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Modernizing the internals of an old ski boat

easyeasy Posts: 3 New Baller
New to the forums, did a search and couldn't find anything. Hope you guys can help me. I have a 99 Nautique 196 w/ the GT40. Perfect Pass shorted out and failed me in '02, never replaced, I'm on my third set of failed speedometers. Anyone ever attempt to fully update the internals of the boat? (motor/electronics, etc.) Zero off would be awesome or even a new and improved perfect pass. I talked to my Nautique dealer and they laughed at me, won't touch anything older than '05. While I would love a new boat it, I don't have an extra $100k laying around. So my question for the collective, is any of this possible or am I way off the mark? Thanks.


  • keithh2oskierkeithh2oskier Posts: 581 Crazy Baller
    @easy you can do searches about doing a repower/ZO conversion. Its really up to you if the cost of that upgrade is worth it to you. You could get a new GPS Perfect Pass that emulates ZO for $1800 ($1400 for the stargazer system and $400 for the Z-Box)
  • skimtbskimtb Posts: 293 Baller
    Assuming motor runs well. And rest of boat is worth keeping.

    If you “must” have ZO, there are options for that. Someone here can give $$$ estimate.

    Seeing how you be had been without speed control for 17 years, I would think you done need ZO, so I’d recommend a new stargazer PP system and you then can spend a few hundred bucks on non OEM gauges. Friend of mine put gauges on a 2000 196 not long ago.

    Other option would be to figure out what is wrong w your PP and try to piece it back together. GPS version would be nice though. Especially if you plan to keep boat.
  • JetsetrJetsetr Posts: 390 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited September 2019
    I updated my 1989 Brendella with GPS speedometer, Stargazer PP. It works great at my level of skiing. PCM 351 runs awesome, just turned 1000 hours on the boat.

    Do you REALLY need ZO? Do you REALLY want to yank a perfectly good engine to upgrade to a Zero Off
    EFI compatible powerplant? It’s going to be very expensive, but if that’s what YOU want and the Hull is in great condition go for it! Probably won’t recoup the investment if/when you sell but in the meantime you have a great boat.
  • JordanJordan Posts: 1,211 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @Jody_Seal can tell you whatès involved in a ZO upgrade
  • AndreAndre Posts: 1,315 Mega Baller
    edited September 2019
  • KillerKiller Posts: 401 ★★★★Quad Panda Award Recipient ★★★★
    No need for a speedometer if you upgrade to a new perfect pass as it is GPS based.

    Your boat came with airguide speedos which are NLA now I believe. They probably failed because the tubes weren't blown out during the winter. Otherwise will last a very long time.

    Find a new mechanic, the old boats aren't rocket science!

    Pretty straight forward update to new stargazer perfect pass system. You may be able to keep the servo motor attached to the throttle cable, but if it's original, might as well do the whole thing.

    You will need a new motor for Zero off.
  • easyeasy Posts: 3 New Baller
    Awesome. Thanks for all the replies. I have lived without the PP system for a long time but I do miss it when I have a non ski boat driver (seems to happen more often these days). I don't need the zero off but if there was a possibility I wouldn't rule it out. $1800 is a pretty easy number to stomach after being told buying a newer boat was my only option. My boat is in great shape, has sat in a covered hoist its entire life and only has 480 hours on it.
  • ClydesdaleClydesdale Posts: 43 Baller
    I upgraded my 03 malibu to pp stargazer zbox. Absolutely love it-I also ski behind ZO boats and as a 34mph amateur I can’t tell the difference...
  • ClydesdaleClydesdale Posts: 43 Baller
    Also, the folks a pp were VERY helpful. For some reason the system wasn’t quite right in my boat so their electronics guru modified a board and fedexed it to me free of charge without making me jump thru hoops....
  • DragoDrago Posts: 1,588 Mega Baller
    Buy @Bruce_Butterfield 's '97 Nautique if he still has it
    SR SL Judge & Driver (“a driver who is super late on the wheel and is out of sync”)
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 833 Mega Baller
    Zero off and re-powers aside, the folks at are great for sourcing older parts at reasonable costs.
  • easyeasy Posts: 3 New Baller
    I've learned more in this thread in 5 minutes then I have talking with local marinas in 3 weeks. Dang glad I found you guys. Thanks for all the help!
  • DWDW Posts: 2,115 Mega Baller
    @easy - since you note 'updated PP would be nice' a quick ROI comparing updating PP v adding ZO should answer that question quickly. Huge financial difference between the two options, latest PP being ~1/5 th the cost if not more. It seems like PP is doing thier best to simulate ZO as software updates have been rolled out, check some of the PP threads on this site for more detail.
    As for the dash, these boats are pretty simple so a dash update is very doable. There are several GPS speedos on the market, you could embark on a winter project of 'fixing' the Airguide(s) (which I still think are the 'best' speedo's due to the way the display reads) and since the senders are all automotive, a 4-1 or individual gauges are readily available.
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
    ZO is magic. I repowered my 79 American Skier to get ZO. Worth it!

    PP Classic is excellent (as long as you have a paddlewheel for tricks or wakeboarding and a switch with a skilled driver for slalom if you want tournament times). Stargazer sucks. Zbox is not ZO but lots of good tournament skiers use it effectively. You absolutely need a speed control.

    Tach driving feels awful. Speedo technology was superseded by speed controls - spend your money on PP or ZO not a fancy speedo.

    If your engine is bad, repower for ZO.

    If your engine is OK, rewire whatever has failed. Note that ammeters can cause strange problems - replace with a voltmeter and make sure the bypass connections are good. This solved all kinds of problems with my American Skier. Note that PP needs clean power and this gives quality power.

  • wilecoyotewilecoyote Posts: 191 Baller
    @eleeski this statement about ammeters is new to me. Can you elaborate?
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,138 Mega Baller
    He's right on about them. Nothing has an ammeter anymore.
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
    A lot of the electricity goes through the ammeter. Virtually everything the alternator puts out. The ammeter itself can fail to restrict the electricity. The connections also can corrode. Lots of failure modes for a critical circuit.

    I soldered the wires and did a waterproof heat shrink to bypass my ammeter after it failed. The new voltmeter works great and shows the alternator is keeping the battery charge up.

  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,138 Mega Baller
    @eleeski - not to mention you have added about 5 extra feet of wire between the alternator and the battery to allow the charging current to come up into the dash to the gauge and then to the battery.

    Ammeters are better gauges than voltmeters because you can be reading 14.8 volts but be discharging your battery, where as an ammeter will read negative amperage if there is a net backwards flow away from the battery. However at the cost of running all of your charging voltage through an inefficient circuit.

    There is a way to install an Ammeter using what's called a Shunt Resistor - which is basically just a small resistance that generates a very small amount of voltage drop and then a gauge that reading that voltage drop tells you how many amps are flowing through the resistor.
  • wilecoyotewilecoyote Posts: 191 Baller
    @eleeski I get ya now, I just might check my own out now, thanks for the heads up.
  • DsullyDsully Posts: 12 Baller
    This would be a nice upgrade to one of the Airguide Speedometers:
    Still would retain the "original" look, but it would be a GPS speedometer
    Then have the other upgraded to Perfect Pass or Zero Off.
  • JetsetrJetsetr Posts: 390 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Have a Faria GPS speedo on one side and the PP Stargazer on the other...looks very nice...
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