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87 Skier surging under load


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First trip out this season and already having issues. First let me say that for about an hour the boat ran perfect and had no problem with WOT. On the third attempt puling first skier out of the water, the boat had enough. Top speed was close to 15 mph and I'm surprised how long the skier stuck with it before I quit.

Limped back to the boat launch and went home to work on it.

Since the boat had been sitting a while (almost 2 years without being used). I suspected the gas was the issue, so I siphoned it all out, packed up some tools and went back out to the lake with fresh gas.

Same thing. Just over 2k rpms the engine won't give anymore and surges between power and nothing. So with the tools started checking everything. Replaced fuel/water separated. Some sediment but nothing terrible. Cleaned carb, 3 of 4 look excellent, the other is still slightly plugged, checked all wires, rechecked cap and rotor, retarded timing to 4 degrees btdc (all done at different times).

So I counsulted google and found some typical issues.

-fuel/water separated & fuel filter

-screens plugged (in carb and pick up)

-air in gas line

-plugged carb

By the end of the day we accomplished nothing but made it worse to the point that we almost needed a tow just to make it back to the ramp.

I decided to follow what another site said about boats having air in the fuel system, so I spliced in a clear hose just before the water separater so I could watch for air bubbles. Once I did this I was surprised by just how much air was in the fuel line (I have video that I can post to YouTube if anyone wants to see what the boat is doing and the air in the fuel line).

I disconnected the fuel line coming out of the tank, and put it directly into a gas can. This completely took care of the air bubbles and the boat immediately started to run better.

I'm pretty sure this is the issue but I tried to fix it and failed. I pulled off the fitting on the tank, cleaned it with some carb cleaner and sprayed it out with compressed air, then using some thread sealant, put it all back together and even cut back the fuel line an inch to make sure it didn't have a leak right at the end.

Doing all this helped, but I still have a lot of bubbles coming out.

I don't know if I overlooked something...

Please help

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i've recently read that mfgrs recommend replacing fuel lines at 10 year intervals.

if you run great from a gas can and suck air through the oem fuel lines i'd consider replacing them.

an added benefit may be that it runs quieter, too, by avoiding that singular big boom that could accompany iffy fuel stuff.

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Yeah, I agree about the big boom stuff... don't want any of that.

I think today I'm going to spray down the engine and floor underneath. Its kind of nasty to work on now.

So do you guys think it is the pick up line or fuel line? Can the pick up line even go bad in these tanks?

Oh and if you're interested, heres the video http://youtu.be/D4qeCA1Oo2A

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I agree with BigDock. Probably your fuel line. Before I sold my '86 skier, I replaced thy entire fuel line. My problem was the boat would completely starve for fuel and die. It would immediately restart, but if you tried to go about about 2000 rpm, would die again. Replace the fuel line, clean out the gas tank. Ethenol fuel is not good on an old gas line. Makes it do funny things. :whistle:

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A few items for you to check and change:

  1. replace the rubber fuel lines from the tank to the carb.,
  2. check and clean the one way valve at the fuel tank, should be on the top of the tank fitting for the vent and supply lines, it is in the supply line. Clean the fuel filters in the carb inlet.
  3. clean fuel vent line and make sure it is not plugged.
  4. reset timing to at least 8 deg btdc, 4 degrees is not the correct setting.

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I agree with BigDock. Probably your fuel line. Before I sold my '86 skier, I replaced thy entire fuel line. My problem was the boat would completely starve for fuel and die. It would immediately restart, but if you tried to go about about 2000 rpm, would die again. Replace the fuel line, clean out the gas tank. Ethenol fuel is not good on an old gas line. Makes it do funny things. :whistle:

Mine is doing almost the exact same thing. When I talked to a mechanic today, he said the fuel lines degrade and can collapse momentarily.

I already reset timing. First thing I did when I got home. I'm going to go to a boat supply shop today and pick up some new fuel line.

As far as the one way valve, is there anything I should know? I took it off and it seemed to work right, fuel can only go towards the engine. I used some carb cleaner on it.

And planoskier mentioned cleaning out fuel tank? I'm going to siphon gas out, but how, or should, I clean the tank?

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You just need to take a look at the gas. If when you take it out of the tank, take a look to see if you have any trash in it. If yes, then you need to take it to a shop that will clean the tank for you.

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I looked in there today and I see some "junk" floating around but nothing looks too bad to me. Might have it cleaned anyway

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Yeah, I agree about the big boom stuff... don't want any of that.

I think today I'm going to spray down the engine and floor underneath. Its kind of nasty to work on now.

So do you guys think it is the pick up line or fuel line? Can the pick up line even go bad in these tanks?

Oh and if you're interested, heres the video

That's one determined skier you've got there. I'd have let go (and given the driver a blast) long before he did.
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well, I just got the fuel line replaced and the boat won't start now. I noticed by coil was extremely hot after trying to start it and then troubleshooting it. So I got a new coil (probably didn't need to but its too late now), after the new coil didn't fix it I went back to the ignitor, and decided to test it. Turns out the ignitor is stuck on and cause the coil to overheat. Ordered a new ignitor and it should be here tomorrow. Will update soon

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No luck. replaced ignitor and boat starts and runs but once again will not get up to speed. Also replaced the fuel pick up line and took car of air bubbles coming in. I'm going to rebuild the carb.

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on my 85 skier I had a similar issue with air coming in except on mine the hard line going into the tank cracked just inside the tank and was sucking air through the crack . I devised a make shift hard line out of steel fuel tubing and some compression fittings and it seems to work really well . I dont think I have the one way valve in there any more though but this was two sumers ago so Ill have to look when I get home . I will say that ive been using it for two summers since the macgyver repair job and its been good so far :)

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Yeah, that's the exact thing mine had. Ended up drilling it out and just replaced the pick up line. One of the mechanics I talk to frequently did the same thing on some other applications and had I not been able to get mine apart, I would have done the same thing.

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