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Are Almost Free Boats & PWCs Worth The Price?

Chapap

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Surprised there’s no boat section.

I’ve always seen cheap 90’s PWCs on FB and CL. Most say that the hull is good but the engine is the problem… “ran last year,” “lost compression,” “electricals are shot,” etc.

Fiberglass is easy enough to inspect, but engines not so much. I’ve made some real scores on dirt bikes that just needed a new carb or something. What about outboards or PWCs? Any idea if engine parts are available for 30 year old PWCs? If the engine doesn’t run, does that mean it was stored with salt water in it and it’s shot? Impeller related headaches?

It sure is tempting to try to get a PWC for $500 when the going rate is a couple grand.
 


snoranger

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No... no boat is worth it ever, no matter what the price.

A project boat just means that you’ll be spending lots of money and not be able to use it.
a brand new boat means that you’ll be spending lots of money and using it.
 

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Stay away from them. They're money pits.
 

rangerx4

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PWC engines are cheap and super simple. Boats are a money pit. I have had both and the PWC route is probably the lower risk route. Lots of Youtube videos on rebuilding a SeaDoo Rotax engine. Buddy just did both of his for about $200.
 

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Boater's two best days: the day he buys and the day he sells.
 

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If you know what you are doing and do your own work, buying a used PWC can be worth it. Me personally, I'm perfectly happy to stick with canoes and kayaks. I see way to many other people constantly working on their boats in order to get them running again or keep them running. Kinda reminds me of Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon or @PetroleumJunkie412 and his 2.9.
 

Chapap

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If you know what you are doing and do your own work, buying a used PWC can be worth it. Me personally, I'm perfectly happy to stick with canoes and kayaks. I see way to many other people constantly working on their boats in order to get them running again or keep them running. Kinda reminds me of Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon or @PetroleumJunkie412 and his 2.9.
I used to have a Hobie 16 sail boat. All it had was a frame (easy to get spare parts for free), sails (easy to get for cheap), and hulls (not so easy). I picked up some hulls that needed work, and that’s how I decided not to touch anything that needs fiberglass work again. The rest was just rope and pulleys which is just a money pit in itself.
 

Roert42

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I had a pwc. It always worked when I wanted it to.
However, I never used it, so I sold it.

Around here you can only run them in the river, not in any of the lakes. So I ended up taking the canoe out most of the time because it was easier.
 

09fx4guy

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I don't know about PWC, but I know boats can require paperwork / titles, and usually anything going cheap or free around me does not have it. The last thing I would want is to pick up something that was stolen, and then have to deal with that headache.

But if you had something that was complete with paperwork, and had the room to store it, I could see a smaller bass boat (14-18 foot) being worth it if you are really into fishing.

Larger boats, like for saltwater, PASS.
 

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Looked at a cheap one a few years ago. Inboard/outboard which was scary enough on its own. "ran great last year" A kid just got it and his uncle was cutting him off on free storage and he had to dump it.

Had a Volvo I6 that had water in the oil and the engine wouldn't turn over. Basically NO hope of finding a different engine.

"so uh, did you winterize it last fall?"

"what is that?"

"yeah I think I am gonna pass..."
 

Chapap

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How about old 80’s - 90’s PWCs? Are they as fun as the new boats? Are the hull shapes designed well? I knew a fiberglass fella 10 years ago. His opinion was that seadoo hulls were the best, but their engines were delicate. I think it was kawasaki he said had the most bulletproof engines, but their hulls were bound to flip you a few times. I’m assuming the old hulls were more or less designed to float better in one direction than the other and can’t do all the cool carving the new ones can
 

rangerx4

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How about old 80’s - 90’s PWCs? Are they as fun as the new boats? Are the hull shapes designed well? I knew a fiberglass fella 10 years ago. His opinion was that seadoo hulls were the best, but their engines were delicate. I think it was kawasaki he said had the most bulletproof engines, but their hulls were bound to flip you a few times. I’m assuming the old hulls were more or less designed to float better in one direction than the other and can’t do all the cool carving the new ones can
I had a pair of 1989 SeaDoos. 580cc engines. If maintained they were great. I had a buddy somehow get the engine compartment flooded with water and had to rebuild it. Decided to do the other at the same time. Knocked both of them out in a weekend. Rebuild kits are available for as low as $120 online. Had them for 3 years before selling without another issue (aside from batteries).
 

Shran

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I got a whole bunch of free outboard motors years ago to fix up - was disappointed to find that they were all basically junk after spending hours tearing them down. Water in the cylinders, reed valves rusted off, stuff like that. That really turned me off to boats, even free ones... like you mentioned, the free ones are maybe not even a deal if you find out it's a disaster and have to pay to dispose of it. But if it comes with a trailer and you have a use for that, maybe it's a wash.

My buddy has a boat with an inboard 350. He forgot to winterize it and the block cracked. He put JB weld over the cracks and has been running it like that for years... stuff like that is what I expect to see on used boats.
 

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