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Extra hp? Baja 208 islander

Old 12-19-2020, 06:30 PM
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Default Extra hp? Baja 208 islander

Just bought a 1996 baja 208 islander. Has a 5.7LX merc, I am contemplating doing heads and a cam. I know a bit about engines, but as the username says. I really am learning. What would be a good set up for this motor? Or what would be a good source to go learn?

Thanks in advance
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Old 12-20-2020, 10:20 PM
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Since you just got it, my best advice is to leave it alone and go enjoy it and get used to it for at least a season. Maybe play with different props. Using the right labbed prop could gain you as much as adding 50 hp.
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Old 12-21-2020, 08:59 AM
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Agree with Griff. I've had my 208 for nearly 30 years now, bought it new in November of '91. So I know this boat very well. Mine has a 454 in it, actually one of the very few (or remaining) Yamaha Hydra-Drive big block installations. The 17 degree deadrise lends itself very well to high speed, but of course at the cost of handling rough water.
Testing of the boat in the day by some of the major magazines like HOTBOAT, etc, showed the small block boat capable of mid-to-high 50s, and the big block boats tickled 70 mph.
You need a lot of hp but perhaps more importantly, torque to get significant gains of tops speed. I can tell you with 100% authority that a 208 running 65+ mph is a HANDFUL, unless the lake is a millpond. Early on in my ownership I too toyed with the idea of increasing hp, everything from forced induction to an engine change, but at the end of the day I kept it as it came from the factory, enjoyed it for what it is. I still have it but also have a 252 Islander which as now become Boat #1, it handles the water SO much better.

Just for grins...what are you wanting the boat to do? What sort of performance are you expecting/wanting? Also, if interested I can send you a bunch of articles on the boat, just PM me your e-mail and I'll do it.
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Old 12-22-2020, 03:14 PM
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Iím also a gear head that grew up swapping cams and heads on small blocks in Camaros and such and thought doing the same in a boat would be fun. Itís not. Unless youíre planning a ground up retrofit of huge power itís really not worth messing with the factory package. As Griff said, fine tuning the prop and such and keeping up the maintenance will give you the best results.
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Old 12-22-2020, 03:16 PM
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Pontoon and CC boats with outboards only !

Change the name !
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Old 12-22-2020, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Justlearning View Post
Just bought a 1996 baja 208 islander. Has a 5.7LX merc, I am contemplating doing heads and a cam. I know a bit about engines, but as the username says. I really am learning. What would be a good set up for this motor? Or what would be a good source to go learn?

Thanks in advance
Merc serial # ?
Vortec heads have 4 x 90* intake to head bolts per side. Earlier have 6 x roughly 60* per side.

Just seeing if you have Vortec heads as those are good, of course.
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Old 01-09-2021, 07:54 PM
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We had 1996 208 for a few years. It started as a stock 454 big block . Baja used most basic, lowest power 454 in 208. Regardless that combination made this boat quick. Power to weight ratio was good. I believe stock 454 was rated at 300hp and gave it top speed of 62-64 mph. As mentioned before it is a handful on anything that perfect water. I ended up building 530hp 468 engine with mercury racing exhaust with pneumatic captains call exhaust. My best top speed was 74mph running Bravo one 26p prop. That was with 2 coolers, 3 adults and 3 kids on canal in Chicago. I am sure with 3 blade and light load, boat would be 80mph. We sold it and I bought Fastech so I can use it on Lake Michigan. It was super fun boat and hole shot even easing out on stock Bravo drive was insane. I raced guy in 36 Outlaw on Mississippi river and we were head to head. I smoked him big time on acceleration like he was standing still. It was a hot rod but can't have 2 boats.




Last edited by btr_chicago; 01-10-2021 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 01-09-2021, 07:55 PM
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Old 01-10-2021, 07:17 AM
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btr chicago...what a fun time that must have been!

I have so many stories of racing people who "couldn't believe what that little Baja could do!" It's kind of the ultimate sleeper.
My new-to-me 252 Islander gives up at least 10 mph to my 208, so...yeah, I miss that speed.
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Old 01-20-2021, 01:20 AM
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I bought this boat and it's a ripper! Makes the Outlaw and Sunsation guys on the lake mad they can't keep up with the 20 ft BR.
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