'89 650SX Problems
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  1. #1
    PWCToday Newbie
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    '89 650SX Problems

    I'm interested in getting going in standups with an '89 650sx for what I think is a good deal (1k). What should I look for when I go for my test run? Are there known issues on these particular models - its bone stock and looks well cared for. I dont know much about skis in general, just a boating guy who rode a standup and loved it enough to get one of my own Thanks for any insight!!

  2. #2
    PWCToday Regular drlinklater's Avatar
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    Re: '89 650SX Problems

    I'm a new guy here, so far from an expert, but I'm bored at work and have some time on my hands so I'll respond. I just finished with my own clean-up of an '89 650sx so I'll get you started and maybe some more of the more experienced guys will also chime in. I'll tell you some of the things that I wish I had known when I bought my ski.

    If you have questions about any of these things, feel free to ask them. Somebody will generally respond.

    These aren't in any particular order, just my stream of consciousness.

    Be prepared to get sucked down the rabbit hole... learning about all this stuff is a steep learning curve. Ask a lot of questions, read the forums, grab yourself a Clymer shop manual from Amazon.

    I'm assuming you already have been thinking about obvious things like looking for any cracks in the hull, looking at the impeller for dings, making sure the hood seal is in good shape, etc.

    Get as much history from the seller as you can about the last time (if ever) the crank seals were replaced and when (if) the top-end was re-done, and how/who did the work. Crank seals aren't hard to do, but require engine removal and some basic wrenching skills and tools. Top-end is a little more complex, but also quite do-able.

    Ask about any performance or after-market parts (carburetor, intake manifold, exhaust, impeller, ride plate, intake grate, pump/nozzle, etc.).

    Ask if the ski has a choke or has been converted to use a primer instead. Some people keep the choke... I like the primer.

    Ask if the fuel selector has been removed -- some people take it out and just run the "reserve" line straight from the tank. I like having both an "on" and a "reserve" position, but opinions will differ.

    See if the crank case drain has been removed, as this can be a source of air leaks (bad). Some people like the drain, I guess... but I chose to take mine off to reduce risk. Easy to remove and block off with a kit, but you have to take the engine out if you want to do that.

    See if the oil pump has been removed (front of the engine, on the magneto cover) and/or ask if the ski has been converted to pre-mix. Again, some people like the oil injection but I think running pre-mix removes one more source of potential failure.

    Grab an engine compression tester from Harbor Freight and check the compression of each cylinder with the plugs out (grounded to the engine by making contact with a head nut), the fuel turned off, and the throttle wide open, 5 cranks of the engine. Gauges are notorious for reading wrong, especially cheap ones, but good enough for this ballpark. Absolute number is less important than making sure both cylinders are the same (+/- 5-10 psi) but should be around 150 psi. This is the easiest and fastest way to get a general idea about the condition of the top-end of the engine.

    Look for any cracked fuel or cooling lines, as 30 year old rubber doesn't always hold up well. It's not expensive (in relative terms) to replace them, just time-consuming. Also look at the exhaust hoses (you'll need to really get down in there to see the hoses by the waterbox in the nose) to make sure they're in good shape. Make sure the rubber couplers connecting the exhaust components look good and don't have any cracks or tears.

    Make sure all the nuts and bolts look the same, for a particular area/component -- mismatched hardware can be a sign of a poorly kept ski. Make sure no bolts or nuts seem "missing".

    Make sure the engine turns over easily by hand by rotating the driveshaft/coupler (may have to remove the plugs, due to the compression in the cylinders) and you don't hear or feel any vibration or grinding noises coming from the engine, driveshaft, or pump.

    Look at the ends of the throttle (and choke, if you have one) cables to make sure they aren't frayed and move smoothly. Replacement is a total pain because you have to go up through the pole and they cost $50(ish).

    Ask if a pole spring has been installed -- they're nice. You can install one yourself, but it can be a pain if the bolts are corroded/stripped.

    Look at the base of the pole to see how bad the fiberglass is torn up, and make sure there's a pole pin to hold up the pole hands-free.

    Look at the electrical box to make sure that none of the caps are cracked/missing and examine the plug cables, battery cables, starter wire, and engine ground wire to make sure they're in good shape and that the insulation isn't all melted.

    Give the motor a vigorous rock to make sure it doesn't wobble and that the engine mounts haven't cracked, broken, or otherwise come loose from the hull.

    Once in the water, make sure the hull doesn't leak (seems obvious, I know) and that there's not a bunch of water in the ski... a small amount of water in the bottom can be normal but it shouldn't be excessive or you have to worry about a leak in the driveshaft bearing/seal or a cracked cooling hose.

    While riding, make sure it accelerates smoothly and starts and idles relatively easily. "Right" is hard to know when you're new to riding, so you just have to use common sense and pay attention to what the ski sounds and feels like.

    Guess that's all that I can think of for now. There's probably a bunch of things I missed.

  3. #3
    PWCToday Newbie
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    Re: '89 650SX Problems

    Wow! Thank you for your brain dump! This is great information to check out - I'm going to take this to my test drive. If anything else pops up that you think of please post it. Do these models come with bilge pumps? I've read a lot of people go with electric bilges in these or something. Also - what kind of range can I expect with these skis? Do they sip gas or chug it? Probably an odd question... but like I said, I'm a boater broadening my horizons.

  4. #4
    PWCToday Regular drlinklater's Avatar
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    Re: '89 650SX Problems

    My pleasure, just paying it back for the good advice I've gotten here (and paying it forward as I troubleshoot my own ski ishews...)

    Gas "mileage" varies based on how you ride and PWC fuel consumption isn't really thought of in terms of GPH, like boat engines are, given that you don't typically "go" anywhere on a stand-up. Tank size varies, based on the model, and I think the stock 650sx tank holds somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 gallons. That'll get you a few hours of riding before you have to fill up, especially when you're learning and, thus, spending more time in the water than on the ski (personal experience).

    There is a suction bilge pickup located directly beneath the driveshaft -- looks like a little plastic box with a bunch of holes drilled in each side. As the jet pump moves water through it while you ride, a vacuum is created that will suck water out of the bilge -- provided, of course, that the box is clean (which it won't be, probably) and that the line isn't clogged (which it was on mine). Some people put an after-market electric bilge pump (like a boat would have) in, but I think it's usually people who expect to have an unusual amount of water in their hull because of the crazy riding tricks they do. In any case, it probably won't have one and you probably don't need one as long as you clean the suction pickup and make sure the line is clear (which you can do with a length of garden hose, a hose clamp, and a screwdriver).

    Which brings me to my next point, which is: remember that this is a 30 year old ski and there's only so much that you can check out with the seller prior to purchase. Expect there to be some problems, and expect to spend some money and/or time (likely, quite a bit of both) refurbishing the ski if you want to end up with something that is reliable and brings you joy. One thing that I certainly didn't realize was how much time is required to refurbish these skis properly... it's definitely a hobby unto itself, and if you're looking for a "get in and go" experience, you could consider a newer ski. There's always a price to be paid and it's usually a tradeoff between money and time... how much you're willing to learn in order to DIY.

    650 parts are, generally, pretty available (either new or used) from a variety of vendors and there are a lot of knowledgable people on this site who do this sort of thing for a living. I've now fixed up (mostly) 3 skis -- the '89 650sx, an '87 JS550, and an '89 SeaDoo SP and they are usually for sale pretty cheap... but it's easy to spend as much as you paid for the ski just fixing it up (not to mention the time), and that isn't even considering the seductive lure of after-market performance modifications ($$$).

    Not to dissuade you from buying the ski, just full disclosure of my experience (which I think is pretty common). Having said that, I ended up really enjoying my new hobby... I just wish that I would have known exactly what I was getting into before I bought my first ski.

  5. #5
    Top Dog BRYCE117's Avatar
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    Re: '89 650SX Problems

    I've had several 650's over the years and they are decent all around ski to get you started in the sport. I've had stock 650's and 650's that would outrun my 800SXR...in a straight line. They are cheap to fix and cheap to buy parts for. As long as you look for the standard stuff, good compression, rattles in the pump etc, you should be good. I will say, some O-4 degree bars should be one of the first things you consider aside form basic clean-up and maintenance.
    2011 800 SX-R - Suprise from the wife.
    1989 650 SX
    1987 650 SX
    1998 750 SXI-PRO
    2005 Honda Couch

    Never pick your nose on a bumpy road.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  6. #6
    Top Dog Benflynn's Avatar
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    Re: '89 650SX Problems

    I’d be interested in Hull and pump, motor I would assume needs a Teasdale and maybe too end love, I’d reseal it almost no matter what

  7. #7
    PWCToday Newbie
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    Re: '89 650SX Problems

    So, I jumped in and got 2 of these skis and a trailer today. I gotta say that the advice in this thread was very helpful in understanding the current shape of the skis. Turns out they are in (from above things to check) pretty good shape. One had a broken pole spring and both need batteries, but other than that everything seemed great. One of the skis was definitely built for performance - it had a westcoast exhaust, an aftermarket carburetor, aftermarket intake grate, aftermarket ride plate, and a stainless impeller. It also had the oil pump capped and used a primer instead of choke. Only thing I really want on that one is a lanyard kill switch... The other ski seemed completely stock. Probably just the ski they rode while building the real one haha. You could definitely hear a difference between the two. One question I have, how can you run these on a hose? I know on boats you can use 'ears' for the water pickups. Is there something like that for skis - I'm planning on using these in salt water?

  8. #8
    PWCToday Regular drlinklater's Avatar
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    Re: '89 650SX Problems

    The 650 “should” have a brass fitting (usually covered by a black rubber cap and a spring/hose clamp) that the hose going from the pipe to the head attaches to.

    Take off the rubber cap and you should see a brass fitting that you can attach a length of garden hose to with the spring/hose clamp. You can hook in right there, or you can add an after-market flush kit on the hose going from the rear bulkhead to the bottom of the exhaust manifold (have to cut the hose to install the flush kit).

    Not sure how your non-stock ski is plumbed because I have a stock exhaust and run stock cooling... it may be hooked up differently and that brass right-angle fitting on the head may have been replaced with a different setup.

    On the hose, start your engine before turning on the water and stop the water before turning off your engine. And it doesn’t take much water... just enough to make the pisser dribble like an 80 year old with a prostate problem... too much water, or running the hose with the engine off, is a good way for you to hydrolock your engine.

    Read all about air leaks and how to stop a “runaway ski” before you run it on the hose; I about pooped my pants the first time it happened to me.

    Welcome to the sport!


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