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Carpenter193

Popping Noise in Lower Unit

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I bought a 1997 Chaparral 1930ss with a 5.7 Mercruiser and an alpha one outdrive back in June from the local Chaparral dealer (east central Mississippi). Since then it has been in the shop for all but about 3 weeks and has been a nightmare. When I bought the boat I knew during the test drive that the gimbal bearing was bad and that the shift interuptor switch needed replaced. The first time out after purchase the alarm went off and the drive lube bottle was empty with oil in the bilge. The dealer said the seal on the bottom of the bottle was bad. After $440 we got the boat back and when we got back on the water the alarm went off again. The drive lube bottle was once again empty with oil in the bilge. The dealer did a pressure test and said it passed. Then called back saying they did a test drive and at idle oil was pouring into the bilge from the drive bellow. The seals in the upper drive were replaced and while they were at it I had the bellows, lower shift cable, and gimbal bearing replaced. $760 later the boat is ready and after pulling it home I find that the exhaust bellow has pulled off on the transom side. I take the boat back and get the bellow fixed. Go to take the boat out the following weekend and find the drive lube bottle empty. I assumed that the system just had air in it and the GM at the dealer confirmed that was most likely the cause. He gave me two bottles of oil to top it off and I left. Got on the water and the boat did great. Ran good, gimbal bearing was quiet and while the oil level had dropped the alarm did not come on. Topped it off and floated down the river for a while. I noticed a knock/popping sound that could be slightly felt in the floor. It happened every 15-20 seconds and was fairly faint. As we went it started to get a little worse but was only evident at idle (regardless of gear). Decided it was best to get off the water before it got worse just in case. On the way to the ramp the boat ran good and the knock/pop was not noted while cruising on plane. At the dock the noise was worse and could be felt more. After backing the trailer down the noise was nearly constant. While loading the boat onto the trailer the noise was extermely loud and shook the boat. The oil level had dropped again and it appeared that it was all in the bilge again. I think I filled the bottle 4 times.  Took it back to the shop and the GM said they would look at it but may not be their fault. 

So to recap, I have dropped $1200 into a bot that I have used 3 times and each time had to get off the water within 3 hours of putting in each time. The boat has spent more time sitting at the dealership than at my house and each time I take it in it takes at least a month to get it back. I have several questions about the issues at hand and how to handle the situation. 

 

1.) would the pressure test not show that the seals were bad. Why would the leak not show up until on the water? 

2.) What is the nocking/popping noise and what could have caused it. Did a low oil level (caused by the dealer) cause it? 

3.) Do I have any legal rights if the dealership doesn't want to work with me? I am afraid they won't own up for this latest incident. Prior to the repairs the drive was silent and ran great. No vibrations or popping noises. 

4.) Is there a way to contact Chaparral directly? I know they don't care about the mechanical issues of a 20 year old boat, but they should be concerned that a dealership is taking months to repair boats and is doing such a poor job at fixing the problems at hand the first time. This is unacceptable and they aren't just doing it with my boat. They have many boats in the lot that have been there for 2+ months yet to be looked at.

 

Thank you you for any help. 

Zac

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Old boats DO have LOTS of problems if abused by owners    OR   servicing / repair mechanics.  Fact of buying used.   Popping can be any bearing or a gear tooth going bad.

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That's the way it goes when buying a 20 year old boat, or house, car etc.  The drive has many components, just like an engine.   If a dealer puts in a new head gasket, new head, then your lower end fails, it's not the dealer's fault. Sounds like you've had several different failures of the outdrive.  

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Calling chap will get no where, 20 year old boat theres little for them to stand behind at this point.  The issue is service to the boat whether its lacking, not right, or maybe it has been done right they just haven't found the problem, going down that route will net you nothing.  Not sure at this point legally what you could do.  What proof do you have that they neglected the job or didn't do the job, going after a dealer or anybody that couldn't fix something the first time probably will not net you anything either unless you could prove they didn't do the work stated.  Not trying to sound like a downer but recourse seems slim.

If it were me I would find somebody else to look at it, doesn't have to be a dealer either.  You need to find a mechanic that will take the time to diagnose the issue, not rely on what a computer tells them or what one test tells them. 

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Sounds like a drive rebuild is in your future....yikes!

PS. At least the engine is running good!

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There are good and bad news.

Bad news - dealer will not help you if he didn't yet.

Good news - boat engines are pretty simple, and you can fix most of the things by yourself. Service manuals are available, tonns of info and video in internet, parts are available and inexpensive. Another good news with old boats - you can experiment and make mistakes before you do things right, but it will be your mistakes. That luxury cannot be afforded by new boat owners. And yet another good news - fixing boat by yourself is much faster and cheaper and quality much better in many cases than if you go with "professionals". With little time investment you will acquire knowledge which will give you peace of mind and save you thousands bucks in future. It worth it.

Use aftermarket parts - most of them not worse than oem, some are even superior to oem.

For sterndrive, if you will fill you need replacement, check http://www.sterndrive.cc

It might be cheaper than fixing old unit.

Another option - sell your boat on Spring, you will get back what you spent on it, and buy new one.

You should realize - you rely mostly on yourself when buying 20 years old boat.

Good luck.

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