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Thread: Buying Used Boat...What to look for?

  1. #1
    Member Whitetail1der's Avatar
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    Default Buying Used Boat...What to look for?

    So I'm getting ready to hit the used boat market and don't know much about it; what are some of the things I should be looking for/at and asking a seller about his/her boat they are selling?

    I'm focused on a river running boat and it can have either an inboard or an outboard. From reading other posts here it appears the number of hours on the motor is important, but is hull integrety an issue with an aluminum weld? What else is important to be asking the seller?

    Thanks in advance

    P.S. Break-up is right around the corner!

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    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    on thing should stand out is how well did they maintain the boat. IE how clean it is.
    I look at the engine hours on it,
    ask if any repairs had to be done on it.
    Ask what place they take it to.
    Look for any damge to the hull.
    Check the hoses.
    Ask if he has a log of maitaince that has been done to it.
    Living the Alaskan Dream
    Gary Keller
    Anchorage, AK

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    I use to buy and sale used boats and the one thing I learned is that an hour meter is no indication because they are to easy to disconnect. And even so...like Ak Gray says , it is more important to see how well it is maintained. One of the first things you want to do is ask why they are selling it. not once but three or four different times. Look for changes in the answer. If you decide to look at the boat, look at the sellers cars also. They will give you a good indication of how well he/she maintains things. On an I/O you will want to look at the boots of course but you want to notice if the O/D is stored up or down. stored up puts wear on boots. If stored thru winter in the up position it could also allow water in. Look at the intake manifold under the carb. If the paint is warn off there is massive hours on that motor. I dont know O/B so well. But you can learn a lot just by asking. If a seller thinks its OK to fire a motor for even a moment without water hooked up, chances are he has done this. Walk away. Be suspicous of "reciepts". They dont always depict the boat or motor you are looking at. No matter what you decide, you should have a pro look it over for you, and never ,ever take the sellers recommendation on a good mechanic. Depending on the age, you can often contact a dealer and get warranty info on the boat or motor, ie. an evinrude dealer would know if the motor had been in for repairs at an evinrude dealership.
    On the aluminum hull look for welded repairs. Look at the corners for cracks. look for cracks in the bottom along the hull seams.( you find the cracks next to the welds).
    On the controls, if they are dated you should asume they will need to be replaced. But they should move real smooth without sticking or binding. Hope this helps. .dirt.

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    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtface View Post
    One of the first things you want to do is ask why they are selling it. not once but three or four different times. Look for changes in the answer. .

    Most people will be open. I have run across to some that have taken offense to me asking that question. It is a good question to ask.

    Also I have taken a mech to boat/car and had them give it a quick once over.
    Living the Alaskan Dream
    Gary Keller
    Anchorage, AK

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    Follow your gut and trust it. Most people in Alaska do not use there boats that much so low hour motors are the norm for most private sellers (not guides).
    Last used boat I bought 3 years ago had a 95 Yamaha 150 jet on it and it ran perfectly. New owner still tells me it has been trouble free.
    The advice given to you about looking at the sellers car's made good sense.
    Red flags to me would be motors that were bought used in the lower 48 and then brought up here.
    Ask the owner to tell you something he did not like about the boat. You may be surprised at there honesty. Most people are selling for one of two reasons. Either they want something bigger and they want out of boating.
    For an outboard I would look for fuel injection on the motor. I would stay away from any inboard boat with either a Ford 460 or a GM 454. Not because they are trouble prone but because both were known to be gas hogs. But if the price is right.........even they might be a good buy.
    Tennessee

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    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtface View Post
    If a seller thinks its OK to fire a motor for even a moment without water hooked up, chances are he has done this. Walk away.
    I'd say there is some valid information stated but this really struck me. I know where your going with this statement but at the same time, read an owners manuel on winterizing and it is stated that running a motor out of the water for a short time is necessary to accomplish winterizing and ok per the manufacture if only done so at idle. That being said, I wouldn't purchase anything until I at least heard it start and preferably took it for a spin.

    On another note, I would crawl underneath and look the bottom over well and take a flashlight and maybe an inspection mirror to look in the jet. A bottom that is scraped up should be an indication as to what the jet unit has been through. Maybe ask how old the impeller is and when the last time it was shimmed. See how the batteries look, may be an indication of lack of maintenance. I would like to think most people are honest but ask lots of questions and question anything you don't know about. Just some thoughts.
    Last edited by AKBighorn; 03-15-2007 at 17:35. Reason: addition

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    Member skybust's Avatar
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    I thought the same thing about 460 and 454,but my woolridge has a 460 and does great on fuel. Depending on the load and how I run it I burn 8-10 gal and hour.

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    Member Whitetail1der's Avatar
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    Man you guys are unreal! I really didn't think I'd get these kinds of responses/help. I am totally amazed and grateful. I saw a boat on craigslist that is an 1980's model jet boat and it drove me to ask the questions I did. I'd think the bottom would be all scraped up being that it's as old as it is, so I guess that would be a given to expect. I'm also pretty sure the motor will have a lot of hours on it too,again because of the year of manufacture. So taking everything you've provided me into consideration, I can already see the sellers response when the questions are asked, he could just say "What do you want the boat's 20 years old?" What do you do then? Is there such a thing as a river boat that's to old and tired? Having these details what do you all recommend I look for now and if you go to said web site where the boats located, do you think the price is fair?

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    Member skybust's Avatar
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    Im sure some boat out there are beat up but as posted before look at how clean the boat is The woolridge i got last year is a 1986 but it looked new and run great the person I got it from took alot of pride in it and the reason why he sold it was because he didnt use it enough.

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    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    Ok, so your gonna get what you pay for. Purchase a 20 yr old boat and you may or may not get a clunker depending oh how it was treated and maintained. What's the budget saying? $4k, $10k, $20k? What type of boat are you looking at?

    I had a 15' Klamath and loved it. It was a step up from the 10' Zodiac I once had. I looked at boats for some time when I decided to purchase the next one. I waited/drove the wife nuts if you ask her, till she said it was ok to purchase a new one. Man that's a chunk of change no matter how you shake a stick at it but it was purchased new because I didn't want anyones problem. On the flip side a friend of mine wanted something similar. He paid a little more than half what I did. The 2 boats are fairly equivelant all things considered. We have pretty much purchased the same accessories to outfit the boats, BTW these aren't cheap. After a couple years now I have had no cost in repairs and aside from purchasing a new canopy he hasn't had anything expensive go wrong. He has replaced a few small items and it has a couple of ideosyncracies but all in all its a good reliable boat. I don't recall off hand how old his boat is but it has some age. You can find something decent if you look. I am no expert but the more you look the more you will learn what to look for. There are good older boats out there. If your unsure exactly what your looking for, take your time. I had fun looking and still do. Wonder when she'll let me get that bigger boat?

  11. #11
    Member skybust's Avatar
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    akbighorn
    man you hit the nail on the head. Take your time and do the homework and someone can find a good used boat.

  12. #12

    Default lessons learned

    know exactly what you want. This will save you time and frustration. Even in river boats there is considerable variation (Flat bottom, 5 degree, 10, etc) Also big differences in hull thickness, side height (freeboard), and weight. Always, Always demand a chance to put in the water and run for 15-20 minutes. I learned this the hard way. Purchased my 1st (and only) jet boat in April of 04. Hull, trailer, and motor appeared in good condition. I asked all the questions aforementioned plus more. I really ended up trusting the guy. Long story short I never "water tested" the motor (to much ice) and come May it was in the shop until July needing a complete rebuild on the motor. I tried to call the guy 5 times, each time becoming increasingly more agitated. I even went by his house and found that he had moved. I also learned that if a motor needs a rebuild it probably needs more work to due to lack of general maintenance. So I also had to replace the bering in the lower unit and a stator. After another 3 grand (at J Kimberly, great mechanics) my boat ran great, and has ever since. If I could do over I would try and by a hull used and then a new motor, however that will cost $$$. In the end I had spent over 11K to get my "boat" when I originally planned to spend around 8. Even with all the money spent though it is worth the memories of fun times, critters, and fish. Good luck

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    If an outboard, check out the transom for cracks, especially where the transom meets the sides of the boat, look for obvious repairs in this area.

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    Default If you are not sure..

    You can look a hull and trailer over and get a pretty good
    idea on condition, but I would pay a qualified shop to
    check out the motor, drive system and controls. They will
    catch things you would never think to look at. They can let
    you what your getting into for what you might think is just a small repair.

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    Member SusitnaAk's Avatar
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    Default Boat

    What kind / what going to use it for ? I,ll be selling one of those old ones, ibought a newer boat, It is 21 ft yukon jet, 302 with 2 stage, hamilton jet, it will be ready to go. kicker trailer ect... Other than that look them over good ! Bring somebody along that nowes, what to ask and what ther looking for.

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