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Katman

about to buy a bass boat... what to look for when testing?

19 posts in this topic

We're getting serious about a friend's bass boat and will be taking it for a test ride when the water opens up. I'll give it prob another month or so. This will be my first boat if I do purchase it... so any pointers would be nice. What would i look for when testing the boat. I'm sure the there are the obvious like battery, if the boat starts, maintenance records, etc... but what else should I look for? Damage? Worn parts? Let me know what you guys think.

The boat is a 1997 18.5 ft Nitro savage 884 with a Mariner 150hp motor.

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Look at the hull for spider marks or gel coat issues. Check the transom as well. Check all the bilge pumps, and electric stuff.

I'm sure others will have advice as well..

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If you are able to bring it somewhere and have someone hook it to a computer I would recommend that just to be safe.

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Chances are if its a 150 Mariner you wont be able to put it on a computer but you can sure have a compression check done and a leak down test. Should run you under $100.00 but well worth it in the long run.Also like Deitz said just make sure Pumps work and the electrical all works.

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One thing is to try not to be too excited. Honestly it's hard to not get all amped up at the thought of a new ride. Before you go for the test ride check out the boat like Deitz and Olski said. If the boat doesn't check out 100% don't be afraid to tell your friend that you'll pass or that he needs to fix something or drop the price.

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What is he asking???

well... the friend discount is to just pay it off.... which equals to about 4600 bucks. That seems like a great deal to me. I will try to get that motor to a shop for a leakdown/compression test but anyone know one in Wausau, WI?

I'll look for cracks, webs, damamge to the transom. Is the body damage more important or the engine? How much is it to rebuilt "if" needed?

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Check the Gander in Wasau, they may still have the tools to do it.

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I had the same motor in a Mercury XR6 (just different paint) than the carbed 150 mariner. They are really tough motors, but they like oil and gas when you put the throttle down. They also blow enough smoke to keep the mosquitos away. Mine really slammed (grinded) when it went into gear, and finally they went out in mine. A simple idle adjustment and linkage check could've saved me a lot of money. New gears and labor were about $800 in mine (and that was a long time ago). Also, check the power trim and tilt when you put a little weight on it. If it slows down really bad then you may need a new hydraulic unit, they run about $800 also but rebuilds are available. Check the lower unit oil for water (it will look milky when you drain a little into a pan), and remove the prop and check for fishline. If there is any water in the lower unit that sat all winter, it could rust all the gears or even crack the lower unit.

Nitro quality went up a bunch in the late 90's, but still check for stress cracking around the transom and consoles. Nitro boats still have lower resale than other brands. Keep that in mind when your buying, because if it's not what you want you'll end up taking a bigger loss. When the boat is out of the water check the trailer over for rusted/broken welds, and loose bunks, they were common on some of the older tracker tailers.

Nitros used to be factory rigged with motorguide trolling motors (may still be). It's personal preference, but they don't do as well in the slop or weeds.

Boats are really high maintenance, so electrical problems, ripped seats and that kind of thing are normal

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thank you for the details! That will really help.

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$4600 seems like a great price for that boat if everything check's out. Getting the motor checked out is definitely a must.

Good luck!

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Have you fished in it before? I would ask to fish it for at least half a day and figure out if it fits you. That sounds like a fair price for the boat. What does it have for extra's, electronics, TM, does it have a keel guard? Did your friend buy it new or used? Does it have good storage space, rod lockers. 18.5 boat will need at least 70lb Thrust TM. What about TM batteries, how old are they, does it have an on board charger. Was it garage stored during the off season. Does it come with a cover if you don't have a garage to store it. How long do you plan on keeping this boat, I agree an older Nitro does not hold their value like a Ranger, skeeter etc. Mariner's are tough motors, but a trip to the shop for the tests mentioned is a very good idea. Buying that first boat is exciting but requires a lot of thought and careful consideration so you don't get caught up in the moment. Also keep in mind that you are looking at a 12 year old boat, it probably won't be perfect. Good luck, hope it works out well for you.

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Took me two years of hemming/hawing before pulling the trigger. Best decision I made was to wait for just the right boat to come along and not settle for "close enough".

I may of overpaid a little based on "book" but it was the size I wanted and had everything I wanted as a package and well within the budget. I could not be happier with my decision.

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I have not fished the in the boat. We're just waiting for open water to get out there and fish it for the weekend before the purchase. We're waiting to get info on what is exactly on the boat. The price was real nice...but we're waiting to see why. Not sure what a Keel guard is. I will double check on the chargers, batteries, check the transom and prop for line. I will have the motor checked out by Gander for a compression check. I will have the owner start it and see if there is anything special about starting or operating the boat. We'll run the boat at full speed and mid... see how the motor holds up. Anything else?

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kat- I think your going at this very smartly. I think without seeing it ourselves, so far the advice has been spot on.

FYI- a keel guard is a strip of very strong plastic that runs on the bottom V of the boat up front that protects the glass when beaching the boat.

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Thank you Deitz. I'm envious of your boat! If everything works out fine... I'll finally have a "decent" boat to fish on! It can only go up from there. If the boat does not have one.... how much is a keel guard and can you install the strip yourself? Sounds like a 3m clear bra for the front of cars..but more plastiky. Lets just say we find small web like cracks in the front gel coat.... or sun fading spots? Does that mean damage?

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maybe, but maybe not.. My old Champion had some spider cracks.. but I know the guy who still owns that boat and the boat is still running great.. I would be most worried about cracks around the engine mounts. Sun fading is very hard to get back, so if the boat looks sun faded and it bothers you.. I might be worried.. However, for a first boat, I'm not so worried about how it looks, but more how it fishes.

Thanks for the kind word on my boat.. I do love her!

as for the keel guard, its kinda what you are saying.. you can put them on yourself, but its not suggested.. its not as easy as it sounds. some special glues and stuff are needed.

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