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  1. #1

    '96 900 ZXi - First ski and some questions

    Hello Greenhulk! Well, as the title said I have managed to acquire my first ski. Actually, its two ski's, and '96 900 zxi and a '95 Seadoo HX. I'll be posting about the HX in the Seadoo forum soon, but my first questions are about the 900.

    I've ridden my buddy's 2000 Yamaha GP 1200 R, but that was 4-5 years ago. Apart from that brief experience, I am entirely new to PWC's, though not to boats. I spent nearly all of my summers on a boat watching people ride their various PWC's and thinking that someday I'd have one of my own. This past weekend, I finally got my first craft out. It's a '96, so I was expecting it to need at least a little work when I bought it. That said, I'd like to post about the various issues I had here and see what you all think.

    The craft starts up fine, but needs a little time to warm up before taking off. If you try to give it too much throttle too early, it'll either just refuse to plain or die. Once its warmed up, it planes a little slower than I would expect (though not too terribly so) and doesn't seem to have quite as much power as I would expect from an engine this big. I ride on the Mississippi River, so the water was pretty rough, but I still couldn't coax more than 25 out of the craft on the dream-o-meter. Felt closer to 30-35 to me, but still no where near the 45-50 that I was expecting from reading other people's experiences with this craft. the tach never read above 5,500 unless the ski was in the air, which also seems a little low to me. I also noticed than when hitting a tight turn the RPM's wouldn't move much but the craft would slow way down. This contributed to the feeling of a lack of power.

    My dad was on the river with me this weekend, as well as another friend of mine. They said from behind the ski they thought they could hear a miss. So, we tried just holding the craft in the water near the beach and pulling the spark plugs off one at a time to see if any one cylinder had more of an effect than the others. What we found was that if the furthest-forward plug on the engine was disconnected that the ski would not idle, but would run with fuel. If any one of the other two were disconnected the ski would still idle. The idle speed itself didn't change nearly as much as any of us would have expected having one of the back two plugs off.

    With my very limited mechanical knowledge, I'm thinking this ski probably needs the carbs rebuilt, or tuned at the very least. The turning performance has me thinking that the impeller/wear ring may be in a similar state. There aren't any grey fuel lines anywhere on this craft, before you ask. What do you think, am I on the right track?


  2. #2
    To add a little information, the previous owner said the top end had been recently rebuilt. Could the issue be simply a tuning issue, or am I looking at a carb rebuild?

    On this ski, is it easier to replace the impeller and wear ring or to pull and clean/rebuild the carbs? Since the ski is running I'm thinking that I may do maintenance on the jet pump first and work on the fuel system later. If its going to be a major PITA to do though I may decide to go with the other way around.

    Any words of wisdom?


  3. #3
    steve45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Welcome aboard, Jacob!

    Don't worry about the pump, worry about the engine. If it's running lean, you'll burn it up. What color were the spark plugs when you pulled them? Did the previous owner break in the engine before selling it? If not, are you running extra oil? Run a compression test before you do anything else. Also, if the oil lines haven't been changed, it's time. They get brittle with age and crack.

  4. #4
    Oil lines getting brittle would be a bad thing, I'll have to check them out the next time I'm near the ski. It gets stored away from home, closer to where I actually ride it.

    I replaced the spark plugs when I got the ski, the ones in it where fouled black. The one time I pulled just one of the spark plugs since then it was still mostly white, maybe a little browned. I'll check these as well as soon as I get a chance.

    I made the seller do a compression test when I got the ski. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I remember that compression was even across all three cylinders and were close enough to what I was expecting that I didn't worry about it too much. I'll do the test again and put the numbers up.

    It sounded like the rebuild was last season, and to be honest I don't put a lot of stock in some random guy selling me something saying it was "rebuilt" without going into detail. The seller in this case did not go into detail at all. I do know he was in the habit of running extra oil mixed into his gas simply because he said he'd "rather kill spark plugs than kill the engine".

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