Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Gloucester, MA
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If the engine is hydrolocked with antifreeze or water, then there could be big problems. It is actually possible to do it with fuel as well but that usually means that you have other problems.
If it is antifreeze/water (which it probably is) you need to figure out how long it has been in there. As jrd22 pointed out, this will cause rust inside your cylinder which is not good. The other harder thing to figure out is whether a rod got bent. There are two ways that water can get into the cylinder, through the exhaust or headgasket. Did they crank the engine for a while before it stopped cranking? If so, it is likely that they overfilled the waterlift muffler and it ran back into the cylinder. That would not be as bad from a rust standpoint since the water was not sitting in the cylinder. If it wouldn't turn right from the start, there has been water in there quite a while and it will probably be pretty bad.
Regardless, if the engine is truly hydrolocked (have they actually tried to bar it over by hand or pulled an injector?) the head should come off and the cylinders, pistons, rings, and bottom end should be inspected. People have successfully brought an engine that was recently hydrolocked back to life without all of this but the engine is not nearly as good anymore.
I would either not purchase the boat until the owner gets the engine fixed or buy it at a price that reflects no engine. $4k might be reasonable if you were mechanically inclined and could do a lot of the work yourself (remember, your time has value too) but if you are going to have someone else do the work, it will probably get more expensive.