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  1. #1

    Ultra 150 issues... New owner

    Hello All,

    My little Brother just went to college and gave me his '99 Ultra 150. This ski seems to be a real problem. Its never been reliable always having issues. He (my brother) purchased this ski on a trade in at a local kawasaki shop about 3 years ago. Here is a short list of problems that HE has had with it.
    - Hard to start. (Ghost reading on the forum I see this is common)
    - Takes on Water... While at the lake house this thing would sit anchored over night and in the morning it would almost be underwater! The local Kawasaki Dealership did a water test and determined it was the impeller shaft seal that was leaking. (According to them it was really bad)
    As of 8-11-11 (when I took the ski out, second time I have ever rode it) it was still very hard to start ( I removed the air box and used some starting fluid ) after it ran a while starting was not an issue until I removed the plugs. ( will go into details about that breifly) Just out of the NWZ I held her WFO and it bogged for 30+ seconds. I thought this may have been caused by it running rich and oil build up. But after burning that out and jetting around the lake when I would corner and come out it would bog more. 15+ sec. This continued to be an issue for about a half hour. So I went back to the trailer and pulled the plugs. They were not fouled at all. The middle cylnder looked a lil grey. Also Cylinders #1 and #3 were running the NGK-R R6918-9 (stock plug) while cylinder #2 was running an NGK BR9ES. I reversed Cylinder #1 and #2 plugs to see if it made a difference. At this point there was also a lot of water in the hull. Ski was extremely hard to start once the plugs were removed and swapped (aprox 4 min. time on trailer) I had to repeat the steps stated above to get it started. Once I cleared the NWZ again held it WFO and the bog was still there 45+ seconds. I was with my friend who was riding a 98 ZXi-1100 and when my ski was running decent He would scream past me. (The first time I rode this ski I had water coming out the sides of my eyes it was so fast!!! That did not happen that day)
    Today 8-14 I did a water test and I could not find any water leaking. I filled the hull up to the base of the carbs. I also checked hoses and it seems that everything is connected.
    I have a really good relationship with the local Kawasaki dealership here ( I raced MX for 6+ years and they were my sponsor) but this ski hasnt been right since they worked on it last. I am curious to know if any of you have had any of these similar problems with your ski's. It seems like Steve45, Mustang and BTL have had a lot of experiance with them.
    Thanks Guys,
    A Baird

  2. #2
    steve45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    These things are hard to start after they've sat for days. I'd suggest primers--but don't remove the chokes or the carbs won't meter fuel correctly.

    Not unusual for the driveshaft seal to leak, there are lots of posts here about that. You really don't want a lot of water getting into the hull. It will eventually work it's way into all the electrical boxes, the stator housing, the starter, etc. and make a mess. The drive shaft will also sling it around and it will get sucked into the air intake. My 'Ski had a leak once, turned out to be the rubber washers on the drain plugs. That was a cheap fix, used to garden hose washers.

    I'd try a new set of spark plugs. Check the serial number of your hull to determine if you need to run the expensive plugs or not. Hull # 41803 and lower had advanced timing and required the high dollar plugs.

  3. #3
    Steve is that the HDPE # ?? If so it is a 46075...

    The guys at the local Kawi dealer said it ran better with the BR9ES plugs rather than the other... I dont know if I trust that or not though...

  4. #4
    steve45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Not sure what HDPE is, but I'm referring to the data plate that's riveted to the back of the hull.

  5. #5
    Ah, the Ultra 150. Brings back some pleasant memories . . . . First, the 1999 model needed the NGK-R R6918-9 because of advanced ignition timing. 2000+ year models can run the BR9ES. so unless someone changed the ignition to a year 2000 model or later, I would run the stock plugs! These things are really not designed to stay in the water overnite . . . although in an emergency they can, but they will take on some water. I had the 2000 ultra 150, and a few stx-r's too (all had the same CV Carbs). And they were prone to corrosion on the inside if water was left in the hull with seat on (turkish bath syndrome). I appreciate the fact that you have a good relationship with your local dealer. But these things are not dirt bikes. Over on there is a section in the Forums: Harry Klemm - GroupK
    He and his brother know this particular boat well and may be able to offer you the best possible guidance / options at this juncture

  6. #6
    witness140's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    46075 means you can run the BR9ES plugs. Kawi changed the ignition during the 1999 production run. Yes, they did put the warning sticker on every arrestor cover all year. But no - not ALL 1999's require the $$ plugs.

    Don't fill the ski with water to bottom of carbs ever again. The electrical boxes are all 12 years old and may not be as sealed as they were in the early 2000's. if you want to see some photos of an E-box that wasn't so sealed and saw some water that was never emptied, let me know.

    There is a plastic cover that goes over the driveshaft coupler behind the engine. It is secured with 2 bolts (10mm socket) on each side of engine. (4 total) Remove that cover. Ride with the seat off and watch the black driveshaft bearing holder. You will want to check this at higher rpm's. You are looking to see if water begins to spray out of this bearing carrier.

    Also worth checking the black rubber O-rings on your hull plugs. They sometimes dryrot over the years and the ski actually leaks slowly from the hull plugs on transom overnight.

    Other possible source of water leak is the water line from jet pump inside the hull. This line is 1/2" ID and has a corrugated black plastic protective coating on it. You can see it on left side of ski (facing forward) below exhaust pipe. It comes up the left side from the pump along the waterbox then crosses under the exhaust and wanders underneath cylinder bank. This is where it goes into the water log. This is a contraption that feeds water to all 3 cylinders from that hose. You can check to see if that is leaking while the ski is running as well. Feel it after you run to see if it is wet.

    Those are some key areas to look at for your water problem. The dealer probably found your bearing carrier to be bad already, but may as well verify yourself. This is really common on Ultras. Not hard to fix either if you have basic mechanical skills.

    Next - realize that Ultra 150 engines grenade daily if something is amiss. If you realize you have issues - STOP. Discontinue the practice of looking at things you probably don't understand and then running it "WFO" over and over hoping or wishing that by just looking at it or wondering about it things might suddenly become better.

    Understand this. If the reason for your bogging etc is something bad (which goes way beyond looking at spark plugs) running it WFO for awhile might cause a BFB. (big f##*ing bang)

    You need to go through the basics. Rule #1 with an Ultra 150 that is purchased or acquired......beyond cranking it to check compressions and seeing if it fires.....don't even run the engine until you've checked the Ultra pyramid of life.

    The pyramid has 3 corners. Carburetion - Oil - Cooling.

    The Carb corner is basically carburetion. This is the 'is it running lean' corner. If the carbs are old, have never been cleaned, are corroded, gummed up, etc - this corner will cause a BFB. In this corner we can also throw in jackwagon mods. These are the ones where a clueless individual with an ebay or paypal account decides to just add aftermarket flame arrestors or some other carb mod without knowing how anything works. These are easy to spot. The removal of the choke plates for a redneck primer install is one. Aftermarket F/A's that cover the ambient air slot on the carb case is another. Heck, even people that can afford tools but don't have the common sense to buy or find a free service manual can mess up this corner of the pyramid. These are the ones that love to take stuff apart and mistakenly put their carb retaining rings on upside down and block the slot. Or they take the carbs off, spray carb cleaner all over them, and then put them back on with the original 1999 gaskets - cuz making them for $5 or paying $15 is out of the question on an engine that costs an easy $1500-$2000 to rebuild after a BFB.

    The Oil corner is your lubrication system. Common weak link here is the oil lines. This corner of the pyramid usually results in BFB's from cylinder #2. This happens when the ancient oil lines split. #2 relies exclusively on that oil line to the carb to lubricate it. So usually dead #2's are from bad oil lines. Pumps rarely fail. Sometimes you might find with this corner that some bonehead PO decided to do a premix conversion of some sort. These are complicated and unnecessary on the Ultra.

    The Cooling corner is self explanatory. If you plug the cooling system - most common spot would be at that ridiculous 90 degree cylinder head fitting Kawasaki put on their 1200's - you overheat a cylinder and can also cause a BFB.

    Always always always throroughly check everything in this Ultra pyramid before even taking the ski on the lake again.

    If I were you.....

    I'd be checking my compressions immediately. If you don't have a gauge, go to advanced auto and get one. Under $30 investment. Cold engine, remove a plug, put the gauge in. Leave other 2 plugs in. Ground wires to that fancy ground block at back of cylinder bank. Good battery. (this means a battery that has more than 12 volts static. Not 10.5, not 11, but actually 12. That is why they are called 12 volt batteries.) Throttle WFO. Choke OFF. Crank engine. Read gauge. Check other 2 same way. Typical numbers are over 100, all close to each other. Each gauge has it's own personality, and CV carbs don't quite work like other carbs - so comparing numbers with your friends is tough on the Ultra.

    I'd never use starting fluid to get the ski running. That's like going for it without lube to get lubed if you know what I mean. Ultimately ends up with that feel good feeling......but hurts like hell for a second or two. Use a little premix instead next time. Use a bulb or something creative and just squirt it into a spark plug hole. Easier than messing with the arrestor.

    I would check your checkvalve in your tank to see if it's working. You should be able to remove the return fuel line, blow into it (with a tight gas cap and valve off) and meet resistance. If you don't encounter resistance, you are more than likely blowing through a bad checkvalve.

    Next check. Remove arrestor box completely. See the black rings in the arrestor box? The rubber ones? They all have slots in them. Now look at those metal circular grey rings that are on top of each carb. They have slots too. These slots should all be at the top. If any are upside down.....that is bad. Now check your choke operation. Are all the plates closing when you put the choke on? Now check your throttle. When you squeeze the trigger - are all 3 carbs operating smoothly? Sometimes the throttle plate shaft gets gummed up and the carbs aren't all working in synch. Next take your inspection mirror and your flashlight. Set up the mirror so you are looking down the carb throat. Start the engine. Rev with the throttle. Look into the throat as you do this. There is a black rubber piece that should open up as you rev the engine. All 3 cylinders should respond similarly to this check. If not, report back. This is bad. These black thing-a-mu-jigs are what makes the CV carb a CV carb. They are vacuum valves. They respond to differences in air pressure and vary the venturi opening to make the carb air flow - "Constant Velocity" Wow. CV. Problem is these are connected to a gigantic needle. If one of those valves isn't means the needle isn't opening. If the needle isn't opening, it isn't getting the fuel it needs. But guess what....that might only be happening with one cylinder. The other 2 pedal away as fast as they can because they are healthy. Your engine is doing 5000rpm. But the stuck vacuum valve is only allowing 1800rpm worth of fuel and oil to go into that cylinder. Uh oh........BFB.

    I'd check the oil lines. Take off the F/A and feel the lines. Get an inspection mirror and good flashlight. See if there is any evidence of the lines weeping or leaking. There are 5 lines. 3 are really important. 2 are just plain ole' important. I'd bleed the main oil line from tank to pump too. I would also check the oil pump cable. If this is busted, the pump goes to WFO on the oil flow. Failsafe. Puts max flow of oil to carbs at all times. Tends to foul plugs.

    I would remove the cooling hoses from the cylinder heads and stick some safety wire into the fittings. Fish around. Take a hose and put it on each fitting and blow some air in. Blow out the pisser hoses in the hull to make sure they are all clear.

    Once your pyramid is all set and everything is nice nice there, you can run it with confidence knowing that something huge isn't wrong that will give you a BFB and a repair bill next time you run WFO.

    Then you might want to think about your pump. Maybe your bog is actually cavitation? Some folks can't distinguish. Two types of 1999 Ultra 150 jet pumps. Those that HAVE been rebuilt and those that NEED to be rebuilt. Yours is one or the other. Check the impeller. Is it bent? Damaged? Hows the clearance between the wear ring and the impeller? To check it correctly you have to pull the pump and feeler gauge it. Pulling the pump will be fun on an otherwise never touched 99'. We can cover that later. Get a general idea with a good droplight from behind it as best you can. Look and see how much light gap you see around the impeller. Some say to pull the cone and check for water. If you get to that point, actually getting the cone off intact is near impossible an an older Ultra. The lugs usually break. I'd say if the impeller looks ok, and the gap looks ok by eye, then look at the rideplate. Does it look like it's been messed with? Like someone took it off at some point? There is an 'eyeglass seal' between the plate and the pump. It's a rubber seal with two circles linked by a line. Looks like - - - yeah! An eyeglass set. If this seal is compromised, you can get some bad low end cavitation.

    My guess is your carbs haven't been looked at since 1999 when Kawi put them on there. They need to be gone through. For under $200 you can do a decent rebuild yourself if mechanically average and you can follow directions. Even a good cleaning is great, but to rip them off, take em' apart, may as well do it right. Correctly operating carbs on a 1200 are gold.

    Oh yeah, also - dont be running around the lake on this thing without the arrestor box on. That's been rumored to be a bad deal if done excessively or carelessly. There's some contention about it, but lets just lump that into the same category as removing the choke plates for a redneck primer system. It changes airflow into the CV carbs, and since carb is one corner of pyramid, lets not mess with it.

    I joke about the BFB's but there are photos on the net of Ultra hulls with holes in the underside from connecting rods. No, not just holes in the crankcase, but out the actual bottom!! If you grenade a cylinder, usually it frags pieces down into the crankcase. It's tight tolerance between crankshaft and case. That commonly causes a busted bottom case.

    Here's some numbers to think about.

    Each Cylinder repair (replating the Nikasil) at USchrome $250
    Kawi piston,ring,pin,clip set $140 each
    Gasket seal set $150
    Crank Rebuild $500
    Used Crankcase Set $300
    Used Cylinder heads in good shape $30 each

    Oh finally......get a service manual.

    Good luck!

  7. +1 by:

  8. #7
    Thanks Steve and Witness! The pyrimid makes great since! I have checked compression before in each cylinder but I dont remember what it was right now. so it couldnt have been bad. However I am going to check it again tonight. I think you guys are spot on with the carbs. Is using the aftermarket rebuild kits (from SBT or Riva) A good idea? Or should I keep it stock? While doing all of this I will replace all oil lines just to make sure we dont have a BFB.

    Thanks again and I will report back in a few days!

    A Baird

  9. #8
    btldigger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    lebanon tn.
    Wow nice response witness lots of good info for ultra owners.

    I would be checking that compression quick. That gray plug out of #2 could be a bad sign best to catch it early.

    After a good going over and a little guidance from some of us here it should be a reliable ski.

  10. #9
    excellent post Witness!!!

    Probably the best part is when you say to stop!! I have seen what happens when you have a BFB and it aint good!
    I know t was said, but check that pump, you will destroy the wear ring if the bearings are gone, not a BFB, but still an unnecessary expense

  11. #10
    steve45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Thanks, Witness! That was a great write-up!

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