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Repair vs Replace - opinions appreciated


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Short version: Couple weeks ago boat was vibrating weird after surf session; put on lift and started flushing engine but wouldn't crank.  replaced starter, no dice.  Got dealership to come help --> hydrolocked (water in 2 starboard cylinders).  Prelim guess was the manifold rusted out so while waiting for tech to disassemble i asked for a best-case (new manifolds) vs worst case (new engine) estimate to mentally prepare...got the parts-only estimate last night:

Repair:  new manifolds & catalysts = $10k parts, i'll guess at $15k with labor?  

Replace:  new M6 w/ new transmission (i guess they get sold as a pkg?) = $30k parts, i'll guess $40k including labor?

Questions for The Crew:

Q1) Repair route - are there other major gremlins i should expect down the line given manifolds rusted? or are the manifolds ground zero for saltwater effects and i just need to budget new manifolds/risers every 3-4 years?  (note that half of the $10k parts cost is the catalyst, so if i avoid ruining those by replacing manifolds pre-emptively it could be a 50% smaller job to budget for winter of 2028 for example)

--> financially, repair is obviously easier short term choice, and hydrolock was only during starting attempt so unlikely crackshaft or rods bent (knock on wood), but want sanity check if i'm missing something or should have dealer check/replace other stuff while its there?  Just worried about other ticking time bombs of corrosion but thats just a fact of life in my area.

Q2) Fresh start via full replacement with a closed-cooling, more powerful M6 / new tranny - are there gotcha's of dropping a new/different engine into the boat?  e.g. will computers/sensors/cruise control/etc be drop-in compatible?  (my hull got the M6 the next model year, so should be simply re-creating a config 1 model year newer but figured i'd ask)

--> the sticker shock is hard to swallow and sounds silly to put $40k into a boat that (when working) is probably only a $60k trade-value.  Could i swing it?  probably but it'd be painful and takes any upgrade dreams off the table for a while.  On the other hand, if that solves the issue for next 10+ years, then its not *that* much more expensive than a couple manifold replacements and re-sets all corrosion clocks. 

Q3) what am i missing / what should i ask the technician when i speak to him next week? 

Timing to execute each option is obviously a big factor, but i've resigned myself that half my season is gone.  Interestingly, it has been eye opening over the past few weeks how much the lack of surf-boat has diminished family interest in playing on the water (not mine, but wife & kids for sure).  We have a small Whaler to zoom kids/visitors around on tubes or boards a little, but that's met with shrugs/excuses whereas surf trips get a spring in their step to participate or invite friends.  

anyway, appreciate any thoughts.

Background info:

-2019 A24 with PCM Monsoon 409;  400 hrs; paddlewheel only cruise control; PW3; lift kept; generally does everything we need it to - just need it running :) 

- we are in brackish (25% salt) water so it is flushed religiously after each use with water (always) and Salt-Away (periodically); anticorrosion spray often; extra anodes etc

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I feel like 10k in parts is crazy, and so is 5k in labor.

Maybe price some stuff on your own and buy a wrench.  Exhaust manifold replacement is a 1 banana job.

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6 minutes ago, oldjeep said:

I feel like 10k in parts is crazy, and so is 5k in labor.

Maybe price some stuff on your own and buy a wrench.  Exhaust manifold replacement is a 1 banana job.

concur with sticker shock.  Should have mentioned this was a parts mgr just listing everything that could need replacement and $5k of the $10k in parts is for catalysts -- need to talk to technician since i'm hoping one catalyst is undamaged and some of the smaller items could be re-used.  the $5k labor is a WAG i pulled from thin air hoping its worst case.   if a few things are reusable and labor is reasonable, maybe i keep it under $10k? TBD.

yes, i own a wrench and do some basics (fluid changes, starters, batteries, pump replacements, fuze/relay, etc) but have never disassembled an engine.  If this were a winter project, maybe i'd get brave and take a crack at it / do the research / call in favors to get help, but i don't have a garage/good space to work on it over a period of time, nor the time/expertise to do the work.  So will probably have to pay a ridiculous labor rate for that 1-banana.

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Maybe pcm manifolds are magic.  But the etx catalyst manifolds on the indmar boats are around 5k a pair and the catalyst is part of it.  

Honestly, the worst part of replacing manifolds is breaking the exhaust hoses loose.  After that, it is maybe 8 bolts per side.

Good luck

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48 minutes ago, oldjeep said:

Maybe pcm manifolds are magic.  But the etx catalyst manifolds on the indmar boats are around 5k a pair and the catalyst is part of it.  

Honestly, the worst part of replacing manifolds is breaking the exhaust hoses loose.  After that, it is maybe 8 bolts per side.

Good luck

The great thing about breaking the exhaust hoses free is that you can unbolt the manifolds (or risers) first and use them to hoss the hoses free.

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@CaptainMorgan -  Please post a few (decent) photos of your manifolds.  I'm surprised that you had cast iron on a 2019, but I guess nothing should surprise me any more.  Exactly what engine do you have?  I'm curious to see if I can fit you with a set of Marine Torq stainless manifolds.  The catalysts are a $100 upcharge for the set.

I changed my system to (half) closed cooling and added stainless steel manifolds.  I no longer worry about the dreaded manifold failure or block rot.

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34 minutes ago, justgary said:

@CaptainMorgan -  Please post a few (decent) photos of your manifolds.  I'm surprised that you had cast iron on a 2019, but I guess nothing should surprise me any more.  Exactly what engine do you have?  I'm curious to see if I can fit you with a set of Marine Torq stainless manifolds.  The catalysts are a $100 upcharge for the set.

I changed my system to (half) closed cooling and added stainless steel manifolds.  I no longer worry about the dreaded manifold failure or block rot.

Boat is 100 miles away inside dealership workshop, so cant get any pics. Could try to ask technician maybe on Monday for some pictures.

I know engine is PCM because that's who covered a warranty wiring harness couple years ago.  Says Monsoon 409 on the red cover on top. I think it's the same as shown in

And @csleaver pasted this link which looks about right

 https://www.crusaderengines.com/challenger/engines/axis/#engines

Half closed cooling with stainless sounds awesome, just no idea what thatd take to implement

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The one comment that may or will lead to an escalating cost scenario is your first statement about a weird vibration.  That could have been as simple as a couple of non firing cylinders  -or-  unfortunately, could be as serious as a bent connecting rod caused by the hydrolock while the firing pistons kept the crank spinning (ie: it was hydrolocked prior to your starter episode).  The other aspect is brackish water effect on potential cylinder head or block water jacket corrosion damage.  Unfortunately, to answer both my comments, the disassembly process has to happen which means the $ clock is ticking.  A good mechanic could determine if the con rod is bend via checking piston height at TDC of a couple of cylinders, which could be done through the spark plug hole.  I would put some compressed air to the cylinders at TDC to see if it breaches in to the cooling passages, that would eliminate corrosion damage.  Good luck.

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Update:  mechanic spent some quality time on it today, thinks its a head gasket failure.  I think he said he ran the engine without manifolds, did compression checks - cylinder 7 in particular was low pressure and he saw fluid leak thru.  says cylinder walls look fine so far, but needs to keep disassembling to (a) confirm/replace just head gasket, and (b) rule out other issues like cylinder heads etc.  

Apparently manifolds not rusted through but showing age so smart to replace while in there - but i can re-use most of system making it hopefully $2k of exhaust parts vs $10k the parts guy scared me with (assuming we can re-use the catalysts). 

My lessons learned so far: 

(1) until its taken apart everyone is guessing

(2) talk to the guy actually turning the wrenches; everything else is hearsay

(3) i should record these calls with the tech because already i'm forgetting some of the things he said!

(4) labor costs could easily surpass parts cost once this is over; makes me wish i learned more about engines along the way

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dizzygti

Hate to read this, hopefully it's not as bad as expected.   Engines aren't difficult but like you said, but you need a place to work on/build them.

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2 hours ago, CaptainMorgan said:

I think he said he ran the engine without manifolds, 

image.png.bbd2f1434b852c32cd5d2fb69bc9f297.png

I always wonder if people are just trolling with the "my mechanic" stuff.

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To say the least labor at a mechanic will always exceed parts cost. They are in business to make money. Not easy. To diagnose issues correctly, first time on so many possible problems takes years of experience and training. That shouldn't come cheap.

Amazes me what these engines go though and keep on ticking. Hope this engines issues are minimal.

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