Pratt...1989 Virage Turbo with Mercury 2.5 260.
The boat originally was rigged with a '94 2.5 liter XRI 150 Merc. The motor was mounted directly to the transom and spun a 25" four blade thru-hub SS prop @ 5600 rpm's yielding 69.7 (GPS) mph with two people aboard. I ran with this motor through most of the winter (we have very mild temperatures) and started putting together a larger motor.
The boat was completely stock and needed to be rerigged to handle the 260+ hp I was going to hang off the back not to mention 100+ mph runs.
I found a disassembled '94 260 in Illinois (Steve Heintz) and had it sent over to Bob Garone (Marine 2000) in NY to assemble. The block had just come back from Jim Rauk and had three way rod slots, hogged exhaust, and was slightly decked. It also came with a bored air horn, and a head stud kit. I opted to put new Mercury two ring pistons (not Weisco's) just for piece of mind along with a set of HydroDynamic 34 cc heads.
While I was waiting for the power head to get put together, I replaced all the gauges and added two more. (I am using Gaffrig and Rex Marine white face). I also decided to add a set of transom tie bars. Since the Virage had a European look to it, I wanted the tie bars to blend in. I wanted the illusion of the bars to be suspended above the mounting brackets. After checking out the scrap bins at the various welding shops, I found everything I was looking for.
The anodized bezels were slightly faded and with the addition of new gauges I needed to have them recoated. I sent the bezels (along with two used ones from Bob Garone), transom tie bars, steering wheel hub, an aluminum master switch panel, and a half dozen home made upper cowl braces to a powder coating company in Washington (Thanks to David Last "Propster" for the tip). They had to match the Rex mushroom cleats, grab handle, and outboard hose kit ends my girlfriend (Melodie) bought me for my birthday (jealous guys?)
The folks at powder coat matched the anodized parts perfect. They did a three stage coating consisting of a silver base, a translucent red, then a clear. This wasn't too bad coming in at $238.00.
During this time I decided to change from the Alien cowl I had retained from my last motor to the '97 EFI style. I made a flanged mold and laid up my own. I wanted my cowl to look different than all the others so after the clear gel coat, I sprayed webbing (splatter) in the mold in the colors of the boat stripes. I backed it up with black then laid up the two halves. After they were trimmed, I clamped the two halves together and glassed the seam. I debated on which decals to install and ended up having a copy of the Mercury Team Alaska ones I had, redone in silver and red. I also had the 2.5 and EFI decals made in a metallic red. Since I like red, I ordered red vinyl to trim out the bottom cowl lip.
My midsection I kept from my last boat (Viking) was a '83 Mariner 200 fishing motor mid. I had already pulled the liner, drilled holes in the lower lip, installed solid mounts, one piece adapter plate, HD steering arm with new bushings, and had installed a Bob's Machine offshore housing. The Bob's housing looked phony and I dreamed of a real offshore mid but just couldn't afford one. I made a plug on a spare mid that looked like a '98 offshore. I used spray foam and bondo that covered the entire rear area of the midsection. Once it was faired in and painted, I pulled a mold off it and from this mold, made my own rear cover out of fiberglass. I made sure it would fit over the Bob's housing as it was welded on. I faired in the seam with Marine Tex and painted it. If you didn't know it, you would think it WAS an offshore mid (except for the lower mount covers). I had the lower mount covers made from brushed Stainless at our local sheet metal shop for $30.00. They add a nice touch!
I added the CMC hydraulic jack plate from the Viking along with 2" spacers to the transom using a piece of 3/16" aluminum plate to spread the load. On the inside, I added a piece of 3"X2"X 3/8" angle across the lower mounting bolts.
Once this was done, I had Bob Garone send up a super clean newer style CLE with the HD prop shaft and carrier. Once installed, I was really excited to get the power head. There were a few hold ups which couldn't be avoided so I stole the 200 power head off my Bayliner and put it on the Virage. With a 1.87:1 lower, I was able to spin the 25" thru hub four blade to 6200 rpm's @ 75 mph.
I ran with this set-up through June. In July the Short block from Marine 2000 was delivered. It took me and my girlfriend 1 1/2 hours to pull the 200 and have it back on the Bayliner. We then went to work assembling the modified 260. It took about a week due to a few overlooked parts to get it all put together. To date, I have logged 7 hours and have seen 101 mph on GPS. I hope to squeeze another few mph out this winter.
I am currently finishing the plug for a 8' Virage. I will make two this fall and work on the third next spring. These will be painted to match my boat. Check back often for the full article with pictures.
Ron Pratt (Alaska Streamin')
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