Pony Up

Swap­ping out old out­boards isn’t as sim­ple as you may think, but it’s worth the ef­fort and ex­pense to up­grade to high-tech dig­i­tal mo­tors.

Power & Motor Yacht - - BOATYARD - By Mike Smith Pho­tog­ra­phy by Tom Se­rio

Fa­ther Time has no mercy. He wields his scythe and even­tu­ally every­thing, an­i­mate or inan­i­mate, gives up the ghost. Your gen­er­ous maiden aunt, your fa­vorite dog, even your out­board mo­tor—all tend to ex­pire at the worst pos­si­ble mo­ment. Noth­ing you can do about the first two, but the third? To­tally un­der your con­trol. Swap your mid­dle-aged out­boards while they’re still fir­ing on all cylin­ders. You won’t be buy­ing just new en­gines, you’ll get new tech­nol­ogy, too.

In the past decade, out­boards have gone high-tech. They have dig­i­tal brains un­der their cowl­ings, dig­i­tal con­trols at the helm, ac­tive throt­tle ad­just­ment and auto trim for skip­pers sick of fid­dling with rocker switches. They’re fuel-ef­fi­cient, less pol­lut­ing and ul­tra­reli­able. Re­power now, es­pe­cially if it’ll add a few ex­tra horses, and your boat will be faster and burn less fuel.

How­ever, there is rea­son to ap­proach a re­power with cau­tion: Swap­ping out­boards may seem like an easy deal—un­bolt the old, bolt on the new, hook ’em up and go—but most of the time there’s a lot more to it, at least if you want to get the most out of dig­i­tal mo­tors and pro­tect your in­vest­ment at the same time.

Is It Time?

When is it time to re­power? Mike Praolini, ser­vice man­ager and re­power ex­pert at Nau­ti­cal Ven­tures, a boat/mo­tor deal­er­ship and ser­vice fa­cil­ity in South Florida, said he’s seen plenty of four-stroke out­boards with 2,000 hours on the me­ter, and some su­per-well­main­tained mo­tors with nearly 5,000 hours. Nev­er­the­less, some Nau­ti­cal Ven­tures cus­tomers change their mo­tors when the war­ranties run out, so they’re al­ways cov­ered. (Mo­tor man­u­fac­tur­ers love those guys!) That’s new mo­tors ev­ery four or five years, on av­er­age, while they’re still at­trac­tive as trade-ins. The mar­ket is strong for late-model, well-main­tained used out­boards, Praolini said. Swap­ping out­boards while they’re still in their prime costs a few bucks,

To­day’s out­boards have a wealth of new tech­nol­ogy un­der the cowl­ing.

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