View Full Version : Low hours boats - what should I watch for when buying?

08-09-2012, 09:28 AM
{I originally posted this as a reply to OHB's newbie post. I've decided to do a new thread}

Shopping for a used boat, a couple that we like have extremely low hours on them. One of them is 8 years old and hasn't been out of the slip since delivery!! Another one has not been out of the slip in 2 years. The current owner has never had it out, and doesn't really know much about the actual mechanics of the vessel. They start easy and seem to run fine. What special things should we watch for on boats that have been sitting so much of their lives? I'm guessing impellers could be a problem(?)

I believe marine surveyors will go out on a test drive for an extra fee. Would that be advisable? We plan to boat, not float - as much as we can afford.

08-09-2012, 12:29 PM
A boat that starts up and runs great at the slip won't necessarily run well under a load. My boat had not been taken out for aprox three years when I got it. We pumped and cleaned the tanks, rebuilt the carbs, new fuel pumps, anti syphon valves, and added remote fuel water separators. Also switched to Crusader electronic ignition, changed plugs, wires, caps and coils, but that was just because. She absolutely runs like a brand new boat now. Generator got the same treatment along with water cooled fuel pump, it runs like new as well.

08-09-2012, 05:08 PM
listen to dan,we had to do the same thing to our 42 gibson when we bought it and was well worth the money, it sat in the dock for 3 years.besides that, it wouldnt run past 1100 rpm's the plugs were so carboned up, the gas was rotten and the impellars and shaft packing had dry rotted along with the carbs being plugged with varnish and rotten gas.the racor filters are mans best friend.

08-10-2012, 04:05 AM
+! on Dan's advice.

Plus I'll add. Impellers, bottom job and a hard look at the sanitation setup. Our had LectraSan units that died because of no maintenance.

08-10-2012, 09:18 AM
Dan, what brand is your generator and can you provide details for the water-cooled fuel pump? I have a 1989 Westerbeke 12.5 BTG model without a cooler. A friend with 1995 15.0 has the factory cooler at the lift pump inlet. Sometime between those years Westerbeke apparently standardized on the cooler acceessory. I experience fuel starvation (I believe it's vapor lock) on hot days if I keep the engine compartment hatches closed; he doesn't. I'm in the market for a water-cooled heat exchanger, or I might make one.

08-11-2012, 09:31 AM
Thank you all for the feedback. One of the boats on our list is a Paradise. That's not one of the manufacturers we are familiar with and we can't find much. Can anybody fill us in?

08-12-2012, 03:11 PM
I've got the same gen you have, just a year older. Yes, they made it standard at some point, but they now make a conversion kit for yours. I don't recall the price, so I suppose that means it wasn't too expensive.

08-16-2012, 08:04 AM
Thank you all for the feedback. One of the boats on our list is a Paradise. That's not one of the manufacturers we are familiar with and we can't find much. Can anybody fill us in?

Update: we found out all we need to know about Paradise. Short lived manufacturer in London, KY. I don't think they made many boats before closing. Gonna keep looking.

08-16-2012, 09:38 AM
I really would not worry about a "short lived" manufacturer that much. The history of the houseboat industry in KY is littered with them. Since most of the manufacturers are now out of business, I do not see how it really makes much difference. You are not going to get any factory support anyway - and, to be honest, unless you were the original purchaser, you did not get that much factory support when they were in business. I would look at the boat based on its merits, not the name on the side of it.

08-16-2012, 10:34 AM

Suck the water and nasties off the bottom of the tanks.


Over time water and crap accumulate on the bottom of the tanks. The fuel intake pipe is about an inch off the bottom of the tank.

When enough water accumulates movement of the boat will stir this up and it can be sucked up. This will contaminate the fuel system and plug your strainers.

If a lot of water has accumulated the first time you raise the bow the intake will be submerged in water and it will shut you down.

You can get into most tanks from the fuel sender port. A $10 Red suction pump from Walmart and 3 feet of 3/8 copper tubing will get you to the bottom of most tanks.

This is experience talking. I do this every 2 years as preventive maintenance.

08-16-2012, 12:56 PM
Old Houseboater is giving you some good information. Add one thing. Pump it into a clear glass or plastic container. Then you can really see what's in the tanks.

08-18-2012, 04:16 AM
Great advice that I did not think of. Thanks very much. We are going to look at a couple more boats today.

08-18-2012, 05:14 AM
OHB: what is this "red suction pump" you talk about?

08-18-2012, 11:21 AM
Insert a piece of 3/8 copper tubing in the suction hose to get to the bottom of the tank.


08-18-2012, 04:54 PM
Found one, $8. It'll come in handy for lots of things. Thanks for the suggestion.

08-25-2012, 04:55 AM
We are in the home stretch on this quest. Marine surveyor came yesterday. My new best friend. He was there close to 4 hours and took the time to point out things newbies need to know. He said the boat was in great shape but found a few issues that I'm going to make the seller address. It should be our boat in a week or so.

Thanks to all for sharing your experience and enduring the newbie questions. I'm sure I'll be back with lots more after they hand me the keys.