Pete and I spent several hours limping home because of a filter issue on his brand new modern power! but when it was cleaned. Moma mia that was some fun!

Pete and I spent several hours limping home because of a filter issue on his brand new modern power! But when it was cleaned. Moma mia that was some fun!

Come on, you know you want a nice new Mercruiser in that U22. Sure that underpowered romantic flat head sound is perfect. The simplicity of fixing it with a hammer and screw driver. Sure it can blow a gasket faster than your wife after she finds out you bought another boat. But a new engine can have its own hell. Like all that safety crap that can make you break down for little reason. Or over power and a loss of the true feel and smell of the classic boat experience. Not to mention at boat shows, not all that respected. Should they be? What if you take modern power and at least attempt to make it appear to be period. Painted the correct color.. That sort of thing. I will say that I wont own an outboard boat without modern power. But a U22?  So bring it on. Let your secret desire for modern power out!  You know what to do!

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62 Responses to “Debate Week Part 3 – Modern Power vs Original Power (What’s Best?)”
  1. Chris B

    there are days with some of the boats i owned i wished for a re-powered boat. Some boats are just better with that extra kick. however the Chrysler i have in my WJ Jonhson is perfect and i would never change it. I love to see the old motors in boats and hope that many will keep them as for some boats its the right thing to do. that being said the boys out in California like to put some cool exotic motors in boats not a stock mercruiser as thats a little boring. I had a great time the first visit to lake tahoe and was star struck looking at all the motors i really had never seen before, new and old. i think the olny time new motors are a conflict is judging. -10 points on a perfect boat is hard. do i think its right will i do think 2 boats of equal quality the one with the original engine is better in this case. thats my wishy washy ramble.

  2. Texx

    Hey Wilson – With all the rain in Tallahassee last night, you may need your RUBBER BOOTS today…

  3. Troy in ANE

    I am very fond of the Old Herc’s. Have two W’s in AB and Yorktown still has the MCL she came with.

    Got to ride this summer in a friends 1932 triple with with a new 350. Had good sound, good power, ran well. No complaints there!

    Can’t wait to get in a ride one day in a boat powered by a Liberty! That has got to be a thrill for sure.

    Anybody ever put a PT6 or other small turbine in a wood boat?

    Guess I don’t really care, just love the experience!

    • Doug P in the PNW

      I have never heard of boats being powered by the MB engines that were in the German E-Boats from WWII. Does anyone know of any instances.

  4. Steve Moreau

    Ok here I go! Why stop there what about hydraulic steering? A hidden radio with Sirius oh but hide it in a flip down panel under the dash? A chart plotter gps (biger flip down panel)? Hell its your boat do to it what you want! What ever you do it will be high on the kool factor! Who cares about the judges if your building a user boat! Sure if your a little spiteful take it to the boat show anyway! Well anyhow like I said it’s your boat do what you want this is still American at least for now! The wife and I have our first wooden boat and in the educational process on the in and outs of repairing and restoring it. We’ve done several other projects andhave always fitted it to suit our wants and needs and enjoyment, this will be the same. But I’m getting the feeling that we may get shuns at some event if we should attend. Anyhow it wouldn’t be the first time we’re doing this for our selfs. And by the way a crusader 8.1 HO sounds way kool.

    • Paul H.

      Steve -I would say that over half of all boat shows are non judged – they are just shows so there is no penalty or stigma attached to bringing a boat such as you describe. Many people don’t realize that.

      In my opinion, there should not be and stigma, but we are also dealing in some cases with scarce, unique and interesting parts of boating history so one does need to be attentive to preservation. I am personally a purist but that hardly means everyone else should be as well.

      In the chapter show that we organize, I have said that as long as I am involved it will remain non-judged because more than row after row of perfect museum pieces, I like to see variety in all its’ forms. We welcome all vintage boats to our show and I believe the majority of shows do as well.

  5. Troy in ANE

    Interested in a White Sportsman with a Chrysler Crown. I think that would be a good combo, yet the one that really trips my trigger right now is an XK19 with a 502 and a Bravo out drive. Now that would be a fun boat at Dora!
    May even give Pumpkin a run for it’s money?

  6. RiverRat

    We have old outboards and newer outboards, whatever came with our boats. Prefer the newer ones and on balance love the 2003 Suzuki 4 stroke best. I will put up with the extra weight per horsepower to get the ultralow emissions and quite running. I love all of them when they run when you turn the key.

  7. Cliff

    I have a great idea, let’s all pool some money buy a U-22 take it to a restorer put a fiberglass bottom on it and slip in a 283 chris craft marine engine and have Matt go out an the river/bay/lake/sea/ocean and see if he can have some fun and take some pictures. A little BLT, a beer some chips. It will be 12 volt so he can rock out some tunes. Suzie will send him out with extra gas money……..and he can write about the excitement of wooden boat fun! To much serious discussion this week. How about that part lady…..Ineda.

  8. Wilson

    Texx:
    Our lake has no springs or river to feed it so we welcome all the rain we can get…Six inches yesterday was wonderfull. Love the boots !

    As for modern power….As they say…Whatever floats your boat.

  9. Greg Lewandowski

    I’m OK with anything that burns good old gasolene and emits HC while it is doing it, but PLEASE stop talking about powering boats with electric motors and batteries. That is just not right!

    • Troy in ANE

      Actually I hate to say it but electric motors were being put in boats long before the internal combustion gas engine was even around, so it is more like what goes around comes around.

  10. Gary

    After using and rebuilding Hercs, Crowns, Scripps 12, Fireballs and some others I have gotta say the Crowns are my favorite. One Crown came to us with a nock and everyone had their opinion but by the end of the summer it brought the boat in for haul out with kool whipped brown oil. At the marina we hauled the engine and as it tilted water ran from the dipstick tube. As the story goes an old taxi boat guy in NY put the engine together.
    When I tore it down half a piston was gone, all summer it ran that way, the pistons were in backwards order and the thermal slots on wrong side, and the rods were right but oiler on wrong side. You couldn’t have put that engine together anymore wrong but the amazing thing was it ran and got the boat up on a plane.
    The only thing about most of these old engines I have never liked is the updraft carbs. A side draft on a Scripps gets there half way.
    A close friend has one of those new fangled Mercruisers for a couple years now. I swear you look at it wrong and you end up spending days trouble shooting.

  11. Rick

    Yesterday I stated that I wish I had put modern power in Panther when I restored her. I love the sound and looks from observers when I lift the engine cover but DARN if that B engine is way too little power. Skiing is out and taking people for a ride is more slow motion than thrilling. And that’s when it runs. I’ve had the boat judged and had enough of that, now I want to have fun but many times Pather stays on the trailer and I’ll take out the plastic cruiser so I can get places faster. For judging I agree that original power should be judged higher but as a boat to take the family out safely I say modern. Although I will keep the B in storage I will eventually either repower with modern or sell and buy one already with modern power.

  12. Kentucky Wonder

    Two lessons I learned this summer:

    1) A correctly tuned engine runs WAY better than one incorrectly tuned. It is like we have a new, much improved boat. Many thanks to Dan Mertaugh!

    2) Keep any form of ethanol far away from your boat. Do not even say the word ‘ethanol’ while in said boat. Boat will not respond well at all. Ours backfired loudly until bad ethanol gasoline was run completely out of tank! Another boater thought someone was shooting guns across the lake.

    • FLASH

      Was it Ethanol or Modern Power that soaked the poor little outboard behind you at the Bluegrass Rendzvous? Either way, it still makes me chuckle.

      • Kentucky Wonder

        THAT little episode gets attributed to having two of your in-laws sitting in the back seat, causing stern to settle low into the water, causing excess water to enter the exhaust. Said inlaws also encouraged the acting captain to “give it some gas” to make sure engine would start after sitting all day at dock. THEN the somewhat modern (14 years younger than the boat itself) power plant took over. BLOOSH! The ethanol kicked in later, while boat was zooming along happily when POP! Goes the Backfire. Of course, mixed in with this was a big circleback to retrieve a fender everyone SWORE was removed from the starboard cleat after leaving the dock. All in all, a fairly eventful afternoon trip. We did see Lisa and Rodger Brown out riding in Lisa Marie. They looked so calm and peaceful.

  13. Sean

    I tried to keep the original Mercruiser 165 IL6 pre alpha i/o in my Greavette when I restored her. However, it stranded us 6 times that summer while trying to work things out (and cost me several thousands by then).

    By the fall I decided to repower with a Mercruiser 175 HP 4.3 V6. I rebuilt the V6 and tweeked it a bit to get 236HP and have not looked back. It is reliable, fun and easy to drive…not to mention it comes on plane in an instant and runs 54 mph. Overall performance is fantastic.

    My boat can do anything my family needs it to do (or a similar modern plastic boat can do) and we still enjoy woodyboating. From the outside, the difference in the drives is subtle so nobody really knows until I lift the hatch. And we get many, many compliments from people every time we are out. (which is a lot)

    I had the boat judged this year (first time) and took my – 10 points with a smile. The boat still earned a 3rd place! How happy was I? Ecstatic! Just wish there was a “resto-mod” class like the car guys have.

    If I had a Greavette Streamliner I would never change the engine from original but, that’s a different type of boat for a different purpose. We like to use our Greavette… and we do!

  14. Al Benton

    Troy, that was a sweet ride in the 1932 triple with a 350 and wouldn’t dare complain. That was fun and very enjoyable. But that said, although the boat was beautifully restored from an appearance standpoint, it was modernized under the hatch, and no longer represents the full history of the model; a significant encouragement in the ACBS Mission Statement that’s intended to protect the heritage of (vintage) boating.

  15. Chad

    I prefer boats with their original power. New engines are no more reliable than a properly tuned original. If I need to go faster, I’ll buy a boat with a bigger, original engine.

  16. Matt B

    I’m all for original power. They are so simple there is little to go wrong. I even kept mine 6 volt just to keep things interesting (and original). It starts up every time and has never left me stranded.

    And you can’t beat the sound of a flat head 6!

    You can always jump into a plastic boat to get your modern power fix.

    • Alex

      Hey MattB, what exactly is the original motor for a reproduction boat?

      Answer, I guess, is whatever the hell you choose to put in it.

      So, in that case, shoehorn this little puppy in your boat.

      BTW, in case the WoodyBoater interneter police won’t let me post this photo I innocently snatched from the web, I’m suggesting an Ilmor 710 (as in 700 hp, V-10). As Gary Larson said in The Far Side, “I’ll tell you what this means, Norm – no size restriction and screw the limit.”

  17. Keith Brayer

    I believe in restoring your boat the way you want it. If you want bone stock for preservation sake then so be it. If you are starting with a pattern boat that most people would burn then it’s up to you. When I bought my 1947 Chris Craft 19’ Racing Runabout 24 years ago it was beyond a pattern, but it was also the only 19’ Racing Runabout I could afford at 26 years old and newly married. My father and I knew from the get go we would be re-powering with a 392 Hemi and a v-drive. Cosmetically the boat is stock with the exception of the second exhaust out the transom. It has always been well received at shows, I’ve taken tons of people on their first ride, I never enter for judging. Most important I like the option of 68+ mph more than I like 44 mph

    • Alex

      Hell yeah, Keith! That gave me an ear to ear grin. (Terrifying though.) Send WoodyBoater a video of your boat flying. Would love to see that!

  18. Paul H.

    I simply prefer my boats to provide as close to an authentic, original operator experience as possible, and that includes the multitude of sensory contributions from original power. I have numerous boats and every one of them has original power. Despite my truly challenging, dismal record of strandings and highway breakdowns, I don’t recall ever having been stranded by a boat. I keep them in as close to impeccable tune as possible and I look after them. They ran when new and there is no reason they can’t now. So, for me I have never been even slightly inclined to modernize.

    These boats were for the most part not built to be particularly fast and I wonder about putting a high HP 350 or something in a boat that is not modified and made structurally ready for the power increase. Is the extra 10 mph worth it? For me it is isn’t. I have often thought about having a U 22 and dropping in a 327, which would provide a great experience. Not sure if it is needed, and is that even modern power. I suppose modern power could be anything much newer than the boat or that has valves in the head, but I would hardly consider a 1960 430 or 327 to be modern.

    My brother in law feels differently. He is in the final stages of restoring a 1954 Chris Craft 22′ Sedan and he installed a 270HP Mercruiser, but the boat was also structurally adapted to the extra power. It is essentially a stock-looking resto-mod as under the skin it is not in any way original. It will be a great boat and if fast is better, it will be better than original. With vintage anything, I personally don’t think that faster is necessarily better. However, most important thing is to just get on the water and if you need modern power for some reason to do it, go for it.

  19. John Rothert

    In my ever expanding efforts to JUST GO BOATING…..I often notice at shows fellows want to RIDE in my whirlwinds with new age Mercs. When it comes to getting off the trailer…you guys can have PERIOD POWER…..I will take POWER PERIOD!

    John in Va.

  20. Karl Hoffman

    I own 3 prewar Chris Crafts a 1941 34 Deluxe Enclosed cruiser, a 1940 18 utility with ventilated cabin and a 1937 19 Custom. All of them have or will have 283 conversions with a manual transmission. These engines are light and have ample power. They are reliable, sound awesome and can retain all original controls and gauges with ease. You will only lose 5 points at a judged show and you won’t spend $10,000 doing the install.

    Karl In Wa

  21. m-fine

    I generally prefer mostly original power, but it depends on what was original. I doubt I would keep a CC A series or a B in a boat I wanted to use. A K or an M in a boat with plenty of power to get on plane and give me over 30 mph would be a keeper.

    Squirt’s engine still looks somewhat like a 283, but it is now a 350, has electronic ignition and an electric fuel pump, and Edelbrock carb. It starts and runs much better than a stock 283 without going full out for the modern fuel injected Merc. Oh and it also now handles ethanol fuel without a hiccup. I am sure any future SBC powered boats that come my way will see some modernization of the engine for usability.

  22. Chuck Crosby

    Comments to yesterday and today’s discussion.

    I live in a Sacramento suburb (very low humidity) and most often boat in the Sacramento River Delta (sea-level) and/or trailer it up to Lake Tahoe (6,226 ft). I store my boat in my barn on a trailer. My, since sold, wooden boat with a model K engine was finicky, at best. I was never stranded, however, it was always a hesitant starter and I always had to make carb adjustments and change the prop for Tahoe.

    My recommendation; buy or build the boat that best works for you and your family.

    That said, my next wooden boat will have modern power and a modern bottom. I am undecided if the bottom will be 5200 construction or sheet ply full epoxy encapsulated.

  23. Dave

    I’ve been considering putting more modern power in the Sea Skiff. Like a 125 HP Chrysler Crown or the next smallest one. They say it’s a tougher engine than the Model K. So if anyone knows where there is one, tell Matt and he’ll get you my e-mail address and/or phone.

    Thanks, Dave

  24. floyd r turbo

    I had a 1924 24′ Hacker Dolphin with a Scripps F6 and a lot of money was spent to get the motor right (before I owned it). The owner that contracted me to help with the resto was mechanically challenged but wanted original 6 volt system.and could never get it started I bought it after he decided he didn’t like original power, i never had any problems (starting or otherwise) under 6 when I started it but he wanted it switched to 12. It wasn’t fast but adequate – what’s the hurry, it would do high 20’s and was very economical for 334 cubic inches and only 100hp rating, but what torque and a great sound. Love original power.

  25. Murray Parnell

    In the last few years I have restored a 1958 Peterborough Jupiter with an original 40 HP Elgin and a 1956 Shepherd with the original 30 Evinrude. Both engines were painted and I got fist place awards for both .Last year both engines were replaced with 55 Johnsons that I painted in old colours and decals.Now the boats are much better on gas lots of power and reliable .For us this was the way to go as we use our boats on many club runs. On the other hand my son has a Peterborough with a low hr 1962 28 HP Evinrude that he will take on a 3 day run and not even think about it ,but he is young and not a worry in the world.If it was to quit he would call my with that fancy thing all the young generation have ,the Cell Phone.
    Murray

  26. Tuobanur

    I opted for the more modern power in my 1941 CC 16′ runabout, it’s a 1947 Gray Marine model 70 bored 40 over, shaved heads and is now putting out 85 HP. 😀

  27. Ronald

    I also love original power but I purchased a U22 with a bad M engine once, after spending about $3500.00 chasing after hard to find rebuild parts that were expensive when found and no factory timing marks cost me 2 burnt pistons and then it developed a lower knock I had had enough so I installed a CC 327 with electronic ignition in which parts are as close as your local NAPA, all my problems went away except for general maint. Maybe sounded a little different but still so good. I also have a 22 sea skiff with a CC 350 that runs great also, having said all that I do love to see prewar boats with the Libertys, Sterling Petrals,big Scripps etc. I admire someone who spends the money to have one of these old engines restored as they are work of art to me.

    • Paul H.

      I spent a fortune to rebuild the Scripps 208 in my SP. Very powerful engine but very thirsty and parts are difficult at best to find. I just rebuilt the M in my BB and it runs perfect, boat will run to 39 MPH and it is a very smooth engine. It was a somewhat expensive engine to rebuild but the only truly hard part to find was a prewar intake manifold. Other than that, they are not hard to get parts for.

      I have a Chrysler Royal straight 8 in my Gar and that thing is beautifully smooth. Parts are getting very hard for those however and it was a it of a challenge parts and cost wise to do well. I have just rebuilt the 430 V-8 for my ’61 Continental and some of those parts were harder to find than for the M. The 327 in my Skiff is a wonderful engine – it would be perfect in a U22 and is not much newer than a U22, in reality. Parts are everywhere – great choice to use that motor. I even have a 1926 Elto Light Twin for my little Mullins 16′ Outboard Special – I like the old iron. I can see pulling a very rare engine like a Scripps, Sterling, Hall-Scott, Liberty or something similar and running the boat with a modern replacement in order to preserve the engine, due to scarcity of some parts and high costs. But, for common CC/Hercules engines, most Chryslers and most Grey Marine engines I don’t think it is a big problem.

      • Ronald

        It’s been maybe 15 or more years since I rebuilt an M but at that time rings,bearings and gaskets were hard to find and expensive to me at the time. Maybe these parts are being produced again. Hopefully so, I did some research and these same hercules engines were used in Diamond T trucks, large tow motors and stationary power plants as well as some other uses as well I am sure, How much does that straight 8 weigh?

        • Paul H.

          Ron – a lot. The weights of my engines are roughly the following:
          Scripps 208 – roughly 1350 pounds (has aluminum crankcase), about 6 feet long. Physically huge.
          Chrysler Royal 8 – roughly 1100 pounds (all iron)
          CC 430 – quoted at 1000 pounds dry (swear it is more)
          CC M – about 850 I think
          CC 327 – approx. 850-900 pounds

          This is fully dressed with transmissions included.

          The full rebuild of my M was about $8000 or so. That is high compared to a SBC but I chose a premium service for a few reasons. I suspect it could be done cheaper but I had other considerations – logistics mostly. The Scripps cost well over 4x that. These old engines can be spendy. I bet it would be maybe $4k – $5k to do the 327. Even with higher costs, I prefer original myself.

          • Ronald

            I understand original totally, here I am with somewhat later power in my user only boats but when I walk by a prewar double/triple cockpit anything with the hatches open and a mercruiser or something I frown a bit but do understand the many reasons. I admire someone like you for spending what it takes to keep the original power in an important boat. Those weights of your engines are huge compared to todays weights per horsepower. Thanks for posting them.

  28. Wiseboater

    My 1924 Wise came with modern power, Post War modern power!
    Originally equipped with a Scripps F-6 motor, the Coen’s found it hard to start and almost worn out by 1947. So in the summer of 1948 they lowered a Grey Marine Phantom 125 into the engine compartment.
    When I got the boat in 2011, the motor had sat for 35 years in a warehouse in Minnesota with oil in the crankcase. The flywheel spun by hand….So I sent the carbs to Van Ness for a rebuild, changed the spark plugs, points and coil, put in fresh oil and hit the starter button.
    She purrs like kitten, sounds like an old tractor and moves the boat along nicely. Sure, I wish she reached a higher maximum velocity but, if it ain’t broken don’t’ fix it!

    • Alex

      Are we talking about the boat we nicknamed “Miss Patina” here? The one we enjoyed so much at Tavares this spring? If so, don’t touch a single screw on that boat. It’s an incredible experience, as is. (Though the bottom needed a bit of work did it not? Maybe touch THOSE screws.)

  29. thomas d

    my ’47 cc runabout has it’s original model k. it ran good and sounded almost as good as a 46 knuckelhead. never did have enough power thou and loved gas. now it’s knocking and the cost to rebuild it is not worth it to me. i’m going with a 283 if i can find a good one or put a 305 in it. i don’t want to miss another summer. i’ll keep my model b’s in my other two boats till they give up the ghost and replace them with something more modern.

  30. Alex

    Things have come to a pretty pass
    Our romance is growing flat,
    For you like this and the other
    While I go for this and that,

    Goodness knows what the end will be
    Oh I don’t know where I’m at
    It looks as if we two will never be one
    Something must be done:

    You say either and I say either,
    You say neither and I say neither
    Either, either neither, neither
    Let’s call the whole thing off.

    You like potato and I like potahto
    You like tomato and I like tomahto
    Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto.
    Let’s call the whole thing off

    But oh, if we call the whole thing off
    Then we must part
    And oh, if we ever part, then that might break my heart

    So if you like pyjamas and I like pyjahmas,
    I’ll wear pyjamas and give up pyajahmas
    For we know we need each other so we
    Better call the whole thing off
    Let’s call the whole thing off.

    You say laughter and I say larfter
    You say after and I say arfter
    Laughter, larfter after arfter sponsored links

    Let’s call the whole thing off,

    You like vanilla and I like vanella
    You saspiralla, and I saspirella
    Vanilla vanella chocolate strawberry
    Let’s call the whole thing off

    But oh if we call the whole thing of then we must part
    And oh, if we ever part, then that might break my heart

    So if you go for oysters and I go for ersters
    I’ll order oysters and cancel the ersters
    For we know we need each other so we
    Better call the calling off off,
    Let’s call the whole thing off.

    I say father, and you say pater,
    I saw mother and you say mater
    Pater, mater uncle, auntie let’s call the whole thing off.

    I like bananas and you like banahnahs
    I say havana and I get havahnah
    Bananas, banahnahs havana, havahnah
    Go your way, I’ll go mine

    So if I go for scallops and you go for lobsters,
    So all right no contest we’ll order lobseter
    For we know we need each other so we
    Better call the calling off off,
    Let’s call the whole thing off.

    — George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin

  31. Phil Jones

    My Shepherd “1948”came with the original Chrysler M7 which on a good day pushes that boat at a weak 22 mph, so I elected to move up to a “newer” 1958 M45-SP3 354 dual quad Hemi, that would have come in my boat in 1957-58 and was told according to ACBS judging rules that this is only a 3 point deduction. I’ll take the hit all day long. :):):)

    115 or 275+ and BAAAD torque. HMMMM decisions, decisions

    • Paul H.

      Man, great choice Phil. Some of these boats were egregiously underpowered when new and yours seems to be an example. I don’t blame you one bit for “modernizing” with a 10-year newer engine and there could be no better choice.

      It is still nice to be able to enjoy boating and some old 18′ – 20′ foot CC with a wheezing B in it that won’t even plane makes that a challenge. If I had to upgrade or replace an original, I would likely go with the most powerful appropriate and period-correct engine that I could lay my hands on.

  32. Martin

    Owners can do what they want and what fills the bill for the mission that they want to accomplish with the boat. If you opt for a repower, I am in favor of keeping the original mill on the shelf for the next owner. I totally agree with many of the comments that most prewar boats were not made to take monster power. If you put the boat back the way it was originally they can and do work well. I have a friend with a 37 Gar-Wood with a 289V8 and the boat does not ride or sit in the water correctly with the extra weight and it all over the place when up on plane. My thought is that the correct restoration should take top honors at an ACBS event. If they have a repower class that is fine and then the repower club will be happy as well. Let’s all get along, have a good time and go for a boat ride and forget all the crap. Glass of wine at 5pm,speed 1500rpm!

  33. John Scherzinger

    Here you go, Matt. One of your dream boats, a 38′ Commander with new 8.1 Horizons. There’s no place we wouldn’t trust this boat to take us!

  34. Frank Miklos

    Cool factor original power by far.. Get in and go new power… It is that easy… But if at a show close the hatch if not original power.. Actually at a show close the hatch any how .. The boats are much more interesting when they don’t look like they are being worked on…