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  1. #1
    Ryguy425425's Avatar
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    Waverunner 500 restoration questions

    I'm going to throw out a little bit of back story here, feel free to skip the first paragraph.

    A few weeks ago I picked up a Yamaha Waverunner 500. Although I had never considered a PWC before, I saw this one on the side of the road and decided it looked too fun to pass up. I knocked on the door and an older guy told me he was selling it for a friend. He told me it had been in the water a month ago, and that it was a 1985. The price was right, I made an offer and brought it home. Research tells me it is not an '85, as this model was built (I believe) between '87 and '92. Any indication of the year on any label has faded to the point that it is no longer legible. The date on the trailer is Feb '95, indicating it was purchased later. The Cape Cod sticker and ware on one side tell me it was left at a cottage in salt water for the first few years of it's life. I bring this up only to help you guys help me figure out what needs to be replaced. The Waverunner not only runs, but I've put a solid 10 hours on it in the few weeks it's been mine. I've started the process of painting the top half of the hull, and now I want to move on to making it run better. Research tells me the top speed should be in the high 30s. I honestly might be reaching that; I haven't been on a boat with a speedometer since dad sold his Bayliner 8 years ago. My biggest concern right now is acceleration. To me it seems like it should be getting up to speed faster for something that it so light and 32 HP. I remember tubing and jetskiing behind a Waverunner maybe 10 years ago, and I believe it was a Waverunner 500 (Based on how it looks, and the fact that we also used a 30HP outboard on a fiberglass fishing boat to ski in the same lake). I have tried pulling a tube, and it did not work well. I have 3 target areas of the waverunner that I am going to attack in order to make it run like new, but most of this probably won't happen until the end of the season. I would however like to get my acceleration up if I can before then. Budget is not unlimited, I don't want to have a fortune tied up in something that will never be as fast as something 10 years newer, but I like the small size of this Waverunner, and getting it for a low price means I don't mind spending a few hundred on parts.

    1. The carb could use a little bit of attention. Sometimes the bike will fire up with pressing the starter for a second and a half, sometimes it will hesitate and take a few tries to get it going. I will most likely just take it apart and clean it, but I will rebuild if nessecary (or highly advised by you guys).
    2. There is a small amount of exhaust gas present in the engine compartment. I initially thought it was an exhaust leak, but it appears to be coming from the head gasket. This doesn't SEEM to be effecting the performance of the engine however. I could be wrong though (as I've never seen one in perfect running condition). The exhaust gases might be choking the engine, or (assuming it is the head gasket) a loss in compression could be causing a loss in power. The leak appears to be very small though, and I feel like I could be hitting what the top speed should be (or reasonably close to it). I plan on coming up with a temporary fix to finish the season, and then taking the motor apart this winter.
    3. My research has shown that the most likely cause of poor acceleration is something related to the jet unit. Specifically the wear ring around the impeller, or the impeller it's self. This is where my main questions are. Specifically, what do I need to check and replace? I will inspect the impeller for severe pitting or other damage, but should I also check the diameter? I will use a feeler to check the clearance, but where do I go from there when I see it is too high? Is it just a wear ring around the impeller that needs to be changed, or will the outer edge of the impeller be worn and need to be replaced? I wasn't initially planning on going for a stainless aftermarket impeller, but if my current one is worn then that's the route I'd go. If it is the wear ring, then that would save me a few bucks. Or maybe there's another component of the jet unit I'm missing? If I was going for a high performance PWC, this isn't where I'd start. But it's been a lot of fun, and I'd be perfectly happy with it if I could tow a few kids around the lake on a tube.

    Thanks for reading all of this! I look forward to hearing your replies!
    Picture is as it sat when I found it!
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  2. #2

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    Is there still a HIN plate on the ski? The last two digits will tell you the model year. It's located at the rear of the ski and should be rivited to the hull. If it is bolted or glued in it might NOT be the correct matching hull.

  3. #3

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    I also have a WR500 that I'm going through. It starts up right away with no problems. I replaced the impeller as it was really eaten up. The original impellers were cast aluminum and not very strong. I still have my original impeller, I'll take a pic of it and post it later. Anyway a bad impeller can cause loss of accelleration or none at all. Get a flashlight and look down through the jet nozzle. Check for minimal clearance around the impeller to the wear ring. Then check for worn fins on the impeller, a small chip in the fins can cause power loss. As far as the carb, If you have a square body rebuild it. If it's a round body replace it with a square body. Replace fuel filter? Just a note, I have a small amount of exhaust fumes under the hood also but doesn't seem to affect anything.

  4. #4
    DaddyT and RYGuy,

    I am in Alabama and I bought (2) 500's just like the one pictured last month. They are both non-runners and bought them from seperate people, but the price was right. I was told that when they both ran about 2-3 years ago, they ran great. All of a sudden the one ski just stopped starting up (haha, right after they had just ridden it). I have a service manual, and am in the process of trying to fix/diagnose it, but since I really have no expeierence with a jet ski; I could really use some help from someone who does. If you'll read my recent posts, you'll see the problems and questions I am having. My email is [email protected] if any of you would like to email me regarding the ski.

    Hope to hear back from both of you soon, and good luck with your new find!

  5. #5

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    vintageboater, you can PM me if you have any questions.

  6. #6
    Ryguy425425's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaddyT View Post
    Is there still a HIN plate on the ski? The last two digits will tell you the model year. It's located at the rear of the ski and should be rivited to the hull. If it is bolted or glued in it might NOT be the correct matching hull.
    It is molded into the hull, but before now I didn't know how to decode it! Thanks!

    I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one here working on one of these! There doesn't seem to be a whole lot on information on them compaired to other models!

    Maybe the exhaust gas is something I don't need to be concerned about! That would free up time and the budget for a nice impeller!

    I believe I do have the round bodied carb (But I'll double check tomorrow). Is the square body something I can find used off a different model, or should I look for a vendor of a new one?

    I'd be glad to see any information about these waverunners! I'll post pictures of what I find tomorrow when I check my impeller, and I'll throw up some pics of it now that I've got the painting process started!

    Edit: just thought I'd add it's an '89! Did you get your impeller from the green hulk store? Does the wear ring (or any other component of the jet unit) need to be changed as well?
    Last edited by Ryguy425425; 07-31-2012 at 08:38 PM. Reason: Add info

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryguy425425 View Post
    It is molded into the hull, but before now I didn't know how to decode it! Thanks!

    I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one here working on one of these! There doesn't seem to be a whole lot on information on them compaired to other models!

    Maybe the exhaust gas is something I don't need to be concerned about! That would free up time and the budget for a nice impeller!

    I believe I do have the round bodied carb (But I'll double check tomorrow). Is the square body something I can find used off a different model, or should I look for a vendor of a new one?

    I'd be glad to see any information about these waverunners! I'll post pictures of what I find tomorrow when I check my impeller, and I'll throw up some pics of it now that I've got the painting process started!

    Edit: just thought I'd add it's an '89! Did you get your impeller from the green hulk store? Does the wear ring (or any other component of the jet unit) need to be changed as well?
    To my knowledge there are still quite a few around. They are pretty reliable skis just not the fastest. That might be the reason we don't see alot of info on them. These skis did what they said they would do and were a blast in their day.

    If you can find someone parting out an early 90's Yamaha grab the carb and rebuild it. Of course you can check the classifieds here on Greenhulk, someone will have one available. You don't need to spend $ on a new one.

    How to determine if you have a BN or Super BN (SBN) Carburetor
    The photo to the left is of a Mikuni Super BN (SBN) square body carburetor. Note the pump cover is a square body assembled using four Philips head screws. Click image to enlarge.

    The photo to the left is of a Mikuni BN round body carburetor. Note the pump cover is a round body assembled using six Philips head screws. Click image to enlarge. Click image to enlarge.



    If your current impeller is spinning without contacting wear ring you should be ok with the ring. This should free up some cash for an impeller.

    Another option is to swap out the 500cc with a 650cc or 701cc. It would make a nice sleeper. Just throwing that idea out there in case you get an itch.

  8. #8
    Ryguy425425's Avatar
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    Perfect! It looks like I've got the square body carb already! I checked today and the impeller is showing some wear. I figured the wear ring would have worn instead of the impeller, leaving too big of a gap even with the new impeller. It's definitely not contacting anything, so I'll leave it there! For some reason I was thinking nothing but another 500 would bolt in, a 701 swap might become my fall project!
    Right now I'm just deciding what impeller pitch would give me the low end to occasionally pull a tube, without losing any top end (any recommendations?). I think I'll try that with a new set of plugs and see where that takes me!

  9. #9

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    Here are a few pics the old impeller off the WR500 and a wear ring off a WaveRaider.
    You can see how badly the impeller is eaten up. The large gaps between the fins were causing the ski not to have any thrust.

    The wear ring has actually swollen in some spots which can make the impeller jam and not rotate. If your ski wants to start but won't this may be the culprit. It will be the easiest thing to check and eliminate.

  10. #10
    Ryguy425425's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaddyT View Post
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    Here are a few pics the old impeller off the WR500 and a wear ring off a WaveRaider.
    You can see how badly the impeller is eaten up. The large gaps between the fins were causing the ski not to have any thrust.

    The wear ring has actually swollen in some spots which can make the impeller jam and not rotate. If your ski wants to start but won't this may be the culprit. It will be the easiest thing to check and eliminate.
    Thanks! That's the last little kick I needed to order a new impeller! From what I can see with a flashlight, mine isn't in much better shape then this one!

    I guess the post I made last night didn't work (Must have done something stupid like clicked preview then quit). It looks like I've already got the square body carb! As for the wear ring I guess I assumed they were designed to wear out instead of the edge of the impeller, also good news as I won't have to replace mine now! A 701 swap would make a real beast! I might have to search some classifieds and make that my winter project!

    As for right now, I think I'm going to order a Solas impeller. Now I just need to figure out which pitch would be best to be able to occasionally pull a tube without losing any top end (Any suggestions?). I think I'll try that with a set of plugs and see where that gets me!

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