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1994 Echelon engine swap


1994echelon

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 Current 1994 mercruiser 350 mag efi  265HP.  

This fall I dropped a valve causing serveiw engine damage and need to at min have engine bored and new heads.

I have what I consider a outdated efi system that wasn't running top notch to part with . I am  considering either doing a new mercruiser plus series  315 hp towsports package with or without transmission  or  a 383 stroker  that would  require me to do a new transmission   since it's a velvet drive 71c  10-17-004 and my understanding it wont work.

I was wondering if anyone else had any suggestions on what other engine options I should consider?   The  boat is mint and only has 500 hrs so I am shocked at an engine failure but it happens. 

Thanks!

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Sorry to hear you suffered significant engine damage.  On your choices as a replacement, you have several options.  The 315 hp option is pretty much a newer replacement for the current engine, the difference being improved cylinder heads that were introduced in '96, they are the Vortec cylinder heads that improve airflow.  As for considering bumping up the horsepower significantly and going with a 383, that makes a really great package, lots of torque.  The Velvet Drive 71C is actually the most robust of the transmissions available and will handle the extra power.  I bumped up my power level significantly and the transmission is fine and a few other crew members have done similar.

Before any suggestions on engine build, what are your goals and type of use for the boat?  That could make a difference on what type of build you consider.  Also, are you looking for a plug and play, crate engine, or are you considering doing a build yourself?

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Your transmission will definitely work.  The '94 Echelon came with two engine options - the 265hp that you currently have, and also a 395hp MEFI 454 big block.  Both engines used the same transmission, shaft, rudder, etc.  just different bell housings.  So do not worry about over powering the transmission.

I had an engine failure due to a head gasket leak and cylinder detonation in 2013, and we built a 388 stroker.  We used my engine block knowing that everything would bolt right back up to it.  We dyno'd it before installing it with several different carburetors, and I ended up using the stock Weber 9772S carb and generating 383 hp.  We've got about 150 hours on it since then, lots of footing, surfing, tubing, wakeboarding, idling, etc.  I was very lucky to have found someone to build the engine for me since I'm more of a bolt-on bolt-off guy.  I did the engine removal and installation and it was pretty simple.  I also upgraded my exhaust to 3.5" all the way thru, ETX manifolds, STE tips, and new fuel lines while it was all open.

  @Woodski is asking the same questions that I would, depending on your use you may not need all that power.  But I feel silly even typing that....who doesn't need all that power.

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I'm starting to get into barefooting and I was just about to try the long line literally the evening it dropped a valve and took out half of the piston.  

I am 6ft 225 ish so I got some weight.  I was going off handle on boom no problem at wide open 43 mph  or 41 with my buddies mastercraft. I know long line is different.  I will be using a flyhigh pylon. 

383  350 hp makes a little more sense but if you click on the  transmission recomidations under the mercruiser 383 stroker it calls for a 72c and not the 71c.  The  curve if you go off of velvet drive  website it puts the tourqes and horsepower curve above.  But knowing you are using a 71c puts me at ease.    My transmission has never been rebuilt or resealed but I don't think that's an issue either. 

My thoughts on the towsports package quicksilver package it gives you a new engine  not rebuilt  and new transmission.   The 2021 will have a hurth zf45c transmission .  Which I'm not familiar with.   8m0173791(if I wrote right) will replace the current towsports package.  I am waiting until  they release  more information  I called mercruiser directly because current part number goes to PNLA when you put it in in on merc net.

But here's the crazy part..  towsports package is at 5200 rpm at 315 hp 

865108R10 is for the 383 stroker mpi. And that shows it recommends or requires the 72c at 46- 4800 rpms. .. I know the difference is tourq I get that but that's what throws me off.

My other thought was to rebuild my current engine and stroke it with a different cam like woodski  did  however, it goes back to number1 its outdated efi and i would spend  a grand easy  replacing parts in the vst tank among everything else.  I know it needs to  be cleaned out and have gaskets/float replaced.  I  would have a random die at ide and then sometimes it loads up and I can smell fuel. Granted  yes some of this is the norm.       So #2  I'd have to replace the efi system and I am researching the holley sniper efi   tbi and delete my vst tank and the Mefi 1  ecm and start fresh. 

I am leaning towards the 350 hp over the 315  but the transmission thing has my my head spinning lol. The 72c is longer by like 3/4 of a 8 inch too.

But then the 315 is brand new and not rebuilt and I am gaining 65 hp and I get a new transmission. 

Sorry for being scatterbrained on this Haha. I rarely post on forums and I'm trying to put up pictures of boat but file is too big and I can't make it smaller. 

I always joked I'd put a new engine before selling because it looks brand new moreless minus 4 or 5 small hairline scratches below gunnel.

 

 

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Other wise I slalom ski at 36 mph free ski at 28 off  so thats not an issue on performance.   If I remember correctly the 454 efi mpi is the 72c. The bell housing is the same. This is what mercruiser said.    Now on this also the scorpion 377 was using the 71c transmission but I think that was at 315 or 330 hp  The 454 is rated at 395. I've been  confused by that too because technically  350 hp at  flywheel could be more like  320 -330 using a 1-1 which falls in the scorpion side and be a 71c transmission I forgot to add that sorry about that.

Mercruiser 383 350 specs

Transmission capabilital with ZF 63A, ZF 63IV, ZF 63C, VD 72C, VD 5000A, VD 5000V

That's where the confusion lies

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Here is an option for you which is my previous engine build which ran great and was excellent for barefooting:  I installed Fast Burn 385 cylinder heads, ZZ4 camshaft, Stainless Marine exhaust manifolds coupled to a 4" diameter exhaust.  That combination was good for 50+ mph, spun up quick and idle quality was excellent.  That combination will pop up a barefooter with ease and allow you to run the speed you want at less than full throttle. I kept the 71C with zero issues.  A lot of what I was doing was going after weight reduction, so much of my build involved aluminum parts, although I started off going for more power.  The weight reduction improves the slalom wake, flattens the bump at 28 and improves the troughs at short line.  I also run the Weber carb although blueprinted and modified so the fuel system is pretty simple.  Just my opinion, I think you are overthinking the transmission.

A key for your build is to make sure you go to the next generation (1996) Vortec cylinder heads as that is the key to boost Hp up over 300 due to much improved airflow.  Also, if you are running the original CVP prop and you do bump up the Hp significantly, you will need to upgrade that to avoid cavitation.

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Thanks for both of your inputs!   I'm going  pretty much go with  what both you said and  say the 350 hp from mercruiser will work with my transmission .  The only reason   leaning more that route is because its mpi and its turn key and realistically you cant build a mpi for what they sell them for. From scratch. 

I'd rather not have a carb but you are getting really good horsepower numbers so it makes total sense  also and that's what your boats came with.  I'd prefer  efi system and its thousands to replace or upgrade I get that.. and you put that money more twords heads, manifolds ,cams, the works. We all have a budget. 

.  Are running 5grand at wot? That would be my last question.  I am getting a different prop for sure. 

I will know for sure after January what  have to work with just need to get a few things taken care of. Mainly cash Haha but that's normal lol. 

I can give a follow up once boat is done.  The other thing I am for sure doing is get rid of driveshaft packing and go with dripless. 

Thanks again!

Ps I Screenshoted  buds for reference if I go that route 

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Man, that is a massive upgrade.  What will your total cost be, pushing $13k?  Just as an FYI, my build cost me $8,200 including $500 dyno fee and new exhaust hoses, elbows and tips.  You will need to replace your exhaust from manifolds to transom for better air flow because your current ones are 2 5/8" inner diameter, I went with 3.5" and @Woodski I think is running 4".  It looks big/tall, will it fit in the engine compartment OK?

I am running an ACME 425 prop.  That is a 13x13 with .80" cup, as recommended by ACME.  My WOT is 4,900 rpm and my speed is 49mph.  

 

Screenshot 2020-10-14 144814.jpg

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You are welcome.  My combo pulled 5,500 RPM so I was pretty happy with that.  One caveat to that, it is also much lighter than a stock Echelon which helps along with a well massaged prop.  I can understand your apprehension on a carb although I feel carb concerns tend to be overblown for a boat application as they run a lot of steady state, @Michigan boarder can also chime in on his experience with a carbed boat.  EFI cold starts are really where it shines compared to a carb, performance levels are comparable.

Just my thoughts, given the very different accessory package configuration be prepared to fab up a variety of parts to fit everything together and add that as a budget item.  I think it would be wise to look for one with a similar accessory drive setup.

Another source option:  https://www.michiganmotorz.com/complete-turn-engines-c-31_49.html  

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Its supposed to be the same  as the standard 5.7   just stroked and puts it in a 6.2 displacement  but I was wondering about that too because I think  the 454  dog house is a bit wider and taller and this I'm worried about too. I need to get  actual dimensions.  Plus the 72c transmission length threw a curve ball.  I think they say 72c is because the new ski boats have a lot more down pressure and need more horsepower to go just as fast.  But I'm over that. I'd just run my transmission 

I need to research that more on the  full measurements.

5.7 350 mag mpi 315 hp for sure fit.   I researched sanger and they ran that for many years with a 13 pitch  Yes I know totally different boat but it's a baseline and I'd go down to a 515 I the that's a 12.64  or something.  Sorry might be off. Too much reading lol.

Going from 265 horsepower to 315horsepower plus multi port and 5200 rpm vis  4400  I definitely had lag on my engine but anyways that's a huge gain too.

I work for a mercruiser dealer so I'm thinking like the 10k to what ever new price for the other one.

Yes steep but remember you did your build in 13 and prices have gone up since.  And you used a lot of your parts off the old engine plus other mods .So if you take 8200 plus  2500-3000 for a holley sniper efi kit you would be over 10k Not knocking what you did but I would want to stick to efi and That's the cheapest.

On the exhaust side did you remove the fiberglass sound box then? And ran straight from  risers out?

 

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Woodski I looked at Michigan motors to and they have that 5.7 325 hp for 9 grand and some change but the exhaust risers come out totally different and that's more a indmar setup I think well how I picture it but that was something I thought about too. I just don't know if thats left hand standard  or right hand standard.   90 degree clock on transmission I know but  backing to the left would mess me up too much 

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The 5.7 and 6.2 are based on the small block Chevy engine so the long block is same size, overall size depends on the accessories which will include front dress, intake and exhaust setup and EFI unit.  All the GM engines are LHR (unless specified different) so no issue there.  As you are in a Merc dealership, can you simply get a long block, then use most of your accessories and buy your EFI unit of choice?  Don't forget the EFI driver, may be a MEFI unit you don't currently have.   

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Yup merc dealer.   Going from mefi 2 or whatever is  a grand plus for ECU. Then you got wire harnesses and then  the vst tank needs rebuilt and that's  over 500  in its self and again outdated.  So then its high pressure pump ,  intake, fuel rail and so on.  I kinda did my homework.   But definitely  well past 3 grand to 4 if you want to say upgrade efi systems and staying with merc . Basically  if you add the cost of long block plus the efi system I would need as a upgrade you couldn't do it for 10 unless you bought a used  ecu,  intake,  throrttle body, wire harnesses and the cool fuel tank.  I'm missing other components but you get what I'm saying. 

 

 

  

Edited by 1994echelon
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Here is another option - find a pulled unit (might be on eBay) that is being swapped out for a ZO conversion.  Florida Inboards does these swaps mainly on CC196's for hard core tourney skiers that love those boats and want the latest speed control system (used in slalom tournaments).  Or you also may find a pull out on Great Lakes Skipper.

Note:  Zero Off is the latest speed control system and the only system used on boats eligible for approved slalom tournaments.  It is only compatible for a DBW boat, hence not retrofittable to pre 2007 ski boats.

Good luck and yes, I have noticed you have been deep in the research phase.  I am only trying to add to your bucket of knowledge as with every project something just happens to get overlooked inadvertently and adds cost.  FYI - Mefi's can be had for ~$700 through Bakes as an example according to my buddy that just purchased one for his boat.

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11 hours ago, 1994echelon said:

Its supposed to be the same  as the standard 5.7   just stroked and puts it in a 6.2 displacement  but I was wondering about that too because I think  the 454  dog house is a bit wider and taller and this I'm worried about too. I need to get  actual dimensions.  Plus the 72c transmission length threw a curve ball.  I think they say 72c is because the new ski boats have a lot more down pressure and need more horsepower to go just as fast.  But I'm over that. I'd just run my transmission 

I need to research that more on the  full measurements.

5.7 350 mag mpi 315 hp for sure fit.   I researched sanger and they ran that for many years with a 13 pitch  Yes I know totally different boat but it's a baseline and I'd go down to a 515 I the that's a 12.64  or something.  Sorry might be off. Too much reading lol.

Going from 265 horsepower to 315horsepower plus multi port and 5200 rpm vis  4400  I definitely had lag on my engine but anyways that's a huge gain too.

I work for a mercruiser dealer so I'm thinking like the 10k to what ever new price for the other one.

Yes steep but remember you did your build in 13 and prices have gone up since.  And you used a lot of your parts off the old engine plus other mods .So if you take 8200 plus  2500-3000 for a holley sniper efi kit you would be over 10k Not knocking what you did but I would want to stick to efi and That's the cheapest.

On the exhaust side did you remove the fiberglass sound box then? And ran straight from  risers out?

 

Wow, you're right, my build was 7 years ago but it seems like it was last year.  Good point.

Personally, I'd want more than 315hp.  You can actually do a rebuild on your current engine and add Vortec heads and get that for way less money.  You know my story, but I'd go every bit of 350hp or more.  The main reason I wanted it was to make it competitive with current modern direct drive boats, now when/if I sell it I know it is very marketable.  And it's just plain fun.

On the exhaust - here's an explanation of what I did from another thread.  I kept my muffler but modified it.

https://www.themalibucrew.com/index.php?/forums/topic/72904-broken-exhaust-manifold-crossover/&tab=comments#comment-1141790

Edit: sloppy on the link, 7th post down from the original question.

Edited by Michigan boarder
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On 10/12/2020 at 6:53 PM, 1994echelon said:

 Current 1994 mercruiser 350 mag efi  265HP.  

This fall I dropped a valve causing serveiw engine damage and need to at min have engine bored and new heads.

I have what I consider a outdated efi system that wasn't running top notch to part with . I am  considering either doing a new mercruiser plus series  315 hp towsports package with or without transmission  or  a 383 stroker  that would  require me to do a new transmission   since it's a velvet drive 71c  10-17-004 and my understanding it wont work.

I was wondering if anyone else had any suggestions on what other engine options I should consider?   The  boat is mint and only has 500 hrs so I am shocked at an engine failure but it happens. 

Thanks!

I just went through a similar debate. I have a 1995 Flightcraft Sportster with the 5.7 EFI and 856 hours on it. I noticed at the beginning of the season I was starting to get some blow by out of the valve cover breather hoses on both sides of the engine. The boat sat for a few years before and the engine had already been previously rebuilt by someone that shouldn't have been doing it. I knew I had to do something about it in the imminent future. I pulled the boat out of the water about a month ago just to prevent something catastrophic from happening as the blow by kept getting worse. I threw around the idea of either a new MerCruiser 5.7 either running a carb set up or running a more modern EFI set up than I have or rebuilding the original engine. While the new MerCruiser set up would've been fun with the extra horsepower and you get 0 hour engine, it came down to cost which ultimately helped me make my decision. Putting the MerCruiser set up just didn't make any sense when considering what my boat is worth and how much money I would put into it with that kind of set up. The MerCruiser kit was a little over double the cost of rebuilding my original engine. 

If I knew I was going to keep the boat for the rest of my life I suppose it doesn't matter how much money you put into something and if you can financially swing it, then do it. No-one has ever said they didn't want more horsepower. I got my rebuilt engine back from the shop a little over a week ago and I couldn't be more happy with it. While I am still in the break in hours, I already feel like it has significantly more power than I had before. I have a new more hours before I can fully open it up but if it can equal or beat the old setups speed of 48mph @ 4800rpm I'll be floored. I spent ~$4,600 on the rebuild including new plugs, distributor, wires, water pump, and cooling hoses and it includes a 3 year unlimited hour warranty. 

Later down the line possibly next summer or fall I would like to switch to a more modern EFI set up, something like a Holly sniper (a want not a need) which at that point I really have a hard time justifying double the cost for a rebuilt vs a new MerCruiser set up. 

https://www.holley.com/products/fuel_systems/fuel_injection/sniper_efi/sniper_2300_2bbl/sniper_2300/parts/550-850

This sniper set up is good for 350hp.

If it was me and I wanted more power I would do what @Michigan boarder said and put more modern heads and intake on your original set up and do down the rebuild road. 

 

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Definitely good points for sure!  Ok regroup Haha! 

@woodski I will take that into consideration for sure! I just would prefer new or rebuild what I have. I don't want someones head ache and I'm familiar with zero off,  stargazer,  and dts. I'll toy around with how you and @Michigan boarder  did your builds I might not do everything but get at least 350 and then do a more modern intake I think I found you can do a 12 bolt or I keep my intake.  Do the vortec heads ,  stroke it for more horsepower. Do the cam and the works. I'll have to talk to people I know who build engines and get a price tell them what I am after. I will price it out  with  a holley sniper efi kit again its cheaper than going with  mercruiser stuff like @bjl99 said and I know my efi system has issues that why I need to upgrade my efi system off the top. 

Also I would rather keep what I got and don't plan on selling  like basically ever but that's a long time.   I mean basically if you are talking  about the boat in itself a realistic upgrade would be the 2006 era responses when you could still run them 50 mph range and have something badass.  I haven't skied behind anything new so I don't know anything differently.  All I know is like I said a new boat is all about the wake and not how fast it will go wide open.  Its about how fast it gets there.  And to be honest I don't really like the look of the new Malibu response or the ski nautique.  I liked the 200  then I learned it is glued to the water and sucks gas like crazy well there goes barefooting  and like I said I'm hooked it's just hard to find calm water in northwest  Iowa.  I probably over think a lot of stuff yeah  I'll take a echelon over the new stuff any days.    And this will probably make you all laugh but there is no way in hell I'd spend 90k for a boat that goes  45 maybe with  400 plus hp?? The responses with the Corvette ls3 would go 55+    so yeah we got what  considered one of the best boats still.  Yeah the spray I get that but it just makes things interesting!

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If you are planning to upgrade the EFI, I would research and compare MPI units to the TBI one you are considering.  To your comment on not doing everything on a rebuild, the 2 scenarios that bump the cost a significant level will be stroking it (crank / rods / pistons), then your EFI unit.  Like I noted in a previous post, you can get a lot (all you will ever need in reality) via heads / cam / exhaust setup.  The stroker part is torque and low end more than any top end power.

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