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Freshwater Conversion on 1990 Malibu Skier f3 - problems with engine cover fit


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JohnBrabant

Hi All:

I am new today to this forum, having recently acquired a fairly mint, low hours (200) Malibu Skier f3.  The boat sat for 12 years in a garage in the SW US and I have been working to get it up and running.  After draining the block and manifolds, I removed the thermostat housing and found it totally rusted, having had a pocket of water sitting in it for 12 years.  I got to thinking that maybe I should install a closed cooling system kit so that I don't have to deal with fully draining the boat engine every winter here in Vermont as well as protect the engine components from rust.  I ordered up a nice kit that was set up for my Mercruiser 5.7 ski engine and just finished installing it today.  Much to my disappointment, when I went to close the engine cover, I found the the engine cover hit upon the closed cooling system heat exchanger which mounts on the top front of the engine.  I will need to figure out a way to raise the cover and install some kind of perimeter blocking or something for the lid top fit on and raise the lid 6".  I am thinking about maybe fashioning something out of plastic wood or something. 

My question is, have any of you installed a similar closed cooling (freshwater cooling) system in your Malibu Skier and come up against the same issue with the engine cover no longer clearing the engine and closing fully?  Any advice anyone might have regarding a work-around to deal with this issue would be very much appreciated.

Thank you.  

Edited by JohnBrabant
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Six inches is quite a lot.  I doubt you could use the pylon properly if you raise the hood that much.  Did you adapt their mount bracket at all, or just bolt it on as provided?

The thread I made when I installed mine should help if you haven't read it.

 

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JohnBrabant
Posted (edited)

Shoot.  Didn’t even think about interfering with the pylon.  I didn’t modify the mounting bracket and looking at it last night, don’t know how I would. Getting pretty bummed at this point that I ever headed down this road frankly.  Really becoming an expensive nightmare. 

Edited by JohnBrabant
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39 minutes ago, JohnBrabant said:

Shoot.  Didn’t even think about interfering with the pylon.  I didn’t modify the mounting bracket and looking at it last night, don’t know how I would. Getting pretty bummed at this point that I ever headed down this road frankly.  Really becoming an expensive nightmare. 

Please post a few good photos of what you have so far.  Upload your photos to a hosting site and then link them here using the "Other Media" button.  This works best for me on a computer rather than a phone.

I was able to modify the bracket to get the whole thing tucked in just above the cam pulley and far enough back to barely miss the hood.  Putting a wood or plastic base down on the floor to raise the hood is no big deal, but I would probably shoot for no more than one inch or so if possible.

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JohnBrabant

I will at some point get photos posted Gary.  It took me some time to get the system installed as I had to remove plugs from the manifolds in order to install elbows.  The plugs were frozen and I was unable to remove them, so I had to wait for a machine shop to get them out.  To say this has been a tortured process would be an understatement.  I will be taking a second look at the cover and what I would need to do to accommodate the exchanger in the location it is presently at.  At this point I cannot see me stripping out all the hoses and relocating the exchanger.  The exchanger I bought is designed to fit directly over the former thermostat housing and don't know how I would even reroute the hoses given the configuration of the exchanger fittings, which are different than yours.  

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JohnBrabant

Just measured.  You are right Gary, it's close, but looks like it may interfere with using the ski pylon.  Back in your old investigation of Malibu and their use of closed cooling systems, you mentioned that the Malibu people said they simply raised the front of the cover a bit to accommodate the increased clearances needed.  I am now wondering if there is an adapter available that can be added to my existing pylon to add 1-2" to the pylon height?

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11 minutes ago, JohnBrabant said:

Just measured.  You are right Gary, it's close, but looks like it may interfere with using the ski pylon.  Back in your old investigation of Malibu and their use of closed cooling systems, you mentioned that the Malibu people said they simply raised the front of the cover a bit to accommodate the increased clearances needed.  I am now wondering if there is an adapter available that can be added to my existing pylon to add 1-2" to the pylon height?

Due to the forces involved, I doubt it would be an adapter.  You will probably have to buy a new pylon.  You should be able to access the mount under the floor so you can measure the length.  If you are lucky, a stock item from a newer boat will be longer.  I think it is reasonable to call Malibu directly and see if they can help you with the pylon.

I guess I am still in the camp of modifying your installation to try to lower the exchanger.  Maybe your pictures will show a way.

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Michigan boarder

@JohnBrabantmany show ski teams use an extended pylon with trick releases, you should be able to find one that way.  They are like 8" taller than a normal pylon.  

@footndale do you know of anyone he could contact for that?

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JohnBrabant

Gary, et. al.:

Below is the link to the pics of the Monitor (partial) closed cooling system as installed.  You can see that the engine cover hits the the exchanger (hits the fill cap which extends highest above engine) resulting in a 4" gap at the front of the engine doghouse cover.  

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/13UmTyXoazi4yIWF20HDpVl3IpiCQgrIP?usp=sharing

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It looks like you probably could get the exchanger a bit lower if you wanted to, and maybe without replumbing the hoses.

Also, we are in the throes of starting a group buy for stainless steel exhaust manifolds.  You may want to consider getting in on it for the eventual day when your cast iron ones rot out.

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JohnBrabant
Posted (edited)

Thanks Gary for all your help and advice.  I'll give it a look.  I won't for sure be able to get it to lower by more than 1- 2 inches at most, though.  There is a copper neck that fits into that rubber hose that connects to the former thermostat housing location.  If I can't get this figured out soon, I am planning to tear out the entire closed cooling system and go back to the original lake water cooled set up.  This has been such a disappointment, I cannot tell you.  Once removed, I will put the kit up for sale for a good price.  Will let you and the forum members know when I do.

What will those stainless manifolds be going for do you reckon?

Edited by JohnBrabant
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@JohnBrabant - I suggest you avoid doing a pylon change, it is heavily loaded when pulling a skier or other watersports activities.  Given the age of the boat, it can be difficult to re-secure a pylon once you break the existing installation.  Looking at your setup and considering you want to keep the work you have invested in, my suggestion is to modify your existing engine cover or probably a better option, find a used one to modify or make one that fits.  It looks like the cooling system is actually below the pylon and the actual interference is not total height, rather the slope on the front side is the limiter.  If you bump out the front, the cover appears to be able to close if not all the way, at least enough to allow rope swing clearance.  I would remove the cover and attach a ski rope to the pylon and swing it side to side either at the transom level or about an inch above the transom surface and take a measurement on the amount of clearance you have.  Making an engine cover is not impossible although it is a comprehensive project if that ends up being required.  There are lots of enterprising folks that can make a new vinyl cover for a modified engine box as many people do interior skins for old boats.  Hope this helps, good luck.  I understand your enthusiasm with a new boat, we all have that, I would take a step back before trying to solve a problem that may not actually exist.  The big question for that particular boat, are the stringers in good shape, they are made of wood and can deteriorate over time.  

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23 hours ago, Michigan boarder said:

@JohnBrabantmany show ski teams use an extended pylon with trick releases, you should be able to find one that way.  They are like 8" taller than a normal pylon.  

@footndale do you know of anyone he could contact for that?

Used to get extended directly from Malibu. Otherwise Kw in Michigan. Maybe lake Elmo. Sports can help to. Lately teams have Ben machining their own too. About $90 in solid aluminum, but that was May.

 

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14 hours ago, JohnBrabant said:

Thanks Gary for all your help and advice.  I'll give it a look.  I won't for sure be able to get it to lower by more than 1- 2 inches at most, though.  There is a copper neck that fits into that rubber hose that connects to the former thermostat housing location.  If I can't get this figured out soon, I am planning to tear out the entire closed cooling system and go back to the original lake water cooled set up.  This has been such a disappointment, I cannot tell you.  Once removed, I will put the kit up for sale for a good price.  Will let you and the forum members know when I do.

What will those stainless manifolds be going for do you reckon?

You have come this far, why turn back?  Modify your mount brackets and get the exchanger forward and down.  You may still need to adapt your hood, but the pylon will be good.

I managed to get the center of the exchanger directly over the belt with about 1/2" of clearance.  My hood barely touches the pressure cap, and I had to bend the overflow tube down a bit.  It helped to prop my phone on the engine on some foam, set the flash and timer on, then close the hood to see what was touching as I messed around with different mount configurations.  Fitting the hoses in was also fun, but they all found a home, including the Perfect Pass actuator.

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Michigan boarder
4 hours ago, footndale said:

Used to get extended directly from Malibu. Otherwise Kw in Michigan. Maybe lake Elmo. Sports can help to. Lately teams have Ben machining their own too. About $90 in solid aluminum, but that was May.

 

Kw, how did I forget that?  He's on our freaking team.

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Michigan boarder
On 8/27/2021 at 11:56 PM, footndale said:

Good to know he is still in business. Terrible marketing though.

He skis on the disc, on a chair, holding the handle with his teeth.  I think he turned 81 this year?  Still does the act.  His son runs a small machine tool shop and drives or skis with the team and is the equipment manager.  Three of his grand daughters are in the show, and his great grand daughter is in doubles and doubles strap.  Pretty cool!

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JohnBrabant

Thanks for all the ideas / advice everyone, particularly Gary.  It has all been so helpful in helping me figure out what to do in the near term and down the road.  Woodski, I like your idea about building a new engine cover which provides the clearance for the heat exchanger.  I could do that easily with marine plywood that I would then cover with fiberglass.  May try that as a winter project.  Until I can find the time to build a cover, I will be not be utilizing the closed cooling system, which I stripped off a couple days ago.  I was planning to put the kit up for sale, but I am now considering Woodski's idea and installing the closed cooling system down the road after either building or finding a used engine cover.  If anyone knows of a beat Malibu Skier that I could scavenge an engine cover off of that I could retrofit, please do let me know.  

Regarding the removal and replacement of the pylon, as I said, that is not in the cards.  But I do want to fill you all in a bit on the condition of this boat, which goes to my enthusiasm.  It is a 1990, with 200 hours on it, that came from the Phoenix area and hadn't been in the water for 12 years. It was always put back in the garage after it was used.  It saw its heaviest use in the first few years of its life, which then fell off due to the owners having a child which got in the way of their doing much boating.  The boat and trailer are absolutely immaculate.  But for the failed elastic on the storage pouch tops, you would think the boat had just come from the factory.  It was never beached, never hit a rock;  the hull is flawless.  Even the trailer hand not a scratch on it.  Due both to its low hours of use, its storage in a garage after each use and the ultra-dry climate that it lived in, there is no rot anywhere.  Looking in the bilge, the stringers look as good as the outside of the boat.  The engine still had the tags on it with the twist ties indicating when to change the oil after break in.  Until I started the cooling system conversion, the bolt heads all had their original paint.  It was so immaculate, I hated to even put a socket on the bolt heads and crack the paint.  I came across this boat looking for parts for a 1985 Malibu Skier that I had just bought from a friend which I am now putting up for sale having acquired this one, so if any of you know anyone who might be interested in it, please let me know.  I am located in Vermont, FYI.

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This photo of your installation shows that you have almost the whole 4" you need available if you move the exchanger forward and down toward the cam pulley.  Surely it would be much easier to fabricate a different mount for your exchanger than making a new engine hood.  If you can't get the hood closed after that, you might only need a 1/2" or 1" trim ring under the hood.  Since you have the exchanger off again, maybe step back and start over with the exchanger mount first, getting it to fit, then worrying about the plumbing.

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I'd disconnect it and trial strap or tape it in a lower position to see if it fits. Not sure if low position will work work though. Might air lock? 

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