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November 02, 2012

Repowering Your Boat

Consider these factors when replacing old carbureted outboards with newer models.

So when’s the best time to buy if you do decide to repower? Anytime the manufacturers are running incentive programs, Freeman and Shields say. Historically, turnaround time is shorter in the winter when service ­departments are less busy. There are price differences between brands, so it pays to shop. Extended warranties are now mostly standard. If you do switch from the original manufacturer, plan on replacing all the gauges, controls and key switches, since the old ones are rarely compatible. And according to Shields, outboards are no longer designated by model years, so close-out bargains are a thing of the past too.

It’s a reassuring feeling to step aboard your pride and joy, turn the key and have the engine fire off ­without ­hesitation. But there are also circumstances when it might be better to say goodbye to an old friend. By ­approaching repowering objectively, you can see if it’s the right choice for you.

Repower Checklist

Crunch the numbers. Does a new engine(s) make financial sense?

How’s the transom? Is it notched or does it show signs of rot?

Does the boat have trim tabs? If not, plan on adding them.

Inspect the fuel tank. Remove any old gas and refill tank before running the new engine.

Calculate the weight differential. 

How old are the batteries? Will they need to be moved?

Will the old propeller work?

Plan to replace gauges, control boxes and key switches.

Will wiring harnesses have to be replaced or added? How accessible are the rigging tubes?

Plan for the unexpected when calculating labor costs.