Decision Time Between 350 Sundancer and 400 Express Cruiser

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ASDF, Nov 13, 2017 at 8:42 AM.

  1. ASDF

    ASDF Member

    34
    Sep 18, 2017
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Well, I had been looking at a 370 sundancer that I thought might be a deal and felt the need to investigate it further despite the urging of many including Mr. Webster to walk away... well, as expected it wasn't worth it and I should have listened. Lesson learned. The intake manifold was rusted so bad it was close to rusting through plus the generator wouldn't run anything, bad risers/manifolds. Anyway, too many major issues. So now I'm on to my two backup boats and am looking for input on these boats in general as well as what you see in the engine rooms. Both are freshwater boats and in better condition than the 96 370 I looked at.
    Boat #1 is a 1993 400 Express with 746 hrs on freshwater lake in TX. Has had many updates done and is in good condition, cockpit seats look like new plus he's put seadek down. A survey from a few years ago found it in above average condition. Main issue was an oily sludge in the coolant (owner said he fixed this by replacing the hoses since they were restricting the flow and this was the cause of the issue. Said there hasn't been an issue since he fixed it.) Replaced water pumps, starters, points and electrical on generator, new ice maker, new bellow in toilet, redid the helm with new dash panels, gauges, steering wheel, newer tvs and stereo. Needs bottom paint.

    Boat #2 - 1990 350 Sundancer on great lakes with 1150 hrs on one motor and 300hrs on rebuilt motor. Generator hasn't been run in 7 years but it ran when owner bought it. I'm guessing that could be expensive to get running. Missing transom bench seat. Interior has been updated, waxed every year, shrink wrapped in winter, bottom painted every year, new battery charger, new fridge, new ice maker, dripless shafts, carbs rebuilt, new AC, new hot water heater, new plugs/wires. I can tell owner took care of it.

    Boat #1 is $10k more than Boat #2. Here are pictures of engine rooms:

    Boat #1, 400 Express Cruiser
    upload_2017-11-13_7-36-8.png
    upload_2017-11-13_7-36-21.png
    upload_2017-11-13_7-36-35.png
    upload_2017-11-13_7-36-48.png


    Boat #2 - 350 Sundancer
    IMG_0721.jpeg

    IMG_07144.jpeg
    IMG_0713.jpeg
     
  2. northern

    northern Active Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    West coast Vancouver to Alaska
    380 Aft Cabin 1989 GPS and Charts by Nobeltec
    Twin 454 strait shaft
    Based on my experience looking for a newer boat starting in 2003 and ending in 2005. I did as you and first looked and assumed I knew what I was looking at. When I got serious about a boat I would hirer a certified Marine Surveyor. It looks like you should consider doing that. Pick the boat you want and get it surveyed. At that point you will know what you have. If not acceptable move on to the next. My last survey for insurance was $700US. It was the best survey I have ever seen. He pointed out items all previous surveyors missed. If I was a buyer I would have bought my boat after the survey as the fixes were minor but important.
    Generator on first boat looks shiny on the second looks dirty. Quicksilver generators are hard to get some parts for. Boat one looks like the engine heat exchangers have never been service and on the other they look slightly banged up and one is missing a tie down clamp and there is an oil absorbent pad in front of the engine. Both engine rooms look they need a good scrub. We have 2,900 hours on our 454s and they still seem good.
     
  3. bahamabreisus

    bahamabreisus Active Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Hampstead NC
    500 dancer, previous 420,390,300 dancers
    detriot 8v92
    Very few parts available for Quicksilver gens. My only comment.
     
  4. RollerCoastr

    RollerCoastr Active Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    Cedar Point, OH / Miami, FL / MacRay Harbor, MI
    1997 400DA
    340HP 7.4 Mercruiser Bluewaters
    Garmin 8212, 741 24HD, Intellian I2
    1999 280BR
    Twin 250HP Merc 350 Alpha Ones
    Go for the bigger, newer one. :)
     
  5. ASDF

    ASDF Member

    34
    Sep 18, 2017
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Ha, good call RollerCoastr... that's been in the back of my mind. Thanks Northern, I wouldn't have spotted that oil pad and yes I'm going to do a survey I'm just trying to figure my best shot at the right boat before moving forward with $1,000+ worth of survey/haul out, etc.
    Bahama - that's what I've learned recently on the quicksilver gen.. almost starting to think I'd need to assume a full gen replacement on the 350 if it hasn't been started in 7 years.
     
  6. RollerCoastr

    RollerCoastr Active Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    Cedar Point, OH / Miami, FL / MacRay Harbor, MI
    1997 400DA
    340HP 7.4 Mercruiser Bluewaters
    Garmin 8212, 741 24HD, Intellian I2
    1999 280BR
    Twin 250HP Merc 350 Alpha Ones
    I was partly-kidding, but we know that 95% of boaters live by "bigger and newer"!

    On a serious note, if you haven't piloted an EC, make that happen. Plenty of Sundancers run great, including mine, but until you can experience the "levitation" of a straight-shaft EC, AJ or SSS getting on plane...
     
  7. northern

    northern Active Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    West coast Vancouver to Alaska
    380 Aft Cabin 1989 GPS and Charts by Nobeltec
    Twin 454 strait shaft
    New gas generator installed quote for my boat was 8,000US.
    With Quicksilver engine parts are Nissan and you can get them at most auto places. Heat exchanger parts are hard to find and very expensive. Ours has 1,500 hours and still works well but the heat exchanger is close to needing replacing.
     
  8. ASDF

    ASDF Member

    34
    Sep 18, 2017
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Thanks Northern, I had seen someone else quoted $8,500 for a westerbeke, I think it was 4.5 but not sure, so I guess I have my range now. The QS gen on the 400 express has 254 hrs and 3 years ago during survey it ran everything well, so less risk on that one but that boat is also $10k more. I just noticed you said you have almost 3,000 hrs on your 454s.. were they rebuilt at some point?
     
  9. northern

    northern Active Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    West coast Vancouver to Alaska
    380 Aft Cabin 1989 GPS and Charts by Nobeltec
    Twin 454 strait shaft
    Engines are original to boat. Never had any work done on them. Change oil at 100+ hours used SAE 40. Do not use oil between changes. Boat goes as fast as it did originally. Run it at 1,400 RPM most of the time. Changed plugs a few times and ignition wires once. Change rotor and rotor cap every 500 hours. I have been told many times these engines need heads at 1000 hours and rebuild at 1500. But those people also run them at 3,200 to 3,600 RPM most of the time. We are retired so go slow. We put on average 200 hours a year. Some times 300. With 254 hours on generator you are probably good for another 1500. You need to replace the timing belt at 1,000 when you do that change the tensioner and anti freeze engine pump. The raw water pump is off the shelf.
     
  10. Alegria

    Alegria Active Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Lancaster,PA Boat: -Sue Creek, Middle River, MD
    2000 410 DA
    3126 CAT
    I think the 400 ER looks a bit better then the 350. I would be more concerned with structural survey and wet spots in the deck and hull. The layouts are completely different. If you can live with either one I would take the 400...

    My $0.02... I like spending other people's money!
     
  11. hottoddie

    hottoddie Member

    832
    Jan 11, 2012
    Boston/Cape Cod
    1986 Sea Ray 390 Express
    Garmin 4212 Chartplotter
    Garmin 24 HD Radar
    Garmin GSD 22 Sounder
    Garm
    454 Crusaders
    Based on the available information the choice is easy. The 400EC is clearly the better buy.
     
  12. Creekwood

    Creekwood Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 26, 2009
    Oakville and Georgian Bay, Ontario
    '97 330 Sundancer
    2X 454 w/ vDrives
    I don't like the explanation of oil in the coolant in the 400ec. The hose restriction explanation doesn't make sense.
     
  13. bbwhitejr

    bbwhitejr Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    Apr 14, 2013
    Lake Lanier GA
    2007 44DB
    Cummins QSC 8.3s
    Agree that the explanation does not make sense. I had a Silverado 2500HD that had oil in the coolant. There was a pinhole in the oil cooler. Since the oil pressure is more than the coolant pressure... When the pinhole turned into a "big" hole, all of the oil was pumped into the coolant. What a mess that was....

    Bennett
     
  14. ASDF

    ASDF Member

    34
    Sep 18, 2017
    Boatless
    Boatless
    yeah that explanation seemed a little off though he did say he flushed the coolant, replaced the hoses and hasn't had an issue since then. The survey (using same surveyor that did the boat 3 years ago) is tuesday of next week. He's the one that noted the oily sludge so he's going to investigate that one again. The rest of the stuff from 3 years ago was all minor and some safety related like old CO2, old fire extinghishers, batteries not secured, a small oil leak at one of the spark plugs. The camper canvas needs one place stitched up and the isinglass cleaned plus it needs a bottom paint (has it cleaned by diver twice a year). He put hydro turf on the deck and swim platform, redid interior uphostery with mocha vinly, put wood on the floors, flat screen tvs, new stereo system, updated dash, steering wheel, gauges, etc, lots of updates. Generator runs well. Hoping no big issues come up from survey.
     
  15. ASDF

    ASDF Member

    34
    Sep 18, 2017
    Boatless
    Boatless
    The actual text read: Coolant level below normal in both port and starboard engines. Coolant reservoir on the port engine appears to have an oily sludge mixture inside the tank and the starboard side is fairly dirty as well.
    ALSO
    There was evidence of a coolant leak on the port side engine as coolant was observed on top of the carb manifold and the coolant reservoir was empty.
     
  16. Creekwood

    Creekwood Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 26, 2009
    Oakville and Georgian Bay, Ontario
    '97 330 Sundancer
    2X 454 w/ vDrives
    The owner has not properly maintained and repaired the boat. I suspect these are tips of the iceberg. Tread very carefully. I think you may be looking at a pig with hot pink lipstick.
     
  17. ASDF

    ASDF Member

    34
    Sep 18, 2017
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Is that because of the oily sludge in the coolant reservoir (and them both being low) or everything in general?
     
  18. bbwhitejr

    bbwhitejr Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    Apr 14, 2013
    Lake Lanier GA
    2007 44DB
    Cummins QSC 8.3s
    Just an FYI...oil in the coolant can also be a head gasket I think.

    Bennett
     
  19. Creekwood

    Creekwood Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 26, 2009
    Oakville and Georgian Bay, Ontario
    '97 330 Sundancer
    2X 454 w/ vDrives
    Sorry, I was not clear what I meant. A good boat owner fixes things properly and promptly and has service records for everything. Engine coolant levels dropping indicates a problem. It might be simple (but a few $100) like a head gasket, or it might be something more significant. But neglecting something like that could result in bigger issues. But the bigger concern is what it indicates about the owners approach to maintaining the boat. Your explanation you got about the "fix" did not make sense and suggests to me that the owner was told about the problem, but decided not to fix it. I may be wrong, but "my spider sense is tingling".
     
  20. ASDF

    ASDF Member

    34
    Sep 18, 2017
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Ahhh, I gotcha.. yeah that was in the back of my mind. It was the owner before the current owner that let it get so low.. though it doesn't really matter which owner it was I guess. The current owner had it fixed along with other issues from the survey by his marina. I'm waiting on receipts from him showing that this was done. Planning a compression test too, so we'll see.
     

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