I quickly ran up the RPMs to properly run in the cam and engine bearings. but the timing has to be set to base. The engine is now running very smoothly and the oil is up to operating temperature so now I need to set the base timing.

Well the manual is long gone and so are any Mastercraft mechanics that know anything about the older boats. Almost every dealer I called said " we don't work on those boats anymore try somewhere else. I kept calling dealers until I contacted a Mastercraft dealer in Texas who had a mechanic that was very helpful for this application. He tells me to put the system into service mode by shorting the contacts on the MEFI adapter between the A and B terminals. very simple and worked perfectly.

I set the base timing at 10 degrees BTDC, simple enough now everything seemed to be perfect, but I cant stop thinking about what might have caused the relatively low hour motor to blow up, and after disassembling the blown up motor I realized it took out a piston and thought about why this might have happened. the most likely reason was detonation.

Well I get an advance timing light and go to the lake to check the timing advance on the engine at different RPMs and by the time the motor hits 2700 rpm i see 39 degrees advance !! I run it to 3000 and it drops to 37 degrees, but now I am beginning to see what is wrong and starting to believe I understand what happened to this other motor.

I did a lot of digging which means calling Indmar, the Texas Mastercraft dealer, MEFI Burn, and look through so many forums trying to find an answer. Well the engine manufacture I bought the motor from tells me the Vortech motor should have no more than 25 degrees total maximum advance. so I go check out my 2004 X-9 and it has 32 degrees maximum advance, so no one can give me a straight answer and no one knows why this 1995 Prostar has so much timing.

My best guess is the MEFI unit was a second hand unit that had been altered or someone had sent the unit off to have a "performance tune" installed.

We contacted the owner and he said his" mechanic" / parts changer, did buy a used ECM to replace his when it went out several years ago, so I am now able to confirm what caused this motor to blow. It was actually a time bomb the way it was set and we were the lucky ones who had it go off on us, the owner used it to pull the grand kids on tubes on a small lake and never actually used the boat to ski or at any high speeds.

The only possible way to correct this is to re-program the ECM or the MEFI unit with either a specialty tuning software or to send the unit to a programmer to re-program. You can not turn the distributor to get the advance out because the ECU will compensate and correct trying to obtain the programmed timing curve.

I luckily found a local boat engine builder who had a copy of MEFI Burn and knew how to program the unit with the Tuner pro program that works with the software. We reset the timing curve and agreed that 28 Degrees maximum advance is what GM recommends for this marine engine. He tells me that the 39 degrees on the pre-Vortech motor would not have been a problem with an off road vehicle or performance car engine tune, but this much advance in a boat could potentially melt valves and or pistons

We downloaded the tune that was on the programmer and saved it as the OEM settings. After downloading the tune and opening the file in Tuner Pro we saw the 39 degees of timing on the chart in tuner pro.

We used the Tuner pro software and at the 4400 RPM level we reprogrammed the MEFI 2 unit to have a maximum timing advance of 28 degrees and dropped the timing to 25 degrees from 4500 and anything above. the rest of the timing curve looked acceptable and we left the settings as they were and adjusted the parameters.

I just wanted to pass this on because these motors can be very expensive and it was very difficult to get the motor in what I felt was a safe operating range. The boat now runs flawlessly and has plenty of power and the local Boat engine builder and I believe the reason the older motor blew was this excessive timing on the aftermarket tune.

Thank you to: Team Talk, Larry at Indmar, Bob at MEFI Burn, Bobby Mills at speed and sport marine, Jared at Mastercraft in Texas .

hope this helps anyone trying to do the engine swap on one of these boats

AK
I assume the software has a 'service mode' for setting base timing, right? The newer engines DID exceed 32 degrees of total advance, but it was supposed to max out at 40 degrees, so it wasn't a lot more (let's not argue whether 25% is a lot). However, you can set base timing to more than ten degrees and not destroy an engine because the knock sensor and the corresponding module in the ECM should have been able to retard the timing as it sensed knock. If this wasn't functioning, and it is possible that the replacement ECM didn't have a working knock sensor circuit, the engine may have been damaged by something else.

Without testing the ECM and a complete engine tear-down, it's not possible to KNOW why the engine went away. Did you test the engine with the boat in the water and under load, or in neutral?

Some dealers are too new to know the older boats and they may never see one, so there's not much point in going through a lot of training on them. Some dealers don't keep their techs for long, so the ones who were trained may not be there long enough to do much good. Some dealers and techs were trained on MEFI 1, 2, CEFI3, MEFI4, etc, but are no longer working in marine service and in my case, I did the training in '98-2000. However, anyone who knows GM/Chevy fuel injected engines should have absolutely no problem working on a marine-prepped engine and other than the lack of some sensors, the cooling system, exhaust and a different ECM, it's exactly the same as what has gone into cars and trucks. These are mainly off the shelf parts.
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  #5  
Old 08-20-2016, 03:47 PM
Shaun R's Avatar
Shaun R Shaun R is offline
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I was under the impression that marine motors ran a fixed timing and did not adv/ret through the rev range?
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  #6  
Old 08-20-2016, 03:51 PM
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JimN JimN is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun R View Post
I was under the impression that marine motors ran a fixed timing and did not adv/ret through the rev range?
Variable timing is the way to operate efficiently at high, mid and low RPM. They have a programmed rev limiter when injected and the knock sensor allows maximum advance without experiencing detonation, assuming that part of the setup is working.

I wouldn't be surprised to see that the terminal on the Knock sensor wire, the wire or the sensor were damaged/inop.
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  #7  
Old 08-20-2016, 07:23 PM
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Akatros Akatros is offline
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I actually got a new factory base motor from Marine engines 4 less in Ocala, Florida just needed an intake manifold and they installed that before I picked it up. http://marineengines4less.com/new-ma...-base-engines/
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  #8  
Old 08-20-2016, 07:24 PM
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Akatros Akatros is offline
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Thank you !
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  #9  
Old 08-20-2016, 07:29 PM
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Akatros Akatros is offline
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Jim N

Funny you should mention that, there is a knock sensor on the motor and a provision to turn it on in the MEFI 2, however when I looked at the " flags" in the setup it was deactivated before I tuned it. I reactivated it and put in -5 degrees when it was activated.
Thanks

Andrew
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  #10  
Old 08-20-2016, 07:52 PM
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Akatros Akatros is offline
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Jim

I did lake test the boat and had a professional marine engine builder with me to explain the tune, I just knew that was too much timing for the boat, I have a 2004 X9 and it maxes out at 32 then retards after 4500 RPM so I figured it should be safe to reactivate the knock sensor, and then set the maximum timing to 28 degrees total advance. Yes even looking at the damage on the old motor it is hard to tell exactly what caused the problem, but the broken/burned piston led me to believe it had some severe detonation at one point.

Yes it is very similar to the GM truck systems, but I have long sense been out of the mechanic business so it was familiar but still difficult to get the tools to work on it, I am set up now so I would be willing to help anyone with an older boat in my area that needed the help.

I used the same ECM without altering it when I first installed the motor, and was really worried about relying on the knock sensor to take out all of the timing so I set it at a reasonable advance of 28 Degrees total timing with the initial 10 degrees base timing and the motor really runs well in fact it will turn 4800 RPMs with the same prop 13 x 13 with 1:1 transmission, I think he needs to go up a pitch now actually

Andrew
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