Here we are at the end of the summer already. To quickly re-cap: I’ve done an insane amount of wrenching on these water vacuums and I definitely know the Yamaha inside and out. The Polaris is an incredibly frustrating machine and I definitely should have held out for 2 Yamahas, but it’s almost fixed.
1996 Yamaha WaveRaider 760
So I did the motor swap on the Yamaha WaveRaider leading into the summer. It ran pretty great through a lot of the summer and it’s a riot when it’s working right. I developed a fuel leak/loss of pressure over Labor Day so that was not fun, but it made it back to the dock un-assisted, and I’m pretty sure I jumped it clean out of the water once or twice - which is what matters. Fuel leak will be a very simple fix, the zip ties I used to reassemble (which is how it was built from the factory) aren’t tight enough. Swapping over to hose clamps. Easy. I may pull off the intake over the winter and replace the Reed Valves. This may help with it randomly stalling. Or it might be a waste of time, I’ll know in the Spring probably.
1996 Polaris SLT 780
This damn thing. So our first time out we had both skis in the water. It was the break in for the WaveRaider and the death of the Polaris. Full engine swap happened and it has been a huge, epic pain in the ass. Every step of the process is more difficult than the Yamaha. Had to re-wire, had to pull the impeller/pump to get the engine out, etc. I found a formed hose (basically a formed piece of heater hose, but it flows lake water through the exhaust to keep it cool) which isn’t available anywhere except 1 seller on ebay who wants over $100 for it. I had to fabricate a solution with some connectors for that challenge.
So, I got the engine fully installed, got it re-wired, everything done and I was ready for the test fire in the garage about a week and a half ago. Push the starter button - NOTHING. IT DID NOTHING. I’m sitting there going, oh no, what did I wire wrong. I’m going to have to through so many connections.... So I jumped the Starter Solenoid and it tried to run right away. Missed out on the 2nd to last Saturday of summer, but I got a new part in the mail. Hook it up, starter button works! Engine will start with some fuel poured into the 3 carbs, but won’t stay running. Missed the last day on the lake due to the fuel system. Going to do a carb rebuild, replace the fuel lines (maybe the reeds while I’m in there), and possibly the fuel pump before next summer.
So we rode both of them together...one time. I’ve learned a ton about how these things work and pulled off 2 full engine swaps solo over the spring/summer which is pretty awesome giving I’ve never worked on a PWC or a 2 stroke motor before buying these. I’m proud of my efforts and impressed with myself for taking on the challenge and not quitting (aka dropping it off at a marina to be repaired lol). All in with new motors, new tires and lights on the trailer, buying the skis themselves, and buying accessories (like a new safety key for the yamaha, new life jackets, fire extinguisher, etc) I’ve only spent about $3,000 to $3,500. Once I work out the kinks in these, they should be running great for years...should be...it’s a thing that goes in the water after all, so it’ll require constant work.
I can tell you I asked my 6.5 year old what his favorite thing about the summer was before he started 1st grade yesterday. His answer was - RIDING THE JET SKIS!!! I definitely agree with him.