Buying Your First Boat on a Budget : Part V

How to buy a boat on a budget

This is another Part in our detailed guide to buying a pre-owned boat on a budget which started here at Part I.  We have gone through quite a bit of the process but we are now at the inspection.  

We looked at the motor and the trailer and the hull but...

Inspecting the Floor

I forgot to mention during the inside check to check the flooring. Get inside the boat and start from the back and move up first thing is walk around the inside of the boat take your foot especially in the middle of the boat between the seats that is the weakest part of the floor push down with your foot does it move does it crack when you push up and down on it? If so the floor is going to have to be replaced. It’s dry rotted and if that is rotten there is a good chance the stringers under the floor the support the boat hull and the floor may be rotten but there is no way to tell until you cut the floor out. If you cannot do the work your self then you are done. It is very expensive to get new flooring done on the inside of a boat. It has to be completely gutted.

Flushing The Boat

 Before you went out you should of asked the seller if he has one and if it would be ok if we hook it up to the boat and run it in the drive way before taking it out on the lake. If he doesn’t have one then stop by the store and buy one. It’s also a good idea to bring your garden hose when you go look at boats you might get there and the owner has no hose to hook up the flush attachment. If you are going to be looking for boats you need one anyway. It will be a good investment because you are going to need it when you buy your first boat.  Our Boat Hose is here. Never under any circumstances start a boat or try to start a boat with out the flush attachment hooked up and fresh water circulating to the engine. If not you will destroy the pump. And get the engine hot and cause some damage depending on how long you run it.


Getting it Started 

Ok we are finally here let’s fire this puppy up and check it out! You attached the flush attachment to the drive now turn on the water to the boat. Make sure the drive is completely down and is the bottom of the drive is resting on the ground. If you try and start the engine with the drive up you will damage the drive because the cv joints inside the boat going into the engine will bind up and could also damage the transom mount. And if you do that guess what the owner is going to make you buy the boat. You don’t want to do that.


You can either have the owner get in and start the boat or you can. If the boat has sat a long time it’s going take a while to pump the fuel up to the carb to get the engine cranked over and started. While we are on the fuel one thing I forgot to mention is to take the fuel cap off and give it a whiff. Does it smell and is it varnished up? If so there is a good chance you will have to have the tank pumped out depending on the condition of the fuel and have the carb rebuilt. Again this really depends on how long the boat has sat. Running the engine will give you the tell tale sign on what condition the fuel system is in.


You are inside the boat and getting ready to start the boat. Pull off the dog house on the engine and set it aside. Go up front and hit the blower switch for the engine. Does it work? If so you need to run the blower for a minimum of four minutes or more before trying to start the engine. If the battery is low you may have to get one of those jump packs for jump starting engines or bring your truck over with a long set of jumpers and jump the battery . Have the seller help you here. But make sure to run the blower first before attaching any cables as a spark from the cables being attached to the battery may cause and explosion if there is any gas fumes down in the bilge area. There is a separate control on most control boxes called the throttle up button. What the throttle up button does is it by passed the natural safety switch in the control box and allows you to push the throttle control handle forward to open up the throttle for cold starts with out putting the control into gear.

 boat propellers

Check the fuel gauge do you have fuel? If not then the owner should get some fuel and dump in the tank. Does the fuel gauge work when he puts fuel in? Let’s move forward. On a cold engine you really do need the throttle up button engaged to get the engine started. The reason being is the engine is cold and the choke is closed. If you try and start a cold engine or a an engine that has sat a long time with out opening the throttle to allow more air and fuel into the carb the engine more than likely will flood out and wont start. You really need to engage the throttle up on the control box. There are so many options on control boxes to engage the throttle up option it would be impossible to go through every aspect of every control box made through the years they are all different.


This is where you ask the owner how to engage the throttle up button for cold starts. I will say on most inboard engines there is a button on the middle of the pivot on the control handle you push that button in and hold it in then take the handle at the same time and go back and fourth to squirt fuel into the carb first. If this is older boat some control boxes you grab the bottom of the control lever on the pivot and pull on it slightly that engages the throttle up option on the control box. On inboard out board configurations you are going to have the push button on the bottom of the control box handle. Out board engines have a throttle up lever on the control box you will see the lever on the top inside against the inside panel of the boat.

 boat dashboard

But for now lets just stick with inboards .Ok now push the control handle forward slightly now reach down and hit the starter. Like I said if the carb is empty and has fuel then it will take a bit to get the engine started don’t panic if it doesn’t start right away. One thing I am going to ad here is when cranking the engine don’t keep cranking if it doesn’t start and you keep cranking you will burn up your starter. A constant cranking on the starter with no time between cranks to let the starter cool off will smoke the starter windings or armature inside the starter. crank for about two minutes let off on the starter now take the handle push in the throttle up button again and go back and fourth with the control handle to squirt fuel into the carb . Do it again I would say you may have to do this about five times depending on how long the boat has sat. If after that it still hasn’t started then you are probably going to need some starting fluid. You will need a wrench or socket to pull the flame arrestor off the carb. Once you pull that off open the choke plate and spray some ether down the carb .          



Ok you have the control lever slightly forward and the engine finally fires off. If the engine RPM is really high back a little on the control handle to about 1500 RPM if you have have a tach, if not or the tach doesn’t work then a little above idle. You want the engine to run smoothly above idle to warm up the engine. Does the engine run smooth or does it run rough? Do you see black smoke coming out of the engine? Keep running the engine until the choke opens up after that does the engine smooth out? If so then the choke is gong to need adjusting.


I want to add that right after you start the engine you need to check that water is circulating through the engine. With a dry engine no water in the block or heads is going to take about 5 minutes or less to get a discharge of water out the back of the boat. If you look right under the drive you should see water coming out of the discharge after the thermostat opens in the engine and it should be a steady warm stream coming out if after five minutes you have no water coming out place your hands on top of the exhaust manifolds it should be warm to the touch but not hot. If it gets hot really quick that you cannot keep your hand on there then you have an obstruction in the cooling system either from the water pump in the drive or up in the block or heads. Some times the water pump impeller comes apart from wear or age and goes up into the cooling intake tube in pieces and plugs the inlet tube or plugs part of the cooling system inside the engine. Shut the engine off because you will damage the engine and over heat it.


Next Part is the lake test but in the meantime lets outfit that boat you are getting with our boat supplies.

 boat cleaning products