Weighing the Pre-sale Upkeep Options

QuestionI own a 1995 Caravelle 1900FS with a 190 hp MerCruiser I/O. Due to medical reasons, I haven’t started the boat since the fall of 2009. At that time, I winterized the boat with antifreeze, added fuel stabilizer to the gas and ran it for some time before using fogging oil in the carb to kill the engine. I’m healthy now, and I want to get it running and sell it or trade it for something smaller. I have no idea where to even begin to get the boat running again. My father says it’s a hopeless case and won’t run, but my BFF says I did all the right things when I last used it, and it should work again. Since I don’t want to keep it and use it, I’m looking to get it going again as cheaply as needed. I have found that the tilt-n-trim won’t come up but will go down (figure that’s a bad solenoid). I don’t know if the antifreeze even held up and protected the block from freezing and busting. I already know I have to replace the trailer tires and redo most of the interior that has wood inside, like the seats and all the carpeted compartment doors. Thankfully the floor is still solid. Where do I start? Is this too much for an average DIYer with the manual?

– Michelle Cox, Lexington, Ky.

AnswerNow, that’s a “wow!” question if I’ve ever seen one. I believe I’d first do a search on the NADA boat site, look at the average retail dollar amount, then subtract the low retail and decide if it’s worth putting money into refurbishing it. For example, I went to the NADA site and, not seeing Caravelle listed, checked out a 1995 19-foot Bayliner runabout with a Bimini top, GPS, stereo, fishfinder and trailer. (Please, don’t anyone get miffed with me about a comparison. All I’m trying to do is show how to use the site.) Anyway, this 19-foot boat with a 190 hp Merc listed new for $19,855. High retail now is $12,400, and low retail is $10,850. Do you sink $1,500 into making it look relatively clean, or do you and BFF take a Saturday and do a great wax job, replace the tires, change the oil and filter, and — to cut your losses — leave the upholstery to the buyer?

Pump the existing fuel from the tank, put in a minimal amount of stabilized (with Seafoam) 89 or 93 octane, and see if it starts. Wait until dad’s gone to town before you try it. If it runs, you’ll know if the antifreeze kept the innards together and if the water pump works, at least for that moment. If it doesn’t run, follow your manual, or let the guy who needs to replace the water pump try it.

You probably owe it to yourself and/or the buyer to replace the U-joint boot and the water pump. You don’t want to do anything but take the boat to a dealer for that awful job.

A SELOC manual will do a nice job guiding you, the novice, through the electrics and mechanicals. Have fun! 

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