'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Boating related questions,small projects, custom work and talk go here.
Post Reply
User avatar
kofkorn
Donor
Posts: 532
Joined: 13 Oct 2011, 10:18
Location: Central MA

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by kofkorn » 02 Nov 2011, 23:33

Hi All,

I purchased an '89 Tracker back in early October for what I thought was a good price (~$1400). It has an Tracker Evinrude 40HP (bad lower unit), Bow mount trolling motor, fish finder, new deep cycle battery for the trolling motor, Dual bank marine charger and a couple of new seats. The decking was replaced at the beginning of the year with marine grade plywood and some higher end carpeting from Cabelas.

I picked up a complete parts motor for $300 that I am going to remove the lower unit from. As a bonus, it came with an operational power tilt/trim unit that I'm going to swap out for the original manual hydraulic tilt assist.

I'm suspicious of some seriously waterlogged foam under the rear deck, and I want to get into it and replace what needs to be removed. The boat sits pretty heavy on the tires, which bulge out a little more than I think they should for the ~550lb weight of the boat plus 220 for the motor, plus accessories. The tire pressure on both sides is ~30 PSI with a max rating of 35. This, in addition to the fact that I can squeeze water out of the one piece of foam that I have access to leads me to believe that I'm carrying significant extra weight on board.

Tonight, I started pulling out the accessories in the bilge. I've already discovered some issues that the prior owner glossed over or didn't understand.

1st thing was taking out the VRO tank and pump. I've come to the conclusion that I'd rather replace a spark plug here or there as needed instead of replacing a powerhead if the VRO fails. As I removed the oil line from the front of the motor, I noticed that the color of the fluid at the port was a very light blue color. Uh oh, that's water. I pumped the bulb a few times, and got pure water out of it. I got out my rag and pumped away. I probably pumped about 8 or 9 times before I saw any hint of oil. I never pumped enough to get the rest of the water out of the tank. Two things came to mind:

1) Thank god I decided to remove this now instead of some time next year. I wouldn't have had a motor to worry about then.

2) This probably explains why the P.O. was having problems with his motor. He couldn't keep it running (thankfully). I'm guessing that a 50:1 ratio of gas to water doesn't do very well for smooth idling.
111102-IMG_0677.JPG
Water in the oil - BAAAADDDD!!!
I checked the compression before purchasing it and I got 110 PSI on both cylinders with a pretty ratty old gauge. Before realizing the state of the VRO, I did get it started and it ran pretty rough. After I got it started and put back away, I noticed that the little lever for the fuel bypass was in the wrong position. So, not only was the VRO pumping a gas/water mixture, the fuel bypass was open and flooding the engine. It was a wonder the motor started at all.

Knowing what I know now, I'm going to do another compression check to make sure that nothing is damaged or causing any serious issues. Can anyone shed some light on what else I should look for???

Continuing on, I pulled out the two seat boxes and found another disturbing issue. It appears that for all of the money the P.O. spent on good materials, he didn't really pay attention to doing the build the right way. When i flipped over the little cup holder between the two seats, I noticed a significant amount of mildew. The P.O. just took the marine plywood and applied the glue and carpet over the bare wood. [-X
111102-IMG_0681.jpg
Cup holder complete with mildew
So now I'm getting suspicious. I opened up the front compartment and felt under the bow casting deck. Yep, same thing. I'm thinking I've got two options:
a) leave it, let the water get to it and when it goes bad, replace it the right way. - Any estimates as to how long this might take??
b) attempt to tear off the carpeting that is there now, apply a proper resin coating to the wood and replace the carpet.

Neither option is particularly appealing. I'm thinking that if I go as far as tearing out the carpet, I'm not putting new carpet in its place. I never really understood why bass boats are carpeted. It holds moisture and fish stench and promotes rot. My thought is to do some sort of a textured paint over the resin coating. Maybe the epoxy coating I used on my garage floor??

Digging a little further, I found a spot where some critters had begun chewing through the wire loom near the controls. You can see in this picture that he managed to get through the PVC jacket on the power lead to the trolling motor. :shock:
111102-IMG_0682.jpg
Critter chewing through wires
(I'm sure he got a pretty good tingle in his teeth when he got that far). But the really surprising thing was that the P.O. didn't do anything about it. Makes me suspicious about all of his work completed.

I wasn't planning on this being an entire rebuild, but it appears that it is turning out to be one :( I'm on a fairly limited budget, so I'm going to be re-using as much as I can.

Boat before any work done on it:
IMG_0352.JPG
Bow Casting Deck
IMG_0354.JPG
Main deck
IMG_0355.JPG
Stern Casting Deck
IMG_0370.JPG
Bilge
IMG_0369.JPG
Dual bank charger


Some additional pictures of the tear down so far:
111102-IMG_0679.jpg
Scraping carpet remnants
111102-IMG_0684.jpg
Seat boxes removed
111102-IMG_0683.jpg
Side panels have to come off first :(
111102-IMG_0686.jpg
Extra platform added by P.O. for room for his tackle box
111102-IMG_0685.jpg
Bottom side of this untreated as well.

Xtremeboats
User avatar
Brine
Moderator
Posts: 3268
Joined: 18 Jan 2009, 11:19
Location: GA

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by Brine » 03 Nov 2011, 09:00

Glad you figured out the motor problems now and not later.

Still think you got a good boat at a good price, even if you end up redoing the carpet and decks and if you end up needing to replace both, I'd fish it until it needs it.

jigngrub
Posts: 756
Joined: 03 Aug 2011, 08:11
Location: Talladega, Alabanana

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by jigngrub » 03 Nov 2011, 10:39

I'd go ahead and rip that carpet off now, it looks like you can save most if not all of that expensive marine plywood.

Honostly, I've never seen a deck paint job that looked worth a crap... especially the non skid/slip type.

You may want to consider the Nautolex marine vinyl, I just redid my boat with it and everyone says it looks great (I think so too).

http://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=22516

It sheds water like paint, but looks better IMO.
Rum, wenches, and song... just another day on my boat.

User avatar
kofkorn
Donor
Posts: 532
Joined: 13 Oct 2011, 10:18
Location: Central MA

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by kofkorn » 03 Nov 2011, 13:43

I took a quick look at the Nautolex online. Seems pretty reasonable cost, I can probably do what I need to for about $150.

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll certainly keep that in mind as I go through my build.

FuzzyGrub
Posts: 509
Joined: 07 Jun 2010, 08:18
Location: NY
Contact:

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by FuzzyGrub » 03 Nov 2011, 14:44

It kinda sounds like the PO left the plug in and the boat filled with rain water. While you have the foam out and before sealing everything back up, check all electrical connections for corrosion. Some amount of them were probably underwater. If you are seeing any green or white powder in them, consider replacing now, or cutting wire back and making new connection. If you haven't already, check gas for water. If the battery went under, but it may have already been replaced post flood, it will probably die within a season.

Consider additional bilge pumps, or other electrical or plumbing work before buttoning up.

I am carpet hater, so I vote for removal now. ;)

If your motor is wasted, which I doubt, consider going to a 60-75HP.
Project: 1995 1648 DMI/1998 25HP Merc:
1967 Starcraft 14' Mariner V/1987 Nissan 40C
1997 Bayliner Capri 2050/350 4brl Vortec Mercruiser
JohnS http://www.joefishin.com/

User avatar
kofkorn
Donor
Posts: 532
Joined: 13 Oct 2011, 10:18
Location: Central MA

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by kofkorn » 03 Nov 2011, 23:08

Hi Fuzzy, I'm not sure that it went that far, but I suspect that a good amount of water got into it. I haven't had any significant issue with electrical, and actually all of my circuits are working with the exception of the flasher/sounder.

I got into it a little further this evening. I removed the console and removed the screws holding down the decking. I was hoping that the P.O. had wrapped each piece of the flooring individually before putting the decking down, but unfortunately, he did the side panels as one piece with the flooring. So to get the deck out, I had to cut the carpet. :( Well, I guess the carpet vs Nautolex decision was made for me :)

As I started removing the carpeting, I noticed the carpeting toward the rear of the deck, where the seat boxes were, came up much easier, peeling similar to what Jay415 noticed during his adhesion tests:

http://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=22430

The wood underneath was damp, allowing me to scrape away nearly all of the old glue. Everything in front of that was completely dry.
IMG_0687-111103.jpg
Damp decking under seat boxes
IMG_0689-111103.jpg
Glue under dry carpet does not come up.
This sets up two questions for the group to help with:

1) Can I apply an epoxy resin over the remainder of the glue after I scrape away everything that comes off with a scraper? If I'm not able to do this, the wood is a loss. There appears to be no way to remove the glue from the surface of the plywood.

2) How long should I wait to allow the plywood to dry out before applying the resin coating? It appears it is soaked through pretty well, I did dig down into the next layer, and found that it is wet at least that far down. I may drill a 1/2" hole through the rear area for additional drainage as well as to get an idea of how deep the moisture goes.

I removed all of the screws and tried lifting the deck out. However, it didn't want to come up. I am concerned that the P.O. may have used construction adhesive to attach the deck to the support frames. I'll give it another go this weekend.

Progress for tonight:
IMG_0693-111103.jpg
Rear decking to be removed
IMG_0691-111103.jpg
Finished disconnecting the VRO warning alarm

whistler
Posts: 166
Joined: 26 Jan 2009, 12:19
Location: The BlueGrass State

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by whistler » 04 Nov 2011, 09:16

Had a couple of VRO models and had water problems also. No drain plugs were left in allowing the boat to fill with water. However the boat was kept outside uncovered. I realize that's not the best way but??? In several instances the VRO tank got water to the point of seeing it in the bottom of the tank. The tank was located under a small driver console so some protection was offered. However during a hard blowing rain water would and could blow onto it. The tank was made of plastic with a very tight fitting cap. Never did understand how water could get into the tank this way, so I still wonder how water found it's way into the tank? I had to watch very close for water in those units. I removed that tank and dumped them several times. Ultimately both motors with the VRO's failed and one cylinder was trashed. Can't say whether it was water related or the VRO problem. Good Luck, Stay on top of this situation!

User avatar
kofkorn
Donor
Posts: 532
Joined: 13 Oct 2011, 10:18
Location: Central MA

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by kofkorn » 04 Nov 2011, 10:04

Yeah, after this issue, I have no faith in the VRO system. It's out for good. I assume that the bilge was left uncovered during a few rainstorms. The cap on the VRO tank is vented and cupped downward, meaning that any rain that hit the cap was funneled down into the tank.

Anyway on to better things.

I took a quick look at the damp decking this morning and saw a visible difference already. I am hopeful that it will dry out fairly quickly.

Anyone have any thoughts on soaking the carpet and laying it back down on top of the decking to loosen the glue? I think it might be a good way to remove the adhesive that is there.

Thanks!

jigngrub
Posts: 756
Joined: 03 Aug 2011, 08:11
Location: Talladega, Alabanana

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by jigngrub » 04 Nov 2011, 10:15

1. Don't apply resin over the glue. Use a belt or palm sander with 36 grit to remove the remaining glue.

This is what my plywood looked like after pulling the carpet off.

Image

This is what it looked like after 2 coats of filler (fairing compound mixed with epoxy) and 2 coats of epoxy.

Image

I used the 635 epoxy with the medium hardener for here:

http://www.uscomposites.com/epoxy.html

... and bought a quart for the fairing compound to mix with it to fill the checks (cracks) and blemishes

http://www.uscomposites.com/fillers.html

I bought the 1/2 gallon package which is 1/2 gallon of resin and 32 oz. of hardener. I also bought the pumps they sell, it makes measuring a breeze.

2. It's going to take at least a couple of weeks for your ply to dry in a warm dry room, a lot longer if it's cooler. Check your ply by taping a piece of plastic the the wet section that has dried, if moisture forms on the underside of the plastic it isn't dry yet.

Your decking may be a tight fit, especially with the wet swollen plywood.
Rum, wenches, and song... just another day on my boat.

FuzzyGrub
Posts: 509
Joined: 07 Jun 2010, 08:18
Location: NY
Contact:

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by FuzzyGrub » 04 Nov 2011, 12:08

Corrosion will not raise its ugly head to long after the event that caused it. It will start with intermittent electrical problems, that will drive you bonkers. With some of the close-ups you provided today, I see water tight connectors. Shouldn't have to worry about those. Be suspicious of anything that doesn't look like a factory install.

Keep air moving across the plywood and on both sides to help quicken the drying process. If anything, error on the side of caution. You probably can't let it dry too long. Sealing it with moisture inside, will promote rapid rot. I can't remember what those little handheld moisture detectors cost. Might be worth checking out.
Project: 1995 1648 DMI/1998 25HP Merc:
1967 Starcraft 14' Mariner V/1987 Nissan 40C
1997 Bayliner Capri 2050/350 4brl Vortec Mercruiser
JohnS http://www.joefishin.com/

User avatar
kofkorn
Donor
Posts: 532
Joined: 13 Oct 2011, 10:18
Location: Central MA

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by kofkorn » 04 Nov 2011, 22:49

Today's update:

As Fuzzy suspected, the main deck was really jammed in there. I managed to get it free by applying a little bit of smart force. I was able to get a strap through a drain hole and one other small hole I drilled in the plywood. I attached the strap to my come-along and attached it to my overhead beam. I gave it a bunch of cranks, and it pulled the center of the plywood up enough that it popped free.
111103-IMG_0696.jpg
A little bit of persuasion
My wife and two dogs were in the living room directly above and when the board popped up. She said the entire floor shook and the two dogs bolted out of the room. :shock: Whoops, probably should have warned them :)

Now that the deck is up, it is obvious that the bottom is more damp than the top was. I will have to dry this out really well to make sure I don't have any issues. You can clearly see that this was already headed in a bad direction, the entire port side of the deck was pretty wet and already had significant mildew.
111103-IMG_0698.jpg
Seriously damp and some mildew
So the label on the bottom shows that it was Arauco plywood. Not too bad. I'm glad that I know for sure. Under the deck, the original foam had been replaced with some foil backed styrofoam. The P.O. had stated that he had taken care of that much at least.

I pulled off the two aluminum panels on the sides and exposed the foam underneath. These hadn't been touched and were still the original foam. Probably about 90% of the foam was in ok condition, but the foam toward the bottom of the boat had some absorbed water in it.
111103-IMG_0705.jpg
Side panel foam
As I continued on, I found more evidence of critters, with another section of the trolling motor power cable exposed. It would only be a matter of time before one of these exposed sections touched some bare aluminum and blew the fuse. At this point, I'm less concerned with corroded connections than I am about more damage due to mice.
111103-IMG_0704.jpg
Winter home
Additionally, this white hose is the water pressure line from the motor.
111103-IMG_0706.jpg
Water Pressure line
So based on my understanding of how the water pressure line works, I imagine that this tube was continuously pumping water into the boat while the motor was running.

The deeper I get, the more I am happy with the decision to tear this flooring up. My only real fear is having to remove some of the rivets that go through the hull to get the rear deck off. I'll be looking for some suggestions to get this all put back together.

Thanks for all of the comments!

jigngrub
Posts: 756
Joined: 03 Aug 2011, 08:11
Location: Talladega, Alabanana

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by jigngrub » 05 Nov 2011, 06:17

I figured you'd use that come-a-long to pop that deck out of there when I saw it in your previous pics.

That white foam is trash, get rid of it and get either the blue or pink polystyrene sheets from Home Depot or Lowes. The blue is a little better than the pink, but they're both closed cell foam.

The white tube looks like the water pressure tube to your speedometer to me, and yes it would leak water into the boat whenever the boat was under power.

The hull rivets aren't as bad as you might think. For as many as you may have to take out you can replace them with the heavy duty closed end blind rivets like in this video:



It's an easy one man installation, and if you're going to put down the Nautolex vinyl you should rivet your decking down anyway and will need the heavy duty rivet setting tool to do that too.
Rum, wenches, and song... just another day on my boat.

FuzzyGrub
Posts: 509
Joined: 07 Jun 2010, 08:18
Location: NY
Contact:

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by FuzzyGrub » 05 Nov 2011, 09:37

While the water intrussion may be just from speedo tube, rain, and splashover, it would be best to test for leaky rivets now with the decks and foam removed. Make sure the boat is supported well on the trailer, and slowly fill to about 3-4" water depth. or if you can, high enough to test all rivets below the waterline. Be careful, it will weigh allot. Any drips will indicate leaks. Most rivets can be tightened up vs needing replacement. When I did our starcraft, I thought I was just wasting my time, but did find a few leaky rivets.
Project: 1995 1648 DMI/1998 25HP Merc:
1967 Starcraft 14' Mariner V/1987 Nissan 40C
1997 Bayliner Capri 2050/350 4brl Vortec Mercruiser
JohnS http://www.joefishin.com/

User avatar
kofkorn
Donor
Posts: 532
Joined: 13 Oct 2011, 10:18
Location: Central MA

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by kofkorn » 05 Nov 2011, 10:31

That is certainly in the plans. Might as well do as much as possible now to prevent as many issues in the future as possible. I don't live on a lake, so leaving it on the water for any significant length of time is not likely to happen, but I would be foolish not to consider it while the boat is already open.

Thanks!

Bhockins
Posts: 69
Joined: 11 May 2011, 20:32
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

'89 Tracker Pro 17 Investigation (lots of pics to come)

Post by Bhockins » 05 Nov 2011, 19:12

I'm redoing an 89 Tracker also - mine has a 50HP.

It started when I noticed one of the U bolts on the stern (for tying down to the trailer) was loose. Simple fix. Replace the U botl and go fishing! But as soon as I got the old bolts out, it was obvious the transom was rotted. What I thought would be changing a simple U bolt had turned into a major project.

I tore out the old transom and replaced it. Not as hard as I thought but messy as hell. Later, I was inside the boat and a section of the decking collapsed. It was also rotted. Hadn't noticed because the carpet looked OK.

Right now I've removed all of the decking down to the bare hull. The styrofoam is in good shape but I'm making the drain holes between the sections about 1/4" larger so the boat will drain better from front to back.

I'd say you're doing the right thing to inspect everything the PO did. Sounds like some corners were cut. I'd tear it all out from bow to stern and replace any suspicious wiring, I'm going to resin the decking before I replace it and I'm also installing all new carpet. For me, it's a winter project but what I enjoy most is knowing when I'm done in the Spring, I'll have a bass boat that looks great and is as solid as one just out of the factory. That means it's not work, it's a labor of love.

Keep at it. It's a great boat and well worth restoring.

Post Reply