I took care of the thru-hull fittings and other large remaining items last week, so we dropped the boat in the water for the first time on Friday.
It’s a really big boat, and getting it off the trailer in the water, with no experience, was a bit interesting. We went on a Friday afternoon, so it was almost dead when we arrived, and we had the ramp to ourselves. The ramp we launched at didn’t have a dock, so I ended up wading through the water to board the boat and back it off the trailer. Now that I’ve seen the same launch area from the water, I found that there is a dock around the bend with a staircase leading up to the parking lot, so I’ll use that in the future. When it broke free of the trailer, wind start pushing me in a direction I didn’t want to go and the shallow water alarm on the depth finder started complaining, so it was a little stressful while I figured out the best way to address the situation. For a moment I questioned what I had gotten myself into, but by the time we went back to the ramp to load back onto the trailer a few hours later, I was comfortable at the helm. To leave, we left it at the dock, backed the truck down the ramp, got back on the boat, and put it on the trailer. Getting it back on went smoother than getting it off, because we had a little more idea what we were doing.
The boat didn’t take on any water and didn’t stall, but I took notice that neither the speedometer or engine temperature gauge were working. We idled the engine for a good three hours or so, and made several passes across the lake along with several turns and other maneuvers to get an idea of how it handled. The trim tabs weren’t working and were stuck in the down position. My GPS logged a top speed of 32mph, when we should be able to get about 40mph with the prop I chose. It seemed to have plenty of power, just the top speed came up a little short.
When we got it home I started diagnosing the various issues I had found. The trim tabs were just low on fluid, I filled them up and they’re now working. The fluid level hasn’t dropped after a couple days of sitting so it doesn’t appear that there is a leak. The speedometer has a tube that runs to the back of the boat where a little plastic pickup sits, and that pickup is cracked and broken. I wasn’t sure what it was for when we were painting, so I left it alone. I pulled the hose off and shot some compressed air through it and the gauge moved, so I ordered a new sending unit for $10 off Amazon. I pulled the engine temperature sending unit lead off the sender and ground it out, and the gauge pinned to hot, so I ordered a new sending unit. At the same time, I decided to order a thermostat and new gasket for the housing. When they arrived I pulled the housing and found that the old thermostat was rusted open, and rusted into the housing, and I had to stab it with a screwdriver and tear it into pieces to get it out. Once I put it all back together, I idled the engine for a while and saw it held a constant 160F on the gauge, where it should be. I discovered some hoses that are going to need replacement soon, and Volvo is proud enough of them to charge >$200 for molded rubber hoses.
I replaced the spark plugs and found that the old ones weren’t properly gapped. Additionally, they show that the engine has been running lean, and I discovered leaky valve covers. Something to address in the future, but not now. After replacing the plugs the engine runs smoother, and I ordered a new rotor and distributor to install today. Hopefully between the ignition tune-up, thermostat replacement so it can get to normal operating temperature, and the trim tabs working, I’ve found the missing 7-8mph I’m looking for.