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45' Wellcraft Excalibur - Need input on Drive and Engine upgrade ideas

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45' Wellcraft Excalibur - Need input on Drive and Engine upgrade ideas

Old 10-19-2020, 10:44 AM
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Default 45' Wellcraft Excalibur - Need input on Drive and Engine upgrade ideas

I bought an immaculate 1999 45' Wellcraft Excalibur in August. The boat itself is in like new condition, completely new custom interior, perfect paint, you name it, the boat looks like it was delivered brand new. The engines are tired, 750 hours on EFI 502's, however the leak-down test was good and the compression test was surprisingly good on all cylinders, except the notorious cylinder 5 on both engines were both at 110, all other cylinders were over 130. On fresh motors the boat should top end around 50mph, I'm getting 46 now. I'm cruising the boat around 30-32mph at 3200 rpm. The boat would be much happier cruising around 36-40mph, but I don't want to put to much stress on the drives or engines at this point.

The drives are another story. It has standard Bravo 3 drives, which I've already had to replace the gears in one of them.

The Ultimate goal would be to have a 15,000 pound boat that could reliably cruise at 40mph and hit 60+ on top. To get there I obviously have to do a full rebuild of the engines and go from 502's to 540's with 550/600hp each. The drives have to be replaces with something much beefier. I want to do one project this off-season and one next. Although the engines would be more fun to do first, I think the drives are, without a doubt the weakest link, so they probably should be done first. They are both in good shape now and would be worth some money if I sold them. Problem is I'm not sure what to go with... I've talked to some people about the BMAX drives which sound like an option. I know surface drives are so cool, but they aren't for my application. Any ideas on what drives or who I should talk to?

Thanks
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10-21-2020, 11:55 AM
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Sonic30ss how is your conversion coming along. Post some photos. And as you have stated, excellent boat that loves 40+mph. I could get bravo 3 XR drives to live for about 50 hrs before the load on the drives would wear the gears to the point of failure. Then ultimately put ARNESON 7m'S on the boat with real big power. Boat was excellent with Arnesons.
Old 10-19-2020, 11:31 AM
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all depends on the budget
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Old 10-19-2020, 12:23 PM
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theres one in ky with arnesins on it
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Old 10-19-2020, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by F-2 Speedy View Post
all depends on the budget
That is the Priority in this type of boat.... there is a lot of $$$$ that can be dropped into this class of boat trying to get more out of it in terms of performance and reliabilty but at the end of the season, you have to look at the fact that it is a heavy cruiser... the cost of upgrading everything vs. a standard rebuild and set costs for rebuilding B3's vs. how long you expect to keep your boat.

Any shop is more than willing to take your $$$ for ordering whatever you can conceive as your avenue to get what you want from the boat, but at the end of the day, spending "X" may have $0 return
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Old 10-19-2020, 02:33 PM
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I would just stay with the 4 stoke 502 platform and build some very reliable 502 engines and have fun. Awesome wave and cruising vessel.
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Old 10-19-2020, 02:53 PM
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My boat has been at The Bravo Shop in Lake Ozark since April getting basically the royal treatment from the firewall back ($70k worth). I run twin fuel injected naturally aspirated 700's (548ci) and John (shop owner) said BMAX is a waste of money until you reach 800 horsepower. I'm running IMCO SCX's and I think you'd be fine with something similar to a Merc XR drive, but obviously won't have duo-prop like the 3's.
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Old 10-19-2020, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Nuke427 View Post
My boat has been at The Bravo Shop in Lake Ozark since April getting basically the royal treatment from the firewall back ($70k worth). I run twin fuel injected naturally aspirated 700's (548ci) and John (shop owner) said BMAX is a waste of money until you reach 800 horsepower. I'm running IMCO SCX's and I think you'd be fine with something similar to a Merc XR drive, but obviously won't have duo-prop like the 3's.
Don't they make the Bravo 3 in XR?
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Old 10-20-2020, 09:31 PM
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Have a 97....been there done that. Boat is a different animal above 40 mph, much better ride and handling.
Built a couple of mild 540s making 640hp/690ft# ran great- 46mph at 3900-4000rpm 55+ at 5200 after tuning props buuuut ...ate 2:1 Bravo Xs for lunch, got real good at 2hr drive changes.
In the process of installing Arnesons, with custom made Hering props, and a swim platform extension to cover the props.
From what Ive seen and learned from talking to people with more experience than me in prop selection; the issue with a Bravo style drive is getting enough prop surface area in the water. The props Hering is building for me for the surface drives are 20x21-16 6 blades.
PS according to travel lift scale boat is 22,000 lbs
Im not the first to do the conversion on an Excal, Matt from Boston was as far as I know. We talked extensively about his issues with B3 before his Arneson swap....I thought my lower powered motors would be easier on the drives...not.
Im not trying to tell you what to do but, I would strongly suggest surface drives over Bravo style if you are looking for a reliable boat, more money in your pocket and more time on the water under your own power instead of Sea-tows.

Last edited by Sonic30ss; 10-20-2020 at 09:55 PM.
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Old 10-20-2020, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by underpsi68 View Post
Don't they make the Bravo 3 in XR?
yes but it will still blow up on a high hp Excal
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Old 10-21-2020, 11:55 AM
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Sonic30ss how is your conversion coming along. Post some photos. And as you have stated, excellent boat that loves 40+mph. I could get bravo 3 XR drives to live for about 50 hrs before the load on the drives would wear the gears to the point of failure. Then ultimately put ARNESON 7m'S on the boat with real big power. Boat was excellent with Arnesons.
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