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Thread: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

  1. #1
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    Question Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Hello forumites,

    It has probably been a decade since I last posted on the forum. I moved to the Midwest, drifted away from boats, and have now moved back east and find myself seduced by them once again. So here I am!

    I now have a 16' 1958 Century Resorter with a Chrysler Crown M-47S flathead (inline 6, 265 cu in) that I use as a family ski boat on a small lake in central New Hampshire. I bought it three years ago from a local gentleman who had rebuilt the hull himself. About 90% of the frames and 100% of the planking and decking were replaced in the late 1990s. He did a lot of work on the hull, but I don't think he did anything at all to update the mechanicals. It ran ok for the first two years, though its compression has always been poor since I bought it. I replaced the fuel lines, installed a new fuel filter/water separator, and had the carbs rebuilt by a carburetor shop. I figured I'd get five or ten years out of it.

    Here's she is with fresh varnish in 2017:
    20170623_114723.jpg


    This is what keeping off of web forums for ten years looks like:
    20160820_175959.jpg

    The beast (a.k.a. "Stinky"):
    20160628_120334.jpg

    Alas, one year ago the engine finally gave out. Over labor day weekend 2017 I had a hard time starting the engine. When it finally fired up (with a shot engine starter to the carbs) it ran and idled rough and left an oily sheen on the water. The prognosis from a reputable shop is that it needs a major rebuild or replacement. Rings, cylinders, pistons, valves, everything. It's almost 60 years old. I was getting oil blowing by the rings on compression, pressurizing the crankcase, and blowing oil and unburned fuel vapor out the breather tube over the carbs and elsewhere.

    Head gasket replacement did not fix the problem, though we had fun poking around and pretending to be mechanics.
    20180220_200033.jpg

    I think we're going to re-power the boat. For the same or less money as a rebuild, we can get a new engine that weighs less, has more power, is more reliable, consumes vastly less fuel, and is easily serviced. Plus, the boat and bilge chronically smell like gas, so you never know for sure that you're not about to blow the thing up. I'm not 100% certain yet, but the only arguments for a rebuild of the old beast are aesthetic, historical, or sentimental. They weigh on me, though.

    Ok, so that's the background. My question is what to re-power with if we go that route. Aside from replacing the head gasket last winter, I really don't know too much about engines, and I definitely don't know anything about shopping for engines.
    My needs: I would love to be able to take the boat out on Winnipesaukee for the day without running out of gas or having to paddle home, but usually we're just tubing with little kids or cruising around a fairly small lake (~1 mile x 1/3 mile). The old engine would push it along at 34 MPH wide open. I don't really need to go 60 mph in a 16 foot boat (I don't want to die!). 45 MPH would probably be plenty fast. Hoping to not break the bank either.

    Do any of you motor-heads out there have any reasonable suggestions for what engine to put into this boat? Meanwhile, I'll be out sailing! (That's the Century under the green bathrobe)
    20170709_173503.jpg

    Thanks all,
    Jeff

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Wow,....... Hmmmm,.... where to start. I understand what you are saying, though I may not be the person you want to talk. I happen to have a pair of M47’s and am happy with them even thought they admittedly are not very current. They are simple engines, and I enjoy doing everything on my boat myself. I realize it may be difficult to find someone who really understands flat heads these days.
    As you know, it is very rebuildable, and is just the small Chrysler truck engine of the period, so basic engine parts are as far away as NAPA.
    If I were looking at a replacement I would look toward a marineized version of a SBC (small block Chevy) like a 350. That would give you a bump in hp, a drop in weight and easily accessible parts and service.
    I would check dimensions on whatever you consider. A modern V8 will be shorter, wider, and may be higher.
    You might loose a couple of hundred pounds with a change. The M47 with a 1:1 reverse gear comes in at the upper 800 lb range (I have the exact # in the manual on my boat.
    I would think a proper rebuild would be a good bit less than a brand new turn key marine engine, but that is just guessing on my part.

    ....... (If you do go with a replacement I know someone who may bd interested in talking about ‘stinky’.)
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Would a slant six fit in there? Should be lighter and more economical.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Beautiful boat!
    But I'm with Ned... Have it professionally rebuilt and you are good for another 60 years, the boat will be "original" and be all the better for it. That is one of the most reliable and trustworthy engines ever made.

    Look around, find someone familiar with them. There are several reputable shops that specialize in that exact engine.
    http://www.vannessengineering.com/makes.php

    I have some history on Lake Winnipesaukee and fond memories of a triple cockpit Chris Craft that was (in my opinion) ruined by the removal of the original straight eight (which was discared or "traded") and a "dime a dozen" Chevy engine put in it's place. That boat has been in the same family it's entire life, 3 generations, and although shop worn, it was well maintained and completely original. Green leather upholstery, nickel plated hardware, and acres of varnish. I waterskied behind that boat for many summers.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Or, drop a fuel injected 4.3 V6 in it and call it good while keeping the original engine for completeness. I believe you can get a turn key engine from Michigan Motorz

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    I really like that runabout and would be proud as punch if I owned it. Looks really great and a proud owner.
    We have folk buying those hulls in the US and bringing them down under for cruising.

    Changing an engine on a boat is not just unbolting the old and dropping in a new one.
    Some of the extra costs overlooked by some folk re-engining their boats.
    New exhaust and muffler setup (two for a V8 and V6 to look the part).
    Most likely new engine mounts, possibility is that you may need to construct new engine bearers or a new engine box.
    Note the closeness of fit with the engine mounts and bearers in your 3rd photo.
    New gearbox, prop shaft and prop to take the increased power of the new engine (especially the ones suggested above).
    And the boat will most likely not perform significantly better.
    Then with extra horsepower you will crack the frames and upset the hull bottom and you have some bigger bills.
    This can push up the cost of an engine swap quite rapidly.
    Lastly will your insurer cover your boat of that age with a new engine?

    That engine looks like it has been used in freshwater for its whole life (minimal rust) and my guess has suffered more from lack of use.
    I would get a costing on the price to recondition that engine and keep your boat in its original condition.
    In original condition it will have an increase in collectors value in 40 years.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Jeff, laying aside the question of repowering for the moment, I would suggest that you contact Mike Murley, DolphinMarineEngineCo.com, 586-725-7446. He's been recommended to me for Chrysler Crown service. I haven't actually used him (yet) but I've spoken with him and was pretty impressed with his expertise. My guess is that you can have that motor completely rebuilt for under $10k. And when it's done it will outlast you if you don't abuse it.

    As for the repower... From your comments it sounds like you would probably be looking for a professional shop to engineer and carry out the conversion? If so I very much doubt that you could do it for under $25k. The motor alone (assuming the 4.3 V6 MPI) is going to be $10k. Then you will need a new gear, which is going to be at least another $5k. Add in exhaust, controls, motor mounts, engine bed modifications, wiring, etc., and it's going to add up very fast. And that's assuming that you can find a shop that is competent to do that work.

    Best of luck either way - that's a beautiful boat!

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    My vote would also be for a rebuild. I'd think it could be done for well under 10k. I'd be surprised if it needs much more than rings and possibly crank bearings. Maybe a new cam and valve job. How did the cylinders look when you had it opened up?
    Tom

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Thanks to all who have replied so far. I hear a pretty persistent enthusiasm for rebuilding vs. repowering. But that's why I posted the question in the first place. I need to come up with some actual engine packages to run by my shop and price out for comparison with a rebuild. Tom, your $25k ballpark number is way out of my budget for this project! I need to be under $10k for sure, and hopefully more like $6k if I can.

    I just called Michigan Motorz at OldTully's suggestion and got pricing on a few options. A carbureted 3.0L Mercruiser with 135 HP (same HP as my original engine) would be $6600 plus shipping. A carbureted 4.3L would be $7600. MPI 4.3L engines start at $9200. A transmission would run $1400-3000. Plus, the boat is currently set up for 6 volts. I see how the scary numbers start to add up!

    Perhaps a rebuild would be more economical, though it probably wouldn't fix my fuel economy concern, which might limit my ability to get across Lake Winnipesaukee without running out of fuel (something I don't think I could do currently, and a reason I have never taken the boat on the big lake).

    I guess I should call a few machine shops. Any recommendations? I've talked with a few in the past while trying to diagnose my engine problems, but I'm open to hearing what others think.

    Tom, here are a few photos of the engine block showing the cylinders and valves after I cleaned it up for the new head gasket. I also had the head milled at that time. The studs were pretty well rusted in place, so I chose to leave them for the time being until the engine is eventually rebuilt or replaced.

    20180327_213632.jpg

    20180327_213639.jpg

    20180327_213657.jpg

    20180327_213721.jpg

    20180327_213819.jpg
    Last edited by guillemot; 09-11-2018 at 10:56 AM.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    I don't see anything that really looks to be a serious cause for concern in the cylinder pics, but that doesn't mean they aren't worn. Kondrat customs over in Freedom may be able to give you a decent estimate on machine work cost. Phil Spencer in wolfeboro (http://lakesregionwoodenboatsales.com/about-us/) probably has some good contacts for engine work in NH as well. As far as Winnipesaukee, you shouldn't have a problem getting around on that lake, there are enough fuel docks that you could get by. Make sure it's a slow day though. I have had my 15' rascal on that lake twice and will never go again. Stuffed the bow twice the last time and basically got beaten to death from the chop. The boat wakes are insane and impossible to read. Lost of very large v-hulls plowing through the water churning it up, not to mention the large tour boats. I'll take lake Ossipee anyday, let me know if you want to spend a day there and I'll loan you some dock space. Weekdays are great there.

    I only have a 12 gallon tank and even with just 70hp it isn't great on fuel, but I do keep it wide open a lot.

    Beautiful boat by the way.
    Tom

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Thanks for the pictures. Nothing I see makes me think more than a simple rebuild. Everything looks even across all cylinders, the valves and seats look in very good condition (a bit oily, but really no visible wear), the studs look nice and the water jacket ports are clear.

    I am wondering if you need the two carbs. You might consider finding a one carb manifold. My engines are looking like they burn about 2 1/2 gallons/hour at 1700 - 1800 RPM, and I'm moving a 33ft boat. I have single updraft carter carbs.

    Here is what I started with. I really didn't do much more than pull the heads, have them machined flat (about .020" off), pull the valves to clean the varnish off the stems and check the valve lash.










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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    I would shy off from a "machine shop". They are accustomed to reboring and replacing everything as a matter of course. That engine looks to be in very good condition, i.e valves are thick, cylinders likely not even needing to be rebored. Take it or at least consult with someone that specializes in "restoring" antique/classic marine engines. That engine may need little more than a valve grind and new rings.
    FWIW, your fuel economy should improve when the engine is back to it's original compression and state of tune. For example I once had a 1956 Plymouth (basically the same engine) that went from 12 mpg to 20 with just a valve job.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    the valves don't look too bad, so they should clean up fine. not sure if you will need hardened valve seats due to no lead tho. maybe ned knows. now the cylinders- i could be mistaken but it sure looks like a substantial ridge at the top of them which means an overbore and larger pistons and rings. not really a big deal for a competent shop. and after a rebuild you should see your gas mileage go up a bit. you could also get a larger gas tank! anyway it would be much cheaper to rebuild than to swap, and you keep the value of the boat up. good luck-nice looking boat.

    jim

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    These engines typically don't have hardened valve seats. For that reason and others I add zinc replacement with each oil change, and in the fuel I add lead replacement and Marvel Mystery Oil. The lead replacement helps with the valve stem lubricating and cooling. I was never a proponent of what my dad used to call "mouse milk" (Like Marvel Mystery Oil), but it was recommended I do so by a very competent engine rebuilder I know here who does a lot of work on vintage engines. it certainly can't hurt, and the two do seem to help quiet down the valves a bit. Flat tappet, flat head engines can use some help in that area.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Wow, Ned! What a turnaround on your engine rebuild! I guess a good coat of paint hides a multitude of sins. I repainted my head after having it milled flat last spring (also out 20/1000), and it really did look like it should run better (it didn't). If I do rebuild it, I think I'd just update it for modern fuels so as to not worry about fuel/oil additives. My wife in particular has advocated for making it easy to operate, so I could potentially hand the keys to a friend without issuing elaborate instructions.

    Anyway, I'm glad to hear the positive consensus on the prospects for a minor rebuild. I've assumed a rebuild would be more in keeping with what Jim said: overbore and sleeve, new pistons, install hardened valve seats for unleaded gas, replace all soft parts for ethanol gas at least. I'm sure there are more things. I'll hope for a minor, but I'm still under the assumption that it'll be more. A bump in fuel economy would be nice.

    Tom, thanks for the invitation to visit Lake Ossipee. I may take you up on that next summer once I get the oarlocks mounted. I didn't mention it before, but the other reason I haven't gone out on Winnipesaukee is my concern of being run down by a yahoo, or just swallowed whole by a monster wake in my little boat. I took a ride in a 30' Chris Craft triple cockpit last summer, which was much better scaled to the chop and traffic.

    The boat has actually been in Phil Spencer's shop all summer. Interestingly, he is the one who pushed me to consider repowering in the first place. After initially working with one other person who didn't work out, I think Phil is going to be my guy for this boat. Thanks for the lead on Kondrad. I'll give them a call.

    Jeff
    Last edited by guillemot; 09-11-2018 at 12:29 PM.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Jeff, if you decide you want to go to a single carb setup let me know. I have a Chrysler OEM (not Barr) single carb manifold in my shop right now that needs a new home.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Thanks Chris. I'll keep that in mind.
    Jeff

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Quote Originally Posted by guillemot View Post
    Wow, Ned! What a turnaround on your engine rebuild! I guess a good coat of paint hides a multitude of sins. I repainted my head after having it milled flat last spring (also out 20/1000), and it really did look like it should run better (it didn't). If I do rebuild it, I think I'd just update it for modern fuels so as to not worry about fuel/oil additives. My wife in particular has advocated for making it easy to operate, so I could potentially hand the keys to a friend without issuing elaborate instructions.

    Anyway, I'm glad to hear the positive consensus on the prospects for a minor rebuild. I've assumed a rebuild would be more in keeping with what Jim said: overbore and sleeve, new pistons, install hardened valve seats for unleaded gas, replace all soft parts for ethanol gas at least. I'm sure there are more things. I'll hope for a minor, but I'm still under the assumption that it'll be more. A bump in fuel economy would be nice.

    Tom, thanks for the invitation to visit Lake Ossipee. I may take you up on that next summer once I get the oarlocks mounted. I didn't mention it before, but the other reason I haven't gone out on Winnipesaukee is my concern of being run down by a yahoo, or just swallowed whole by a monster wake in my little boat. I took a ride in a 30' Chris Craft triple cockpit last summer, which was much better scaled to the chop and traffic.

    The boat has actually been in Phil Spencer's shop all summer. Interestingly, he is the one who pushed me to consider repowering in the first place. After initially working with one other person who didn't work out, I think Phil is going to be my guy for this boat. Thanks for the lead on Kondrad. I'll give them a call.

    Jeff
    The wakes on Winni are bad, at least on a busy day. Maybe one quiet fall weekday I will try again but never again on a weekend.

    Ossipee is relatively small with a fuel stop in three locations, basically spread out on the lake, no more than three miles apart.

    Kondrat Kustoms is right down the street from me. I know he does a lot of race car stuff but pretty sure he will do whatever you ask and not do work that isn't necessary. His brothers framed my house and he has been business there for a long time, out of his home.
    Kondrat Kustoms
    184 Pequawket Trl
    Freedom, NH 03836
    (603) 539-2725
    Tom

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Personally, I would opt for a rebuild--don't think it should be all that much. Might add that one modern feature that is both cheap and huge in terms of performance is electronic ignition. My perspective is having an 80-year-old flathead as a power plant, which still runs fine.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    My engines were certainly sad looking cases when I took the boat on. The owner of the yard where I found the boat said they were done and and was completely discounting them (and he ran the boat 25 miles to the yard for winter storage on them 14 years earlier - before it was abandon). They had not even been turned over in 14 years, .... and were raw water cooled. The port exhaust elbow literally fell off in crumbs when I first touched it.
    When I had the heads off, the valves and valve seats are perfect, I mean zero wear, and the cylinders are equally perfect, no ridge at all, and as I remember you can still see some of the hash marks from honing. The lack of wear and some other indicators I have found lead me to believe they were rebuilt about 1978. When I did a compression test last fall all the cylinders were within 10% of each other. They aren't perfect (they are 61 yrs old), but they suit me just fine, and they are original to the boat.

    As for your engine, I don't know why it would need sleeving. I would go for a boring and .030" over pistons long before I thought about sleeving. Sleeving is usually only for a really damaged bore (or a hole in the bore). I think sleeving would be a lot of extra expense for nothing on your engine (unless the teardown and boring finds something.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    I wonder when the last time those valves were adjusted?

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    I'd wager 40 years? The boat was originally registered to a Mr. William Boeing Jr. of Washington state (yes, that Bill Boeing), so I imagine it was well maintained under his watch. I can't imagine he would have kept it long enough to require extensive engine work beyond routine maintenance.

    Jeff

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    Last edited by guillemot; 09-11-2018 at 07:19 PM.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Valve adjustment is routine maintenance, but on that particular engine it is a bit of a pain so is often skipped over. (To do it properly you want to remove the manifolds and carbs etc. )

    Those two carbs are what makes your engine unique, and I doubt there will be much to be gained in fuel economy by changing to a single carb. It will just have to opened further to achieve the same speed/power. Likely the camshaft is ground to optimize two carbs, but I have no idea where you might find those specs.

    As far as unleaded fuel goes, that engine was never designed to use leaded fuel. That stuff was formulated with the introduction of high compression V-8's.
    There is a good chance it came with hardened valve seats from the factory. (Most early engines had hardened exhaust valve seats. My 1956 Plymouth did!)

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    It looks like tetraethyllead was introduced in the 1920’s. Earlier than I would have guessed.

    As Canoeyawl said, adjusting the valve lash is not the easiest. You do need to remove the carb (not a bad job), The port engine on my boat absolutely needs the manifold removed to get there, there is only about 2” between the manifold and the hatch framing. This is unfortunate as it makes adjusting the lash when hot all but impossible.
    Last edited by nedL; 09-11-2018 at 05:40 PM.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Guill, I vote to rebuild what you've got, those flatheads are smooth and quiet, and once she is gone through and set right, you will not likely wear her out for decades...a repower is vastly more expensive, and reduces the value of the boat, and will still need roughly the same routine maintenance that this unit will...the trick is to find an honest guy who knows their way inside and out of these, and get him to go through it ( likely best out of the boat...) with an eye towards reliable longterm running. Have fun! Cheers, Steve

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    For what it’s worth I vote for rebuilding. From my perspective as an automobile mechanic that engine looks in pretty damn good shape for its age and very rebuild-able . You would also have the benefit of originality which imho is worth a lot. You should notice a real improvement in fuel economy with a fresh and efficient engine. Leave the twin carbs - they give you a little extra top speed when you want it. Just my 2 cents.
    Simon

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    A little homework with Dr. Google tells me that Chrysler flathead sixes came out of the gate with hardened exhaust valve seats. (Which is what I remember from my own experience) So I think unleaded gasoline will be a non-issue...
    Find someone you trust that can accurately measure and check your engine clearances. If they are good, some cleaning and polishing, new rings, a valve job and gaskets should make that engine as good as new.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Ahh,... thank you. That is nice information to know.

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Not so fast Canoeyawl!

    I've had a few conversations with Dave Van Ness (http://www.vannessengineering.com/) since I bought the boat, and he indicated that it doesn't have hardened valve seats and was designed to run on leaded gasoline. I don't see that anywhere in my notes, and my engine service manual is with the boat at Phil Spencer's shop, so I can't back that up. However, that's my recollection.

    These engines were made from the 1930s until around 1960 for a wide range of applications, so it's possible that some of them did have hardened valve seats.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Well, he would know!

    Serves me right, visiting with Doctor Google is a lot like going down to the pub and asking for advice. You will get some advice, whether it is right or wrong!
    My own experience is limited to the flathead six Chrysler Industrial engines, which I remember as having exhaust seats.
    (I wonder if the two carb version had a higher compression ratio?)

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    (I wonder if the two carb version had a higher compression ratio?) .............. Hmmmm, ......... Do you mean like maybe 8.25:1?

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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Ah for the days of competent mechanics...

    While repowering would make the boat more idiot resistant (there's no such thing as idiot proof), I have to agree with the "rebuild it" group. With the head off as it is, a mechanic with a clue could tell you if it needs boring in under 5 minutes. If it does not need boring, as Canoeyawl says: rings, rod bearings, and a valve job. Not counting pulling the engine & putting it back in should be 2K or so - probably less. If it needs boring, add a thousand to 1500.

    About 20 years ago I rebuilt a Chrysler flathead 6 in a friend's plow rig (a Bombardier sidewalk plow with tracks that'd been modified to a regular plow instead of the sidewalk V plow). This one needed only the quicky job (rings, rod bearings, valves) & the difference was night & day. The engine had so much more power that he used way less throttle to plow. IIRC, it cut his fuel usage in half. Of course a boat will be different, but I'd think an engine that is fresh would significantly improve fuel consumption.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    I think the compression ratio on both single and dual carb versions is in the 6:1 range.

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    and; when this is running well, nothing could sound better or more right than this engine in there...! S

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Re-powering a Century Resorter - seeking input on engines

    Quote Originally Posted by guillemot View Post
    I think the compression ratio on both single and dual carb versions is in the 6:1 range.
    Could well be, ... I just didn't remember off the top of my head, and the manual is on the boat.

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