1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

*****This section is for Full Boat Projects Only*****
Novicaine
Posts: 51
Joined: 02 Apr 2012, 23:28
Location: central Illinois

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by Novicaine » 08 Apr 2012, 10:38

I have a 1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet I bought off eBay a few years ago. It's got a Mercury Sportjet 95XR. It's 18' long, 50" bottom on the rear. Pretty much a flat bottom but has some "strakes" ?? on the bottom.

The guy who sold it claimed it ran good, but it didn't. Engine issues, worn impeller, beat up bottom -- it could barely get on plane IF you could get it to run long enough. I finally fixed the engine issues and put in new impeller and it'd get up on a plane, but only around 23 mph tops with the new impeller/wear ring and a LIGHT load.

The interior was decent, but carpet was getting ragged and you could tell the wood floor was getting creaky. I was never too fond of the interior -- this is a big boat that has very little usable space, and with a cooler and a couple people, can't even get on plane. I suspected water-logged foam. The console was loose, the wood floor probably rotted/beat up where the screws hold it down.

Also the jet intake is the lowest part of the boat -- just glancing off of a rock shatters the cast aluminum intake grate and Mercury is no longer selling replacements. I bought physically the last one Mercury had.

All the "options" were shot -- the trolling motor, both depth finders, the automatic anchors -- all old and broken.


Here's a side view of it:
Image

The front:
Image

Back of it:
Image

Engine:
Image

Jet Intake:
Image

Here's a shot of a big dent right in front of the inlet grate from the previous that I think is hurting the speed:
Image

Then, last summer I got hung up on a sharp rock or metal fence post and produced this gash:
Image

The bottom is pretty beat up in general as you can see from the long view of the above gash:
Image

I couldn't decide what to do: Part it out and salvage the hull, try to sell it as a fixer upper to some sucker, or ... try to fix it into something that works for me.

I removed the gas tank and got it down to where I could access "the gash" and confirmed all the foam under the floor was water-logged. It had been out of the water since last summer, and if you squeezed the foam, water came out.

So I decided on trying to fix it -- I'm not sure this is a great plan, but it gives me a nice project to work on in my shop. I've rebuilt a smaller 12' jon boat before and enjoyed that project (still use that one while this one is down).

My plan is:
- Gut the interior, saving as much as possible to re-install with new carpet. This step is so I can flip the boat over to focus on the bottom. No foam or interior in the way of fixing the bottom, so I can weld, etc.
- Repair and strengthen and smooth the bottom as much as possible. Get rid of the 1.5" rails(?) that catch rocks. If this fails, sell the hull for scrap and part out the engine. I'm almost guessing that (with the thin bottom on this) this will be my stopping point.
- *If* I get the bottom fixed, add a layer of UHMW plastic to the bottom.
- Maybe add a small tunnel to lift the engine to prevent intake damage on rocks.
- Reinstall jet & engine and check performance -- if the repaired bottom and lighter weight interior go fast enough and gets on plane, then proceed to next step:
- Reinstall a minimal interior with more floor and interior room instead of all the compartments the old interior had. I'm thinking instead of the engine down in a hatch, have a doghouse around the engine. Move the controls a little more forward.

If anyone has faced a similar problem with a beat up bottom and had good or bad success, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Last edited by Novicaine on 08 Apr 2012, 11:40, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
wcbond4
Posts: 135
Joined: 06 Apr 2012, 11:50
Location: Heber Springs, AR

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by wcbond4 » 08 Apr 2012, 10:46

looks like an awesome project! i am facing issues right now with my transom being completely destroyed! I have been debating about scrapping the hull and finding a decenct used one that i could just modify. then i got to thinking that since i got the boat for free..i could justify the soon to be steep welding bill. i love 98% of the boat and can't wait to get it fixed so i can start moding and fishing!! I say go for it and improve the original design of the boat! good luck!

Novicaine
Posts: 51
Joined: 02 Apr 2012, 23:28
Location: central Illinois

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by Novicaine » 08 Apr 2012, 10:58

This weekend I started gutting it out:

Here is first step, removing the gas tank and inspecting the big gash, where I found waterlogged foam:

Image

Looks like this "firewall" between the front and back may be structural; I'll have to replace it:
Image

Gettin ready to remove the engine:
Image

Image

Engine and Pump removed:
Image

Image

Shot of the empty rear end:
Image

Shot from back facing front, I still need to gut the front deck:
Image

User avatar
dyeguy1212
Posts: 2651
Joined: 13 Apr 2009, 21:52
Location: Top of the Food Chain
Contact:

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by dyeguy1212 » 08 Apr 2012, 12:55

Nice, looking forward to seeing your progress. Can't say I've ever seen a jet tracker

User avatar
fool4fish1226
Moderator
Posts: 2817
Joined: 29 Aug 2011, 12:55
Location: South Florida

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by fool4fish1226 » 10 Apr 2012, 18:57

dyeguy1212 wrote:Nice, looking forward to seeing your progress. Can't say I've ever seen a jet tracker
+1 will be watching this one
Work: A dangerous disorder affecting high public functionaries who want to go fishing

Project "A Little Snookered" http://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic ... 21&t=22132

1munford
Posts: 34
Joined: 05 Apr 2012, 12:37

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by 1munford » 10 Apr 2012, 22:22

great project, nothing's cooler than jet jon's!

gotmuddy
Posts: 266
Joined: 21 Nov 2008, 03:20
Location: Viola, AR

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by gotmuddy » 11 Apr 2012, 00:53

where are the beers?? :LOL2:

Novicaine
Posts: 51
Joined: 02 Apr 2012, 23:28
Location: central Illinois

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by Novicaine » 27 Apr 2012, 18:59

I finally got all the interior and the bulk of the waterlogged foam out.
I pulled out at least 6, 32-gallon trash bags full, each one weighed at least 30 lbs (I guess)!! No wonder this boat has been such a pig lately!

A little more clean up and then I can flip it and start working on the bottom.

Image

Image

Image

User avatar
Kochy
Posts: 305
Joined: 20 Feb 2012, 15:23
Location: Sunbury, PA

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by Kochy » 27 Apr 2012, 20:06

Dang, That's an early tracker to take apart eh. I myself have a 87 Tracker MV-16, had to completely tear everything out and put it back in. Rotten floor, Waterlogged foam, alot of the problems, The wiring was [Censored], sorry my french anyone, the guy freaking used a snowmobile windshield on the boat... And mostly the reason why there were so many problems, the guy tried to be a do it yourselfer but he kind of failed and the reason being, that he was a state cop, didn't know what he was doing when it came to wood, and especially wiring... Also forgot to mention a rotten transom. Tracker sure didn't take into consideration about after life for these boats.

Keep it updated, I'm wanting to see this build.

Novicaine
Posts: 51
Joined: 02 Apr 2012, 23:28
Location: central Illinois

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by Novicaine » 18 Jun 2012, 11:40

This weekend I started modifying the jet tunnel to raise the intake about 2" above the bottom of the boat.

Here is where I enlarged the hole in the hull to fit the new structure:

Image

Here I welded two 2" aluminum angles to the bottom of the motor house to frame up the 2" lift:
Image

View of the same from the bottom:
Image

Fitting the tunnel assembly to the hull:
Image

First look at the raised intake, can almost visualize the final result:
Image

Now I need to find a piece of 1/8" aluminum for the top of the tunnel, then cut it and weld it in and then re-rivet (or maybe weld) the whole assembly in the boat.

User avatar
fool4fish1226
Moderator
Posts: 2817
Joined: 29 Aug 2011, 12:55
Location: South Florida

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by fool4fish1226 » 18 Jun 2012, 12:16

Nice work =D>
Work: A dangerous disorder affecting high public functionaries who want to go fishing

Project "A Little Snookered" http://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic ... 21&t=22132

User avatar
bigwave
Posts: 1578
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 14:40
Location: St. Petersburg, Fl
Contact:

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by bigwave » 18 Jun 2012, 14:12

You jet-drive guys sure have a knack for your mods.......I like it........just like mikey said..... =D>
1984 14 Deep Fisherman Mirrorcraft
http://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=23315

User avatar
jellio5
Posts: 183
Joined: 12 Mar 2011, 01:09
Location: Duluth MN

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by jellio5 » 18 Jun 2012, 14:28

Now that is a sweet mod great job
If you need to find me I'm fishing.....just don't tell my wife.

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

DaveInGA
Posts: 636
Joined: 23 Dec 2007, 01:25
Location: Jefferson, GA
Contact:

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by DaveInGA » 18 Jun 2012, 17:51

Looking good dude. You're off to a great start. Gonna be watching your build.
Dave In Georgia
My Bass Tracker Tournament V-17 Restoration/Mod: http://www.tinboats.net/forum/viewtopic ... 21&t=15343

Novicaine
Posts: 51
Joined: 02 Apr 2012, 23:28
Location: central Illinois

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by Novicaine » 27 Jun 2012, 22:20

I welded on the top of the tunnel today -- a marathon 3 hrs of tig welding! I need to do a little trimming and fitting and fix a few welds, and I'll be ready to finally install the tunnel assembly to the hull!!

I'm getting pretty good at butt and outside corner welding, still struggling with the inside corners. But I try to do the continuous water-tight weld on the outside corner and then just skip-weld a few spots on the inside corner. Seems to be working good, but we'll see if it'll hold up to the river.

In the following pictures, I show the tunnel assembly outside of the boat, but when I do the final install, it will actually go inside the boat, and the boat skin will be welded to it. Why? It just fits better that way -- its easier to straighten the hull to match the tunnel that way with a floor jack. And I have it set up so all the water-tight welds on the outside will be overlapping joints, which I can handle, so it should be pretty sturdy. I may do a few solid rivets just to hold it in place while welding.

Here's how it's coming along:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Post Reply