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93 Echelon Engine Replacement


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I am restoring a 1993 Echelon. It sat outside through 8 years of Missouri weather and was not properly winterized. I figure the engine, a Mercruiser 350 Magnum Tournament Ski, is shot. The thermostat housing was completely clogged with rust. I imagine the cooling channels in the block are full of rust. I did get the engine to turn over and ran it for a few minutes, but water wasn't circulating properly (almost none out the exhaust).Even if I could rebuild the 350 (parts seem hard to come by), I would rather drop in a newer EFI engine. Suggestions on a good EFI engine for the Echelon would be appreciated.

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BlindSquirrel

Cool project, post some pics when you can. 
 

Rust in the thermostat and other places is not really a sign of poor winterizing. Might be worth hooking it up to a hose and seeing how it does before going through the work and money of replacement. Either way, you’re in the right place for help through the project, lots of really knowledgeable folks on here.

I have no direct experience with these guys but they have a good rep here on this site for new engines.
 

https://www.michiganmotorz.com

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Thanks for the feedback, BlindSquirrel. I'll try to post some pics (when I figure out how :)).

I did hook it up to water and ran it. After about 4 minutes of VERY rough running from idle up to about 2,000 rpm, I shut it down because I wasn't getting any water out the exhaust. I think I was seeing engine oil in the exhaust - haven't verified.

Here's what I've done so far (not necessarily in this order):

  • Washed it
  • Cleaned all the upholstery and carpets
  • Got out the wasps nests
  • Removed the fuel tank, drained 8 yr old gas, flushed it and cleaned the interior, replaced the fuel pick-up hose and internal filter
  • Replaced the fuel hose from the tank to the fuel pump
  • Replaced the bleed hose from fuel pump to the carb
  • Took off the fuel lines, flushed and cleaned them
  • Cleaned the carb and spark arrestor
  • Replaced the fuel pump
  • Replaced the fuel/water separator
  • Replaced the sea water impeller
  • Changed the oil and filter
  • Changed spark plugs
  • Changed transmission fluid
  • Repacked the prop shaft stuffing box
  • Removed all the freeze plugs, drain plugs and hoses to drain the rusty water
  • Got the engine to start and ran it for a few minutes then started taking it apart to see where water circulation was blocked (thermostat housing and water pump completely plugged with rust)
  • I've started buffing out the hull (need to patch a few gouges in the gelcoat - it banged a dock)

Even if I can rebuild the engine and get it running smoothly, I'd really like to switch to an EFI engine. Plus, I'm building a new house this year and don't really have time to mess with an engine rebuild. I've never done a rebuild before and don't particularly enjoy playing mechanic.

I'll check out Michigan Motorz.

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Few other things I did:

  • Swivel on the ski pylon was frozen - took it apart, cleaned everything and got it working smoothly
  • Started taking the teak swim platform apart to clean, sand and refinish
  • Replaced the battery

Before I could even get it here, I had to overhaul the trailer:

  • New tires
  • New bearings
  • New brake pads and drums
  • New tow hitch
  • New brake lines
  • Replace the surge brake system with an electric-over-hydraulic system
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Posted (edited)

Some pictures

 

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This wasp nest was in the fuel tank compartment. It's about the size of a baseball.

 

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Edited by Jobe1850
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One of our nearby lakes (in the summer, of course)

20200711_124441.jpg.dc69804a80974992a7b1e78d5b172d83.jpg

 

The weather here today

 

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  • Like 2
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1 hour ago, Eagleboy99 said:

You in the PNW?  Looks like Sumac bushes in the pic.  Also, the boat looks great!  The engine OTOH...  LOL

 

West central Idaho - pine, tamarack and aspen.

Yep, looks good, but I don't think I can row it fast enough to pull a skier. Maybe add a sail? :boat:

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Michigan boarder

Nice looking boat!  The carb is probably all gummed up.  You can get a bolt on replacement carb for about $350 shipped to you from this place, I just replaced mine last summer: https://flyingfishcarburetors.com/

If you can get it warm again I'd do a compression test on each cylinder.  If they come out OK, then you might consider running it with the existing engine.

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@Jobe1850 - What does the inside of the intake manifold look like, is it as full of corrosion as the thermostat housing is?  If not, and it looks okay, your block may not be as bad as your initial impression indicates.  You can remove the block drain plugs on each side of the block to see if you have good flow in the block or even simply pop out the core plugs to evaluate.  Don't forget when you go to an EFI setup your fuel pump and plumbing will also need updating.  Is there a specific reason you want to go EFI?  Good choice on shopping at Michigan Motorz.

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10 hours ago, Woodski said:

@Jobe1850 - What does the inside of the intake manifold look like, is it as full of corrosion as the thermostat housing is?  If not, and it looks okay, your block may not be as bad as your initial impression indicates.  You can remove the block drain plugs on each side of the block to see if you have good flow in the block or even simply pop out the core plugs to evaluate.  Don't forget when you go to an EFI setup your fuel pump and plumbing will also need updating.  Is there a specific reason you want to go EFI?  Good choice on shopping at Michigan Motorz.

@Woodski - Thanks for the advice. I haven't taken the manifold off and don't intend to. The port on the intake manifold where the thermostat housing mounts was completely packed with corrosion. I started digging it out but quit after collecting a pint and a half. Here's what it looks like now:

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Looking into the engine through the water pump ports (right and left), things don't seem too bad:

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The thing is, I have no desire to rebuild this engine myself. It's not something I'm good at and not anything I enjoy. The aggravation and stress of doing the wheel bearing and brakes on the trailer probably took 5 years off my life. So, I'm not going to break it down far enough to remove the core plugs. If I take it to a shop, they'll probably charge me somewhere north of a grand just to tell me whether or not it's worth rebuilding then another $2-3K to do the rebuild, if they can find the parts.

I did some research, and the thermostat housing is obsolete and only available as a used part. There is a newer version which should work. The intake manifold is also obsolete and unavailable. I didn't go any deeper to see if there are alternatives. I don't know anything about modifying engines and don't have any friends or acquaintances who do, so I wouldn't be comfortable grabbing some non-OEM manifold and slapping it on.

Also, as I said, I may be getting oil blow-by which could mean rusted, scored, pitted cylinders/pistons/rings, frozen rings, cracked block, who knows. It's just more time and effort than I'm willing to invest. I've already put about $300 and 40-50 hours into it. The more I spend on the old engine, the less I have towards a new one. I'm building a new house, so I can't afford a new boat and can't waste lots on the one I have.

Sorry for the rant. I'm just frustrated that this turned out worse than I expected, plus it's my own fault.

As for the EFI - easier starting, better fuel economy, less tinkering and adjusting for changes in altitude (lakes here are about 5,000 feet higher than other places I visit), less acceleration lag - at least from my experience with cars. Maybe I'm wrong, wouldn't be the first time. :blush: Now if I could drop a turbo charged diesel in there... (all my rolling stock is diesel).

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2 hours ago, Jobe1850 said:

As for the EFI - easier starting, better fuel economy, less tinkering and adjusting for changes in altitude

Easier starting, yes. 

Better economy, probably not. 

Less tinkering, probably. 

Have you checked the oil since you ran it? 

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Michigan boarder

OK, maybe it's best to take a step back.  I totally understand the time/knowledge thresholds, been thru that too.  How much do you have total into the boat as it sits, and what is your budget to put into it?  Are you thinking short block and bolt on all of your marinizing equipment and accessories and add EFI, or are you thinking of a complete assy that drops in and connects to the harness and transmission?  Honestly if you are this frustrated now it might be best to sell it as is and look for something that is ready to go, no matter which direction you decide on the repairs it will take some time and patience.

  • Like 1
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Unless you get an exact replacement engine, it won't be just a simple plug and play.  There will be subsystem modifications needed to make it functional (fuel system, pumps, filters, lines) and then probably setup requirements to actually make it run correctly.  EFI may not be the panacea you are expecting, a well calibrated carburetor is actually a very functional device although as noted above, yes EFI does have some performance improvements (cold starting).  With your comment on blow by, that does indicate there may be combustion chamber sealing (rings, cylinder walls) concerns.  You indicate not wanting to spend time on the boat/engine due to other projects, although to cement your decision with data a compression and leak down test would be a good idea.

I will say your comment on 'restoring' a boat = spending many hours to get to the finish line.  If you don't have or want to spend the time it is probably best to cut bait and move on.

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That boat looks seriously clean and much deserving of getting a solid engine plant in there. For ease of everything I'd go with a carb'd engine. Any speed shop's close by that you can engage? You could go with a whole new engine or piece in a short/long block with the parts you have. Keep us posted,

Steve B.

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Posted (edited)

OK, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I bought this boat new in 1994. I don't remember what month, but I had been negotiating with the dealer for at least six months. I paid $16,500 which included the trailer, bimini top, a tank of gas and a couple other little items that I don't recall. Since then, I've added pop-up cleats, replaced the carpet (spilled oil all over a large section), and had some of the upholstery redone. It's been on trips to 7 different lakes in Idaho, 3 in Kentucky, 1 in Arkansas, 4 in Missouri, 1 in Kansas and 1 in Utah. I am somewhat attached to it; however, if I could afford a NEW boat, I'd trade it without hesitation. Well, I can't afford a new boat. I bought used once before and won't do it again.

I'm the one who banged a dock. We were with friends at Lake of the Ozarks. They had a slip but no boat at the time. I got up early one morning before anyone else. The weather was beautiful and the water like glass. I decided to go for a drive by myself. It's not often that Ozarks is anywhere close to smooth. By the time I decided to come back in, the water was choppy, and a wave that I misjudged threw me into the edge of the slip tearing up the rub rail and putting several dings and scratched in the gelcoat. I was angry with myself but took it out on the boat by taking it home, parking it, covering it and letting it sit for 8 years. I thought I had finally winterized it but obviously never did. Stupid. :Frustrated:

In Missouri, we didn't have any friends who were into any water sports beyond cruising and fishing, so I wasn't pressured to fix the Echelon. We've now moved back to Idaho and are 10-30 minutes from two beautiful lakes. We're also very close to our kids and grandkids. The Mrs., who never really wanted or cared about the boat in the first place, now insists we have a boat! :whistle:

As for the restoration: My budget is $5-7K. I have about $600 in parts and supplies, and 80 hours into it. I am willing to put the time and effort into patching, buffing, polishing and waxing the gelcoat (started); replacing the rub rail (started); refinishing the swim platform (started); cleaning the carpet and upholstery (already done); changing fluids (already done); and doing other basic maintenance. If you look at my earlier posts, I've done a good bit of work already. An engine rebuild is just too much for me.

You all have convinced me to stick with a carbureted engine. I'm going to call around and see if there is a local shop that will help me out. I'm in a small resort community over 100 miles from the nearest marine dealership of any significance. All the local sports dealerships locally are now busy with snowmobiles and ATVs. I think my best bet may be one of the local auto shops or take it 100+ miles away and hope I can trust the mechanics.

Thanks everyone!

Edited by Jobe1850
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Good thought.

One small high school running very limited classes - mostly online. I'll have to check what they offer for shop classes. No vo-tech nearby.

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Michigan boarder
4 hours ago, Woodski said:

Do you have a local high school with a shop class or a Vo-Tech college nearby?  Might be an option. 

I like this idea.  A small block Chevy rebuild with zero emissions, ECM's, no programs to flash, nothing.  A nice easy focus on basic mechanical operation of a simple machine.  I bet they'll jump on it.

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Michigan boarder
5 hours ago, Jobe1850 said:

OK, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I bought this boat new in 1994. I don't remember what month, but I had been negotiating with the dealer for at least six months. I paid $16,500 which included the trailer, bimini top, a tank of gas and a couple other little items that I don't recall. Since then, I've added pop-up cleats, replaced the carpet (spilled oil all over a large section), and had some of the upholstery redone. It's been on trips to 7 different lakes in Idaho, 3 in Kentucky, 1 in Arkansas, 4 in Missouri, 1 in Kansas and 1 in Utah. I am somewhat attached to it; however, if I could afford a NEW boat, I'd trade it without hesitation. Well, I can't afford a new boat. I bought used once before and won't do it again.

I'm the one who banged a dock. We were with friends at Lake of the Ozarks. They had a slip but no boat at the time. I got up early one morning before anyone else. The weather was beautiful and the water like glass. I decided to go for a drive by myself. It's not often that Ozarks is anywhere close to smooth. By the time I decided to come back in, the water was choppy, and a wave that I misjudged threw me into the edge of the slip tearing up the rub rail and putting several dings and scratched in the gelcoat. I was angry with myself but took it out on the boat by taking it home, parking it, covering it and letting it sit for 8 years. I thought I had finally winterized it but obviously never did. Stupid. :Frustrated:

In Missouri, we didn't have any friends who were into any water sports beyond cruising and fishing, so I wasn't pressured to fix the Echelon. We've now moved back to Idaho and are 10-30 minutes from two beautiful lakes. We're also very close to our kids and grandkids. The Mrs., who never really wanted or cared about the boat in the first place, now insists we have a boat! :whistle:

As for the restoration: My budget is $5-7K. I have about $600 in parts and supplies, and 80 hours into it. I am willing to put the time and effort into patching, buffing, polishing and waxing the gelcoat (started); replacing the rub rail (started); refinishing the swim platform (started); cleaning the carpet and upholstery (already done); changing fluids (already done); and doing other basic maintenance. If you look at my earlier posts, I've done a good bit of work already. An engine rebuild is just too much for me.

You all have convinced me to stick with a carbureted engine. I'm going to call around and see if there is a local shop that will help me out. I'm in a small resort community over 100 miles from the nearest marine dealership of any significance. All the local sports dealerships locally are now busy with snowmobiles and ATVs. I think my best bet may be one of the local auto shops or take it 100+ miles away and hope I can trust the mechanics.

Thanks everyone!

OK, the heck with selling, keep that boat.  You can certainly get it done under that budget.  

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You can find running carb'd small blocks all day long for cheap. Then throw your marine parts on it and go. You need some competent help too, for tasks like shaft/engine alinement. Carb tuning, timing adjustments. Good project,

Steve B.

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