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  1. #1
    Gold Member Gold Member sprink58's Avatar
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    1979 Formula 255 Liberator...My 4th Formula
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    Upgrade from No 1/Alpha to Bravo

    In making long range plans for the build up/restoration of my Formula 255 Liberator, I have come to the realization that "power to the water" will always be limited by the Alpha drives. The logical move is to stay with my current 260~300 HP 350 Chevy set up but make the change to Bravo drives.

    On the surface...I know that I have to replace the gimbal/transom assembly as well as the drives, the coupler, the flywheel?,add the raw water pump cooling set up and possibly go to the closed cooling set up.

    Is there anything else that I am missing that is obvious? Is the transom opening the same?

    I am lucky being in South Florida where used parts are plentiful and I see used gimbal/transom assemblies for sale regularly. Is the gimbal/transom assembly the same for Bravo 1, Bravo 2 & Bravo 3? I obviously know what makes up a Bravo 3 but I am curious as to the difference between a Bravo 1 & a Bravo 2. Will a Bravo 1/Bravo 2 reliably handle 450~500 HP? How about Bravo 3?

    Is it realistic to think that I can put twin Bravo 1 or Bravo 2s, A~Z in my boat by shopping the equipment (used)...for around $4k~$5k? Based on what I have seen for sale ...it seems possible but having not done it...I don't know.

    I know that the design of this hull with 750~1000 HP will always be limited to a max of about 75 MPH...which is about as fast as I would want to run it anyway. I would like to be able to run 60~65 MPH comfortably for long periods of time with out pushing the limits of the power. I'm thinking strong 383s or LS-1s.

    All thoughts and suggestions are welcomed.

  2. #2
    Lakeside Restorations.com Commercial Member LAKESIDE RESTORATIONS's Avatar
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    As far as for the parts you will basically need you are correct. Or at least to get you started anyway. As far as what you will end up spending, I think for twins you will be over your initial budget hopes if you do it right and are using used parts that are in nice shape.. But you never know..

    The boat will be better with the bravos, it will also be more reliable drive wise which will also make it worth a little more. It will certainly help you handle a little more power with in reason without adding much drag. I would not look for a bravo 2 or 3 for your hull as it wont benefit you speed wise or durability wise. But both can bolt to the standard b1 gimble housing..

    I usually never have any used or take out stuff to offer, but currently I do have some used take out bravo stuff if it interests you.. I can also get you new components if you need them.. You can reach me during the week if you need any of it.. Jamie / Lakeside Restorations 570-639-2628
    www.LakesideRestorations.com 570-639-2628
    We Make Fast Toys Faster, Cool Toys Cooler and Old Toys New!.. Performance, Custom & OEM Parts & much MORE![/CENTER]

  3. #3
    Registered
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    42' Sundancer from 2004 formerly known as Big azz cruiser from 2004. Still looking for the right new 38-42 ft. v-bottom!
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    Forget the B2, as stated. You don't need that on that kind of hull. The B3 prolly won't ba a good idea either. If you are going with the 260-300 hp, why go B1? If you go up in hp to 450-500 hp, the B1 should live. A B3 with that kind of power will get really hot, not a great idea. Take care of your B1 drives, and it should be ok. Just remember, torque is also a drive killer, not just hp, so go easy on the sticks.
    Good luck with your project, keep us posted.

    Happy boating

  4. #4
    Gold Member Gold Member sprink58's Avatar
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    Thanks for the good words. I'm thinking solid drives before even considering big power....and I know that TQ is king on the water.

    I would like to stay with SB Chevy's to keep the weight to a minimum so unless I get into building blower motors I think 400~450 HP & 425~450 LBs of TQ will be about where I want to be reliably. This boat is heavy for it's size (Hey...it's a Formula) 5500LBs+ dry with a full bow to stern 24 deg dead-rise. As I said earlier...strong, well built 383's with a flat TQ curve spinning 23"~25" Mirage props should put this old girl in the 70's.

    More important to me is the ability to run 50~60 MPH for hours at a time with out "sucking up the seat covers" worrying about what is about to break. Here in SE Florida we love to throw the passport and a duffel bag together and run over to Freeport/Lucaya for a day or two...maybe even run to the Abacos.

    Finding out that a rig won't stay together 35 miles out is not where I want to be.

  5. #5
    Registered
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    42' Sundancer from 2004 formerly known as Big azz cruiser from 2004. Still looking for the right new 38-42 ft. v-bottom!
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    With that power, you'll be glad you went B1. In terms of midrange cruise speed, time to plane ect. the B3 is nice. I have just seen so many with corrosion and durability issues, and they are not fast drives. With a set of B1's in the water, you will have all the prop bite you'll need for a 25' 5500 lbs. boat.

  6. #6
    Gold Member Gold Member sprink58's Avatar
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    1979 Formula 255 Liberator...My 4th Formula
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    On a side note....

    This is what happens when you run an Alpha or No 1 Merc with a torn U-Joint Bellows.







    I kept looking for the source of a loud whine when I would start the starboard engine on my '79 Formula 255 Liberator. Well I knew the U-Joint Bellows was torn but I had not pulled the Upper Unit off until today.....I think I found my problem. When I pulled it off the gimbal housing a double hand full of a greasy, muddy, rocky, sandy goo plopped out on the driveway. I reached in to see if I could even turn the gimbal bearing...yes barely and it sounds like rubbing 2 pieces of sand paper together.

    So boys and girls...this is what happens when we run a Mercruiser Stern-drive with a torn U-Joint Bellows...the photos speak for themselves.

    What I am trying to figure out is what went through the mind of the last A$$ hole that ran this thing?

    Unbelievably, the drive shaft and the U-Joints turn freely...I'm almost afraid to look inside the gear case. I think I'm going to pull the "helmet" and do a gimbal bearing/seal /bellows replacement (after I clean it up LOL) and figure on replacing the drive.

    What pisses me off is that this could have been avoided.

  7. #7
    Registered
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    That is a busted bearing right there!

    I'm not sure if I read your last post right. Do you plan to use the Alpha gimbal for the B1? That is a no-go. You'll need the Bravo tansom assy for the B1 drive. That is an easy swap, same cut out with 2 more holes.

    If you plan to sell the Alpha's, check them inside so you know what you are selling, and maybe see, what a good Alpha gimbal goes for used, compared to redo the one you got. If you plan to run the Alpha's, check them so you know all is well. With that kind of history, I would.

  8. #8
    Gold Member Gold Member sprink58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.O. Razor View Post
    That is a busted bearing right there!

    I'm not sure if I read your last post right. Do you plan to use the Alpha gimbal for the B1? That is a no-go. You'll need the Bravo tansom assy for the B1 drive. That is an easy swap, same cut out with 2 more holes.

    If you plan to sell the Alpha's, check them inside so you know what you are selling, and maybe see, what a good Alpha gimbal goes for used, compared to redo the one you got. If you plan to run the Alpha's, check them so you know all is well. With that kind of history, I would.
    Roger that...I know about the B1 gimbal ,etc.
    I'm going to clean this No 1 gimbal up, replace the gimbal bearing, U-Joint/Exhaust/Shift Cable Bellows...scrap this drive and run a new SEI or a solid used Alpha 1 until I do the Bravo deal.

    That brings up another possibility/question.....

    I have a shot at a pair of strong 450HP 454's/TRS drives A~Z w/transom assy's/trim pumps/K-Planes w/pumps & Gaffrig controls from a 302 SR-1 Formula.

    A 302 has essentially the same bilge as my 255 and both boats have an 8' beam.

    Question: is this set up too much weight for my boat...am I creating a "suicide missile" with that much power in this boat and does this make any sense? I'm willing to engineer anything that is sound and substantial (Hell...I've put 350's in Chevy Vegas!!) but I don't want to create something that is dangerous. On paper it doesn't seem any wilder than twin 260's in a 233 Interceptor...but I don't know.
    Last edited by sprink58; 01-31-2011 at 12:01 PM.

  9. #9
    Registered
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    42' Sundancer from 2004 formerly known as Big azz cruiser from 2004. Still looking for the right new 38-42 ft. v-bottom!
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    To begin with. I would say don't.

    Power is not the issue. But that is somewhat of a project. The TRS driveline is longer due to the tranny. The TRS is an old, but pretty strong drive, but because of age, parts are somewhat limited. You also may upset the cg of the boat and make it handle poorly. The transom cutout is different too, and would someone go back to B1 setup, it's a lot of work. In short, I consider it a downgrade from the B1 hands down. If he's willing to sell the 454's w/o drives, that's nice power for that boat. Should be fun, but stick with bravo's.

  10. #10
    Gold Member Gold Member sprink58's Avatar
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    1979 Formula 255 Liberator...My 4th Formula
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    That's kind of what I thought. I consider the TRS to be "obsolete technology" as compared to the Bravo.

    The seller of this stuff will sell any part of it I want to buy but I think I'll follow my plan to work this restoration in steps....Bravos>>>power. I don't want to tie up several thou in a pair of BB Chevy s that I'm not ready for.

    I might buy the OEM Bolsters and remaining couch, coaming panels,etc....should finish out my cockpit nicely.

    He is parting out because he can't get a buyer for a '84 302 SR-1 with a TRS set up. Seems like a shame but technology moves on.


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