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Author Topic:   Mercury Saltwater v. Non-saltwater
Goosedog posted 10-09-2003 03:03 PM ET (US)   Profile for Goosedog  
Having learned from this site the differences [between Saltwater and regular Mercury engines], I'm a bit [upset]. I was told by my lake-bound dealer the 90-HP on my new 170 was the "saltwater" version when it was not. (I knew just enough to ask, but not enough to know the difference -- my mistake). Barney references in another thread a Mercury saltwater "upgrade." Does this mean I can upgrade my existing non-saltwater to add the ss tilt tube/nut and decal? If so, any thoughts on asking/making my dealer eat the cost? Thanks.
Barney posted 10-09-2003 03:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barney  Send Email to Barney     
More info

13DAUNTLESS posted 10-09-2003 04:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for 13DAUNTLESS  Send Email to 13DAUNTLESS     
I called Boston Whaler and was informed that they will not put a Saltwater series 90-HP 4-stroke on a 170 MONTAUK. The reason: it would mean having to stock another type of motor around the plant. It would seem to me that if the only 90-HP 2-stroke they offer is a Saltwater Series then the 4-strokes should be the same Saltwater Series. If anyone has any other info on this please share it.


jimh posted 10-09-2003 11:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I believe that the tilt tube assembly can be ordered as parts, and it can be installed on a non-Saltwater engine. The parts cost has been reported to be in the range of $125.

Replacing the tilt tube will be difficult. You will have to support the engine, loosen the retaining nuts, and drive out the existing tilt tube. Next you will have to install the new tilt tube while aligning the motor to it, fasten it in place, and lubricate it.

Since the boat will be literally brand new, I would want the dealer to perform this operation. You could do some damage if you happened to drop the motor while working on the tilt tube.

Regarding the explanation offered by Boston Whaler for not offering a choice in the 90-HP 4-stroke engine between Saltwater Series and non-Saltwater: I do have some sympathy for them. Trying to anticipate the mix of orders for the 170-MONTAUK's current options requires having three different motors in stock. If both Saltwater and non-Saltwater models were available they would then have to keep six motors in stock, just for this one model of boat.

Also, there is a price difference between the the Saltwater engines and the non-Saltwater, about $100-$125 typically. This would have to be factored into the boat pricing.

If your contract with the dealer specifies you were to receive a "Saltwater Series" engine, and you did not receive one, you would have a strong case for demanding the dealer upgrade your current boat.

If your salesman just told you that your boat would have a "Saltwater Series" engine, I guess you have the same case but perhaps not as well documented.

At a minimum, I would ask the dealer to install the upgrade parts at no charge for labor, and to only charge at his cost for the parts. That would satisfy me, since I would be getting a more expensive engine for the price of a less expensive one.

Rich M posted 10-10-2003 01:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Rich M  Send Email to Rich M     
Brian's right, my 170 has a 2 stroke saltwater series because that's the only 2 stroke they offer with the 170. The 4 they offer isn't. My freshwater dealer explained it to me when I bought mine. I guess they wern't sure about how well accepted the 4 stroke was going to be. In the near future they'll probably only offer the 4 stroke in saltwater series too. Until then you'll have to do it yourself, like the rear cleats I have to buy and install but are now standard on the '04 :^)


lakeman posted 10-10-2003 07:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for lakeman  Send Email to lakeman     
I think they just wanted to keep price down. In my opinion, I live on a big fresh water lake, almost all fresh water lakes big enough to warrant a 90 hp motor now contain enough chemicals and have other corrsoive characteristics to warrant a Salt Water designed motor.
The water in my lake will pit stainless steel chain and it is considered one of the best cleanest lake in Florida.


jimh posted 10-10-2003 09:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The mention by RichM of the addition of stern cleats in model year 2004 is very interesting. I had previously not heard of that.

On the Boston Whaler website, the specifications for the engine on the 170 MONTAUK do not seem to clearly delineate which engine model, Saltwater or non-Saltwater, will be delivered.


Barney posted 10-10-2003 09:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for Barney  Send Email to Barney     
jimh, You sound like your in the market. Check my website. Jim
lhg posted 10-10-2003 02:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
I agree that BW should only offer the Saltwater engines on the 170. The only real difference is the tilt tube, and the Saltwater engine only costs about $50 more, in the same 20" shaft lengths.

As one who has replaced, and reversed (for side mount hydraulic steering) tilt tubes on Merc 115's and 200's, I can say that it's relatively easy and can be done by anyone who has the proper large wrenches. The most difficult part of the job is "cracking" the paint seal on the two large, different sized nuts that hold the tilt tube in place. This can be difficult and require two persons. I think the SS tilt tube costs about $70, while the regular one costs about $40.

All that is necessary is to support the engine in a vertical position on it's skeg. There's really little chance that it will move anyway. With the nuts removed, and the placement of the original tube determined (so it can be duplicated), simply use the new tube to drive out the old. It's quite easy. This way the engine is continuously supported and even internal washers, etc are not disturbed. If the tube is reversed, for a side mount cylinder to improve steering torque, the same process is used. Just drive in the new tube other end first.

While this is being done, I STRONGLY recommend that on the steering ram exit side, usually Port, remove the O-ring in the tilt tube slot, and replace the Mercury nut with a "Steersman" SS grease zerk nut, about $20. This will GREATLY increase the life of the mechanical steering and tilt tube. In addition, the nut has it's own O-ring washer, which is easily replaced as needed by simply removing the steering link arm. The main reason steering rusts up is inability to replace the factory o-ring, since it requires removal of the entire steering cable, often a difficult job that even requires removal of the engine in a tight notched transom. Hence it never gets done, the tilt tube gets crudded up, and the steering gets tight and eventually fails.

Bigshot posted 10-10-2003 02:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Honestly I would not sweat it too much. If you grease your steering often, it should last a lifetime, even in saltwater. I have seen steering get stuck in tilt tubes but it usually on negelected engines. After removing the stuck steering they are usually OK to ream out, grease up, and insert a new steering cable. RARELY are they eaten up so bad that they need to be replaced.

Make the salesman give you a free 20 hour service or oil change, etc and be happy.

Bigshot posted 10-10-2003 02:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
PS the steering buddy like lhg refers to is a good insurance policy, ask them for a free one as well.
dauntlass 18 posted 10-10-2003 10:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for dauntlass 18  Send Email to dauntlass 18     
Is it possible the salt water series use a different metal for the lower unit casting? I have a 1999 catalog of Mercury engines; it states, "From our revolutionary XK-360 low copper aluminum alloy to stainless steel for all of our engines critical components." The statement is on the Optimax Saltwater page of the catalog. The fresh water Optimax page makes no mention of stainless steel or XK-360 alloy. Also the saltwater model offered a 3 year corrsion warranty. I would guess the new models to be the same.
jimh posted 10-12-2003 11:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Possible? Perhaps. Likely, I don't think so.
cape_rover posted 11-19-2003 08:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for cape_rover  Send Email to cape_rover     
Below is an email I received from whaler which confirms what people are saying:

"Boston Whaler does not offer the Saltwater version of the Mercury four stroke 90 as an available option from the factory...sorry. You might check with your dealer to see if they would up grade for you (through their dealership)."

I talked with my dealer who I'm close to signing a contract with and they said whalers are shipped with the motor bolted to the transom. It would be rather costly (labor charges) to swap engines.

Peter posted 11-19-2003 09:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Assuming one is swapping same brand and same type (2-stroke or 4-stroke), an engine swap couldn't take more than 1 hour, tops. If you have to derig and rig, obviously, it will take longer.

It took me, a non-expert, 4 hours to swap Johnson and Yamaha engines on two 15 foot Whalers. That includes complete derigging and rerigging on both boats.

lhg posted 11-19-2003 02:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Cape-rover - the only difference other than the red vs blue decals, as mentioned above, is the SS tilt tube and the two big nuts to hold it on. It would be extremely simple for your dealer to install a replacement SS tilt tube in the red graphics engine. It takes about 15 minutes at most, using the new tube to drive out the old! Dealer cost on the SS tilt ube couldn't be more than $50, on you only need one SS end nut, as on the side where the steering ram exits, you want to use a "Steersman" lubricating SS nut (about $20) with it's own O-ring seal. The Steersman nut replaces the Mercury nut on the port side of the tilt tube.

Your other option is to wait for the original tube to go bad, which might take ten years, and then do above.


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