Ok, this is a little different than most posts we have here on the blog. Almost everything I write about has something to do with our axles or Driveshafts but today I’m going to talk boats. Lets face it, if your reading this you more than likely have a bug for speed, and although I have several cars in the garage and driveway, boating has become sort of an escape for me and the family.
We live just north of Charlotte, and most don’t know there are 2 very large lakes in the area. I’m sure many of you have heard of Lake Norman, but we go to High Rock Lake on the other side of interstate 85. It has 350 miles of shore line and is home to some pretty fast boats and some great people. Early last summer while working on our dock my good friend’s and racing buddy Randy Hall and his wife Chris came by with there 25′ Baja Outlaw and after we talked for a while he left. Of coarse he opened the exhaust and was gone in a flash and while standing on the dock i was struck again with the fast boat bug (Thanks Randy)
Frankie and I first went with a 1999 Baja H2X with a fuel injected 502, a nice boat but a little small and it just didn’t hit the mark for me. I had recently seen a mid-cabin open bow boat over at a marina at Lake Norman and liked the layout. So the obsession started to find a mid-cabin open bow boat and see what it will do. We hunted high and low and found a Katchina Force in the Lake Havasu area of Arizona. The boat once had had a killer motor at one time with hydraulic steering, pyrometer and GPS speedo but had had an older Carburated 454 stuck in the boat. The price was right, so the deal was made and off we went.
So I start exploring options and found a Pro Charger for sale that will fit the 454. I have a few friends over at East coast Superchargers, so I sent it out to have it gone over. A friend John Betts stopped by and after speaking to him about how thin the top of the pistons were on the 454, I was getting the feeling that this was the wrong direction to take. So I make the mistake of calling Brian Jones of JMI marina over near the lake. Brian has raced boats professionally and has a great shop, he has maintained a few boats for us and I thought it would be good to talk the situation out. I’m sure you all have a friend like Brian. You know, the guys that makes you buy the thing that you really want to but need that push (like Thomas for you GTO/Camaro guys) so he tells me the boat should have the 496 (we know that already) but he goes on to warn me about boosting the 496 and tells me about this guy Ray from Raylar Engines and fever starts to take shape.
So I do the internet forum searches and realize that Ray is the go to guy with the 496 boat engines, and after a few good conversations the “good” motor I bought on eBay was on its way over to Raylar to have the 525 kit installed. Ray was extremely knowledgeable and great to talk with so we decided on the kit and the motor. Well, like any performance mod it was not just that simple. Seems some of the cylinders were down, so Ray called and said he would help us out and install some of there forged pistons and 4340 rods. Ray called a week or so later to tell me that the motor was done and being that we changed the pistons he was also able to use the bigger cam from his 106 kit. The engine was tested and ready for the boat.
So here it is almost Christmas and the boat is over at JMI getting the engine swap and a few other goodies. You know we will be out on the lake no matter what the temperature is, testing very soon and will have one big grin while freezing at the same time. Boats, cars, motorcycles, it doesn’t matter. We all have that go fast gene and will find the fix for this addiction. Thanks to Ray from Raylar for being a real gentleman to deal with. This is not his biggest build and certainly not his fastest but he treated it with as much care as if it was. So whats next? Brian tell me the Bravo drive may be the next issue? Who knows, maybe you will see DSS drivetrain parts for a boat after all…