Fresh Choice PDF Print E-mail
With its Factory Fresh program, Mercury Racing offers HP850SCi and HP1075SCi engine owners a factory option for breathing new life into their power plants.
By Matt Trulio
It's a very safe bet that no one in Montana has a larger fleet of performance boats than Mike Maddy
. Based in the small town of Polson, about 60 miles from Missoula, Maddy owns the former Team Virgin MTI race boat, a 42 Outerlimits, a Cigarette 36 Gladiator and a Donzi 38ZR Comp.
has water that can handle these boats in the form of nearby Flathead Lake. At 28 miles long and 14 miles wide, the lake "doesn't have any no-wake zones," he says with a strong laugh.
doesn't have nearby is a Mercury Racing dealer to service the HP1075SCi engines in his Outerlimits. The nearest one is 500 miles away in Seattle. So when it came time to refresh the 1075s in his Outerlimits, which was at Tres Martin's marine shop in Ocala, Fla., Maddy took advantage of Mercury Racing's relatively new Factory Fresh program for its HP850SCi and HP1075SCi offerings.
"One of the reasons I bought the boat with 1075s is that my boating time is very limited—we're June through August here," Maddy
says. "I have all these boats because something is always broken. My experience with the 1075s has been great. You just don't get that kind of power with any kind of reliability—I've had 700-hp off-brand engines that don't idle as well as those 1075s, and SmartCraft makes them idiotproof."
Once Martin told Maddy about the Factory Fresh program, Maddy
gave him the green light to pull the engines from the boat and ship them to Mercury Racing.
The program is fairly straightforward. For $26,000 and change (engine removal, shipping and reinstallation not included), the technicians at Mercury Racing will refresh either an 850 or 1075 at the 100- to 150-hour operation mark. Mercury uses a number of parts to bring the engine back to what Mike Gurath, a product support specialist with Mercury Racing, calls "like-new quality" with the same initial limited warranties that came with the engines when they were new.
Replacement parts in the "refresh kit," as it's called at Mercury Racing, include: valve springs, valve locks, a supercharger snout kit, retainers, valve seals, lifter, cylinder head gaskets, oil and fuel filters, spark plugs, an impeller kit for the sea pump, exhaust valves, intake valves, rockers arms, pistons and rings, rod bolts, a camshaft, belts, high-tension leads, a shipping crate and miscellaneous gaskets, seals and hoses. Included in the per-engine price is the 125 man-hours it takes to refresh each engine with the above-noted parts.
"It worked really well—we knew what we were getting," Maddy
says. "There's something about having Mercury do it that makes you feel good. But here's the part that really surprised me: They promised me the engines would be done and shipped in 60 days, and they were done and shipped in 60 days."
When the engines arrive at Mercury Racing, they are torn down and inspected. If all that is required is the refresh kit, and that's reportedly held true in most cases, they are reassembled with the refresh kit. Owners must pay for additional parts such as new cylinder heads if such parts are required.
Until Mercury Racing unveiled the program, 100- to 150-hour engine refreshment had to be handled by T.E.A.M.-certified boatbuilders or authorized Mercury Racing dealers. Gurath says while that approach worked and still remains an option, Mercury Racing believed that offering engine refreshment in-house would provide better service and, frankly, enhance customer loyalty.
"We say you have to do a complete teardown at 100 to 150 hours, but we as a factory had never addressed that," he explains. "This program offers refreshment at the factory by the same technicians, using the same processes, who built the engines in the first place."
So new is the program that it's still, in Gurath's words, "a work in progress." To date, 20 of the HP1075SCi offerings have been refreshed at the Fond du Lac, Wis., plant. Although Gurath would not elaborate, he said that significant changes to the program will be coming in the next two to three months. By the time you read this, the Factory Fresh program could be expanded. The parts list could grow or shrink. The program could even have a different name. But it's not likely to go away.
"It's one of the best things Mercury Racing has ever done," says Mike Fiore, president and owner of Outerlimits Powerboats in Bristol, R.I. "The program gives the end user a good level of confidence that his engines are being refreshed to Mercury Racing specifications."