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Author Topic:   Engine Tune-up and repairs
MikeG posted 04-04-2001 12:07 PM ET (US)   Profile for MikeG   Send Email to MikeG  
Hi everyone. I have a 1988 Evinrude 88hp SPL on my 88 Montauk. I am about to bring it in for some service in the next few days and we just got the estimate of costs. I live in SE Pennsylvania and will be taking my boat to Clews and Strawbridge (BW dealer)in Frazer. Could someone tell me if the following prices are reasonable?

The bottom 3 inches of the skeg was damaged last year while trailiering. We would need a welding job to fix it. The cost of the skeg and water pump it is about $375. He says that we should also do the thermostats for a total of about $700 and need a tune up for an additional $200.
We are looking at about $900. Plus tax. (ouch!).

The engine was last tuned-up when we bought it 2 summers ago and it sees regular weekend use during the summer (about 50/50 salt/freshwater).

Could someone let me know if 1) the repairs and tune-ups are necessary at this point and 2)is the price reasonable or if there is a better place to take it in the area.


Dan posted 04-04-2001 12:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dan  Send Email to Dan     
Get your boat serviced elsewhere! That place is ripping you off big time. Call places and ask for estimates. Get the repair estimate in writing, and get the work done ASAP before the places gets too busy. Ask the work to be done while you wait -- or drop off in the morning and pick up at end of day with a test run. Have them guarantee the welding job for at least 90 days. I know people who've gotten nickel and dimed to death by repair places. One person spent 16 grand over a three-year time span and never had his inboard running well. I'd sooner buy a new engine than drop 900 into a 13-year-old engine. $200 for a tune up is criminal.
jameso posted 04-04-2001 12:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jameso  Send Email to jameso     
AGREE AGREE AGREE!!! That is about 50/60 percent of the worth of your engine considering the vintage, I think the major tune up item for that engine is the plugs, a couple of bucks each if you do it yourself. There is just not a lot of "tuning" to be done on an engine with solid state ignition. Get a repair manual even if you do not do the work you can get an idea of what is involved,,Take the engine to a good welding shop in your area, this is what the dealer will probably do then double the price for his "good" customer. DONT" GET RIPPED!!
I could really get on a soap box concerning cost of repairs no outboards,cars,plumbing ect. Thanks for letting me vent.
Jim Armstrong
bigz posted 04-04-2001 01:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Mike it appears C&S is estimating your "fix up" based on their hourly shop rate (where you are and across the river in NJ shop rates are in the $50 to $60 per hour range).
Parts become minor cost items, it doesn't take long to add up hours dropping the lower unit for the water pump and prepping/fitting out the skeg for welding plus zinc chromate/finish paint --- easy to ring up 10 to 12 hours on what you want done ---

I would suggest you try a few more dealers or just straight outboard repair shops -- since you can trailer your boat should be easy to check out a few more both in PA, NJ and Delaware (even Maryland just south of you has a lot of shops available) --- let your fingers do the walking.

I know of two excellent shops though both are in NJ --- the closest to you is down on the Delaware just south of Salem NJ --- if you want the names email me --- happy to send them ----


Clark Roberts posted 04-04-2001 02:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
Mike, I agree with all the above... $325 for thermostats is unbelieveable.. about 15 bucks for two thermostats (OK, maybe 30 bucks) and if careful you don't even need new gaskets... a little vaseline and away you go.
It would take most of us about 20 mins to do the job! Well, it may take me more time but the point is that it's sooooo simple and so easy.... If you're unfamiliar with water pumps, thermostats etc... maybe you have a buddy who's done it before... good time to get your hands greasy and try it yourself! Ahhh, I can smell the liquid wrench as I type! Good luck and happy Whalin'.. Clark.. The Old Man and the Sea
MikeG posted 04-04-2001 03:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for MikeG  Send Email to MikeG     
Thank you everyone for the responses. It appears that the most difficult part of the thermostats is reaching them. They are partially covered by the base portion of the engine housing. How do I get to them? This is one of those things that I do not want to screw up (as oppossed to the things I do want to screw up :-) Any help would be appreciated. BTW I recently got the factory shop manuals but I have not looked at them yet. Hopefully they are more detailed than the Chilton's for my car... "step 1: Carefully remove the engine from the car..."


hauptjm posted 04-04-2001 03:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
I once had a power trim problem fixed under warranty that turned out to be the release valve gasket needing replacement. The dealer charged the warranty company (factory) $485.00. Claimed it was the "bench testing" and the accompanying man hours to justify their bill. I thought it was criminal. My cost, $25.00 deductible. I wrote the factory, and their response was, they woudld investigate. Dealer out of business just a year or so after my experience.
Hank posted 04-04-2001 11:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hank  Send Email to Hank     
Agree with all above. You're being ripped off. I'm always suspicious when I hear the term "tune-up". What's it consist of. $200 is a lot of money for some nebulous maintenance.
For contrast, I had a complete power head rebuild on my '84 90HP Evinrude for about $1200.
jimh posted 04-05-2001 12:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Repairing Skeg: if it does need welding, you could probably take the boat/motor (assuming it is on a trailer) to a welder who could do the welding portion of the job for $50 or less. You do the filing, shaping, and filling (with epoxy or bondo) after the welder is done ($10 max for materials). Total cost $60.

I have also seen some "special" aluminum welding rod demonstrated at boat shows that you can use with a simple propane torch to make repairs to aluminum. Maybe you'd want to practice a bit before taking the torch yourself to the ol' outboard, though.

Repainting Skeg: see Cost $30

"Tuning" engine: Other than the cost of new spark plugs, there is often not much to tune. If you have a good timing light you can set the spark advance if there is a mechanical adjustment. You can fiddle with the carburetor low-speed jets. You can clean and lubricate the linkages. You can grease all the appropriate fittings. (If mechanical--see below--Maybe a new fuel filter or new fuel pump diaphram.) Cost $50 max.

Replace water pump: If you are reasonably mechanical--and this truly does disqualify about 75% of the male population that owns a boat--you can drop the lower unit and replace the water pump impeller for the price of the impeller and a few gaskets. Cost about $30.

One advantage to doing some of the simpler things yourself is that you will get familiar with the engine and be acquainted with it. When it craps out in the middle of the lake and you take the cowling off, you will at least have some idea of what you are looking at.

Maerd posted 04-05-2001 01:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Maerd    
Remember its a estimate. I would first shop around by looking in the phone book etc and get one more estimate. Then I would have the work done by the shop and be done with it. When you are OUT THERE you want to know that it was done right and if something goes wrong you could miss weeks of boating season waiting for it to be repaired. You probably won't need anything done for the next 2-3 seasons.
lhg posted 04-05-2001 01:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Generally when a skeg is trashed, they remove the old one right up to the bottom of the gear case and simply weld on a new one. These are available from several sources. If the job is done right, they look perfect. Very often propeller shops do this work, or other places that work with aluminium radar arches, tee tops, towers, etc.
MikeG posted 04-05-2001 10:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for MikeG  Send Email to MikeG     
Thanks for all of the responses. I'm going to make some calls this weekend to see what I can find. Good outboard repair shops are a little tough to find when you do not live near a large body of water. My motor is still running really well and I would like to get a few more years out of it. What is the recommend schedule for various maintenance based on use? I've gotten some info from the dealer but I have to consider the source. I would be interested to here what others do, when and how.
Thanks, Mike
RMS posted 04-06-2001 12:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for RMS  Send Email to RMS     
One thing to keep in mind when repairing the skeg is the heat generated. A lot of people may be able to do the welding, but the seals located in close proximity could be damaged, resulting in water infiltration into the lower unit. I have seen advertised replacement skeg tips that slide over the stub you have remaining and bolt on. Also, have you run any engine tuner/decarboning mixture through the engine? You'll probably see and feel more improvement for $8 than the dealers $200 job tuneup. Good luck.

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