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...but it can buy me a boat! (TLDR: Noob)

LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
Finally pulled the trigger and bought a boat, 2007 Challenger 180 SE. First time jet boat owner, so I thought I’d make a thread to catalog my experiences, upgrades and general knowledge as I go. Feel free to share in my joy, pain and probable stupidity along the way!

Background: grew up with boats, ski, tubing, sail, jet skis, etc. Driven and sailed all types in the Midwest/Great Lakes and rentals in Florida when on vacation. So, maybe not a complete noob to baiting, just never owner my own. Been wanting one for a couple years. Married, 4 kids and decided this year would be the year.

Started looking in earnest in spring, the boom; ‘Rona hits and boats are on the market for a day, then under contract and gone! Literally looked/inquired on dozens of boats. Originally I was looking a Yamaha/SeaDoo jet boats, but after losing some hope, was considering almost anything. I didn’t particularly want to sacrifice what I wanted or pay out the nose so I was resigning myself to “next year” while still checking CL, boats dot com, local dealers and marinas.

Friday, new boat shows up for sale about an hour away for a 2007 Challenger 180 SE. 158 hours, looked well maintained, contacted seller to arrange a meet up to view boat Saturday evening. Things look good enough, work out a price and it’s hitched up to my truck an hour later!

Now, I know I broke a ton of cardinal rules and could very well have (or will have) a lemon. Water test? Nope. Maintenance records, compression test? No but apparently maintained by a local, reputable shop that I couldn’t call to verify on a Saturday night. Did you even start it?! Nope! There were some blemishes, missing seat, a light switch not working, upholstery in good/fair condition, lockers were dry, engine bay was clean and dry, new bilge pump, new shifter cable, trailer in good shape. So, with everything upside down in 2020, said F It and bought it. I even forgot my 8-pin to 4-pin trailer plug adapter so drove it home with no trailer lights!

Next morning found a single tube on CL and picked that up early. Got to Dick’s when it opened and grabbed a couple tow ropes and another tube, a display model, which was the last tube in the store (25% off too!). Hooked up a hose and started her up; it does start! Woot! Loaded up the boat with provisions, life jackets, a hastily thrown together tool kit, gassed it up and headed to the local lake that’s 5 mins away.

Public launch was packed at 11am. Had driven by at 9am after the CL tube pickup and it was empty with only 3 dogs parked. It worked out fine because while waiting in line I took off safety straps, made sure plugs were in, already had everything stowed and had kids put life jackets on. My turn, pulled forward, backed down to just before tires on trailer we’re wet: everybody out, kids and wife on courtesy dock. Back the rest of was in, unhook winch strap, toss lines to wife and oldest, pull out and get one of the last parking spaces. Jump on, push off, it starts again, we’re boating!

take a few laps, got used to controls. Play around in a cove with forward, reverse, low speed, etc.I’m used to prop boats, so this is a bit odd. But learning. Throw out the tubes, pull one and two at a time, 2-4 kids. Anchor, swim, snack, more tubing, more cruising, more anchoring and swimming, etc. let the kids “drive”. Good stuff for ~5 hrs. Launch not terribly busy, letstakeitout.exe
 

LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
The throttle and shifter are a bit odd, being you have to take throttle down to idle before you change gears from forward to reversed. But I had played around enough earlier to get that dance to respectable levels, and actually thought the reverse input/response wasn’t as bad as I’d read in some forums. With a little West to East wind on northerly ramp and dock, I was able to come up nice and easy to the fat side of the courtesy dock, under enough control that wife and oldest could step out easily with dock lines in hand. I would just alternate Forward, little bit of throttle input to be able to steer, back down throttle, shift to reverse, just a touch of steering and throttle input to slow and turn the bow a bit, forward again for steering and throttle, the reverse to slow and correct. I test drove a Yami AR 230 (and sea rays) and prefer the traditional throttle/shifter setup, but whatever. Made it work!

I grabbed the truck trailer and was next in line, backed it down and tries to hid my nerves. The ramp is steep, water cloudy, and I wasn’t confident enough to “power” on. I use quotes bc I understand the issues with powering onto trailers, tearing up ramps, being a d-bag, etc. I’ve loaded a 21’. Sea Ray in this same ramp, albeit in the evening, when it’s not busy, super calm and I could lazily float right up and just give a bit more than idle to push up.

My plan was to pull the boat around the dock with the lines, hook up the winch, cinch it up and pull it out. Well...remember that cross breeze? Everything worked fine, and I got the winch connected, but then the ass end started drifting. Also, I put the trailer too deep, so now I’m in about 4’ of water, pushing the end back over. The guy who just dumped with jet ski helped hold it in place while I stared to pull out. But then I hadn’t winched it up far enough and the bow was below the rest on the post. So I had to back up a few feet, winch it up to seat it in the rest, then pulled it up and out of the way. It didn’t take more than two minutes, but felt like a lifetime for me. And I’m a pretty “I can do it myself” guy, so accepting help doesn’t come easy (I don’t want to put anyone out). But the guyhelping was super nice, there was only one guy waiting to get his boat, and it really didn’t take that long.

safety straps in, plugs open, battery off, family loaded and head back home to jump in the pool and grill out. Success!
 

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LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
Some thoughts.

I know I didn’t buy it “right”. Would have wanted a water rest, more records, etc. But the boat and engine bay were clean and there were new replacement parts, two signs to me at least that proper maintenance was done. It’s pretty hard to make a 13 year old, neglected and dirty engine bay look very clean with just elbow grease. Possible, sure. I also didn’t want to lose out on another boat, the owner had it prepped and was planning on taking it out the next day, it had been out already a few times so I took a chance!

Now, there are other larger, nicer, more expensive boats that are up for sale a little longer and there’s not as much buyer interest/pressure. But cheaper sport boats are selling incredibly fast. I also didn’t want to spend in the $20-30k range, didn’t want a loan or bang up the HELOC, and also wanted to be sure we’d use it enough. Our kids are in sports and we’re busy with church and other things. I also didn’t know how much I’d like it once I bought it too. And, ‘Rona, economy crashing, millions out of work...lots of uncertainty. Worst case, I sell in September for a grand or two less to move it, and I rented it for two months. Or just keep it and store at a family property over the winter and reevaluate in spring.

Got insurance today, will get titles and registered tomorrow.
Ordered a new seat cushion ($268)from JetArmor for com. If I keep it, I think I’ll do their full vinyl replacement kit over the winter. About $1k, just the vinyl, you take off old and staple new on your existing seats (they say they give you all the instructions and tips).

sourcing a new light toggle switch. Also, bc switch is defective, don’t know if the NAV lights work or bulbs burned out. I swapped the blower motor switch and the interior lights work, but not NAV lights. Blower is a two position switch, while lights are three, so that might not be a good test. I hadn’t checked fuses so I will do that too.

Battery looks to be 208 or 2018. Didn’t really look close enough but will do that this week and get a new one if it’s the former. Also thinking about a 2nd battery and switch. Seems to be easy and cheap for a good upgrade.

speakers are a bit “meh”, but are fine for now

oil level is fine but I want to get some quarts to keep on hand. Manual says to only use their brand or equivalent but I can’t find a good cross reference of oil specs. Found it Interesting that specs are for non-synthetic due to the clutch on super charger. I would have guessed a fancy synthetic with friction modified would be spec’d. Also want to get some coolant, spark plugs, something like the XP-S lube for engine.

bucket seats swivel hard, so want to figure out how to line up. Why didn’t the offer a bolster for the driver’s seat. That was a little annoying.

cleaning the windshield glass on the inside is impossible unless you have flat hands. Need to put a towel on a long spatula to clean that far down.

One of the plastic pieces of the Bimini mount broke while snapping down. Still functional, but a little hinky. I am looking for the factory wake tower/Bimini combo, so if anyone knows a source please share.

I want to repack the Huns/bearings and put bearing buddies on. Also, tires are decent, but I think I’ll buy a pair to keep in reserve and then swap Out at end of season.



super pleased, great little boat, family loved it. Plenty of power to pull two tubes and four kids. It is a little loud, so I might look to add some sound proofing.

I’llI will be purchasing trailer guide posts (from VeVe Mfg) or making my own. The bracket is my only hang up right now bc I don’t have access to a brake or bender.

Mechanicals first, convenience second, cosmetics last.

Am i Missing anything obvious that I should be doing, inspections, etc? Don’t think I am on anything major but could be wrong. Ill
Try to post updates here on our travels and any parts updates/installs.

Cheers!
 

Mister Magoo

Member
Messages
46
Location
Chattanooga, TN
Water Crafts
2007 speedster
Looks like it has a SC. Get it serviced before going any further, no matter what the PO has said. BTW, how much was the purchase price?
 

LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
Looks like it has a SC. Get it serviced before going any further, no matter what the PO has said. BTW, how much was the purchase price?
Yes, SCIC. What do you mean by service, specifically? Inspected for tolerance, wear, some sort of PM? I do have the owners manual and shop manual. Guess I can look through the SC section and maintenance intervals to see what’s recommended.
Listed at $12.5k; $11.5k was what we settled on. NADA guide for average retail for boat/trailer was $11.1k. Probably overpaid a little (a lot?), but value and market price can vary greatly in either direction.
 

LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
Looks like inspection is checking inlet for dirt/deposits and checking clutch slipping moment. Would need the camshaft locking tool, but I could probably do both. But once it needs to come off, there’s a bunch of special tools, plates, press, and a pretty complex process (from the looks of it).
 

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LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
Another thing; trailer hitch drop. I’m using a -3”, but could probably go a little lower. Towing with a suburban or silverado. Haven’t measured to calculate properly, but eyeball says an inch or two to get trailer perfectly level. Will also help lower the post on the ramp too.
 

FlyboyX

Active Member
Messages
100
Location
Houston, TX
Water Crafts
2000 Sea-doo Chalenger 14

$1k for a new one...might give them a call regarding service and costs. Anybody keep a spare SC in the garage?!?

if you are a handy guy, watch a youtube video on rebuilding seadoo superchargers. buy a tool kit off ebay for 60.00. the oem rebuild kit is about 300.00.
 

FlyboyX

Active Member
Messages
100
Location
Houston, TX
Water Crafts
2000 Sea-doo Chalenger 14
no. i own a 2 stroke boat. been looking for a newer speedster 200. have done tons of research and would not hesitate however.
 

LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
Ahhh...forgot to get a VIN/HIN inspection so could only title and register the trailer and pay excise tax. Need to get that done. But boat registration from previous owner is valid through end of year and you have 45 days from sale to register here. So a little waste of time for another trip to BMV.
 

Macker29

Member
Messages
104
Location
NW Ohio
Water Crafts
2010 Challenger 180 SE (255HP)
We have a 2010 Challenger 180 and has been a blast. Our kids and their friends love it. We are currently replacing the fuel pump (which is super easy), but other than that, it has been a lot of fun.

The only suggestion that I have is to install a 2nd battery. Our lake days sound similar to yours (a lot of tubing, skiing and then hours of floating & swimming). It is always very handy to have 2 batteries...one for starting and typical operation and one for the stereo when floating, etc. Plus you have a fail-safe if one dies on you.

The other recommendation is to avoid shallow water (3 feet or less) and floating weeds as much as possible. Keep her up maintenance regularly and she'll run great for you.
 

Mister Magoo

Member
Messages
46
Location
Chattanooga, TN
Water Crafts
2007 speedster
Search SC repair on this forum. I think the service interval is 100 hours or 2 years which ever comes first. I think it’s the bearings and washers that are the problem.
 

LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
We have a 2010 Challenger 180 and has been a blast. Our kids and their friends love it. We are currently replacing the fuel pump (which is super easy), but other than that, it has been a lot of fun.

The only suggestion that I have is to install a 2nd battery. Our lake days sound similar to yours (a lot of tubing, skiing and then hours of floating & swimming). It is always very handy to have 2 batteries...one for starting and typical operation and one for the stereo when floating, etc. Plus you have a fail-safe if one dies on you.

The other recommendation is to avoid shallow water (3 feet or less) and floating weeds as much as possible. Keep her up maintenance regularly and she'll run great for you.
yeah, I get nervous after five minutes with the radio on and the engine off, lol. Definitely want the 2nd battery and switch install. And I need to get a trickle charger too. Any recommendations to point me is appreciated.
Thanks!
 

LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
Quick mod over lunch break. The coupler for the exhaust system flush is short and the angle with the hose attached is cumbersome. Also, my garden hose is thick and stiff and doesn’t flex well either. And, I have to enlist the Captain for help turning water on and off. So I took off the ends, put in a ball valve in line and used some 1/2” nylabraid to lengthen things. I want to be able to hook up hose, turn water on, start engine, open valve from the helm, run engine to warm up and shut everything off solo. Will let you k is if it works !
 

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Mister Magoo

Member
Messages
46
Location
Chattanooga, TN
Water Crafts
2007 speedster
Everyone around here says rebuild the SC at 100 hours or 2 years.

 

LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
Everyone around here says rebuild the SC at 100 hours or 2 years.

Cool, thanks for the link. Will read through later tonight.
 

LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
Took her out again tonight after work. I had filled up the tank before the first outing, and then filled up again before I went out. Put 9 gallons in. Meter was 158 hours initial, 160 final. So somewhere between 1-3 hours and 9 gallons, so 3-9 gallons per hour. Probably 4.5 -6 gallons per hour for tubing and cruising. Does that sound right?

Basically just tubed tonight bc that’s all the kids wanted to do. I had enough confidence to pull up to a slip on a dock that’s owned by a restaurant and ice cream shop. Found that just coming in slow, then NOT touching throttle and just using the shifter to go from Forward to Reverse plus steering input makes for a slow but easy docking.

Finished the treats and then we were going to make one last lap of the lake for a sunset cruise. About two minutes in, BOOM vibration hits. S h i t. Must have sucked something up? Head back to launch at low speed.

this time, didn’t put the trailer as deep. Was able to line up and drive up on bunks. The spare tire gets in the way to winch it up from that position (fenders barely submerged). So I pulled out a couple feet so the stern sat down, bow raised up, then winched the last two feet into post, and pulled out. Better than last time.

Also, the while I was strapping down the guy behind me let me know I had a trailer tail light out. Sweet. Got home, cleaned up and got under her. I can see a little brown thing caught in the impeller. Couldn’t get a good pic but I attached what I have (stupid iPhone). Look like a piece of wood or something? Dunno.Going to try and get it out, maybe drop the grate? Will go through the forum for threads!

Still, good night and lots of fun! Hopefully the vibes and just from this!
 

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Macker29

Member
Messages
104
Location
NW Ohio
Water Crafts
2010 Challenger 180 SE (255HP)
yeah, I get nervous after five minutes with the radio on and the engine off, lol. Definitely want the 2nd battery and switch install. And I need to get a trickle charger too. Any recommendations to point me is appreciated.
Thanks!
I installed this battery switch and added the 2nd battery through this switch. It is a perfect fit for the OEM switch that is already in your boat (at least it was for mine).


I use the switch to decide which one is running the boat and stereo at the time. I think wiring them specifically to do a certain task is more tricky. Just my opinion.

You will need to add another battery tray. I was able to screw mine into the hull (not really the hull, but the inner hull that is on the inside of your exterior hull).
 

Macker29

Member
Messages
104
Location
NW Ohio
Water Crafts
2010 Challenger 180 SE (255HP)
Took her out again tonight after work. I had filled up the tank before the first outing, and then filled up again before I went out. Put 9 gallons in. Meter was 158 hours initial, 160 final. So somewhere between 1-3 hours and 9 gallons, so 3-9 gallons per hour. Probably 4.5 -6 gallons per hour for tubing and cruising. Does that sound right?

Basically just tubed tonight bc that’s all the kids wanted to do. I had enough confidence to pull up to a slip on a dock that’s owned by a restaurant and ice cream shop. Found that just coming in slow, then NOT touching throttle and just using the shifter to go from Forward to Reverse plus steering input makes for a slow but easy docking.

Finished the treats and then we were going to make one last lap of the lake for a sunset cruise. About two minutes in, BOOM vibration hits. S h i t. Must have sucked something up? Head back to launch at low speed.

this time, didn’t put the trailer as deep. Was able to line up and drive up on bunks. The spare tire gets in the way to winch it up from that position (fenders barely submerged). So I pulled out a couple feet so the stern sat down, bow raised up, then winched the last two feet into post, and pulled out. Better than last time.

Also, the while I was strapping down the guy behind me let me know I had a trailer tail light out. Sweet. Got home, cleaned up and got under her. I can see a little brown thing caught in the impeller. Couldn’t get a good pic but I attached what I have (stupid iPhone). Look like a piece of wood or something? Dunno.Going to try and get it out, maybe drop the grate? Will go through the forum for threads!

Still, good night and lots of fun! Hopefully the vibes and just from this!
Gas consumption sounds about right.

Might want to get a long set of pliers to try to pull that stick out. Taking the grate off can cause some issues, especially when reattaching.

Good job loading onto trailer. We go through that "pulling ahead" process to lower the stern and raise the bow every time. lol As far as winching, those boats are so light you can pretty much winch it most of the way onto the trailer (as long as you are lined up). No need to ram it onto the trailer.

Had the same issue with spare tire. I took it off and now store it in the back of my truck.
 
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LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
I installed this battery switch and added the 2nd battery through this switch. It is a perfect fit for the OEM switch that is already in your boat (at least it was for mine).


I use the switch to decide which one is running the boat and stereo at the time. I think wiring them specifically to do a certain task is more tricky. Just my opinion.

You will need to add another battery tray. I was able to screw mine into the hull (not really the hull, but the inner hull that is on the inside of your exterior hull).
Thanks. I was looking at this one:

Yes, I don’t think I’ll wire for specific tasks, at least not yet. Rather spend my time on the water when the weather is good and tinker on a rainy day. Did you mount right next to the existing battery?
 

LionOnABeach

Member
Messages
62
Location
Northwest, IN
Water Crafts
2007 Challenger 180
Gas consumption sounds about right.

Might want to get a long set of pliers to try to pull that stick out. Taking the grate off can cause some issues, especially when reattaching.

Good job loading onto trailer. We go through that "pulling ahead" process to lower the stern and raise the bow every time. lol As far as winching, those boats are so light you can pretty much winch it most of the way onto the trailer (as long as you are lined up). No need to ram it onto the trailer.

Had the same issue with spare tire. I took it off and now store it in the back of my truck.
Ok, I’ll try to find something or fashion a long tool to get in there first.
Thanks, I didn’t know if winching it up like that was good/bad/indifferent. I think I will take the tire off too, and do the same. Thank you!
 

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