1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

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Joined: 02 Apr 2012, 23:28
Location: central Illinois

1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet (MV1850) rebuild

Post by Novicaine »

I have a 1997 Tracker 185 Pro Jet I bought off eBay a few years ago. It's got a Mercury Sportjet 95XR. It's 18' long, 50" bottom on the rear. Pretty much a flat bottom but has some "strakes" ?? on the bottom.

The guy who sold it claimed it ran good, but it didn't. Engine issues, worn impeller, beat up bottom -- it could barely get on plane IF you could get it to run long enough. I finally fixed the engine issues and put in new impeller and it'd get up on a plane, but only around 23 mph tops with the new impeller/wear ring and a LIGHT load.

The interior was decent, but carpet was getting ragged and you could tell the wood floor was getting creaky. I was never too fond of the interior -- this is a big boat that has very little usable space, and with a cooler and a couple people, can't even get on plane. I suspected water-logged foam. The console was loose, the wood floor probably rotted/beat up where the screws hold it down.

Also the jet intake is the lowest part of the boat -- just glancing off of a rock shatters the cast aluminum intake grate and Mercury is no longer selling replacements. I bought physically the last one Mercury had.

All the "options" were shot -- the trolling motor, both depth finders, the automatic anchors -- all old and broken.

Here's a side view of it:

The front:

Back of it:


Jet Intake:

Here's a shot of a big dent right in front of the inlet grate from the previous that I think is hurting the speed:

Then, last summer I got hung up on a sharp rock or metal fence post and produced this gash:

The bottom is pretty beat up in general as you can see from the long view of the above gash:

I couldn't decide what to do: Part it out and salvage the hull, try to sell it as a fixer upper to some sucker, or ... try to fix it into something that works for me.

I removed the gas tank and got it down to where I could access "the gash" and confirmed all the foam under the floor was water-logged. It had been out of the water since last summer, and if you squeezed the foam, water came out.

So I decided on trying to fix it -- I'm not sure this is a great plan, but it gives me a nice project to work on in my shop. I've rebuilt a smaller 12' jon boat before and enjoyed that project (still use that one while this one is down).

My plan is:
- Gut the interior, saving as much as possible to re-install with new carpet. This step is so I can flip the boat over to focus on the bottom. No foam or interior in the way of fixing the bottom, so I can weld, etc.
- Repair and strengthen and smooth the bottom as much as possible. Get rid of the 1.5" rails(?) that catch rocks. If this fails, sell the hull for scrap and part out the engine. I'm almost guessing that (with the thin bottom on this) this will be my stopping point.
- *If* I get the bottom fixed, add a layer of UHMW plastic to the bottom.
- Maybe add a small tunnel to lift the engine to prevent intake damage on rocks.
- Reinstall jet & engine and check performance -- if the repaired bottom and lighter weight interior go fast enough and gets on plane, then proceed to next step:
- Reinstall a minimal interior with more floor and interior room instead of all the compartments the old interior had. I'm thinking instead of the engine down in a hatch, have a doghouse around the engine. Move the controls a little more forward.

If anyone has faced a similar problem with a beat up bottom and had good or bad success, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Last edited by Novicaine on 08 Apr 2012, 11:40, edited 2 times in total.

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