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38 Express Cruiser Performance

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Old 03-08-2019, 06:47 AM
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Default 38 Express Cruiser Performance

Just looking for general information on the Fountain 38 Express Cruiser. I am looking at a used 2007ish with 496s. How is she perform overall, things to look out for, any problem areas, and how does she ride. Any info on your experience in the Great Lakes regions would be a huge plus. Thanks!
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Old 03-08-2019, 06:56 AM
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I saw your other post. Theres a clean 370SS in the holland craigslist. I've heard all great things about the 38EC. Very sharp boats. Better performance than the Formula. Not sure about the ride. The only thing I'd be concerned with would be transom/stringer moisture as it seems to be a trend in Fountains.
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Old 03-29-2019, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by 787Driver View Post
Just looking for general information on the Fountain 38 Express Cruiser. I am looking at a used 2007ish with 496s. How is she perform overall, things to look out for, any problem areas, and how does she ride. Any info on your experience in the Great Lakes regions would be a huge plus. Thanks!
I have a 2006 w/496MAG HO and love the boat. We cruise at 40mph, 3400rpm, about 34gph because that is where its most efficient. Can easily cruise much faster if you want to burn more fuel. Mine is pretty loaded with weekending supplies (grill, coolers, dinghy, cabinets full of plates, etc.) and it has bottom paint, radar, bow thruster, autopilot, teak; so i'm sure its slower than some others. We spend weekends or longer on it with 2 adults 2 kids. Fresh water tank and holding tank are a little smaller than typical cruisers so have to be conservative if you're going to be away from the dock for more than a day or 2.

With that being said, have had it for 1 season and it was not without problems (its a boat). Definitely check the transom where the exhaust goes through, they are known for leaking. My transom was dry, but by the end of the season one was leaking... and bolts broke taking it off to reseal, etc. PIA. Had a bunch of little annoying issues, nothing major. Also be very careful of generator, the boat will forcefeed water into generator if the valve is not closed while underway. Previous owner ruined at least 1 generator that way. And i've heard you can't trust the factory anchor. I never even used mine, replaced it with a lewmar and it has held every time in some very windy conditions.

Otherwise great boat, we went out in small craft advisory in 6-8' (Long Island Sound/Block Island Sound), handles it fine but the problem is its hard to go slow enough in those conditions on plane... Rides great in any normal chop, we regularly have 2'-4' and don't even have to slow down or babysit the throttle. Getting on plane takes awhile (compared to my old straight hull 10 Meter) and can be annoying if you have a lot of no wake zones.

Lastly (this got longer than I expected) be aware of the potential 496 problems that are well documented on this site. Before I bought the boat I was under the impression that the 496 was low maintenance/reliable. Overall this is probably still true but they have some known issues that are unique to the 496.

Last edited by 10M; 03-29-2019 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 03-29-2019, 05:49 PM
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Thanks 10M for the excellent info. I plan on looking at one in another few weeks and will definitely look at the issues posted. Also, where is the best location on the site to find more info on the 496 issues? Thanks!
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Old 03-29-2019, 08:38 PM
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I've got a 496ho in my current boat and never had any problems. I think most of the problems that occur are fault codes or sensors. Also there have been a few updates on the earlier series. Lack of use is often worse for an engine than lots of use and mine falls into the first category. She's an '07 with 154 hrs. I've had it nearly 2 years and only done 13 hours. I've never had anything go wrong or alarms triggered but it sits in dry storage and it's a bit pampered.

Most people will say a 496 is a great engine and will run for a long time if you leave it alone. They're almost too complicated so better not to play with them, just leave them dead stock, service as per normal but don't be afraid to run them either. BUP on here is probably the resident 496 expert and has said they are best run at 3500-3900 revs.

General search you will find a few 496 issues but they're generally annoying things, not major.

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Old 03-29-2019, 08:57 PM
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IAC motors and crank position sensors were the biggest issues if I recall. I had 496's and other than a freak incident where a push rod wore through the rocker, they have over 600 trouble free hours.
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Old 03-29-2019, 09:07 PM
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Are these common problems and are they associated with any specific years? Thanks everyone for the info.
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Old 04-25-2019, 11:49 PM
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I have one, a 2008. Great boat

i ve had to replace a few things,

1) anchor, if you are going to use it, change it
2) engine was mostly maintenace, at that age, it will need new manifolds, etc etc, i ve also done water pumps
3) the circuit breakers on mine needed replacing, no massive job,
4) before i bought, it had two new legs, pulling water skiiers, is a non starter with standard legs,
5) the genset on mine needed a bit of work, mostly to only 20hrs since new

i ve done about 100 hrs in it, its just shy of 400 now. i am probably running it in bigger seas then most. and the biggest negative is the speed of planning aroudn 20mph is the lowest. in big seas(9-10ft swell), things get bumpy. I broke the table down stairs legs clean off the brackets coming off one wave. But in more normal sea conditions, it is smooth and fast. I am cruising mine in the low 40s.
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Old 10-30-2019, 05:25 PM
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I own a 2004 38EC with Merc HP500's and XR drives. With Tabs up my 38EC fully planes at about 31-32 mph, cruises easily at 40-50 mph, and tops out about 68 mph, which is slightly slower than the factory test speed of 70. (I have 300 hours on the engines). The Trim Tabs are pretty large so it doesn't take much to control the control the boat. As for ride, I've only had my boat in 2 -3 foot chop, which it easily handled and rides pretty smooth, but I can't say how it handles in rough stuff. I keep my boat either on a lift in a boat house or stored inside a building so leaks aren't an issue, although I did find one of the thru-hull fitting had a small leak and replaced that. The only issue I've had is priming the coolant pump that feeds the HVAC unit, which feeds water uphill to the HVAC unit which is under the front berth. Everything is fine after the cooling pump becomes primed, but when I lift my boat all the cooling water drains and getting the AC Coolant Pump primed again is a bit of a pain. Also some of the 38EC's have a powdered coated aluminum framework around the windshield and after several years expect the powder coating to need attention. Let's see, what else. As you probably know the 38EC's hull is stepped so if you decide to either trailer or lift the boat, make sure the trailer or lift bunks are appropriately stepped. I've been told that using straight bunks can damage a stepped hull.
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Old 11-02-2019, 05:30 PM
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I have a 04 and love it. As far as the gen getting filled with water there is a bypass that bleeds off the high water pressure out the side of the boat. There is a valve coming off the strainer that needs to be open.
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