Marine Projects

DreamSurfer 23′ – Major Maintenance

My father’s 23′ DreamSurfer hadn’t been taken out on the water in a while because of some issues and maintenance that had piled up. It was time for some major tender loving care. 

Going into this project, I new the boat had a slight overheating problem that occurred when riding on plane at full engine power. Other than that, I set out to do general maintenance, inspections, and some accessory replacements. 

Engine Inspection Findings

To give you an idea with what we are working with, the boat has a Mercruiser 5.7L 300 Horsepower, 350 MAG MPI Horizon engine with closed cooling system and a Borg-Warner Velvet Drive 71c transmission.

After inspection, it was clear to me that the exhaust elbows and risers were the root cause of the engine overheating. To give you some idea, good risers used in saltwater are generally considered to be good for about 4-5 years. The amount of use the boat has in this period is essentially negligible; its more about the time since the metal has had initial contact with saltwater. My father’s boat had never had the risers replaced so this was definitely overdue. The exhaust elbows needed to be cleaned up a bit but were otherwise in good condition. 

A coolant flush was also needed, the fuel module needed new filters, the spark plugs needed to be replaced, and the blower motor was broken and needed to be replaced.

I’ll spare you many of the details about the above mentioned repairs but you can view some of the highlights in the pictures. One thing I’d like to note was one of the spark plugs was so weak that it broke off in the engine block with barely any force at all. It was a slight hit to morale in the moment but an extractor set came to the rescue. Another struggle was swapping the fuel filters in the fuel module. The bolts on the filter cap came out no problem but I could not lift the filter out. Thus, I decided I needed to pull the entire module in order to apply enough leverage on the filter cap to remove it. Unfortunately, the bolts attaching the fuel module to the engine block were seized. After a lot of PB Blaster and trying with the largest wrench that could fit in the work-space, it finally came out. Once removed, I was able to easily open the filter cap with some methodically applied leverage.

Engine Run Test

After all the major engine repairs, it was time to test if it ran and identify any potential problems. I’m happy to report that there were no issues and it ran perfectly, below is footage of the first engine run after completing the above repairs. It was an extremely satisfying moment.

Electrical Inspection Findings​

Now that we had a running engine, the next thing to do was solve issues with the electrical accessories. Side note here, earlier I had identified that two of the four batteries were totally dead with cell damage and needed to be replaced. Inspecting the on-board battery bank showed that the charger was malfunctioning on two of the four banks (which led to the bad batteries). All of the gauges on the dash had water damage and most were broken. Two of the four Bilge pumps were barely pumping out water. The VHF radio was water and UV damaged and the VHF antenna was broken. The horn button and horn itself were also dead. The FM/Bluetooth radio cover was damaged but miraculously the radio still worked. The GPS and Fish-finder head unit powered on initially but would randomly shut down, further inspection of this was required.

All of the fuse holders for the GPS and Fish-finder had poor continuity. After replacing them with new fuse holders, the head unit stopped crashing and was working fully. The dash looked great again with its new gauges, FM radio cover, horn button, and new VHF radio. After installing the new battery charger, I decided to add a port plug to easily charge the batteries. Before the port plug, you had to dig through the rear battery compartment and find the outlet. Now it is much more convenient. I tried buffing out the windshield as best as I could but the UV damage was too bad. I took it to a local shop and they cut a new windshield for me.

Still To Do

This is obviously a regularly scheduled maintenance item, but it is worth noting that it needs to be done soon.

The shaft drip rate coming from the stuffing box is higher than it should be. Repacking the stuffing box is a general maintenance item that needs to be done very soon.

The port side fuel tank (the boat has two tanks) does not hold its rated fuel capacity for some reason. It holds about half its capacity before it is registered as full. I’m not sure what is up with it but I will be inspecting it further soon.

Closing Remarks

This whole project happened over the first half of the summer of 2019. A lot of parts needed to be gradually ordered and they took time to come in. In the end, the boat is running really well and the overheating problem it had before all this is now gone. There are a few maintenance things that need to be done soon and some potential cosmetic improvements that can be done, but overall, the boat is in great condition. This project was a great success!

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