First time boat owner - 1991 Lowe 1720J

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New member
Aug 4, 2022
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Phoenix, AZ
Hi All,

First time boat owner/firs time poster. Another user on TheHullTruth suggested my intro and questions might be better suited here.

I just bought my first boat- a 91 Lowe 1720J V-Hull fishing boat.


Previous owner only had it for a few months and needed some quick cash for bills so I picked it up for $1,800. He was told by the prior owner that the impellor was bad, which I understand is a wear item that often needs replacement.

I performed a compression test on it. 125, 122, 121. Using a bore scope, the cylinder walls all appeared to have cross-hatching and the piston tops looked relatively clean. Using a spark tester, each coil was able to jump a 1/2" gap with gusto. The outdrive oil was dark, but not milky or brown. The engine will fire briefly on starter fluid (I know you're not supposed to use much on 2-strokes, but had to try it once). The steering linkage moves freely, and the PTT works both at the throttle and the button on the Johnson 60HP.

As far as the bad- the carpet is pretty sun-beat (it's sat in the Arizona sun, uncovered). Most everything electronic does not appear to work, at least from toggling the switches on the console- navigation lights don't light, the two live well pumps don't run, aerators don't run, bilge doesn't run, horn doesn't run. I'm fairly decent with electronic troubleshooting, so these smaller items are almost appealing to me as projects with my 8 & 10 year old sons (who are equally as excited as I am).

So on to some of my early questions:

1) Is it possible to find or get the original owner's manual for this boat? Wiring schematics?
2) The Johnson has VRO- is that something I should attempt to keep, or do like the rest of the world and eliminate it and mix my own gas?
3) I've already ordered an impeller/water pump kit. Any other typical upgrades for the Johnson 60?

Hi Eyerish. Welcome to Tinboats and congrats on the new boat.

I think it is doubtful you will find a wiring diagram for the boat. If you have experience it is fairly straightforward and you will likely do a better job than original. There are a lot of generic wiring diagrams for small boats around. Below is a link shared by another poster with some boat wiring basics.

If you scroll down to the "Motors" forum, there is a sticky with a link to outboard manuals. You might be able to download the shop manual for your outboard.

I don't know anything about the VRO systems. If you don't get a response here, I think you will find a lot of discussions over in the "Motors" forum.

I think replacing the water pump assembly is a must do for any motor that lacks maintenance records. They are routine maintenance items. You don't want to wait for one to fail, which makes me wonder why the guy said the impeller was bad. When you fire it up make sure water is coming out of the tell-tale.

I'm sure you will be replacing the gear case oil. If mine, I would get rid of any old gaso and replace with fresh gaso.

I hope you keep coming back and share you progress.
I would get that impeller/water pump going before buying any other motor parts. The only way to make a good assessment is if it’s running and you don’t want to do that if it’s not pumping water.

Here is an interesting YouTube video. The first two minutes is about a charger but then he gets into his philosophy on VRO’s.
Welcome aboard Eyerish! Nice first boat!

Great info knowledge to be found here on this forum.

I am also not familiar wit the VRO, but I have heard most owners with this system remove and go with manual oil/gas mixing.

Good #s on compression and good news on spark.

For starters, these are a few basic immediate maintenance items I would do if it were mine:

1. Change engine and gear oil. Use quality oil. Check for water and metal shavings. Use new screw gaskets.

2. Change out water pump with a complete new kit. Use quality parts and quality marine grease.

3. Remove prop, inspect shaft and seal, clean shaft, grease, and reinstall prop with new cotter pin. Inspect prop for gouges, dents, dings, etc. Replace prop if bad.

4. Change engine fuel filter if it has one.

5. Add an external fuel/water separator and use quality two stroke oil.

6. Fresh fuel/2S oil

NOTE: I would run engine in a drum/barrel of water; not the ear muffs.
When it comes to getting parts, here is a link I just remembered that I think could be valuable -- from someone who knows his way around outboard motors.
Me I don't know too much I am still learning from these guys & gal's that got years of experience & know how, Knowledge it's all here. give a couple days as folks some work and some busy, but they do reply with help," excellent help"! as far as I am concerned any way's. But like to say welcome!
I would try contacting Lowe about the literature for that boat. It's not that old, I'd say they should have something for it.

I would drain whatever gas is in it, and refill with pre-mix until you can verify that the VRO is working. I don't know much about those systems so hopefully someone more knowledgeable can chime in. The fuel lines and primer bulb will likely need going through as well.
Congrats, nice looking boat, appears you got a good buy. Good info given on the motor, if there is no inline fuel filter, add one to a new fuel line and ball...can't have to many fuel filters, check for old fishing line when you remove the prop as it can cut the seal around the prop shaft. Make sure the battery is good, a full charge is 12.6 volts or above, a dead battery is 12 volts checked with a good digital voltmeter. Rewiring everything us a good idea, add fuses or breakers then you will know all is good. Keep us posted on your progress, I have a similar Sylvan boat model, the pic is in my avatar.
A carb rebuild kit might be in order depending on its use history, if you know any. I did the oil, carb and water pump on mine right after getting it home. runs like a top.
Nice score on the Lowe & Trailer. I would get it running, then Ditch the VRO, it`s easy enough to do.
The early VRO systems were trouble, but I understand the issues were corrected on later models. I have a 1992 Merc 40 with their oil injection system and it works great. So easy to just add/ fill the oil tank each time I fill the fuel tank, no mixing to do.

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