Speed control options for 91 brendella

TayntonTaynton Posts: 43 Baller
Hi friends, I was looking into speed control options for my 91 ski brendella it has the 351 motor. It seems like there is a whole language I dont understand with these things so Ill start with what I was thinking.

I should also mention I am just starting to ski the course being a freeskiier my whole life Im currently doing the course 15 off @34 MPH and looking to improve next summer.

I currently have a ZR cruise control system that was used for older hot rods, it uses the rpm (measured on the driveshaft) to regulate the speed, it reads it 3x per second and will require some sort of killswitch to disengage it when thee throttle is backed off. (not a huge problem for me but a hurdle none-the-less) I have not installed it yet because of the complication of the kill switch and I fear 3x per second will be too laggy for slalom (I may be wrong about this) this would be my cheapest option and I have everything for it (total cost to me is less than $100)

the zero off seems to be the #1 choice but I think it requires fuel injection and throttle by wire if Im not mistaken so I don't think that is really an option.

Then there is perfect pass, seems like the way to go however If Im going to spend the $ I was hoping for something with gps instead of a paddlewheel, the other thing is do i go used or just buy new with this (any insight on which system or display to get would be helpful

Thanks Ballers!



  • drmadddrmadd Posts: 20 New Baller
    Have Perfect Pass on older 1989 Ski Supreme. Yes, carburetor issue, but works great. Call the Company direct. They were super helpful. I ski about the same behind the old boat as new ones. Frankly I almost prefer the older boats. Your boat is a sweet boat. I think it's a copy of the old Master Craft.
  • 503Kento503Kento Posts: 165 Baller
    I put a Perfect Pass Stargazer (gps based) with ZBox (zero off emulator) in my 1985 Centurion and it worked great. Yes, not the response that zero off provides but a great retrofit for older carbed boats. The guys at Perfect Pass are super helpful and it was very easy to install.
    Get high, get fast, and do some good work
  • MastercrafterMastercrafter Posts: 388 Crazy Baller
    Perfect pass is GPS based and the best option for a non-Ennovation Controls ECU boat. Add Z box if you desire. Install took me about 1.5 hours the first go, and when I did it on a second boat, less than an hour. Simply system, easy to setup and use.

    Used systems are hard to find and piece together. You may be able to, but if not, buy once, cry once, and watch your skiing improve with consistent speed through the course.
  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 1,008 Crazy Baller
    edited January 18
    Yes per others- perfect pass for older boats is great. Stargazer will work great in your boat. A ski buddy has a gorgeous dark blue 92 Brendella short line. Great boats. Small but really fun. There is currently a complete perfect pass digital pro (06) on ski it again which will also work fine for rec course skiing. It's paddle wheel vs GPS but can also grab it for a lot less to get started and upgrade later if you choose.
  • DeanoskiDeanoski Posts: 1,134 Crazy Baller
    perfect pass Z box
  • GaryJanzigGaryJanzig Posts: 197 Baller
    edited January 18
    I have a 1994 Ski Nautique with Perfect Pass Stargazer 3 event 9.2 with the ZBox. I have the paddle wheel left over from an earlier version. It runs off of GPS entirely now. It will really bring your boat back to life. I am replacing the remaining Airguide speedometer with a Faria GPS from skiboatpartsonline.com. I use that for manual driving when pulling barefooters. Trick skiing on Perfect Pass is what sold me on it years ago. Get the newest version, you will love it!
  • LoopSkiLoopSki Posts: 965 Mega Baller
    That first option seems scandalous!!
  • TayntonTaynton Posts: 43 Baller
    Thanks for the responses! Its a big help, yes @LoopSki it does seem scandalous but the system is almost the same as the older PP just designed with a different purpose Im confident I could make it work, however at this point I think the extra $ for PP will be worth it as I will be skiing course almost exclusively (bought a place on lake with 2 courses). plus the GPS makes it actually accurate.
  • ZmanZman Posts: 1,956 Mega Baller
    My ski partner has an older single line display PP system on his 89 Ski Brendella, it works great.
  • DWDW Posts: 2,516 Mega Baller
    @Taynton - Perfect Pass will be your best choice for that particular boat. There are several iterations of PP, starting with PP classic which uses a paddlewheel to measure over water surface speed* although speed is actually calibrated to engine RPM. PP classic, depending on generation comes with either a single or multi line dash display. PP classic is no longer supported by PP although you may find one used although very rare. PP stargazer uses GPS to engage the system to a GPS derived speed v ground (*and not water if it is flowing ie: river). If you go the Stargazer route, make sure to get the latest software as it functions much better than older software versions (several older threads on this site documenting how to calibrate to get good speed lock in times and reduce speed overshoot issues).

    FYI - the GPS is not the item that makes a PP controlled boat accurate, the older paddlewheel version will be just as accurate if properly calibrated (setting baselines & speed to RPM calibrations, which are not difficult to do). GPS systems also require baseline setups to accurately control the speed. The GPS system eliminates ensuring some of the skier, crew and wind parameters are correct that are part of PP classic setup and eliminates the paddlewheel (although it is really not needed for slalom as the system operates off RPM) and that ever so popular drilling a 1" diameter hole in the bottom of your boat.

    You will really like having a good speed control system, it will be some of the best $ you can spend to enhance the experience. It earned its nickname of marriage saver if your significant other is a driver.
  • TayntonTaynton Posts: 43 Baller
    Looks like ill be going with a new perfect pass system, might have to hold off on the zbox for now but I will be going forward with that in the future most likely.

    The next upgrade for the boat will be some added HP, from the research I've done it appears an aftermarket intake manifold would be the best bang for the buck and a good place to start and Im hoping to find some malibu style turn down exhaust tips to reduce the noise as I plan on skiing early and don't want to annoy my neighbours. If anyone has other suggestions or sources for parts for improving the performance of this old girl please let me know! thanks again for the responses!
  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 1,008 Crazy Baller
    @Taynton - how many hours? Unless it's very tired the 351's in those little boats deliver plenty of power for the job. Having said that there's no such thing as too much power either. My ski buddy's 92 is great.
  • MastercrafterMastercrafter Posts: 388 Crazy Baller
    Edelbrock Performer intake and GT40-P heads are a great upgrade to 351's. I've heard they add about 40hp but could be way off on that. If you are running points, switch to a Pertronix electric ignition distributor for better starting and smooth performance.
  • TayntonTaynton Posts: 43 Baller
    I think the boat has around 800 hrs and yes it does have plenty of power and it runs really well, but I just cant help myself lol I don't like stock things. Not sure heads are in the cards as I was only hoping for minor improvements (15 to 25 HP). I was thinking the intake and possibly a carb.. from my limited understanding of boats and HP, more HP will result in a stronger more consistent pull thru the course, but I may be wrong about that. The courses I would be skiing have quite a short run up so anything helps. I will look into the ignition thanks for that @Mastercrafter as the spark plugs and wires are getting replaced in the spring for sure.
  • AndreAndre Posts: 1,818 Mega Baller
    What @Mastercrafter said.Best bang for your buck upgrade for an older 351.Some guys were lucky hitting scrap yard for old V8 Explorer heads.
    My ski finish in 16.95 ...but my ass is out of tolerance!
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 6,112 Mega Baller
    No help here...but love your boat---really sharp classic there.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • teammalibuteammalibu Posts: 1,213 Mega Baller
    @Taynton I sent you a msg.
    Mike Erb Cedar Ridge Canton Miss.
    Horton is my hero
  • TayntonTaynton Posts: 43 Baller
    @Andre any idea what years explorer heads work? @6balls thanks! Im really happy with it, I never skiied or really even saw a Brendella before I bought this one and its a great tow for sure, Im going to do my best to restore and massage it into a respectable ski boat (most of the other skiiers on the lake are are much newer equipment) not that I care really but if I gotta have an old boat I want it to be prime.
  • ReallyGottaSkiReallyGottaSki Posts: 316 Crazy Baller
    If you do heads, do a thoughtfully chosen cam as well you wont regret
  • Kevin89MCKevin89MC Posts: 35 Baller
    edited January 27
    I replaced the stock heads (E7 maybe?) on my 1989 Prostar 351 (1:1 trans) with GT40 heads. No other improvements (a little poor at the time) and it definitely made the boat much more skiable. Felt noticeably more powerful and I gained about 3-4 mph top end too. With the old heads I always thought my boat skied "hard" compared to others. After the heads, it was much "softer" in a good way. Realized I was probably slowing it down at the pull, even with Perfect Pass classic, so it would hit me around the buoy as it sped back up. I'm not a big guy or a shortline skier, so it would have been worse if so. There are some great posts on Teamtalk (Mastercraft's site) about this, and mine is there too :)
    Find a mid-90's Explorer with the 302 and pull the heads. The posts on Teamtalk will have what years work, and there are a few options on heads IIRC. Took me an afternoon at the local u-pull junkyard, cost like $40 I think. Get them cleaned up, get the headbolt holes drilled out, get a gasket set from ski-dim, spend a few weekends wrenching and enjoy the cheap power! You can also buy them new if you want instead. Mine already had electronic ignition conversion, I'd recommend that too. If you can afford it, add on a new intake and cam and you'll have great power. Good luck!
  • TayntonTaynton Posts: 43 Baller
    thanks @Kevin89MC ok well after diving into the 351 mods rabbit hole it looks like Ill try and find some of those heads and see if I cant put this thing together before spring. hoping to keep the budget less than 2500 (cdn) for all the upgrades but we will see what I can source. seems like with the heads and intake I should see close to 40 HP which is a huge gain and definitely worth the effort, maybe save some fuel and probably pull a lot better too.
  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 1,008 Crazy Baller
    Should be able to do that for a LOT less than $2500!
  • TayntonTaynton Posts: 43 Baller
    @MDB1056 sorry, I should have mentioned that includes the 1500 for perfect pass so I think with the intake and heads I should just squeak in there, would be nice to do a cam at the same time but I don't think it will fit the budget. The original interior is doing well but with the amount of use I'm planning on this summer I think it will need to be replaced next winter so I'm trying to prepare for that as well. So the question is how much $ do you sink into an old ski boat before you draw the line and upgrade lol boat has 800 hours and I'm doing about 100 per season so I'm guessing a re-power or rebuild will be in the cards in around 4 years, still cheaper than an upgrade but I'm still not sure where to draw the line. I guess we will have to see how it skiis with the PP and the extra power..
  • ALPJrALPJr Posts: 2,840 Mega Baller
    An awesome, beautiful. classic boat imo. If it’s running well and if it’s needed I’d settle with a complete tune up, and other mechanical maintenance as needed. If my memory serves me well those boats were fairly light, and among the quickest and turqiest of its time. Again just my opinion, for new performance upgrades I’d only think about Perfect Pass Stargazer, and a new cnc prop. Have fun with whatever you end up doing!!!
  • TayntonTaynton Posts: 43 Baller
    @ALPJr Thanks for the insight! I really appreciate everyone's opinions and contributions! Yes the boat is very light and has plenty of HP but I really enjoy tasteful modifications and simple improvements over stock performance. I have personally seen the benefits of adding HP to an older direct drive boat in how it skiis and performs. I have been building motors and modifying engines for a long time so I am comfortable and confident in my ability to execute simple upgrades without too much trouble. These mods only take the 351 up to the HP numbers of the later factory engines so I'm not too worried about losing engine reliability or longevity. I already have the CNC prop and stargazer will be on order before the ice is off the lake! Thanks again!
  • bassfooterbassfooter Posts: 164 Baller
    @Taynton - I have a complete Perfect Pass Stargazer setup, including Z-Box. Version 9.1 software. Send me a private message if you're interested.
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