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Old 03-01-2016, 04:51   #1
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Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

Gday Everyone,
First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to this forum. I've been reading up a lot here for quite some time, even though I just signed up today, and have gotten a lot of useful info around here.



Just some background info before everything else...
I've been boating for quite some time. I currently co-own a 2006 Fourwinns 338 Cruiser, powered by twin Merc 350 MPI engines. So far, I've been happy with it(had it for about 2 years now). The boat has been managed by a company for us all owners(there's 4 of us total) since the beginning so it is pretty much hassle-free for us all.

However, I am planning on getting my very own soon so I would like to ask opinions. I am currently contemplating on purchasing a sport cruiser on the 33-35footer range.
Here are a few boats that I have my eyes on.

Mustang 3200LE
Used 2005 Mustang 3200LE SPORTSCRUISER Boat For Sale - boatsales.com.au

Bavaria
Used 2003 BAVARIA 32 SPORT Boat For Sale - boatsales.com.au

Sundancer
Used 2005 SEA RAY 335 SUNDANCER Boat For Sale - boatsales.com.au

As the title says, I'm planning to get a 10+ year old boat. The only reason for this is because price-wise, this is the most appealing for me...but does not necessarily mean most practical. Since most boats that old are pretty cheap(about 20% the price of a new one), its making it harder for me to pass up the chance.
Also, some of the boats here, albeit 10 years or older, are still in pretty good condition(aesthetically). The interior in some still looks top-notch and not worn. Apart from some faded bimini's and clears, most are still in top shape. Just add some TLC to the boat, I reckon it will outshine younger ones.

Just so everyone knows, I would consider my mechanical skills "above average". My father, a mechanical engineer, tinkered with a lot of cars so he taught me a thing or two. I do most of the service with my cars for simple oil changes to rebuilds so I am pretty handy with a wrench. I also did a few car restorations so my electrical skills are decent also.
However, I could not say the same with boats... Hence the reason for my post.
When I finalize my purchase, I will be hiring a marine surveyor to confirm the integrity of the vessel. But I would like to research some facts prior to finalizing my plan.


My question is,
Apart from the engine(which I can probably service myself) and the hull, what else do I have to look at when purchasing older boats? What important and costly repairs are involved? I'm not talking about bilge pumps, windlass, etc...those I would just consider as a cheap fix.
I'm just trying to find more important parts which would end up costing me an arm and a leg.

Thanks everyone for the help.


Gabriel
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Old 03-01-2016, 05:43   #2
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

The stern drives can have big bills if not looked after, also canvas, cushions and beds warrant a good check over. Finally when were the batteries changed last? other than that it should be simple stuff as you say, pumps, toilet discharge hoses and flexible gas pipes. Always thought sports cruisers have rediculous under sized anchors, so perhaps consider swapping them out too. Don't forget salt water dissolves the exhaust risers quite nicely too.

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Old 03-01-2016, 05:57   #3
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

Sounds like you're on the right track. Boats are usually systems of systems. Marine survey (hull, and whether most systems work or not), good. Plan on a mechanical (engine, and genset if so equipped) survey, too. Those two inspections should help you home in on acceptable candidates... and then you'll also have a punch list of required fixes. Once your candidate passes inspections, do all the required fixes, go boating.


You might seek out owners clubs for candidate brands, join before purchasing, ask questions about potential known problem areas, etc.


As you go forward, be pro-active with scheduled maintenance and service, and consider potential upgrades or long-term system replacements (clears, for example) as the need arises.


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Old 03-01-2016, 07:31   #4
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

In order to best learn what you need to in order to best help yourself (a commendable trait, BTW). You'd be wise to do some studying on boat surveying; via the search function on here, online in general, & by picking up a few good books on the subject. Oh, & you might also, gently, ask some of our resident surveyors if they have any tips or recommendations for you, additionally.

With the books, & said information in hand, it'll be fairly easy for you to put together a checklist (cheat sheet) of your own making (though many books, & online websites have pre-made, semi-generic ones).
And with your checklist (& or spread sheet), you can go through any boat, hitting all of the key points on it. While taking copious notes; perhaps using a voice recorder, or better; a video camera, to document of everything. And then be able to easily review it, and the boat [multiple times] later on.

That way, you have a "yardstick" with which to measure each boat. In terms of both what it has equipment wise, & what it doesn't. Plus the condition of each system, & components which comprise them, respectively.
So that via a spread sheet (or paper, pencil, & calculator) you can coldly, fully value each vessel. Including it's strong & weak points, etc. All while you're doing the math on how much money (& time) that it will take to get boat X, or Y, up to your (own) finite, pre-determined standard of readiness.

Also, the advice on getting several different types of surveys, for each large system onboard is a great one. As would be taking samples of all of the fluids from every engine, & transmission, etc. From all of the various boats which you're considering. And then sending them out for analysis.

Plus, some of probably the most edifying reading, will be on learning about the workings of the various sub-systems onboard a boat. And how to get a feel for their "health".
I'd recommend doing some shopping here (as in buy most of what you see on said page) http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no...s=nigel+calder As his work, writings, & reputation, tend to be top notch. And even though I've been working on boats for many decades (often for a living), I keep his stuff handy most of the time. As references, & or to assist me in repairing, or installing a piece of gear, or systems.

Too, if you want even more advanced knowledge/a different POV on things. You can spend some time on www.setsail.com & also pick up the Dashew's books while you're there.
They (the Dashews) are running a pretty good deal on their publishings at the moment. Though you might check the cost of the books vs. Ebay & the like, first. But they're worth having, without question. And are at www.setsail.com/shop/ But <-- this is a fairly good deal IMO. Even though you can download a couple of their books for free, electronically. But me, I still like having a paper copy around too.

Much of their stuff is sailboat oriented, but given that there's more than 2K pages there (maybe 3K), there's Loads of info which you'll find handy, & of use, regardless.
Especially as seamanship is seamanship, when you really pull out the magnifying glass. That & the books cover a HUGE amount of knowledge of shipboard systems, their design; including the various pros & cons of many setups. But from a bit different perspective than does Nigel Calder.
And since you're a hands on tech guy, you'll likely appreciate the contrasting styles, opinions, & information between the respective authors.

Anyway, good luck with finding "the right one". And enjoy her when you do.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:44   #5
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

Thanks for the replies.
@Ranger - Yes, that's how most car restorers break down systems too... looking in at simple angles as suppose to overwhelm yourself with the whole car.

@Pete7 - now that you mentioned it, most of the ones I see do have small anchors!
@Uncivilized - Thank you for referring the books. I think Nigel's write-ups will be a good addition to my bookshelf.

Are sterndrives mostly repairable? or are they "throw-aways" like some outboard motors?
I assume cruiser batteries are more pricey than regular car batteries?
Honestly, I don't really expect to find a boat in tip-top condition at that age. Truth be told, I'd be dissapointed if I don't get to do a few fix-its on it. I don't mind doing risers and manifolds every 4-5 years or so, as well as other regular repairs. My only concern would be getting one of those "time bomb" problems that would end up costing me half the boats value (apart from replacing both engines, of course).
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:54   #6
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

The stern drives are going to be Volvo or Mercruiser unless they have fitted something really odd. Whilst second hand drives are pricey they are readily available. The good news is if they are looked after, serviced annually and well painted then they will last years. Just keep the anodes replaced.

Spend an evening reading about batteries on the electrical forum. There is a lot to take in if you don't want to make expensive mistakes maintaining them.
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:15   #7
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

Don't forget to take a good look at the head system. If lucky, you will only have to replace the air filter. You know it's bad if you get a stink outside after flushing.

My experience is with a 2006 SeaRay 300 (same boat with a different US model#). Cruised all five Great Lakes and surrounding waterways. It was a good boat that stayed in good condition with minimal service requirements. Did both drive unit bearings at 5 years with over 500hrs. I thought that was exceptional.

If I hadn't sold the boat the biggest change that was about to be made was the mattress. We did a mix of marina stays and anchoring and always stayed on the boat. The standard mattress was starting to feel thinner.

The standard Delta anchor would have been replaced with something like a Rocna, Spade, or Mantus of larger size.

By the sounds of it you know this already: keep it maintained, keep it clean, and you will get at least another ten years out of which ever boat you buy. Enjoy it!
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:20   #8
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guimaras View Post
Thanks for the replies.
@Ranger - Yes, that's how most car restorers break down systems too... looking in at simple angles as suppose to overwhelm yourself with the whole car.

Are sterndrives mostly repairable? or are they "throw-aways" like some outboard motors?
I assume cruiser batteries are more pricey than regular car batteries?

I don't mind doing risers and manifolds every 4-5 years or so, as well as other regular repairs.
Ideally, your mechanical surveyor is a guy who knows all about that particular brand of engine, too.

I haven't owned stern drives, but I've ready they're maintainable. One issue is that they don't do so well if the boat is moored in salt water, 'cause they can't be lifted enough out of the water like an outboard. (A dock neighbor has a single Volvo diesel connected by jackshaft to a Volvo Penta outdrive... and as far as I know, he's only had problems with the jackshaft... and that's after a bazillion hours or so. He keeps that boat on an electric lift in his slip.)

As Pete said, read about batteries. In general, marine starting batteries are pretty much the same as automotive batteries, although sometimes with slightly different terminals. HOUSE batteries can be a different thing, not hugely expensive, but you'll want to read about the differences between the two functions... and therefore the differences in appropriate batteries for each function.

Gas guys in our owners club do say they change cast iron risers and manifolds every 5 years if they're operating freshwater (antifreeze) cooled engines in salt water.

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Old 03-01-2016, 12:14   #9
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

Definitely get an engine survey in addition to the vessel survey. I wish I would have.
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Old 03-01-2016, 12:25   #10
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

If the engine(s) are fresh water (antifreeze) cooled, you'll want ur surveyor to try to ensure the heat exchanger is in good shape. Same with the various coolers (oil, tranny, fuel) depending on the setup. If an oil cooler ruptures internally, it can cause an engine to ingest seawater / hydro, which could mean replacing that engine. That happened to my brother in law on an otherwise solid older Merc 7.4 in a Sea Ray. The seller may not allow diassembly for close inspection, so it'd be a good idea keeping a close eye on running temperatures of various eng components with a temp gun during the sea trial. Along with watching the exhaust water for any signs of oil or fuel (sheen on the water behind the boat). After u buy ur dreamboat, check with the engine manufacturer for recommended exchanger/ cooler maintenacne & replacement intervals. They're like manifolds & risers, they don't last forever.
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Old 03-01-2016, 18:24   #11
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

Thanks everyone for the input.

Probably 80-90% of the boats here in Syndey are raw watercooled. Also, the majority of the fresh water cooled are open systems...meaning the risers and manifolds still take in salt water. Therefore, those parts for both Volvo and Mercruiser engine wouldn't be hard to get here...and yes, they usually replace it within 4-5 years, regardless whether its still usable or not.

I plan on keeping the boat on a dry storage facility here. There's a few that caters for this size of boat... and it's half the price cheaper there too compared to a Marina berth(From what I was told, it's the opposite in some states in the US). Hopefully, this would mean less UV wear on the boat and drive parts like anodes, etc.

Thanks for the advice on the head system. I never really considered it and come to think of it, I did see a few boats that exhibited that trait.
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Old 07-01-2016, 12:20   #12
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

Getting to the bow looks like it would be pretty difficult on the Mustang...
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:54   #13
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

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Getting to the bow looks like it would be pretty difficult on the Mustang...
Yeah, noticed that too. Funny because if you look at the specs, its actually quite beamy.
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Old 29-01-2016, 23:55   #14
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

Guimaras,

I bought a 10 year old cruiser 18 months ago, and like you have better than average mechanical and electrical school set. The stern legs repairs can cost, so ensure the mechanical surveyor inspects the oils for any water ingress. Check the service records on the manifolds and risers, and check the motors ( compression, oil, water temp, elec charge voltage) the same as you would buying a 10 year old V8 car. The marine surveyor should catch the other things. Read the report and talk to the surveyors, as they will tell you more under a good conversation.
Once I had mine, I changed all the oils and filters- same as with a used car, as then I knew more of what I had, same on the generator. Also checked / replaced hoses and ensured double SS hoseclamps on all seawater service areas.
Certainly look for any water ingress ( sea or rain) as they can be hard to track down and time consuming & expensive to fix.
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Old 30-01-2016, 03:26   #15
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Re: Advice needed for buying 10+ year old sport cruiser

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Originally Posted by OldGreyB View Post
Guimaras,

I bought a 10 year old cruiser 18 months ago, and like you have better than average mechanical and electrical school set. The stern legs repairs can cost, so ensure the mechanical surveyor inspects the oils for any water ingress. Check the service records on the manifolds and risers, and check the motors ( compression, oil, water temp, elec charge voltage) the same as you would buying a 10 year old V8 car. The marine surveyor should catch the other things. Read the report and talk to the surveyors, as they will tell you more under a good conversation.
Once I had mine, I changed all the oils and filters- same as with a used car, as then I knew more of what I had, same on the generator. Also checked / replaced hoses and ensured double SS hoseclamps on all seawater service areas.
Certainly look for any water ingress ( sea or rain) as they can be hard to track down and time consuming & expensive to fix.

Good to hear a first hand experience. Very helpful reply, thanks for that.

I have looked at 3 boats now but made a pass on all of them. One had a leaking sterndrive and the other two was suffering from water ingress...from rain! It's funny how some manufacturers spend all that effort to waterproof the hulls but decided to use substandard sealants on the windows and roof.
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