The ongoing saga of the Four Winns

OVERKILL

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A couple of years ago my dad picked-up a Four Winns Sundowner I/O for a good price in Georgian Bay. Boat was in reasonably good shape. However, it's been a bit of a "project".

When we bought the Supra, we knew it had some cracks in the fibreglass that we thought were probably superficial, but had checked by a fibreglass shop who confirmed that was the case. We were out the boat for a season while that was remedied, along with a few other things like the input shaft seal on the transmission. I also replaced the fuel sender with a floatless one, which now works perfectly. I've done the vast majority of the work on the Supra myself, save the fibreglass repair.

The Four Winns ran like a bag of a$$ and it was determined that the weights in the dizzy were seized. The marina my dad had working on it replaced the distributor along with the fresh water pump. It still wasn't running great, but it would at least come up on plane. When it was dragged down to the house to get wrapped for storage, we tasked the place where we store it with also giving the carb a good going-over, which they did and it ran significantly better last year. They said we'd probably want to get the floor dealt with, as we seemed to have a carpenter ant problem.

This brings us to the end of last season where the alternator packed it in and showed 16V charging. The gas gauge has never worked (it has an integrated cluster) and upon disassembly of the cluster, I found significant corrosion and told dad he might need to buy a new cluster from the states. So, we parked the boat with the tasks for the marina:
1. Replace the alternator
2. Replace the floor and carpeting
3. Fix the gas gauge/cluster issue

It seems that only #2 was dealt with along with replacing of the bellows and gimble bearing, which we were told needed to be done only a month ago when dad had planned on picking-up the boat which wasn't ready for this season yet.

The floor was replaced twice because apparently buddy used the wrong carpet glue the first time around? It was during the floor fiasco, which he decided to do at the beginning of the season, rather than, you know, during the winter when it would have made sense.... that he advised dad that the bellows and gimble bearing needed attention. Fine, dad approved. This imposed further delays. Luckily, we had the Supra at the cottage, so it could stand-in for the cruising boat.

Well, we finally get the boat back on Wednesday. I come over, the trailer tires are completely shot, the prop clearly needs attention and neither of these things were brought up to be addressed during the off season. Friday, we fit new tires to the trailer and dad takes it up to the cottage. Get it to the lake, the battery is dead. Boosts it, it's charging at 16V still, they never replaced the bloody alternator. I'm guessing the gauges are still buggered up too.

Dad is understandably upset that the work he had originally outlined hadn't been done. New work, that should have been identified, wasn't, and that it somehow took the better part of a year just to do the floor because it wasn't started when it should have been, putting him in a position of being without his boat for the duration of the season and with a $4K bill for work that only covered 1/3rd of the tasks given.

Not sure if he's going to take it over to the marina that first worked on it to have them do the alt or not.

I feel awful for him. He's recently retired and in no shape to be trying to wrench on a boat. I'm busy with work, so I'm not able to deal with these things and it is particularly aggravating to discover that what was supposed to be done, wasn't.
 

JTK

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Boats are a joy.

Sorry if I missed it, but what year is the Four Winns? Just curious how the carpet glue effected the integrity of the flooring? Is the transom solid? Four Winns tend to have quality hulls.
 

OVERKILL

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Boats are a joy.

Sorry if I missed it, but what year is the Four Winns? Just curious how the carpet glue effected the integrity of the flooring? Is the transom solid? Four Winns tend to have quality hulls.
Floor is plywood, I assume the hull has composite stringers, so we apparently developed some sort of carpenter ant problem, which was odd? Floor seemed solid, FWIW. Rest of the boat is rock solid.

It's a 1995 with a Volvo 302 Ford stern-drive.

Our Supra has composite floors.
 
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You want pressure treated plywood for the floor, many times the stringers are NOT pressure treated, just coated with fiberglass when the hull is made. Remember, B.O.A.T. means “bust out another thousand”!
 

OVERKILL

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You want pressure treated plywood for the floor, many times the stringers are NOT pressure treated, just coated with fiberglass when the hull is made. Remember, B.O.A.T. means “bust out another thousand”!
I assume he used marine pressure treated plywood.

One of the reasons we specifically bought the ski boat we did was due to it having composite stringers to avoid the wooden stringer nightmare.
 
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So a 1995 is a pretty old boat. You can also have rot problem in the transom where outdrive is mounted.

So these things that you find not done, have they charged you for them but they are not done? If not why didn't you or your father say something when you look over the bill and find no mention of the alternator?

Did you ever tell the marina to look over the boat bow to stern and write up everything that needs attention?
 

OVERKILL

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So a 1995 is a pretty old boat. You can also have rot problem in the transom where outdrive is mounted.

So these things that you find not done, have they charged you for them but they are not done? If not why didn't you or your father say something when you look over the bill and find no mention of the alternator?

Did you ever tell the marina to look over the boat bow to stern and write up everything that needs attention?

Yes, that was one of the instructions, basically "let me know if you find anything else".

Both boats have low hours, the Supra has composite floors and stringers; there's literally nothing to rot, but that's not the case with this boat. The backs of the seats for example, are marine plywood, however, interesting discovery (my dad started sending me pictures):
20210816_163640.jpg


That's not a plywood floor..... At least not that section of it.
 
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Marine plywood is similar to exterior plywood in that the glue is waterproof, but with marine there are no inside layers that have a void like exterior can. It will hold screws better. But marine plywood is not treated.
 

OVERKILL

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Marine plywood is similar to exterior plywood in that the glue is waterproof, but with marine there are no inside layers that have a void like exterior can. It will hold screws better. But marine plywood is not treated.
Not sure if this is really a concern with the seat backs, we are just rather disappointed this wasn't brought to our attention when the boat was supposedly apart. Did you see the picture of the floor?

On your previous question, which I apologize for not answering:
Donald said:
So these things that you find not done, have they charged you for them but they are not done? If not why didn't you or your father say something when you look over the bill and find no mention of the alternator?

I've not seen the invoice or paperwork. I don't believe we were charged for the alternator. We were definitely charged for the bellows and gimble bearing as well as the floor/carpet. Dad picked up the boat and brought it home, I went over later to take a look at it. Dad then took the boat to the lake, which is two hours away and didn't discover that there was an issue, and subsequently, that the alternator issue hadn't been dealt with until he went to fire it up and the battery was dead. The boat was of course supposed to be "ready to go", which is part of the fee we pay for storage, winterization and season prep.
 
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One thing I have seen once or twice is an alternator that gets replaced and someone switches the sense wire with the excite wire. It will work fine and charge the battery but will drain the battery when the engine is off as the excite section of the alternator would have power all the time. Only the sense wire can get power all the time.

Of course its mandatory the alternator be a marine alternator vs a car alternator.

Any voltage readings should be taken using a DVM at the battery, and hopefully not the free DVM you can get from HF.
 

OVERKILL

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One thing I have seen once or twice is an alternator that gets replaced and someone switches the sense wire with the excite wire. It will work fine and charge the battery but will drain the battery when the engine is off as the excite section of the alternator would have power all the time. Only the sense wire can get power all the time.

Of course its mandatory the alternator be a marine alternator vs a car alternator.

Any voltage readings should be taken using a DVM at the battery, and hopefully not the free DVM you can get from HF.

Alternator is original (dad sent me pictures) so it definitely has not been replaced. He's got a new one coming tomorrow, he'll be changing it himself.
 
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A couple of years ago my dad picked-up a Four Winns Sundowner I/O for a good price in Georgian Bay. Boat was in reasonably good shape. However, it's been a bit of a "project".

When we bought the Supra, we knew it had some cracks in the fibreglass that we thought were probably superficial, but had checked by a fibreglass shop who confirmed that was the case. We were out the boat for a season while that was remedied, along with a few other things like the input shaft seal on the transmission. I also replaced the fuel sender with a floatless one, which now works perfectly. I've done the vast majority of the work on the Supra myself, save the fibreglass repair.

The Four Winns ran like a bag of a$$ and it was determined that the weights in the dizzy were seized. The marina my dad had working on it replaced the distributor along with the fresh water pump. It still wasn't running great, but it would at least come up on plane. When it was dragged down to the house to get wrapped for storage, we tasked the place where we store it with also giving the carb a good going-over, which they did and it ran significantly better last year. They said we'd probably want to get the floor dealt with, as we seemed to have a carpenter ant problem.

This brings us to the end of last season where the alternator packed it in and showed 16V charging. The gas gauge has never worked (it has an integrated cluster) and upon disassembly of the cluster, I found significant corrosion and told dad he might need to buy a new cluster from the states. So, we parked the boat with the tasks for the marina:
1. Replace the alternator
2. Replace the floor and carpeting
3. Fix the gas gauge/cluster issue

It seems that only #2 was dealt with along with replacing of the bellows and gimble bearing, which we were told needed to be done only a month ago when dad had planned on picking-up the boat which wasn't ready for this season yet.

The floor was replaced twice because apparently buddy used the wrong carpet glue the first time around? It was during the floor fiasco, which he decided to do at the beginning of the season, rather than, you know, during the winter when it would have made sense.... that he advised dad that the bellows and gimble bearing needed attention. Fine, dad approved. This imposed further delays. Luckily, we had the Supra at the cottage, so it could stand-in for the cruising boat.

Well, we finally get the boat back on Wednesday. I come over, the trailer tires are completely shot, the prop clearly needs attention and neither of these things were brought up to be addressed during the off season. Friday, we fit new tires to the trailer and dad takes it up to the cottage. Get it to the lake, the battery is dead. Boosts it, it's charging at 16V still, they never replaced the bloody alternator. I'm guessing the gauges are still buggered up too.

Dad is understandably upset that the work he had originally outlined hadn't been done. New work, that should have been identified, wasn't, and that it somehow took the better part of a year just to do the floor because it wasn't started when it should have been, putting him in a position of being without his boat for the duration of the season and with a $4K bill for work that only covered 1/3rd of the tasks given.

Not sure if he's going to take it over to the marina that first worked on it to have them do the alt or not.

I feel awful for him. He's recently retired and in no shape to be trying to wrench on a boat. I'm busy with work, so I'm not able to deal with these things and it is particularly aggravating to discover that what was supposed to be done, wasn't.
Why was the battery dead from a bad alternator when he first gets to the lake? Did they not charge battery before giving you the boat back?

How much is the boat worth? $4K seems like a lot to put into a 1995 boat. I probably put several thousand $$ into my 1987 Cruisers 24' in the last several years I owned it. But there was always more to do. I donated it and the donation sold it on EBAY for under $100 I think. Not really sure. A month before I donated it I had the helm seat recovered, that alone was $150.
 

OVERKILL

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Why was the battery dead from a bad alternator when he first gets to the lake? Did they not charge battery before giving you the boat back?
I'm assuming no, that's another reason we are PO'd. The boat is supposed to be "season ready" as part of the fees payed to store it.
How much is the boat worth? $4K seems like a lot to put into a 1995 boat. I probably put several thousand $$ into my 1987 Cruisers 24' in the last several years I owned it. But there was always more to do. I donated it and the donation sold it on EBAY for under $100 I think. Not really sure. A month before I donated it I had the helm seat recovered, that alone was $150.
I think he paid $6,800 for it? It has low hours.

Valuation of course varies based on the type of boat. A ski boat like our Supra is worth 3x what we paid for it all day every day. I don't think there's much that can be done to the Four Winns that would improve its value. It's a solid boat, but dad's going to have 15K into it here by the time this is sorted I suspect (including purchase price).

But, as the saying goes, boats are a hole in the water you throw money into and this is clearly no exception. They like the boat, and it's cheaper fixing this one up than buying a new one for $120K.
 
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Well I am many thousands of dollars into the repair of my boat and it's still on a trailer without the outdrive installed. I bought it in Sept and have yet to go out in it.
 
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How good a job did the boat yard do with the fiberglass work and floor replacement? I always thought boat yards could do mechanical work and bottom painting but that one would need a specialist to do fiberglass work.
 

OVERKILL

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How good a job did the boat yard do with the fiberglass work and floor replacement? I always thought boat yards could do mechanical work and bottom painting but that one would need a specialist to do fiberglass work.

They didn't touch the fibreglass (I've now been to the cottage). Doesn't look like they replaced any of the wood either. There are some new 2x4 braces installed above the fuel tank (plain wood) and liberal use of giant deck screws and a few spirts of spray foam in the corners of where the tank sits.

They replaced the main piece of carpet, just gluing it to the original wooden fuel tank cover and the original fibreglass floor.

Boat needs to come out of the lake now though, as something is massively buggered in the lower unit (he supposedly replaced the bellows and gimble bearing) as there was a wicked vibration and it seems to be unable to move water properly, trying to catch fire today and had to be towed home with "old reliable" the Supra. That was exciting.

I used a garden hose and tried to force water through the manifold coolant hoses and couldn't. Water would only go through very slowly, even though it should be unrestricted and go right out the back. Tested the raw water pump, moves lots of water. Was able to cool it and then start it, it was obviously pumping water, but it seems like there is a restriction. I'm guessing it is in the lower unit, so that needs to come off now.

We are thinking of calling it "The Curse II" at this point. We had a early 1970's Century Coronado ages ago that was "The Curse" because of the drama it produced, this boat isn't turning out any different.

On a positive note, swapped the thermostat in the Supra and now it's working properly. That boat is SOOOO easy to work on....
 
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What outdrive? Is the raw water pump in the lower half of the outdrive like a Mercruiser Alpha? Vanes from a falling apart impeller can get stuck in the cooling system if they break off.

I would not want plain 2x4 put into my boat to repair the floor or gas tank support. Spray foam?
 
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Donald and OVERKILL, thanks for posting in here and throwing some water on my internal fire to buy a boat. I enjoy reading about the fixes but am not ready to go down the boat ownership road yet. Good luck to both of you getting everything lake ready!
 
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