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2001 VLX - Light grey smoke, noisy shifting, delayed throttle, taking on water.....


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A few weeks ago I noticed some light grey smoke coming out of the exhaust, but only at lower RPMs. Boat runs great and I assumed it was running rich. Oil level is great, temps are great.

More recently I noticed a slight delay in power when I throttle down after it was been running for a while, and also it makes some noise when going in and out of drive but that has been inconsistent. My wife didn't notice the throttle delay at first, as it was very subtle. 

Last weekend she started noticing the delay and after we had been out for a few hours she was going to pull me and said it would not rev past idle, even at full throttle. My father-in-law told me he was hearing the engine knock. Terrified, I got back in the boat to analyze everything and discovered that thankfully my father-in-law thought that the sound it was making going in and out of drive was rod knock.... All temps, pressure, etc were good but I had noticed the bilge pump running. I opened the engine compartment and noticed quite a bit of water. We gave it about 10 min while the bilge pumped everything out and let everything cool down (didn't know if my temp gauges were accurate). Once dry it started right up and had plenty of power, running as smooth as when it comes off the trailer.

So.... has anyone experienced these symptoms? I am new to boat ownership and learning everything this year. Need to figure out where water is coming in from, but could that be related to the smoke and throttle issues? Are they all related? Or all separate issues? Any tips or information would be greatly appreciated!

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1)Find the water leak, ask for help if you can’t find it or need suggestions on what it means or how to fix it. 

2) what maintenance has been done by prior owner if known?

3) what maintenance have you done?  (None is a starting point.)

4) how does the oil look on the dipstick?

5) when you describe a delay when “I throttle down” are you adding throttle or returning to idle?  I am guessing you mean throttle down as in trying to increase engine speed by throttling up or moving the lever forward?   (Just trying to agree on phrases as I would call that throttling up as you are trying to increase RPMs.) 

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1 minute ago, Bozboat said:

1)Find the water leak, ask for help if you can’t find it or need suggestions on what it means or how to fix it. 

2) what maintenance has been done by prior owner if known?

3) what maintenance have you done?  (None is a starting point.)

4) how does the oil look on the dipstick?

5) when you describe a delay when “I throttle down” are you adding throttle or returning to idle?  I am guessing you mean throttle down as in trying to increase engine speed by throttling up or moving the lever forward?   (Just trying to agree on phrases as I would call that throttling up as you are trying to increase RPMs.) 

1. Will do. Would it be bad to stick a garden hose in the bilge on trailer, fill with some water and watch to see if it leaks out anywhere?

2. Regular fluid changes and impeller changes annually. Steering cable replaced last year.

3. I had oil changed and impeller changed at beginning of summer.

4. Oil looks good

5. I mean adding throttle to increase RPMs, sorry for the confusing wording!

Thank you for your help!

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3 hours ago, ChadFulton said:

I opened the engine compartment and noticed quite a bit of water.

How much is that?  How high up the engine?

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It sounds like you have a few separate issues. 
1) gray smoke can be just steam as the hot water mixes with exhaust gas and then exits the stern. It’s most noticeable at low speeds while on plane.

2) water in bilge. Put the boat on the trailer and on an incline. Pull plugs so all water drains. Put plugs back in and then back the boat into water while on the trailer. Do not start engine. Just start looking in the bilge to see if any water is coming in. If not, then start the engine and do the same. Still no leaks... start filling all the ballast tanks and check again. Be patient and you’ll find it. 
 

3) sluggish throttle. This could be a few things. Check engine temp and trans and vdrive temp when this happens. Try and isolate if it’s truly an engine issue or something else 

 

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Tackle the water leak first. Follow saltydogs advice.  As JustGary asks how high the water got, if the water got high enough to cause steam, your starter got soaked which will shorten its life-span.
 

Once you get the water leak fixed, then we can start looking at the sluggish problem.  It is easier to tackle one issue at a time.  Given the age of the boat, it is time for a full tune.  Tackle the electrical by replacing plugs, wires, rotor, cap, then start on the fuel side by cleaning the throttle body, check the fuel pressure and replace the fuel filter/s.

Edited by Bozboat
  • Like 3
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Thank you all for the help. Had a few minutes last night to take a quick look at the boat on the trailer to see if I could find any obvious leak points. After climbing underneath, I very quickly noticed the front tracking fin is loose. I have not run aground or hit anything, so it must've been that way when I bought it made the amateur mistake of not investigating the boat thoroughly enough. Would that seem like a probably leak point? Seems like a good first place to start to me.

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9 minutes ago, ChadFulton said:

Thank you all for the help. Had a few minutes last night to take a quick look at the boat on the trailer to see if I could find any obvious leak points. After climbing underneath, I very quickly noticed the front tracking fin is loose. I have not run aground or hit anything, so it must've been that way when I bought it made the amateur mistake of not investigating the boat thoroughly enough. Would that seem like a probably leak point? Seems like a good first place to start to me.

good find, start with the obvious.    

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54 minutes ago, ChadFulton said:

Thank you all for the help. Had a few minutes last night to take a quick look at the boat on the trailer to see if I could find any obvious leak points. After climbing underneath, I very quickly noticed the front tracking fin is loose. I have not run aground or hit anything, so it must've been that way when I bought it made the amateur mistake of not investigating the boat thoroughly enough. Would that seem like a probably leak point? Seems like a good first place to start to me.

Check the nuts on the tracking fins.  If they're loose as you state, be sure to apply some 3M 5200 sealant between the tracking fins and the hull and tighten them.  The sealant will dry to be watertight and will make a very strong bond.  

 

Filling the bilge with a garden hose to find a lead is not a bad idea, but you don't want it to be touching any of the engine components.  A few inches would do the trick.  You may want to wait until after you fix the tracking fins and allow the sealant to cure.  

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21 hours ago, Slayer said:

Check the nuts on the tracking fins.  If they're loose as you state, be sure to apply some 3M 5200 sealant between the tracking fins and the hull and tighten them.  The sealant will dry to be watertight and will make a very strong bond.  

 

Filling the bilge with a garden hose to find a lead is not a bad idea, but you don't want it to be touching any of the engine components.  A few inches would do the trick.  You may want to wait until after you fix the tracking fins and allow the sealant to cure.  

Do you know of an easy way to check the nuts? I've been digging through the forums and found some old posts, all saying I need to remove the fuel tank to get to it, which I would really like to avoid if possible!

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20 minutes ago, ChadFulton said:

Do you know of an easy way to check the nuts? I've been digging through the forums and found some old posts, all saying I need to remove the fuel tank to get to it, which I would really like to avoid if possible!

I think what you've read is accurate.  I've never owned that vintage of a Malibu VD, only older DD's and more recent VD's and I've never had to address the tracking fins in the VD"s I've had.  Perhaps do some additional searching here, but from what I can recall from reading threads several years ago, accessing the tracking fins on your boat is a challenge.  There may be other solutions that I'm unaware of.

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Join the forum, this is how you can run a  20 year old boat. I would have given up years ago without the help available here.

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12 hours ago, Bozboat said:

Join the forum, this is how you can run a  20 year old boat. I would have given up years ago without the help available here.

Bought this boat earlier this year, my first boat. Great learning experience and this forum has been a lifesaver. Great resource of people willing to help a young gun just learning the ropes... I am very thankful!

Tracking fin is solid, no leaks detectable. No issues with fuel after pulling and reinstalling the fuel tank.

Started the engine and noticed a leak from the water pump. Going to do some more digging through old topics to see what I can learn about this, but any tips would be appreciated!

 

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53 minutes ago, ChadFulton said:

Bought this boat earlier this year, my first boat. Great learning experience and this forum has been a lifesaver. Great resource of people willing to help a young gun just learning the ropes... I am very thankful!

Tracking fin is solid, no leaks detectable. No issues with fuel after pulling and reinstalling the fuel tank.

Started the engine and noticed a leak from the water pump. Going to do some more digging through old topics to see what I can learn about this, but any tips would be appreciated!

 

@ChadFulton as @Bozboat noted, make sure to become a supporting member.  With your age of boat and the suggestion to do a full tune, you will get discounts at some of the vendors that frequent this site.  You will also be able to directly be able to link pictures to post to help the Crew diagnose any other issues.  

Cheap cost for all the future help and support.

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3 hours ago, ChadFulton said:

Started the engine and noticed a leak from the water pump.

If it is the cover plate leaking, gently tighten the screws.  If it still leaks, change the gasket.

If it is the rear shaft leaking, change the seal.  It is a 16x28x7 Buna-n oil seal.  It's fairly painless.

 

  • Like 3
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Ended up ordering a new pump. Dug around a bit more and compared my pump to pictures online and it looks trashed. Lots of potential leak points. Feel better about replacing altogether.

FYI was out of stock most places but was able to find it at Marine Engine Depot for $170. Johnson F6B-9 for anyone digging through the forum like I have been. 

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Somehow convinced my beautiful wife to spend our “date night in” in the garage with me replacing the pump (kids are 2 and 8mo… date night out evades us). 

Fingers crossed in goes well and runs smooth and dry in the morning!

thank you for the help in this community!

  • Like 2
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Update: old water pump was completely trashed. Got the new one in and was able to enjoy a few hours on the lake with the family today and stayed dry, for the most part. Water was dripping in from the prop shaft, which I’ve read is normal. And looked like maybe a little water coming in from the steering linkage above the rudder (not sure the correct terminology). 
 

While installing the pump I noticed a rubber hose that was kinked. Not sure what it is but that probably shouldn’t be kinked. Will try to get a pic to see if it’s an issue. 

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On 8/14/2021 at 8:15 PM, Bozboat said:

How about the other issues you mentioned earlier, smoke, hesitation? 
 

 

Thanks for the follow up. Ran great, no other issues detectable as of now. Was a fairly short run as it was a busy Saturday and got chased off by lightning so I'll keep a close eye on everything as we put more time in

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Pulling the fuel tank to get to the tracking fin bolts. Great family weekend project! I get in the zone and forget to take progress pics, so this is all I have

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IMG_8885.thumb.jpeg.0ab69a0f3d33cca4d5c001977273fced.jpeg

IMG_8883.thumb.jpeg.7c1c3e6c568dc725b0a06b2789019d23.jpeg

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And then the raw water pump. Once again, terrible at taking pics so this is all I have. But it was puking out water on the engine side and it obviously was not in good shape. Also hard to tell in the pic but was not aligned well, so lots of vibration. Weirdly when I pulled the old pump I planned on reusing the impeller as it was new this summer but when it was completely shredded. Will take more pics soon to post for those who are interested.

IMG_8894.thumb.jpeg.3e95a020d35685c34bec1fadab26a939.jpeg

Per an old forum thread I found, someone (forgot who, sorry!) recommending removing the teak platform and engine hatch. I highly recommend!

IMG_8947.thumb.jpeg.cd733401f550c43406a4928c84cd1f34.jpeg

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On 8/10/2021 at 4:26 PM, ChadFulton said:

Ended up ordering a new pump. Dug around a bit more and compared my pump to pictures online and it looks trashed. Lots of potential leak points. Feel better about replacing altogether.

FYI was out of stock most places but was able to find it at Marine Engine Depot for $170. Johnson F6B-9 for anyone digging through the forum like I have been. 

Keep the old pump and rebuild it.  @justgaryposted some helpful information on the seal.  I had that happen on an older DD of mine and did what you did, simply purchased a new pump and had it sent overnight.  I kept the old one and rebuilt it in the event I ever needed to do a quick swap vs. a rebuild.  It's not a bad idea to have one laying around.  

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