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Older Boat Needs Something Extra

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Hi all, this is my first post at this forum but I've been reading all of your very useful advice for quite some time. In the fall I purchased my first boat, a 1991 Sunsetter Euro F3. I got to take it out a couple times in september before the lakes started freezing over in good ol manitoba, canada. I've ridden behind my cousin's 1989 Australian Flightcraft Barefoot Edition for the past ten years or so and the motor in the two boats is basically identical. Obviously, my 21' open bow boat is going to greatly outweigh his 18' closed bow but his handles like a jackrabbit compared to mine. The whole shot on my boat was severely lacking compared to his when doing deep water starts for either slalom or footing. My handling as well seemed to be quite poor but that's to be expected I think. Also, my boat topped out at 34ish mph while his easily hits 42mph. Now my boat still needs a thorough engine tune up but do you think I would need any special motor upgrades? My boat was stock in the fall but this is not the case for the coming spring. In addition to a complete new look I also added Malibu's Floating Wedge plus 450lbs. of ballast. I also installed an electronic ignition kit and coil, an edelbrock intake manifold, and was thinking about adding an Acme 541 prop as suggested by Bill at Acme. Do you guys think anything else would be needed? I was thinking of maybe getting a new holley carb but I would like to avoid it if possible. Do you have any different suggestions on props? Would the motor need just a good tune up or am I looking at doing a whole camshaft/cylinder head job? I want a solid all-around boat. I want to be able to wakeboard comfortably behind it but I don't want much more ballast than I already have, I also want to be able to pull a skier out of the water with ease and maintain a 34 mph speed. In addition to all this, I want to be able to go deep water footing when the water is glass and hit 40 mph without bogging out. Am I asking for too much out of this old boat of mine? Wakesurfing is another sport that I'd like to try this year if my boat permits me but that is minor compared to the other sports. Since I've done all these aftermarket things as a winter project, I have no idea what this "new" boat will produce. But with the wedge and added weight I'm thinking I'm going to need more out of my motor based on last season's performance. Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks for your input. (Sorry for the really long first post)

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I would check the original specs for your boat against your performance (top end, rpm at given speed. prop size, etc...)....if there's a big difference, you got problems that'll need fixed.

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Did you do a compression check on the engine when you bought the boat? Are you firing on all cylinders? Is the transmission slipping at all? A tune up defintely would help. The new prop may help, especially if the old one is dinged at all.

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We need a little more information to be of much help...

It does sound like something is wrong/off with your sunsetter.

The boat should be able to run 36 all day long as that is the top slalom speed and get a slalom skier/barefooter up & going without much trouble. It could be as simple as a wrong prop on the boat, it needs a tune-up, new exhaust or something more significant.

What RPM were you turning when your boat topped out?

How does the boat sound when you take off with a skier/footer?

How do the RPMS behave when you take off?

There's a wealth of knowledge on this site, some more to help us troubleshoot is always helpful.

It can also be difficult to identify problems remotely. You could consider befriending a marine mechanic & have them go on an evening cruise with you to help you identify issues & then decide if you want to tackle fixing them yourself.

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That boat should pull 4400 rpm and run 44 mph w/o any ballast if it has a tournament 350 GM engine. The output should be 265 hp. This boat was spec'd with a 3 blade 13 x 13 prop in it's day. You mentioned a few modifications made: edelbrock intake, electronic ignition. Who is the marinizer (Mercruiser, Indmar, PCM . . .).

First, why did you swap the existing intake manifold and what specific edelbrock manifold did you use. The GM marine intake manifold is pretty much a cast iron version of the Edelbrock Performer RPM. You probably need to make sure you have the ignition timing set correctly with the ignition upgrade. I would also check compression and leak down on that. The carburetor should be sized properly to allow the proper flow rate for that application, all you should need to do if performance is lacking is to rebuilt it.

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A wedge on an old Sunsetter? Can the transom handle it? Anyone with an old Sunsetter or Skier done this before without any damage?

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  • 2 weeks later...
A wedge on an old Sunsetter? Can the transom handle it? Anyone with an old Sunsetter or Skier done this before without any damage?

You're not supposed to, that boat was never designed for it.

I'm planning to put one on mine (87 sunsetter) but my transom was reinforced when I rebuilt it. I'm curious to know how effective a wedge actually is on these boats though. Anyone?

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A wedge on an old Sunsetter? Can the transom handle it? Anyone with an old Sunsetter or Skier done this before without any damage?

You're not supposed to, that boat was never designed for it.

What about on a 95 sunsetter? I have been looking for one this last year or so. If it can not handle it I will stop looking. We will just load it up with friends and family to get the wake we need.
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hey thanks for all the replies everyone.

first off, the boat has a tournament edition 350 mercruiser that should according to the specs be able to turn out 265hp stock. the boat was only topping out at around 34-36mph (according to my gps) at 3000-3500rpm in the fall though. so there is definitely something wrong with where my revs are at. when i tried to pull a 200lbs+ skier out of the water the boat definitely was lagging a bit compared to what i thought it should be doing.

secondly, i haven't had a chance to test the boat since the mods were done to it because it's sadly still bitterly cold here (-30 C in the middle of march)

also my mistake, the intake manifold that i got isn't direct from edlebrock, it was machined locally by a shop here that is run by a family member of mine. he is familiar with the boat as he has a similar one and he is much more mechanically inclined than i am. they are an edlebrock supplier so that's why i assumed it was an edlebrock. the exact specs of the manifold i do not know. i would have to ask him. he put the same manifold on his boat and he claims it made a huge difference.

in regards to the wedge, i do not yet know if it will work. i know that it won't be able to rip my transom off because of the way the load is dispersed but how effective it actually will be is yet to be determined.

as for the '95 sunsetter, i'm not 100% certain which year malibu started reinforcing their transoms but i thought my dealer had told me it was around 94 or 95. your dealer should be able to tell you.

now, what could i do to fix this rev issue? will a prop make that big a difference? or could my tach just be way off? i don't think i'm going to need a lot more horsepower (depending on how hard the wedge pulls) if my motor actually would produce what it's supposed to. i do want to put anywhere from 400-800 lbs of POP bags throughout the boat because i have no desire to have ballast bags sitting everywhere and taking up space. so with the 400-800lbs plus the wedge plus a boat load of people, i think my motor should be able to power it all but then again i don't even know what my motor is cranking out yet. your thoughts are very much appreciated.

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  • 3 months later...

it's been a while since i've visited this post but i finally got to take my boat out for the first time yesterday after a very long canadian winter and spring. the boat ran great but i'm still having issues. we loaded it up with 12 people and it pulled very very hard and took forever to get on plane. but after everyone left i took it out for a spin by myself and boy what a difference. it was pulling about 4000 rpm but i'm not sure about top speed because i didn't have my gps along. the ignition kit i bought doesn't fit my distributor but pertonix said they would replace it for free. i'm just waiting on the new kit.

i noticed someone said that my boat should do 4400 rpm roughly. will the igniton kit and proper timing fix my rpm issue? so far the boat has the intake manifold, platinum 4+ bosch spark plugs, and new filters all around. these upgrades alone made a huge difference. i would like to have a little more power though when i do have more people in the boat. 12 is rare but 8-10 people would probably be a good average.

does anyone have any suggestions for a little extra horsepower? i was thinking about swapping out the camshaft but is it worth it? or am i really just looking at a timing issue? or would the timing plus a new prop be the right solution?

any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. thanks again.

oh and a side note...i do have the wedge on my boat and it works like a gem. there's no real increase in wake size but the shape of the wake is beautiful. a nice crisp curl. i plan to take pictures and post later on yet if i can get around to it.

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I would certainly check into your timing and ignition to make sure that isn't your RPM issue. The timing could be a bit off and causing an issue. My 88' Skier has the same motor and I top out at about 4400RPM and about 46MPH and it will rip a 200lb slalom skier right out of the water with no bogging or hesitation.

Also, I re-read the thread and didn't see what prop you are running. If the boat has been re-propped and something too large has been put on that could explain a reduction in top RPM and speed as well.

That's excellent you got the wedge on. I would love to see pics of the boat (transom with wedge) and the wake with and without the wedge deployed. Did you do any transom reinforcement or did you just bolt it right up. I think you did it right with the floating wedge to compensate for the incorrect angle of the older hulls compared to the newer hulls that were designed for the wedge.

Right now we are running between 1000-1500lbs of water ballast in my Skier and have been very pleased with the wake shape and size. I'm curious how much improvement a wedge would add, but I'm not sure if the risk is worth it. If I did do it I think I would add at least 3/4" of thickness to my transom to reinforce the boat.

Here's our wake. One thing I notice if someone cuts out hard, it's such a light boat that it will beef up the side of the wake that the boarder is riding on and wash out the other side a bit. No problem at all getting W2W at 75 feet. We have been able to surf ropeless and are having a blast with it! I'm just wondering how much better it would be with a wedge!



Edited by martinarcher
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