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Old 13 October 2018, 09:39   #1
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Outboard, how old is to old?

I'm thinking about buying a rib with a Mercury 135 optimax from 2002. The boat ticks all the right boxes for me apart from the age of the engine. The hours are a bit vague but I would get the engine checked out by an engineer before committing. So the question is am worrying unnecessarily if the engine hours show to be reasonable and the engineer's report reads ok or am I buying a possible money pit ? I should add that whilst I know my way round a pot of resin and pile off fibreglass having built to many boats in my time, my mechanical knowledge is sketchy to say the least, so any future problems would require professional expertise and costs!

Any advice or thoughts would be gratefully received.

Cheers, Pete.
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Old 13 October 2018, 11:09   #2
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I didnít have a good experience with a 2001 Optimax 150hp. there is a lot going on with the Optimax, air compressor, air injectors x 6, fuel injectors x6 etc
The engine needs to be hooked up to smartcraft gauges so you can see what is going on with the engine, hours will be on the smartcraft gauge as you scroll through. If you have problems with the engine it will need to hooked up to a DDT Digital Diagnostic Terminal, I had that many problems I bought one so I could read the faults myself, over the last 20+ years the Optimax has been the most expensive & frustrating used engine Iíve had !
As an example if an air injector fails they are approx £280 each and need to be ordered in from barus, the engine will go into limp mode until fixed.
If you do go ahead have the engine heath checked and ask for the engine to be hooked up to a DDT so you can see all the running history
Hope this helps
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Old 13 October 2018, 11:38   #3
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I'm thinking about buying a rib with a Mercury 135 optimax from 2002. The boat ticks all the right boxes for me apart from the age of the engine. The hours are a bit vague but I would get the engine checked out by an engineer before committing. So the question is am worrying unnecessarily if the engine hours show to be reasonable and the engineer's report reads ok or am I buying a possible money pit ? I should add that whilst I know my way round a pot of resin and pile off fibreglass having built to many boats in my time, my mechanical knowledge is sketchy to say the least, so any future problems would require professional expertise and costs!

Any advice or thoughts would be gratefully received.

Cheers, Pete.
I have had 2 optimax motors,, one a 150hp 2005 and one a 175 2007. Both great.,,, however, I would be wary of a 2002. It would be the same as the original 1999 and as an early model prone to some issues. If they had the fuel injectors changed to the revised blue ones and has had a new air compressor in its recent life, then probably OK. Definitely needs a hook up, fault history and hours check... and real service evidence.
Just my opinion of course
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Old 13 October 2018, 12:09   #4
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Tbh I wouldnít be overly worried new engines fail. If it runs well stay on top of maintenance and use it. Imho itís lack of use that creates most problems. Do your research though optimax in that age bracket do need the blue injectors it was a known fault bad batch of injectors. If it helps consider an engine with say 340 hours on it if you assume has averaged 20 mph has only done approx 7000 miles. In a car that would be nothing.
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Old 13 October 2018, 13:18   #5
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Too old.. would you buy a 16 year old car with dubious history to take you inhospitable locations?
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Old 13 October 2018, 13:43   #6
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With a spirit of adventure yes. Better to have a shiny new aux with you tho just in case
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Old 13 October 2018, 14:04   #7
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Thanks for the replies. All very helpful.

I think you've confirmed what I was thinking and this is one to pass on. And so the search continues.

Thanks again. Pete.
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Old 13 October 2018, 14:06   #8
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With a spirit of adventure yes. Better to have a shiny new aux with you tho just in case
would that be a 4 stroke aux
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Old 14 October 2018, 04:32   #9
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Too old.. would you buy a 16 year old car with dubious history to take you inhospitable locations?
If I was planning to park it in say, Bristol, then yes...

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Old 14 October 2018, 10:31   #10
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A 2002 will have the revised injectors.

I had a 2001 150hp optimax and ran it to 900hrs and sold in 2014.
It had generally been a reliable engine with only the following faults in 9 years of ownership:
Randomly dropping 500rpm at full throttle - turned out to be plug leads.
Several trim motors corroding and failing.
Finally there are a couple of random electrical issues which were down to corrosion in the wiring loom.
Replaced it with another one!
How it looks under the hood Should be a good first indication.
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Old 14 October 2018, 10:40   #11
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It wouldnít worry me at that age for a good motor. Depends on how itís been used - a 16 year old car is not like a 16 year old outboard that is looked after. Think how many more miles a car does in that time. So mechanically it should be fine. Get it checked and if itís relatively low hours wouldnít concern me. Modern engines are so reliable. Itís price would reflect its age / level of use.

For example we have a 140hp Suzuki 4 stroke (on sale on here atm as we are looking at a larger engine) and it hasnít missed a beat in 14 years, incredibly reliable and in very good condition.

As we say as we get older - age is just a number and itís how hard itís been worked (and maintained) that matters.
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Old 14 October 2018, 12:38   #12
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It the low hours that can kill an outboard,corrosion is rife ... cant see many car engines living very long in terms of the environment an outboard has to work in and being a old second hand outboard ,do you really know how its been looked after?
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Old 14 October 2018, 13:09   #13
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It the low hours that can kill an outboard,corrosion is rife ... cant see many car engines living very long in terms of the environment an outboard has to work in and being a old second hand outboard ,do you really know how its been looked after?

Itís rarely the engine on a 16 yr old car where the problem lies (it was your comparison), unless itís been used as a taxi etc with stupid mileage. Few cars get stored inside in the warm and dry, or any maintenance at all outside their annual service. Many, but certainly not all outboards will have been stored inside, seen grease/oil/wd40 etc far more than on a car. Looking at the engine will tell you far more than the original purchase receipt. After all it could be 18 months old and have been upside down in the sea because someone over cooked their showing off.

New outboards can fail too, so from a safety perspective Iíd say it is no different unless there is something clearly wrong or that gives real cause for concern - so that you expect a failure.

Iíve been vaguely kicking around ideas about replacement boats, but those in budget often have 15 yr old engines. One of the things that has held me back is that the budget would not support providing a replacement engine if it dies in the first year or two.
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Old 14 October 2018, 15:27   #14
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It the low hours that can kill an outboard,corrosion is rife ... cant see many car engines living very long in terms of the environment an outboard has to work in and being a old second hand outboard ,do you really know how its been looked after?


Which is why itís always best to check out any second hand engine my point is that age alone doesnít mean itís a high risk if itís low hours and been looked after. May also depend which engine it is - some are well known for being solid, some less so
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Old 15 November 2018, 19:48   #15
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Even a decent looking engine can cr@p out on you... i got my rib with a yam 55 of about 1975 is lh vintage. Started with no more than a twitch of the key,and i frequently had to throttle it back....

One winter i went to change the thermostat... long story short -the powerhead had turned into swiss cheese due to a broken but looked intact earthing strap...

Those who remember me (its been a while!) will know i then totally rebuilt a Merc clamshell, which at a nominal 30 odd years old hasnt missed a beat since i ran it in... other than the Easdale trip where the battery let me down. ....

Age means little...
Condition means lots.
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