Re-Power 2003 Project
All photos are thumbnails to speed load time


The Beginning

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Pulled Mid-Oct 02

Motors out Oct 02

Motors Unloaded  Bruce B.
Re-powering my vessel was not an option, it was a must do!  The port engine was beginning to gulp oil like it was going out of style.  Also, a faint rod knock could be detected.  Low oil pressure of 10 to 15 pounds at a troll meant these motors needed to be replaced.

8000 hours of use and 16 seasons on Lakes Erie, Huron and Michigan was the service from the original engines.  My motors are GM 350 with Crusader doing the change from automotive to a marine application.  During the total duty of about 15000 hours (both engines combined) I only had to replace 2 water pumps, one fuel pump, raw water pump impellers, a shaft bearing and one starter.  Seasonal tune-ups and changing my oil about every 50 hours of use is how I made these motors last so long.

We pulled the Crusaders last mid-October with the help of John Johnson and the ever popular, Warren Knapp (aka "Dottie K").  Bruce B. from Ludington offered his excellent mechanical skills to get my on the right road to re-assembly.  I went the route of re-manufactured long blocks from Pro Power Marine, because of the 2 year unlimited warranty they offered.  My cost on the two new long blocks was in the neighborhood of $4000, including freight.

I replaced the transmission seals, alternators, starters, cushion plate, water pumps, fuel pumps, belts, exhaust hoses, gas lines, water hoses and a bunch of other nickel-dime things that I probably forgot to mention.


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Bottom Paint Before Bottom Paint After Lifted Off Trailer Getting Splashed!
John Johnson and myself re-installed the motors on 4/3/03, then we got whacked with a ice storm.  Being pressed for time, I called Dick Stehle at Cherokee Boats and had the factory finish what we couldn't do on account of the extremely nasty weather.

While the boat was at Cherokee in Kaleva, Michigan (10 miles from my house) I decided to have the 15 seasons of bottom paint blasted off and have the 3 step water-tight epoxy bottom paint done at the factory.  

I then took the boat over to Charlie Lott's Garage in Wellston, Michigan on 4/11/03 to pre-prime the oil pressure before the initial firing of the new motors.  Charlie Lott  is a rare breed, being a multi-talented wrench (231) 848-4837.  Snowmobiles, outboards, I/Os, automotive and marine motors pose no problem for his vast and well-known skills.  After an unexpected "minor" problem with the oil splash tray the 350 Crusaders were purring like a contented house cat in short order.  John Johnson and myself spent the next day getting the Cherokee ready for the 2003 season.  General cleaning was needed and the tackle had to be readied.

I hauled the boat into Manistee for the inaugural splash of 2003 on 4/14/03, but the boat-hoist was tied up on another project.  Well, to make a long story short we finally got the vessel wet on 4/15/03 and spent most of the day breaking in the new motors.  I put a couple of hours on the motors and kept the rpm's below two grand, then I changed the oil and got the boat up to speed and jumped on plane like it did when it was new.  The new motors have about 50 to 55 pounds of oil pressure at 2800 rpms and about 40 pounds at trolling speed of 700 rpms.

Finished Product

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Ice on Manistee's south  pier 4/15/03  Bill & Warren
Conclusion 2003
This is the part where I suck-up big-time to all who have lent a helping hand in this project.  I guess the wonderful thing about our sport of Great Lakes fishing is the folks you meet along the way and God has blessed me with some of the finest friends any man could ask for.  First off, John Johnson was there from start to finish....many thanks!  Warren Knapp was another who helped last October and this April for the beginning and finishing touches.

Bruce B. from Ludington was a tremendous mentor in the re-assembly of the first long block.  Bob Hicks, Capt. Len Mitchell and Secondwind John all were in on various parts of the re-assembly.  Capt. Bill Sweet was a lifesaver on the completion part.  Mike from Manistee Auto Electric assistance was instrumental in improving the charging system.

A large special thanks to Charlie Lott and his buddy with the boom truck to fix the "minor" problem.  I guess another unsung hero is Dick Stehle the designer and constant father of all Cherokee's he's built.

Without the support of the above group of folks my job would have been a lot tougher than it was.  I like the fact that I'm a hands on person and always will remember what my grandfather said, "if you want something done right, you do it yourself."  I have gained huge knowledge base through this project.  Oh, yeah, total cost of everything including the custom epoxy bottom paint?  Around $7000 bucks for a new boat with many seasons of hopefully............ trouble free service ahead of me!

P.S.  "minor" problem meant we had to pull and re-install the port motor.