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  1. #1

    1983 Kawasaki JS 550

    Hi everyone, I'm new to owning a Jet Ski, I've rented stand ups a few times in the past but never owned a PWC. I picked up this 1983 550 that I've taken to Chatfield Reservoir a few times and it ran like a champ. I took it a third time and it had problems starting after a few runs and the battery wore down. I took it home and tried to charge the battery but it had problems holding a charge and it didn't want to turn over. I thought the engine might be seized or the pump possibly so I began pulling the jet pump off just to take a look. I had the cone off and I was going to finish pulling the pump off this morning. I tried starting it and it started turning over but the battery quickly died. I'm 90 percent sure it's a dead battery that's my problem, it won't hold a charge. I have to order up a new one soon because I want to get back on the lake with this ski soon before it gets cold. This winter I plan to do all the fiberglass repair and paint, I plan to paint it lime green metallic with original black decals I saw on ebay. I took a look at the propellor, there's some scuffs but no chips or nicks so I'm not sure if it's in need of replacement. I cleaned out the engine bay of all grease really good and used up about 8 rags and I used a can of engine degreaser spray. The ski has an aftermarket ride plate and an aftermarket waterbox. I was considering an engine rebuild if the motor was seized but luckily it was probably just a flooded carb and bad battery because the engine is turning over again. I've been reading the forum and getting a lot of info on how to paint the top and bottom using gelcoat and the detailed methods, it's been very helpful, I wish I had read it all before I painted my e30 recently. I need to get some hydroturf, I've been getting pretty bruised up. So far it's been a blast and I'm already thinking about buying another stand up someday and a trailer too, so far I've just been loading it up in the back of my F-150 with a friend and it works great. I want to fix it up but for now I think I'll just pull some stickers off and do a little sanding and put the pump back in if the battery solves my problem. I installed a new primer pump, the old one only worked half the time. Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Congrats on your 550!
    I also just got a 550 as well - 1991 JS550C1, the first year 550 with a reed valve engine & rear exhaust.
    If you master how to ride 550, you can ride any standup ski no problem!

    You mentioned no cranking, dead battery, etc. but you never measured battery voltage?

    You also mentioned possible engine seizure but you never measured compression?

    You also mentioned impeller (not propeller) blade condition but you never measured impeller tip clearance?

    They are all important measurements from which you decide what your next action would be.

    Regarding no trailer, you are not the only one who use a truck bed to carry a ski.... well, this one is little bigger than your 550.

  3. #3
    LOL I'm not ready for a jet ski that huge. Your 550 looks nice, I wasn't aware of the difference between reed motors and non reed motors. The first time I had mine on the lake I fell down standing up more than 10 times but I got a lot of practice. The 2nd time out I was riding around the whole lake standing up, doing turns and coming back in to shore without falling once. The ski has plenty of power, I don't really need to go full throttle with it, it seems to bounce around a lot when I give it full gas. Like I said before, I thought the motor or pump was possibly seized because I couldn't get the battery to turn the engine over. It could be a weak starter too or possibly crank seals. I know it's not seized because I got the starter to turn the engine over about 6 times around this morning but the battery soon died again. I measured 13 volts on the battery, but I'm thinking it may still be bad, after I crank it a few times the charger indicator shows the battery dropping down to 10 percent of full charge. As much as I want to ride it some more this summer I don't want to get back on the lake with an unreliable jet ski. I'm seriously thinking of getting a stainless steel 16 pitch prop and for sure a pump rebuild kit with new bearings and seals before I put it all back together. I live in CO so I'm not sure what is best for high altitude. I should be getting the battery within a week or so and I'll know more once I find out if that is the problem. I'm also in need of a compression gauge. I'm not sure how to check impeller tip clearance yet. I'm pretty good with fixing up cars, I just spent a year restoring my e30 with new paint, bodywork, and engine repairs. I have a harbor freight car shelter tent that works great for spraying with an HVLP gun. I'm wondering if those batteries can be damaged if left on the charger too long?

  4. #4
    I'm working on a 3D model of a stand up jet ski. I downloaded a newer body style model and built a new pole. I'm going to cut off the hood of this new body style and build a 1983 style hood for this. The graphics are just temporary, something I was playing around with. I'm going to create better paint graphics for it once I have the model complete and looking like a vintage jet ski. I also plan on using realflow to simulate waves and create an animation. I built the water and sand for this model but it's not animated yet, the water does not move...Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5
    stuckmoto's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Newark, De
    Just picked up 1990 550sx with a seized motor. Nice winter project.

  6. #6
    I ordered a new Chrome brand battery model YB16CL-B from Amazon on sale for $42 including shipping. They are supposed to be shipped fully charged. I hooked it up and all I get is one click, nothing is turning over. I can turn the driveshaft over by hand so I think it may be in need of a new starter. I put the battery on the charger set at 12v 2a float charge. I don't know if this type of charger is the right kind for leaving on the battery while not in use or if I should pick up a smaller amperage unit like a battery tender. I'm starting to think it's time to start pulling the motor out, replacing the starter, rebuild the jet pump with a new bearing kit, and doing some body work and sanding on the hull. At least I got a few good times in at the lake before the end of the season. Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #7
    What is the battery voltage when the engine was just clicking when trying to start (w/o the charger hooked up)?

    If the charger has a setting for "float charge", it is OK to hook up during storage time. It won't over-charge.

    What the hell is Chrome brand? You get what you pay for especially on batteries. Stick to name brand like Yuasa or DAKA.
    "Pre-charged" and shipped to you? That means it's "pre-drained" as well!
    What was voltage level when you first received it before installing on the ski?

    Good luck on your project.
    Standup skis are fun!

  8. #8
    The voltage on both batteries is 13v on the multimeter. I'm getting ready to order a new starter but I wanted to get my Clymer service manual in the mail before I started pulling the engine out. I don't want to spend huge amounts of money on new batteries, especially since it doesn't seem to be a battery problem obviously. The battery was brand new from Amazon, never used from a company that sells them. How is it "pre-drained"? Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9
    I'm learning that the pump that was in this is a "type 1" jet pump that belongs in a js300, js400, or js440. The js550s use a different pump. I'm wondering if it really is a 550 now or if there's any way to know from the vin number? I'm wondering if I should rebuild the bearings on this style of pump or get a whole new pump, or if it will make any difference. Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #10
    The jet ski was running good for a while so I guess I could just rebuild the pump I already have. I'm not hearing any opinions on the benefits of upgrading to a 550 pump. Today I took off the hood cowl and started removing all of the sloppy repair work and cracks in the paint with the air grinder and an 80 grit sanding wheel. Next I'm getting ready to remove all the stickers and sand it all down by hand for primer. Click image for larger version. 

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