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  26 Outrage w/ Optimax engines

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Author Topic:   26 Outrage w/ Optimax engines
pharden posted 03-17-2004 10:43 PM ET (US)   Profile for pharden   Send Email to pharden  
I am looking at a 2000 26 Outrage w/ twin optimaxs. Are there any special or unique problems with the optimax that I should be aware of.
jimh posted 03-17-2004 11:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You fail to state the horsepower, but given a 26-foot boat I am assuming twin 200-HP Optimax engines.

The conventional wisdom is the Optimax engine c.2001 had some problems. It would be advisable to get the engine serial numbers and see a dealer for inquiry into their repair history, any recalls that were in effect for the engines, any updates made to these particular engines, and any potential for continued support from the dealer and manufacturer for extending the warranty.

The scuttlebutt on this engine is that for a brief period some were built with fuel injectors that did not hold up. (The fault is said to be with bad parts supplied by a vendor to the manufacturer.) When this was determined the factory offered support and made many repairs and upgrades to engines from this production period. Most owners were satisfied with the repairs and replacements, but still not happy with the loss of time their boats were available for use. People have reported getting completely new engines after particular failures. This is all second hand information from me--I did not have this happen nor do I own an Optimax

The degree of factory support to second-hand owners of the Optimax engines from this period is not well known, and recently a sad tale of woe was posted by an angry second-hand buyer of an Optimax who reported he was going to have to pay major repair costs from a fuel injector failure that was not covered by his selling dealer or the manufacturer. The engine was apparently not under any warranty at the time of the purchase or the failure, although it had not been used much, he reported. Again, I have no first hand knowledge of this incident, it was just reported in an article published on the internet (on this website, actually).

Now these engines are being sold with 4 or 5 year warranties without extra cost during spring promotions.

Whenever one hears of trouble with an engine like this, the conclusion is they must all be bad. Of course, if more than just a small percentage were bad the manufacturer would be bankrupt. Enough of these were bad to make a noticeable impression on the buying public, thanks to internet sites where unhappy owners could widely broadcast their displeasure. Now that said, I can tell you that I have only read two incidents of people who represented themselves as unhappy owners, and in both cases they were second-hand owners, buying the engines used. In one of these cases, (again here on this website and on others) the owner went on what amounted to a campaign on the internet to get his message out, and ultimately got his engines replaced or rebuilt at no cost or very little cost. The other guy I mentioned above said he was going to have to pay out of pocket $5,000. I don't know that he has actually paid anything as of yet, but he says he will have to spend that much to get the engine running again.

In contrast, there are many owners of these engines who report nothing more than the usual kinds of problems and who are happy with the performance and fuel economy. I met in-person (not anonymously on the internet) a fellow Boston Whaler owner with a beautiful 27-Walk Around newly re-powered with twin 225-HP Optimax engines. He raved about them and the much improved fuel economy. In his location (northern British Columbia) fuel was $3/gallon and the engines would pay for themselves in fuel savings in a few seasons as he was saving something like $50-70 per hour of operation.

The catastrophic failure in these engines has been said to be caused by a fuel injector failure that results in debris in the cylinder, causing damage to the piston and cylinder walls. The power head must be rebuilt and the cylinder re-lined or re-honed. The injectors are typically replaced, and their cost is also significant, something on the order of $250 each,and you need all six--or twelve in your case.

Other reports have mentioned problems with fuel rails. Engine controller firmware has also been cited.

These engines also need special attention to the spark plugs, the plug installation, and their gap setting. I believe that there has been a change in the recommended spark plug, and since the plugs are not $2-plugs, owners have balked at this cost. The spark plugs list for as much as $15 if purchased through a dealer. For people who are accustomed to simple 2-stroke engines that use $1 Champion plugs from lawn mowers, this was a rude awakening to the real costs of lowering engine emissions to comply with California guidelines. Installation also requires additional labor from indexing the plug and also from the difficulty in getting access to the plug. (It has been reported--again second hand from me I don't know--that some components of the engine have to be partially removed to gain access to the plugs for replacement.)

Also, special oils are now required for these engines. The $6/gallon Walmart oil will not make these run properly. Even though they use less oil, paying $35 for a gallon does make some boaters a bit crazy.

In some cases I think that owner errors may have induced some problems. By using the wrong oils and operating the engine for extended periods at low speeds, spark plug fouling and rough engine running may have resulted.

Finally, the Optimax engine was a new product and many dealers were not up to speed on how to service it. And probably the factory field support was not up to the mark either, both in training and manpower.

As a result, the Optimax, and particularly the engines you mention from the period around c.2001, do have a reputation. My counsel is to do some investigation and come to your own informed judgement. The short answer: no one is paying a premium for Optimax engines from that era.

That's what I have heard. Again, except for the fellow I met in BC who was in love with his new Optimaxes, everything I have mentioned is second hand information. I have taken it on faith and am passing it on as such.

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