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I need opinions for a 1987 Sea Ray 390 Xpress

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Old 11-30-2003, 12:08 AM
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I need opinions for a 1987 Sea Ray 390 Xpress

I have decided to purchase a 390 Xpress for a daily cruiser, been there done that with ALL typs of boats. I really love this style of Cruiser.
I found out they rott stringers around the fresh water storage tank=Potable.
This tanks condinsates between these two inner stringers under the galley floor and Wham, rott. Now I have noticed depends on the owner and location of vessal. No water in tank meens, no Rott.
Full tanks year round spells death to this design. 1989 they change this design and move the tank where you can service it.
BUT I HATE THE LOOK OF INTERIOR IN the 1988 on up. All plastic instead of Teak.

I found a nice Xpress and plan on touch and feel next week.

Before I buy, are there any more issues i need to know about.

BIII
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Old 11-30-2003, 12:32 AM
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It's a heavy boat for gas motors.

Check for cracks and/or loose bolts around the prop struts. Will indicate extended use with bent props or shafts. Also insist on checking engine alignment. If engines are out of alignment, cutlass bearings will be shot.

Can't very well get to the tank to check for rot. Must tear up the floor to get to it. And if you go to that trouble, you might as well plan on replacing the tank with a plastic one.

You CAN, however, drill from the bottom up into the stringer to get a "core sample". If it's good glass it up and go. If it's bad, get a BIG discount or pass on the deal.

And pull the zincs out of the genset heat exchanger. It's amazing at how those can give insight to whether the boat has been sneaked into saltwater or if it has been plugged into reverse polarity.
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Old 11-30-2003, 12:47 AM
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If it is a V drive check the shaft seals good. The seat backing is plywood, not even marine grade and will turn to dirt if not taken care of. The stringers are wood covered glass and rot east. If you cant drill a hole use a ball peen hammer and take soundings. A good solid thump is good, kind of like hitting a hard object (because it should be) a dead thud is bad That is a ton of boat for gas engines but it will still go, I know the newer models look plasticy but they are built better. A good marine survey will tell these things but I like to do it myself also. There is no choice but to get a survey, you have to have one to insure it so you may as well use it to buy it...or not.
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Old 11-30-2003, 08:19 AM
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Thanks for the replies Gentelmen.
I always survey my own boats, but i see I must pay a Pro to do this one do to the nature of the beast and amount of money to purchase. Does any body know a good surveyer in the East Islip NY area. or just Ny/Ny would be O/K.
I wanted to repower with 3208 Cats in the Future, but need a strong hull to do the retro to Diesel. I am a Traveler, and plan to do many miles with a Xpress.
Thanks Again B3
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Old 11-30-2003, 08:56 AM
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As a former 390 Express owner I can say that they are great boats, but are very underpowered with 340 Mercs.
Removing the floor above the water tank isn't a difficult thing, especially if you plan on recarpeting the boat soon. By the way, condensation around the water tank isn't the major source of moisture around the tank. The side windows leak on just about every one of these boats and this is usually where the the water comes from. It's a simple but time-consuming job to reseal these.
The 1983-1988 boats have plywood cockpit seat pedestalswhich are quite often dryrotted. The 1989 and newer boats have fiberglass pedestals.
Searay never offered the 390 in a V-drive configuration, and the Velvet Drives transmissions are 1.91:1 gear ratio (gas engines). By the way, starting in 1989 the engine were both standard-rotation engines with Hurth transmissions. The propshaft direction was reversed in the starboard transmission. Engines in the Hurth-equipped boats were level with the stringers as the transmission output shaft was angled down to the propshaft.
The 390 boats were one of the first that Searay built with segmented stringers, which means that the stringers aren't one-piece, but are split at the cabin bulkhead. Some hulls which were exposed to heavy seas were found to have longitudinal hull cracking and it can be difficultto spot with fresh bottom paint.
Searay built well over 1000 of these boats through their production run and you may want to consider buying one already equipped with the Cat engines. there are a lot of them out there and generally speaking, they've had much better care through the years than the gas boats. And many of the 375hp Cats have already been upgraded to the 425 version, which will cruise at around 28 mph.
I really enjoyed my 390 and ran a lot of gas through it (figure a little better than a half-mile to the gallon), and never had any complaints about these boats except that they're so fricking slow with gas motors.

Last edited by Crazyhorse; 11-30-2003 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 11-30-2003, 09:11 AM
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Crazyhours, thanks for the input.
Everytime I look for a diesel Version it cost around 160.000.00 Ouch.
I was hopeing to refit for half that #.
Maybe I should back up one step and look some more for a diesel Version.
I Will look at all these issues for my next purchase. Thanks B3
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Old 11-30-2003, 09:19 AM
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A friend of mine sold his diesel-powered 390 about a year ago for $110,000, and this boat was absolutely mint. If you shop around you can find quite a few for around very nice turn-key 390's for around $100K to $120K, cheaper if you don't mind refitting the cosmetics.
It's always possible my friend's old boat may be available. It might be worth a call to him to see if he might know. By the way, it's in the Manistee, Michigan area.
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Old 11-30-2003, 11:47 AM
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Thumbs-down on a diesel conversion. If you plan to put the miles on one, go diesel from the get-go.

The propshafts and struts are larger diameter.
Fuel tanks have additional fittings for return lines.
Exhaust outlets and mufflers are supersized (for motors AND genset). Not sure about 390, but some have different stringer configuration for diesel app.

Those are issues you may not have considered. The rest of it is straightforward (you need three times the number of batteries and the disconnect switches are the size of a hatbox and battery cables the size of your forearm.

I agree that there are diesel boats out there to buy. Keep looking for a diesel or if you buy gas, stay gas.

My 42' long (using Fountain's method) 1995 370 Sundancer with 3116 Cats cruises 33mph, tops out 39mph, gets 1.6mpg at 30mph. Love it.
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Old 11-30-2003, 04:12 PM
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mcollinstn & crazyhorse, thanks for the eye opener. I can get a gas 390 for 40,000 in NY, i think this is more my $ situation. I can't value something that sits and rotts before your eyes..
In the midwest by me I found the price range of 68K to 88 for same boat
I have seen so many problems with fresh and salt water boats.
All in all, 60,000.00 i save with a gas 390 verses diesel can buy alot of fuel.
I will step back 1 step now and take a better look at what i really want. ?
Thanks again B3
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Old 11-30-2003, 04:38 PM
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Sure,

Big upcharge for a diesel boat. When I ordered mine, checking the diesel option box cost $44,000.

At 800 hours (where it is right now), I've been told by more than one broker that my boat is worth $50k more than if it were an identical boat with the same equipment and hours and gas 340's (cause you are looking at two new 454's in a hundred more hours).

My Westerbeke diesel genset has 1700 hours on it. In another thousand hours, it should need a new bearing in the back of the armature housing. The Cats will need a topend service in about 1200 more hours.

I do agree that it is impossible to justify the cost of diesel by looking at the fuel consumption alone...
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