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35 Lightening & 38 Lightening

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Old 08-11-2018, 06:47 PM
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Default 35 Lightening & 38 Lightening

My wife and I are considering three possible boats to replace our 29' Fever. I have been onboard both the 35 and 38 Lightenings and like the additional room and headroom in the 38. My question is mainly about maintaining the 525s. Most of the 38 Lightenings I have seen for sale seem to have about 250+ hours on the motors. Is this the recommended time to have the heads pulled and freshened? How about the headers? I'm assuming 496 H.O. powered 35s would go at least 800 hours? I live and boat on salt water. Would there be a big performance difference between the two? I would love to hear from actual owners or shops that have worked on both the 496 and the 525.
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Old 08-16-2018, 08:12 AM
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Some say pull heads and refresh 525s at 2 - 300 hour mark. Get the rpm report stored in the computer, and go from there. Also the boats are Lightnings.
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Old 08-16-2018, 08:46 AM
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Many 525s need a top end service by 300 hrs, head gaskets seep, rockers are suspect, and valve springs are very weak, headers need tested, etc. A few owners have gone 500 hrs and never opened them up. They are the exception, not the norm. Roll the dice how you see fit, but its an expensive gamble to not be preventative. If you live and boat on salt water and are worried about the maintenance costs for a 525 EFI, then go the 496 route. 496 38 Lightnings are not very common, I have not seen one in person. Maybe the early 2000s 38 Lightnings and they would be a 502. Possibly consider a 35 with 496s HO if the 496 is what your after.

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Old 08-16-2018, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by VoodooRob View Post
Many 525s need a top end service by 300 hrs, head gaskets seep, rockers are suspect, and valve springs are very weak, headers need tested, etc. A few owners have gone 500 hrs and never opened them up. They are the exception, not the norm. Roll the dice how you see fit, but its an expensive gamble to not be preventative.
Yep, had 525s in a 03 Sonic with over 400 flawless hours, without opening them up. Boat was never run all that hard, which helps push the maintenance back. My 575 boat though, needed cylinder head work at 325 hours (head gaskets). Did that job as pm, knowing how poor the head gaskets on those engines are. Bottom line 525 - expect to do some refresh work at purchase.
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Old 08-16-2018, 10:30 AM
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If you boat in the salt I would recommend a boat with the 496’s. They are closed cooling so the salt never enters the engine. Also the 525’s have problematic CMI headers that will only be worse in salt water.
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Old 08-16-2018, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by ttuton View Post
If you boat in the salt I would recommend a boat with the 496s. They are closed cooling so the salt never enters the engine. Also the 525s have problematic CMI headers that will only be worse in salt water.
525EFI are also closed cooling, the issue is the saltwater in the CMI headers and tails, in particular a staggered boat.
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Old 08-16-2018, 10:53 AM
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Just and opinion..... but......someone has to say it........ 496's belong in runabouts, cruisers and deck boats - not 38 Fountains.
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Old 08-16-2018, 02:02 PM
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Someone has to say it, I love my 35 with 496's!

The dealer that sold me mine built/sold three 35/496's and a couple of 35/525's in 2006/07. The 525 boats had header problems and one blown motor all in the first year. All three 496 boats are still going strong, as I know them all, one being mine.
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Old 08-16-2018, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by techman View Post
Someone has to say it, I love my 35 with 496's!

The dealer that sold me mine built/sold three 35/496's and a couple of 35/525's in 2006/07. The 525 boats had header problems and one blown motor all in the first year. All three 496 boats are still going strong, as I know them all, one being mine.
You'll find no argument here that stock 496's aren't more reliable and cost less to operate than 525's. I've owned both 35 and 38 Fountain's. IMO having a 38 Fountain with 496's would be like ordering a Ferrari with a VW engine. I didn't say 35's because I know the 2007 and newer 35's had such a good hull that they were respectable with 496's, but IMO the 38 is too much boat for 496's. Yes it can be done but it just kills the fun factor.

Last edited by Marginmn; 08-16-2018 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 08-16-2018, 02:58 PM
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Copy that!

I guess it's up to the OP what he wants under the hatch. There's no shame in having black motors pushing around your Fountain.

As it has been said, it will be hard to find a 38 with 496's unless it is a retrofit. There were a couple of factory built 42's with 496's which would make me want to get out and push. Probably would have been better with diesels!

525's are great mills, but they are part of the racing catalog which involves a lot more care and maintenance over their lifetime. Just add it into the overall operating expense and you are good to go, salt or fresh water.
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