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88 Engine - Rebuild or Upgrade?

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Talley83 View Drop Down

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Talley83 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: 88 Engine - Rebuild or Upgrade?
    Posted: September-12-2022 at 2:16am
Hey everyone. My dad and I bought an 88 nautique and we’ve been having some issues with the engine. We are trying to see if we should get it rebuilt, buy a rebuilt crate motor, or try to upgrade it to a newer motor with fuel injection. So a few questions:
1. Can a new fuel injected motor be swapped in or would it be a ton of work and cost more for the electronics to run it?
2. Is it better to keep the stock motor and have it rebuilt for a higher price tag or just order a crate motor?
3. Anyone know a place that has the 351s in stock?

Thanks so much.
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ScottZ View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ScottZ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September-12-2022 at 6:48am
Crate motors, especially right hand rotation motors are about impossible to find.  I would pulpit apart and rebuild.  EFI can be expensive.  Holly makes a system that will work on your engine.  Finding someone who has knowledge of installing and working on it in the future might be a challenge.
Scott Zuelzke
Lake Mitchell , AL
1984 Ski Nautique       
1972 Skier
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outerbanked View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote outerbanked Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September-12-2022 at 12:08pm
Can you get us compression numbers? Any signs of blow-by? What are your symptoms? A leaky carb can make you want to chuck a whole motor and add fuel injection.

Many have visited this site with the same questions. They were able to sort out what they have with the help of the forum, and are happy with the simpler carb setup.
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Jonny Quest View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jonny Quest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September-12-2022 at 12:42pm
A few things to consider when weighing all options:

Correct Craft boats made before 1993 will have wood frames that are encapsulated in fiberglass.  Key parts of the boat framework are the "stringers" that run longitudinally and are the mounting point for the engine and transmission.  In many older boats, the stringers will develop "rot" due to water intrusion over the years.  Stringers that are not structurally sound should be dealt with appropriately.  That can be an expensive procedure and very time-consuming.  As such, stringer integrity should be part of your decision process as you determine how much to spend on the engine.

Your 1988 is likely a reverse-rotation engine.  CC standard operating procedure is to run a right-hand spinning prop (when viewed from the rear of the boat).  The direct-drive transmission on your 1988 is likely a Velvet Drive 1:1  You can verify all this from the small metal engine I.D. tag (usually located on the bell housing).  When viewed from the rear of the boat, a reverse rotation engine turns clock-wise.  A standard rotation engine rotates counter-clockwise (again, viewed from the rear).

There are very few drop-in (turn-key) replacement engines available in reverse-rotation.  The standard rotation engines are much more common.  You can look at sites like and browse through the replacement marine engine section.  Look at the Ford Marine Engines section.  You can get a "long block" with GT-40 heads and reverse-rotation for $4,200.  A new standard rotation engine "drop-in" is $10,000.  This would mean re-indexing the transmission for standard rotation and running a lefty propeller.

Having your existing engine rebuilt by a GOOD engine mechanic may be a good option to consider.  That would likely be your least expensive option.  Plus, you could make a few performance improvements to things like heads, intake manifold, carb, distributor, etc.  With this option, you would likely get very close a fuel injected engine for a much lower cost.

So many options, so little time...


2001 Ski Nautique Open Bow (current)
1994 Ski Nautique Open Bow (sold)
Aqua skiing, ergo sum
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andrewmarani View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote andrewmarani Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October-21-2022 at 5:01pm
I have an 86 Nautique.  Had the engine pulled to do the ugly stringer replacement project and asked my normal mechanic about rebuilding it while it's out.  He said those older engines are built tough, heavier castings, thicker material.  He's going to do a cylinder pressure test and a general check while he stores it for me but figures if it passes the pressure test it's probably just fine and not worth spending for a rebuild.  
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marksa1458 View Drop Down

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote marksa1458 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October-24-2022 at 7:10am
Just personal experience - I ordered a remanufactured 351w long block from a company that mass remanufactures engines, purchased the extended warranty and all. Long story short 19 months (1 month out of warranty) and 181 hours later cylinder 5 grenaded. I agree with Johnny Q - find a quality local rebuilder, expect to pay more for a quality long block and get a great engine you can’t count on. Pulling that engine soon and doing just that. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fl Inboards Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October-25-2022 at 10:08am
Repowering a right rotation boat with a left rotation engine to some on this forum is sacrilegious. however it has been done many times over.
finding reputable engine re-builders are now far and few in between. usually no warranty's and your stuck a number of hours down the road with a anchor in the middle of your boat. seen this far to many times.
With new ski boat prices skyrocketing out the $100K range and low hour used not far behind, I find myself as a business (Florida Inboards) fielding many a inquiry as well as lining up repower restorations in older boats.
Currently a customer wants to restore his 95 Sport. Looking at $35K total on this restoration and repower. Still a lot cheaper then looking for a low hour used ski boat.
PleasureCraft engines are the only option for non cat E-control repower engines (6.0 liter). One gets a year warranty and a great product and support from the manufacturer.
If one can not do the restoration, repair, rebuild or refit and has to rely on a shop to perform these services you are thrown to the wolves as not many of these shops have a clue about these services and shoot from the hip.
turning a right rotation boat to left is really not that big of an issue if the person doing it has the knowledge and nohow to install the needed compensation on the the trailing edge of the hull as well as setting the rudder torque. sometimes budget wise it can be the only option to get their boat back on the water.
which ever direction you go hopefully you don't get taken advantage of as well as iven miss information and poor products.
Good luck on your restoration.
Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

2009 196 SN, 2008 SN,1993 Shamrock "fat" 20
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