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New2Texas

How To Find The Source Of A Leak

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New2Texas

OK, so I need some help on this one. I have noticed my bilge pump kicking on several times and when i pull the boat out of the water and remove the plug their is an excessive amount of water coming out. 1996 Malibu LX direct drive, where do i start to look?

I have made the following observations (hopefully this will help you help me):

1. When the engine is running at idle and high RPM there appears to be no water leaking from the engine/hoses,

2. when the boat is stationary there is no water below the engine (at the plug)

3. The center ski locker seems to fill first, then overflows through a small hole into the small compartment where the bilge is.

4. The compartment behind the engine and in front of the transom (where the shaft and exhaust are) appears dry as well.

Could it be that water is entering through the wedge bolts? Does the wedge ever need to be re-sealed?

I was thinking of filling the hull with water and observing from the outside to try and identify any leak. Would this work?

any help on this would be greatly appreciated.

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tvano

tracking fins can get damaged and leak.

search for hds leak and you will find discussion on another potential source.

wedge bolts can leak, worth looking at.

as long as you don't put so much water as to stress the trailer (or hoist) your "filling the hull with water" should be a good start at trouble-shooting.

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REW

Check your shaft seal. It should drip about one drop every 10 seconds while in motion. Pretty easy to tighten which will slow the drip. Just don't get it too tight it is supposed to leak some to keep the shaft seal cool.

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New2Texas

Ok, I will fill the bilge up this afternoon and try and se where the water is escaping.

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Jimmypooh

Ok, I will fill the bilge up this afternoon and try and se where the water is escaping.

as mentioned above, it's probably the shaft seal. Not sure if you will be able to tell by filling the bilge up and seeing where it leaks out if that's the case. Check it in the water.

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New2Texas

as mentioned above, it's probably the shaft seal. Not sure if you will be able to tell by filling the bilge up and seeing where it leaks out if that's the case. Check it in the water.

Would the water only come in when the shaft is turning? When we were moving i lifted the engine cover and there was no water below the engine. If it were coming fom the shaft would I not see water flowing toward the bilge?

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REW

Would the water only come in when the shaft is turning? When we were moving i lifted the engine cover and there was no water below the engine. If it were coming fom the shaft would I not see water flowing toward the bilge?

Only when the shaft is turning.

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Steve B.

Yes, the shaft seal will only drip while running, unless the seal is basically gone, then water can come in just sitting.

I guess, if it doesn't leak during your test, it's the shaft seal. If it does leak, you'll know where then. While you are at it, do a quick check on the tracking fins, and see if one is bent over a little. One of them may have taken a hit and need to be re-sealed.

Let us know how it goes,

Steve B.

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LS-One

Check the bow eye. I had water coming in the bow eye on a 97 S/S LX I owned. At slow speed or weighted down water would splash up against the bow eye and leak into the boat. Marine silicone on the backside fixed the problem.

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Murphy8166

HDS box leak?

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New2Texas

all great comments, thank you. I plan on starting from the exterior of the boat and checking all connections and attachments, then working inside to check all hoses and connections. I want to check the wedge bolts but that will require removing the fuel tank (i will do this but only if i have to). Can someone explain what the HDS is and what to look for if that is causing the issue?

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Steve B.

I'm not sure if you're year boat has an HDS Texas. Hopefully, one of the guy's will chime in on this. My 95 does not.

Steve B.

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Bozboat

all great comments, thank you. I plan on starting from the exterior of the boat and checking all connections and attachments, then working inside to check all hoses and connections. I want to check the wedge bolts but that will require removing the fuel tank (i will do this but only if i have to). Can someone explain what the HDS is and what to look for if that is causing the issue?

You may already know this, but do not put the boat in gear when on the trailer.

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Murphy8166

Malibu introduced the HDS system back in 1996 so I would imagine it is in your boat

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New2Texas

UPDATED OBSERVATIONS:

1. Removing the wall to the bilge pump I can now see a small hole (about the size of a quarter) into a cavity under the floor which runs from bow to stern on either side of the engine bay. The blower (starboard stern) draws air from this cavity which is venting from the engine bay. This would explain why there was no water present under the engine when the bilge was running, the water was entering the boat and traveling down the cavity and filtering directly into the small area where the bilge pump was.

2. I circled the boat with an adjustable wrench and screwdrivers and tightened anything that was loose. I noticed that the nuts holding the wedge to the transom were loose and could not be tightened without something securing the the bolt at the other end. Unfortunately the fuel tank is blocking any access to the bolt heads. This may leave me no choice but to remove the fuel tank, re-attach the bolts tightly with some silicone to prevent any future seepage.

So, my next step is to launch the boat tomorrow and observe if water is entering the bilge area from the bow/stern through the port/starboard cavity. Once this is determined I will likely then have to remove the fuel tank and re-attached the fixtures with hardware and silicone.

Any suggestions on removing a fuel tank from a direct drive?

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New2Texas

I spoke with the local dealership and explained the situation... It would appear that it is likely the HDS leaking! (10 POINTS FOR GUESSING THAT ONE RIGHT), anyway I am taking her up to the dealership on Tuesday for a service and troubleshoot session with their service guy.

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Ndawg12

I'm late to the party, but when ever I hear of excessive water in the bilge in that era of dd boat, I immediately think HDS leak. Even though your wedge mounts were loose, doesn't mean they were leaking, you might have actually created another leak by tightening them. I would hold off on pulling your tank and the rest of the stuff until you nail down the exact cause of this leak.

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New2Texas

I'm late to the party, but when ever I hear of excessive water in the bilge in that era of dd boat, I immediately think HDS leak. Even though your wedge mounts were loose, doesn't mean they were leaking, you might have actually created another leak by tightening them. I would hold off on pulling your tank and the rest of the stuff until you nail down the exact cause of this leak.

That's my thinking as well. I have it scheduled for a service and inspection on Tuesday at the dealership.

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ecadwell

After getting your personal messages, I ran across your thread as to why you were interested in pulling your fuel tank. After seeing your predicament, I would recommend NOT pulling the fuel tank at this time until you have ruled out other potential causes of the leak. Pulling the fuel tank is a pretty involved process on the '96 SSLX, which isn't worth it considering the wedge bolts are fairly unlikely to be the source of the leak. There is silicone on the wedge plate itself where it mounts to the transom, so it's not necessarily leaking, even if the bolts are slightly loose.

Your boat does indeed have an HDS box, and could be the source of the leak. However, I'd launch the boat first without the back seat and check the drip rate from the shaft packing. Might as well eliminate the easy stuff first. Maybe you just have a high drip rate, which is a 2 minute fix while on the water. Bring your wrenches with you to adjust while on the water (watch your fingers!). If that doesn't work, then I'd start leaning pretty heavily toward investigating the HDS box. There's some pretty helpful stuff on this site about fixing the HDS box yourself.

Good luck!

Eric

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New2Texas

So I took it into the local Malibu dealership where the Service Manager walked me through the possibilities of where the leak might be coming from After discussing my trouble shooting last weekend he believes it is likely a HDS leak. He referred me to a local fibreglass shop that does all the repair work for Malibu.

I went straight there and the fibreglass guy is 97% sure its the HDS leak but will confirm with a secondary water test tomorrow. If confirmed, he will open the box and re-seal it for $300, it also comes with a 90 day guarantee that if it leaks again he will fix at no charge.

Oh, and on the way there my brakes on my trailer locked up... seems my trailer was getting jealous of all the attention the boat was getting and decided to breakdown on me!

I will keep you posted.

:crazy:

Edited by New2Texas

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Murphy8166

So I took it into the local Malibu dealership where the Service Manager walked me through the possibilities of where the leak might be coming from After discussing my trouble shooting last weekend he believes it is likely a HDS leak. He referred me to a local fibreglass shop that does all the repair work for Malibu.

I went straight there and the fibreglass guy is 97% sure its the HDS leak but will confirm with a secondary water test tomorrow. If confirmed, he will open the box and re-seal it for $300, it also comes with a 90 day guarantee that if it leaks again he will fix at no charge.

Oh, and on the way there my brakes on my trailer locked up... seems my trailer was getting jealous of all the attention the boat was getting and decided to breakdown on me!

I will keep you posted.

:crazy:

My dealership repaired my HDS leak for free since it was a known problem. It doesn't hurt to ask????

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New2Texas

I wanted to share the latest development in my situation to offer a closed loop to the situation. So after the service manager at my local dealership suggested he was was 97% sure it was the HDS leak, I went ahead and paid for the the housing re-fibreglassed. He then water tested it and swears she is water tight. I will take her out tomorrow and test her for myself. Hopefully i wont need to use my 90 day water tight guarantee that the work came with.

On a different note, I also wanted to share the following with you and ask what you would have done in the same situation:

My fibreglass guy calls me earlier today and tells me the boat is ready to picked up, he also casually mentions that the trailer jack 'broke' and that i will need to swing by the Magnum trailer store and pick up another. When I get to the workshop, i find my boat sitting in the sun with a hardened scum line around the hull from the water test earlier that day. The jack is the original from 1996, but never failed on me before!

Would you insist he pay for the jack? Would you ask him to wash the boat? Or would you be thankful the guy did it quickly and was cheaper than other workshops, not to mention the 90 day guarantee?

Well...? ;)

Edited by New2Texas

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Bozboat

On a different note, I also wanted to share the following with you and ask what you would have done in the same situation:

My fibreglass guy calls me earlier today and tells me the boat is ready to picked up, he also casually mentions that the trailer jack 'broke' and that i will need to swing by the Magnum trailer store and pick up another. When I get to the workshop, i find my boat sitting in the sun with a hardened scum line around the hull from the water test earlier that day. The jack is the original from 1996, but never failed on me before!

Would you insist he pay for the jack? Would you ask him to wash the boat? Or would you be thankful the guy did it quickly and was cheaper than other workshops, not to mention the 90 day guarantee?

Well...? ;)

I hate this type of stuff. I would probably just eat the trailer jack and be upset about the water scum. I would have mentioned it but not pushed the issue. Did they just back it into a scummy test tank? I would save the hard feelings in case you need warranty service. If you do have to go back, then tell him to wash the scum off and not to break the new trailer jack.

Edited by Bozboat

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Bill_AirJunky

So was the jack in bad shape? It's not exactly uncommon for a 16 yr old jack to fail.

I'd tell him your not happy about either problem & you'll think twice about coming back.... or recommending anyone else come to his shop.

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