All through the winter, technicians at Van's Sport Center make great use of their time by reconditioning or parting out the trade-in marine motors that our store in Grand Rapids accepted during the 2016 boating season.

Our winter work can add up to big savings to you for marine motors and parts that have been run only in fresh water.

So now is the time to start thinking about whether the boat you love should be repowered with a larger used motor or if that tired old 2-stroke you've been nursing for years should finally be retired.

Many of the nation's largest boat shows are launching January through April to get boaters thinking of warm weather after weeks of winter blahs. For boating enthusiasts, a boat show represents the perfect opportunity to gather information under one roof from several local dealers about the latest products and services that make boating even more enjoyable.

Regardless of your locale, here are a few tips to help you get the most from your price of admission.

Van's Sport Center has uploaded hundreds of Yamaha shop manuals for outboard motors from years 1984 through this year so our do-it-yourself customers can easily access step-by-step instructions on how to do anything from changing a spark plug to overhauling a lower drive unit.

Here's the link the service manuals, provided free of charge: Yamaha Shop Manuals.

To find the manual for your engine, first look up the year of your outboard from the 33 years of manuals provided, then your model number. Once you've found your model, double click on the link and wait for the pdf file to load. These are comprehensive how-to manuals with many pages of diagrams, photos and specifications, so you may have to wait a couple of minutes while the file is downloading.

When it comes to the Holidays, our staff at Van's Sport Center and our customers get the real meaning of the phrase: "We are all in the same boat together."

We are constantly amazed and gratified at how everyday people in our area want to share their good fortune with others. A study done a couple of years ago by Grand Valley State University's Johnson Center for Philanthropy showed that individuals in Kent County have a reputation as being generous givers. At the time of the study in 2013, residents of Kent County accounted for about 9 percent of Michigan's total estimated giving by individuals, yet the area made up only 6 percent of Michigan's households.

A good lithium-ion jump starter should be on the holiday gift list of all boat owners who don't run double batteries in their boats, says Scott Quoss, owner of Van's Sport Center in Grand Rapids.

Unlike car and truck owners, boat owners who can't start their engines due to dead batteries may spend hours waiting for help and pay for the assistance.

New lightweight and extremely portable versions of jump starters easily pay for themselves on the first emergency use, and they aren't restricted to marine applications. Today's jump starters can have built-in powerful LED flashlights for emergencies, as well as adapter cables to start cars, jetskis, power laptops and run some AC powered appliances. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016 08:52

Tips on Winterizing Your Boat

The stuff that floats your boat during the summer can cause major league damage to your craft during the winter.


Damage from freezing is all related in one way or another to presence of unwanted water. The same tremendous force that can cause roads to buckle and building foundations to heave is the culprit behind everything from damaged boat hulls to cracked engine blocks.


So whether you are a first-time boat owner or a veteran of boating, here's a checklist of ways to prevent winter’s freezing temperatures from damaging your craft.

Van's Sport Center has access to more than 500,000 parts and accessories for everything from a vintage Evinrude to the newest model Mercury outboard or sterndrive. With a few simple steps, you can conduct your own search to find the right new or used part and conveniently place your order online, via email or over the telephone.

Before you search:
Examine your engine and write down the manufacturer, model number and serial number. It's often not enough information to only have make and model -- the serial number is necessary or you may buy the wrong part. As this example shows, you need to know the serial number for a Mercury 115 EFI 4-stroke when you are buying an oil filter because the same model requires different oil filters depending on the engine's serial number.

Friday, 07 October 2016 00:00

It’s Always the Season to Save Money

Pleasure boating and fishing are starting to wind down for the year in the in the northern U.S., but one thing is always in season – saving money by being smart with your boat maintenance.

So before you put away your watercraft for the winter, consider this: Van's Sport Center offers discounts off labor and marine parts involved in outboard engine rebuild, lower unit rebuild and repairs.

"When we are busy, there are no discounts," said Scott Quoss, owner of the Grand Rapids-based provider of marine engine service and online seller of new and used engine parts for repair shops and do-it-yourselfers nationally. "But we are pretty much like our customers -- things start to slow down in November. So to stay busy, we start offering the discounts for the winter months."

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