Tips on buying 1998 180 Bow Rider

Discussion in 'Sport Boats' started by qflyer, Dec 14, 2016.

  1. qflyer

    qflyer Member

    Jun 5, 2014
    United States
    280 SS
    Twin Merc 350 MPI, Bravo I
    Recently sold a 280SS to buy a lot on the lake. Had no real plans to buy another boat for a year or two while I build a house, but a very nice looking 1998 Sea Ray 180 just listed on a local classified page. Two owner boat, but current owner has had it less than a year. Claims he's selling to buy a bigger wake boat. No hour meter. I'm going to look at it on Friday. I've owned an 06 220 Select and an 01 280 Sun Sport, so I know the basics of what to look/listen for.

    I'm not familiar with the 3.0 at all, nor am I familiar with the Alpha outdrive. It looks like the boat is carpeted (glued in?) Anything to look at with that? The boat is winterized, but the seller is willing to take it out on the lake for a full trial. WOT RPM 4600-4800? It's a simple 18' boat, so there can't be that much to look at. Any common problems with this model? Anything specific I should focus on?

    Thanks for any tips/knowledge!
  2. BillK2632

    BillK2632 Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jun 25, 2009
    Lake Norman, NC
    2014 Cobalt R5
    Volvo Penta V8-300 DP
    Really not a whole lot to go wrong on that boat. The entire hull should be solid fiberglass. There is some wood in the transom I believe, so check that, if you see any weeping around the transom assebmly or if there is a transducer mounted and the boat spends much time in the water that would be something to look at closely - pull a mounting screw out from the transducer and you will find out if there is a water problem.. There might be one section of the floor that is wood - the removable peice over the fuel tank. I know in my 185 that is encapsulated wood, so if the boat was used for watersports and the carpet stayed wet a lot could be a problem - but an easy one to fix.

    As far as the 3.0 / Alpha I, it's a solid performer. If it has been in salt water check for the normal exhaust manifold riser issues. As far as the outdrive itself, inspect the bellows best you can and find out last time the water pump impeller was replaced. A look at the gear lube bottle will give you an idea of the maintenance there.

    It's usually pretty obvious with small boats, if they have been left in the water or outdoors and not cared for, it shows right away. If it doesn't look clean and maintained, you can figure the mechanical maintenance was not done either.

    If you are uncomfortable assessing the condition of the boat, I would recommend finding a mechanic to inspect it for you - some surveyors offer an inspection type service for small boats where a full blown survey is overkill.

    Good luck, for a small bowrider you can beat the smaller SeaRays. My little 185 has been a great boat.
  3. Leardriver

    Leardriver Active Member

    May 24, 2016
    Denver, CO
    2004 270 Sundeck 8.1 Bravo III
    5.0, 5.7, 6.2 8.1 Bravo III over the years
    I suspect that the size and rough ride will be a turn off for you after the bigger boats that you have had. The tiny engine is an underachiever. The evaluation of the boat itself is all about condition.
  4. blaster

    blaster Well-Known Member

    May 23, 2011
    potomac river
    2010 sea ray 205 sport
    F-250 CCLB 6.2 4x4 3.73 rear.
    Mercruiser 4.3 mpi alpha 1.62
    That's one of the best riding boats in its class. My 2001 180br had all fiberglass with carpet glued on. Never had any problems. Those era Sea Rays are built solid. I'm sure you understand it won't feel good in a 2' chop.

    The 3.0 is not fast but propped correctly it will do whatever you want. 39-41 mph is what to expect running wide open. That was with the 21" aluminum at 4800 rpm.

    As far as maintenance and parts availability, you're good to go.
  5. Lazy Daze

    Lazy Daze Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 21, 2009
    No, nothing specific to look at other than what you likely already know. When that boat was being produced, it was the best selling boat in America for good reason. Hour meter wasn't included until 2001 (possibly some late '00's). 4,400 - 4,800RPM max - I'd like to see it right at the top end with only one person. A compression test would be nice, if possible. Sea trial is great. When I had mine, my top speed was 46mph (GPS) with a 23" prop. Most will have the 21" and I consistently ran about 43/44 with the 21" on every one I've been on. With two adults in the boat, I could pull two adults out of the water on two skiis (each) or one on a single. Really, it's just a great little all-around boat. If you wanted something with more power then look for a 185 from the same era as they came standard with the V-6 and weren't all that much bigger.

    Let me sum it up this way... I absolutely love getting '98-'01 180BR's on a trade. VERY easy to resell. Makes the whole trade/new product sale process very simple. In and out and everyone is happy.
  6. qflyer

    qflyer Member

    Jun 5, 2014
    United States
    280 SS
    Twin Merc 350 MPI, Bravo I
    Sounds like no model-specific issues to be worried about.

    Definitely not expecting it to be as comfortable/nice as the 280. Wasn't even really looking for a boat, but when this one popped up at a really good price I figured it would be a fun boat to putt around the lake on. It'll almost always be just me, wife, and toddler, so I think it'll be fine for a year or two.

    Thanks y'all!

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