First Post!!! 99 Challenger 1800

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Just purchased my first boat off eBay for under $850!!! Looks well taken care off. Advice on what to check first? I have not picked up the boat yet. I will be going for it on the 15th. Owner states it has not ran in 5 years. What would y’all recommend I start with? Compression test?


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The engines look like they were under water. Fingers better be crossed.
The very first thing I would do is pull the spark plugs and see if you can turn the engines over by hand.
The boat looks fairly clean but the engine compartment is a little scary. Honestly it looks like it may have been sunk at one point with all that silt or dirt covering everything. Ive bought both a sunken 97 spx and a sinken 98 speedster and both looked like that inside after a few days on the bottom of a lake.

I'd first check electrical to see if it recognizes a key at all and if anything turns on.

Next id start taking a look at the engines. Take plugs out and try to turn by hand. If you can get them to turn over, then you may have to jump the solenoid if there is no key to do further tests. Be very careful here as if it was sunk, those engines will have a ton of water in the bottom end which will come out with extreme force so be sure to not be in the line of fire. If there is water you are looking at 2 complete rebuilds or a parts boat. Even if not sunk, it can shoot tons of oil out if it has bad crank seals.

If no liquid then i'd move on to a compression check. 150 is want you want and 5-10% max difference between cyls.
I’m so anxious to get working on it. I might try and pick it up sooner! I’m a mechanic by trade. So I love the challenge!
After cleaning out the engine bay, first thing I would check is the MPEM. Connect a charged battery and listen for the beeps.
How far do you have to tow it? What is your budget for fixing it?

There are a bunch of things to do before you should even try a compression test. Start by getting a service manual and read up on all the mpem threads you can.

The brain for that (mpem) is over $1000 if you can find one. The mpem (if it is still good) can be ruined during troubleshooting if you are not careful. You need a perfect battery and perfect cables/connections. You can't "boost" the battery during operations of any kind.
I am headed to San Antonio for the weekend next weekend to visit family, from there it is another 2hrs. So about a 6hr drive home. I don’t really have a budget. Just want it to be fun and reliable. I will make sure to clean it good. Make sure it turns by hand and be sure cables are good.
I have a 1997 and must say your exterior and interior looks great! It Is a fun boat, but I would check the compression on the engines first thing.
I would probably go to walmart etc and buy new tires and wheels to take with you, maybe new hubs all greased up and ready to roll. Return them for a refund if it turns out you didnt need them.

I bought one in worse shape but the trailer was collapsed so I brought my own flatbed to haul it home on. The only saving grace was that mine had a good mpem and one good engine
BTW I had my mpem rebuilt last year by a guy in the midwest, I can look it up if you need. But basically I sent it to him and he upgraded it with all new parts that are easily available if need be later. It was plug and play, only change was it now needs 2 keys, which he includes in the price. I think I paid a little over $1k.
Nice! Thanks for the advice everyone! On the tires and hubs. Absolutely I’ll check that once I pick it up. The tires I’ll have changed out once I pick it up. I don’t want to deal with a blowout. Plus I plan to use it real soon (fingers crossed). I’ll be in San Antonio for the weekend. I’ll take tools a new battery and I’ll pick up a compression gauge to check that before I head out. I have bass pro shop almost across the street from my sister in-laws house.
Good luck with the boat! When you get it running you will have a blast. One small thing, I think you have a 99 there. 97 1800s were green Hulls, and 98's had white hulls. I only mention this because it could have an impact on a few part numbers.
Make sure you check that trailer out really well before hitting the road. They like to rust out in a few places and I had a friend who had his challenger trailer snap in half on the road. It looked about in the same condition as that one.

I believe his was a shorelander though, so that one looks a little different.
I’ll definitely check her out. I talked to the owner today. He did tell me it was flooded and that is how he bought it. He also stated that the engines both turn, electrical was checked and working properly. Before I get on the road I am going to fill the cylinders with atf and mystery oil. Friday I will start working on it. I need to make room in my garage for it because we are expecting snow next Wednesday and Thursday.
You are correct sandman! It is a 99. Title shows 2 years. Built year and model year. It was posted as a 98 but it is a 99! Any major differences?
Not to be a downer but unless those engines were cleared out and run hard within 24 hours of being flooded then the crank and countershaft bearings will be rusted, needing a full rebuild. Even starting the engine you run the risk of throwing a rod or bearing through the case and making things more expensive.

I've had many engines that would turn over even though the crank was covered in rust. Just trying to make sure you know what you are in for. Good luck on the pickup!
I’ll make sure and check what I can, post on here to get some help. I’m a mechanic by trade. I work on all my own stuff, I’ve built LS engines. Repaired drilling rigs for quite a few years. If I have to replace both engines or rebuild that is ok. It’s hard to asses anything without having the boat here.
Don't fill the engines up with oil or any of that B.S. as it will not do anything for you.

Just pull the rear plastic covers off the engines and see if you can turn them over. That will tell you if they are locked up or not.
Good news and bad news. Made it home, trailer is in great shape. Mostly surface rust, good lights. Tires are fairly new, didn’t have any issues driving home. Bad news, the Seadoo cover tore while driving home. Might be usable but I’m sure it tore quite a bit. I have work tomorrow so I don’t know how likely it will be that I start on it tomorrow.
That sucks. The covers don’t typically survive trailering once the get a few years old.

Poppy Covers makes really nice ones at affordable prices. I think Terri might still offer forum discounts but I’m not totally sure.
I have a Poppy on my Challenger, lasted 4 seasons so far 4 months a year on the lift rest of the year under a carport still works..
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