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  1. #1

    SUV-HO Conversion

    I picked up another SUV back in October that I knew about for a couple years because I was in the mood for a project. This originally was a salt water rental in FL and only had 144 hours. The engine was bad and was out of the hull and in many pieces. I didn't care because I planned on doing a conversion anyway.

    To get to this point, I did a full mechanical (everything removed and either repaired, cleaned up, or replaced) and cosmetic restoration so that when I found a suitable donor, I could get right to work on the conversion! Here are a few picks of the progress.

    This is the day I picked it up from a guy in Kentucky. This picture makes it look a lot better than it was. The seat was kept inside because there was no vinyl left, which was good, but the engine compartment was filled with water, leaves, alge, etc. What a mess...

    After cleaning up the engine compartment, I had to drill some holes so that I could shop-vac the water out from between the inner and outer hull. With the engine removed, the water can get in through the motor mount bolt holes...

    Then it was time to shine it up. There wasn't any shine on the white gelcoat and the clearcoat on the hood and cowl was bad. The white gelcoat buffed right out and after some minor gel repair, it looked very good. The bottom was another story. Here is a before and a couple of after pics:

    Here's a pic of the completed restoration - new decals, new paint on the hood and cowl, and new vinyl on the seats:

    Now for the conversion - I just got back from a quick road trip to Florida to pick up a fresh-water 2004 FX HO with 91 hours on it in pretty good condition. Runs very well and should make the SUV much happier I'll just sell the FX hull after I'm done taking out what I need.

    Now I just need to get started. More to come...

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    LI, NY
    Cool project, keep posting them pics.

  3. #3
    At the Beach BeachTyme's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Here's a link to the same thing I had done to my SUV:

    and a little more detail:

  4. #4
    Thanks BeachTyme! I've read both of your threads many times and they've been the major motivation behind my conversion. Starting tomorrow I'll be working on pulling the engine and other parts I'll need out of the FX hull.

    I have a couple of questions I wanted to ask you and I'm sure I'll have a few more as I get further along:

    What impeller are you using? With the 12/18 I was thinking the HO engine would spin up to the rev limiter too fast so I was leaning toward the 14/20 like the FX used stock would probably work best. Any ideas on this are appreciated...

    Which intermediate shaft did you end up using? Since I haven't pulled the FX shaft out yet I don't know if they're the same length or not.

    For the front motor mounts, did you have to add aluminum backing plates? From what I can tell I'll need to but I figured I'd ask.

    How much room do you have to get the oil fill cap off? It looks tight from your picture. I was thinking about making a hinged or removable plate for that area to allow easier access.

    Did you end up having to cut into the seat base to clear the air box?

    Thanks, and like I said, I'm sure I'll have more questions

  5. #5
    ksalles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Slidell, La.
    Another cool conversion. I'll be looking forward to the progress. Good luck and as others said...keep the pics coming.

  6. #6
    Cliff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Middle Tennessee
    Great job so far. I think it is funny that you went to Kentucky to get a salt water ski and Florida for a fresh water ski.

  7. #7
    LOL! I hadn't thought of that...too funny

  8. #8
    Quick update...

    I removed the ecm and wiring harness from the FX the other day along with the throttle bodies and air box. Short of a few water hoses and motor mount bolts, the engine is ready to pull - maybe this weekend...

    On the SUV, thanks to BeachTyme and Bruce, I was able to tell from their pictures where to make the hull cuts so that's done and ready to test-fit the engine. Sure beats trial-and-error I figured out what to do about relocating the front motor mounts. I'm going to use some 3/8" aluminum for new backing plates. I had enough left over from another project and it's a much harder alloy than what you normally get from hardware stores. The only real issue is that the foam between the hull sections was water-logged. I dug out all I could but unfortunately I can't get all the foam from the crevices so I'll have put a fan on it for a day or two to finish drying it out.

    I'm also designing a pair of aluminum brackets to mount the ECU box. Width-wise, there's barely enough room to mount it but it won't be a big deal. So far it looks like the FX gas tank will fit as-is so if that pans out it will save a lot of time retrofiting the pump/pick-up assembly on the SUV tank.

    I'll get some pics of the progress this weekend...

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    South Florida
    Please don't take this as negative. What will the SUV with the HO engine do appreciably better than the FXHO as is?

    Props to you for taking on such a project. You made that hull look new.

  10. #10
    The HO is fine the way it is, but I like SUV's because of their size and the way they handle rougher water. I plan to rig this one for fishing - nothing too radical, just a GPS/Sonar and a couple rod holders. I also like the extra storage.

    The main problem with the SUV's is the 1200 NPV was somewhat underpowered and wasn't good on gas either. The HO engine should take care of both issues as long as I can lay off the throttle

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