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Mirage 217 -Bringing it back

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Mirage 217 -Bringing it back

Old 09-30-2020, 04:46 PM
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Default Mirage 217 -Bringing it back

I know I have a few posts before I can upload photos, so hopefully, the link will work.

This is from 2004; so add the (https etc photos.app.goo.gl/rcuxoS6CaXV1x8jh7


I have owned the boat since near new and bought it in 1990. We were looking for a ski boat for the lake in the summer, but since we are on the ocean having something a little bit bigger would be better in the larger waves.

I recall the owner brought up three Mirage's, and they seemed like a decent quality boat, but out of my price range at the time, and the local economy was just starting to get going around then as well.

About a year later, we were walking by a Granville Island broker and saw the boats again. Apparently, the previous broker left all the boats in the water under a local highway bridge let all the boats get growth to the point barnacles were growing on the hulls and of course topsides filthy (this is important later on in the story.) Long story short the owner was trying to move the boats. It came down between the 27 with 2 x 454's and this one with a 350 chev alpha one. Well I liked the 27, it wasn't really something that you could ski behind.


I wasn't an expert at boating but was smart enough to take the 12 week power squadron course while we waited for the boat to get ready and the galvanized trailer to be made. A really good decision, actually learned a lot.


Well, we'd boated a lot in the first few years. In the second year added Bennett sport tabs, since we always had a lot of people in the boat it seems.

In about the 3rd or 4th year we were taking the kids and some friends out in the ocean hit a big wave and the pedestal seat ripped out from the floor. Seems the screws weren't holding. I thought it was the seats vs the rough water. I ordered stand-up bolsters from the manufacturer. When installing those, that's when I noticed the screws didn't seem to be holding. (hmmm)


I contacted the manufacturer. They suggested it might be dry rot. They were right it turns out.

I didn't really know what to do, but fast forward to the next spring. I was taking the boat out for the first run of the year. Got 1000' feet from the dock and the engine stopped. I opened the hatch. Cream coloured foam everywhere.

Yes, I didn't winterize the motor properly and cracked the engine block right down the lifter valley.


Talked to my local marine mechanic who was a former Auzzie boat racer. He knew that I wanted to go faster and said there were limited things I could do with the alpha leg on the back. We ended up ordering a 502 Magnum, which he gave me a screaming deal on while keeping the 350 Mag/Alpha parts in return.


While the engine was out and we were waiting weeks for the 502 to arrive, it was time to have a look at the boat and ensure the stringers were going to handle all that power.
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Old 09-30-2020, 05:31 PM
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So it didn't take much work to start prying the floor deck from where the seats were fastened. My contact from the manufacturer was correct. There was rot and it was extensive. Lots of reading and asking questions made me realize that the inside of the hull had to be gutted. The only part that I didn't really do was in the cuddy cabin, although in retrospect I wish that I would have. It would have meant that I had a known enduring structure there.

So when this boat was made, the plywood inner structure was choppered to the hull. As I peeled out the rotten plywood (from the cockpit to the transom) I also noticed how the choppered glass as thick as it was, did not hold well. It was not connected to the hull in the way I expected.
After getting down close to the bare hull, I contacted the manufacturer to ensure the hull was not going to oil-can then headed to their plant to see how they built their boats.

Turns out the newer models did not have any wood in the hull except for the transom, and they were getting a "boat panel" from Oregon, which was pressure-treated marine plywood that was kiln dried after the pressure treating. I ordered a few sheets along with looking at their fiberglass stringers to figure out how I was going build the structure and stringers.

I'll add in that for work I was a builder and had been a carpenter, along with doing many fiberglass sundecks over the years, so I had a bit of background that would help. I know how to build things structurally sound. Quite a few of the books that I read on boats and fiberglass helped as well. Learning that I needed a cushion between the hull and the structure so I didn't get hard spots and cracking. Also knowing that the 502 was far more horsepower than the original boat was built for, meant I would redo the design of the stringers and transom.

I went to work on the inner hull prepping and noticed that the areas that the frame had been choppered to the hull were still peeling away. I could peel glass strands off literally by hand. I didn't like that and seemed like a weak base for the structure to attach to. So I spent another week of nights taking all of that off. Once I did that, I ground the area and gave everything a coat of unwaxed resin. When I did that you could literally see the areas that still needed attention, so I ground those off and ended up with a solid surface to start from.

Kind of spent a week thinking about how the engine torque and load would transfer through the hull, the fuel tank location, batteries location(s), X- dimension, trim tabs location and positioning, how I was going to add extra material to support the bolster seats. I also was going to delete all the carpet and go with a gelcoat finish. One of the biggest changes, after encountering the rot, was to devise a way so that any water that somehow entered the hull, would have a way to escape through the bilge and out. A little bit of plumbing.

I'll try and dig up my old pics of this process to post later

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Old 10-01-2020, 01:19 PM
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Thanks for sharing this story. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Mirage boats. I sold mine a couple years ago. Here are the restoration pics of mine:

'87 Mirage Intruder restoration pics
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Old 10-01-2020, 11:18 PM
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I can't quote your post yet, but Thanks for sharing your restoration link. It looks like you did a great job, so I'll be revisiting your page as things move along.

here is a link to the stringer system I incorporated with the 502 in mind (add the https colon backlash x 2) photos.app.goo.gl/rnP81oqktDwYtEXU6

So this engine has not been run in 13 years, but I stored it properly and ran a good heater in the engine bay the whole time.

Well on to my struggles tonight with starting. Backing up about a week and a half, I pumped out the fuel tank changed the filters etc, but could only get it to run on starting fluid. So I guess it was fuel. I think during that time, I probably strained the starter.

I even pumped out the VST and pumped out the stale fuel from the fuel links

Anyway I went and had the injectors serviced (they were bad) put them back in. Tonight on the first couple cranks it seemed like it wanted to run, then I couldn't crank it anymore.
I think it's the brand new sh!tty batteries I bought, but it could be the starter or worst case the bearings/rings lost their lube and the engine is stuck.

So I pulled the plugs, just in case the exhaust manifolds leaked/rusted and filled it with water. They look dirty but okay, so back to the batteries, starter and/or engine block.
Didn't crank with the plugs pulled either, and batteries boosted.
The battery charger shows a lousy charge reading on the batteries, so I think that's where I will begin.

A lot of flaking on the exhaust manifolds, so I think during that process I'll replace those as well.

Keeping my fingers crossed, that it's the batteries
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Old 10-05-2020, 10:34 PM
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A little more research and some diagnosis, led me to trying the starter first.

Meanwhile I had already pulled the spark plugs so I replaced those while I was at it.

I did a little video research on how to re and re these starters, and took it out on the weekend. Not as evil as I thought it would be.
Picked up a new starter tonight and put it in tonight.
The engine cranked thankfully and sounds like it is wanting to run.

I didn't crank the s#!t out of it like last time. I decided to go to the gas station and add another 5 gallons of fuel just in case it wasn't picking it up. Also got a little squirt bottle and tried adding a little fuel to the throttle body to see if I could get it to fire.

No luck, still on the cusp but not quite there. I'm going to do a little more research on the fuel system. The gear oil was topped up in the water pump fuel pump reservoir so I assume that the lever is okay. That might lead me to the pump in the VST.
When I looked at the distributor, everything looked okay.

So I'll keep digging for a few more days before I let my mechanic have a look.
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Old 10-18-2020, 01:24 PM
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Last week I dropped the boat off at the mechanic.

It was quite a fun event rushing to get the trailer hooked up. The amazon tongue jack I bought broke the 1st time I used it. Had to get the floor jack out, and still there was a deadline. That night my boat was going where a long dragster was sitting and being picked up just ahead of me. Then on the way I found out what a $hitty tow vehicle I had in the fx4 f150. It was being pushed everywhere by the boat. Took my time.

The shop has a few more race cars/dragsters that are on the list, so I told him that I wasn't in a hurry. Keep my fingers crossed that nothing major is going on.

In the meantime I did a lot of research on the F150 and have about $1K in parts ordered to try and make it a decent tow vehicle.

Talked to the trailer manufacturer so when I get the boat back, I can have all the parts I need to have the trailer set up.
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Old 10-18-2020, 02:21 PM
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I'm no Ford fan but the F150 is not a bad truck and I would think it would pull that Mirage no problem unless it has some outrageously small engine package in it. I would bet the culprit is more likely the trailer and not the truck.

Now if your telling the wife this as the reason for getting a new truck..... carry on sir nevermind what I said.
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Old 10-18-2020, 05:41 PM
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Not sure what year or how your F-150 is optioned but I had a 2010 FX4 w/5.4L and 3.73’s and after adding a tow tune from Mike at 5 Star it towed my 8K lb. 26’er just fine. I currently have a stock ‘15 Platinum w/5.0L and 3.50’s and though not as good as the tuned ‘10 it did fine as well.
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Old 10-19-2020, 11:54 AM
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I towed my Mirage 217 no problem with half ton trucks over the years. I had a '04 Titan, '09 Ram Hemi, and a '16 Ram Hemi. My Mirage had a Calkins galvanized tandem axle under it. Towed really nice.

In '18 when I sold the Mirage and got a Nordic 28 Heat with a tri axle, the '16 Ram Hemi towed that no problem either, I just put air bags in the rear springs. (Now I use a 2500 Cummins to tow it)
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Old 10-19-2020, 11:59 AM
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Thanks guys for your thoughts

Originally Posted by Awash View Post
I'm no Ford fan but the F150 is not a bad truck and I would think it would pull that Mirage no problem unless it has some outrageously small engine package in it. I would bet the culprit is more likely the trailer and not the truck.

Now if your telling the wife this as the reason for getting a new truck..... carry on sir nevermind what I said.
Since I've had the boat and trailer for about 30 years towed behind multiple vehicles, and this is the first one that's gone squirrely I'm leaning towards the truck

Well a new truck is on the radar, but I do plan on keeping this for a bit if I can.

Originally Posted by Knot 4 Me View Post
Not sure what year or how your F-150 is optioned but I had a 2010 FX4 w/5.4L and 3.73’s and after adding a tow tune from Mike at 5 Star it towed my 8K lb. 26’er just fine. I currently have a stock ‘15 Platinum w/5.0L and 3.50’s and though not as good as the tuned ‘10 it did fine as well.
Yeah I agree with you, while power is adequate, I've researched and there are multiple threads on the internet about tow-sway with this truck. Because it's an FX4, I am thinking it's soft sprung. This gives it a passenger car like ride in town unloaded, but not the best for towing. The simple fixes where guys have improved the handling, were overload springs, shocks and anti-sway bar, which I have already ordered.

If that really works well, I may look at matching the upgrades on the front shocks.
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