A wear ring can literally make or break your Sea-Doo. Knowing how to maintain your Sea-Doo wear ring properly will allow you to have a safe and enjoyable ride. What is a wear ring and what does it do?
A Sea-Doo wear ring is a thick plastic or stainless steel ring that wraps around the impeller on a Sea-Doo personal watercraft (PWC). The main purpose of the wear ring is to protect the impeller as it provides the necessary waterjet propulsion for the Sea-Doo.
Since this can greatly affect the performance of your Sea-Doo, this article will cover what symptoms you should look for that will help you know when to change your wear ring as well as how to change it yourself.
What Does a Wear Ring Do on a Sea-Doo?
To better understand what a wear ring does, it will help to have a basic understanding of the jet pump, also known as a hydrojet or water jet, propulsion system.
The axial-flow jet pump on a Sea-Doo works by allowing water to come up from underneath the watercraft and to pass through the impeller, located at the stern of the Sea-Doo.
The main component of the jet pump is the impeller that provides the necessary propulsion for the watercraft by producing the water jet.
An impeller is similar to a propeller except that an impeller is part of a pump and uses water to provide propulsion instead of air. The impeller is connected to the engine by way of a drive shaft.
The jet pump houses both the impeller and the wear ring. The wear ring goes around the impeller blades, acting as a seal for the impeller, keeping water pumping in one direction without back flow.
Over time, the blades of the impeller wear down the wear ring, increasing the space between the two.
This allows water to go around the impeller instead of through it, decreasing the Sea-Doo’s performance.
How Do I Know if My Sea-Doo Ring is Worn?
It’s important to keep an eye on the performance of your Sea-Doo and check the jet pump periodically.
When you do, one of the first things you should check is the wear ring. Here are some key indicators that you need to change out the wear ring.
One of the most obvious indicators that your wear ring might be going bad is that you don’t get the same acceleration that you used to.
In addition to lower acceleration, you may notice that the Sea-Doo vibrates more as you accelerate.
The vibration could be caused by space between the ring and the impeller, although, it could also mean that the Sea-Doo has sucked up debris into the impeller.
Over time, debris can damage both the impeller and the wear ring.
Low Top Speed
If your watercraft is not producing enough overall propulsion, this is another good indicator that your wear ring needs replacing.
The same holds true if you have to rev the engine to higher RPMs than before to produce the same amount of thrust.
Visible Wear and Tear
When inspecting your wear ring, you may notice abrasions or grooves within the ring.
These can be caused by debris such as rocks, twigs, seaweed, trash, or excessive buildup in your impeller.
The surface of your wear ring should be smooth with minimal scratches. Once there is a significant gap between the impeller and the wear ring, then it is definitely time to change it out.
There should be very limited movement in between the impeller and the wear ring and no more space than .005 inches.
Any more space and the water will start to go around the impeller blades instead of through them. When this happens, you will start to lose power.
How to Remove the Wear Ring
If you need to remove the wear ring, you can take it to the shop or do it yourself to save a lot of money. Before you start work on your SeaDoo, watch a few how-to videos and consider buying your specific ski’s workshop manuals.
This can be relatively easy if you have the right resources and tools. The process will be much easier if you don’t have an Intelligent Brake and Reverse system (IBR) but, if you do, make sure to remove it first (source).
Tools you will need to do this project yourself.
- A ratchet set with 10mm socket, 13mm socket, and a long extension
- A wrench set with a 10mm wrench
- A flat-headed screwdriver
- If you’re going to remove the impeller, you’ll need a 5mm Allen wrench and an impeller removal tool
- A rubber mallet
- Reciprocating saw or short-handled hacksaw (if you have to cut the ring)
- Loctite Red thread Locker
- 75-90 Gear lube
Removing The Pump
First, remove any hoses at the stern, including the cooling hose and any bailer hoses you might have.
These will be held on with hose clamps, although the bailer tube on a Spark has a plastic fitting that pulls right out of the venturi nozzle (source).
You will also have to remove the steering cable, which requires a 10mm ratchet socket and a 10mm wrench.
Next, take your ratchet with a 13mm socket and remove the three bolts holding the jet pump to the hull.
Be careful since the nuts and bolts may have Loctite or glue on them, and make sure you use Loctite when you put them back in.
Carefully pry it away from the hull, while checking for shims under the studs. Make sure you mark the studs so you can put them back in the exact same place to keep the driveshaft properly aligned.
With the jet pump out, you should be able to remove the wear ring by pulling straight out, away from the impeller.
The rubber O-ring seal can make this a challenge since it’s a tight fit. If this proves too difficult you may have to cut the wear ring. In this case, you may want to remove the impeller and set up a stable work station.
Removing the Impeller
To make it easier to work with, you’ll want to be able to place it in a vice somehow. First, separate the venturi nozzle from the pump.
On the pump, there are cones covering each end of a shaft. The shaft end under the impeller nose cone has a hexagonal head, while the shaft end under the tail cone has two flat sides which can be placed in a vice.
The impeller nose cone screws off while the tail cone is held on by three screws.
Holding the pump over a trash can, give the tail cone a gentle twist to crack the seal. This will allow any gear lube to drain into the trash can, which should take a few minutes to drain.
The oil should be clear and similar to honey in appearance if it’s clean.
Now, place the shaft in a vice to hold it in place while you work. You should now be looking at the impeller blade.
Remove the impeller nose cone and install your impeller removal tool. Using a wrench, unscrew the impeller off of the pump shaft.
The easiest way to cut the wear ring is with a reciprocating saw or a short-handled hacksaw blade.
Cut slowly through the ring and stop as soon as you see white dust appear because this means you’ve cut through the fiberglass core of the ring.
Take a flathead screwdriver and tap it down on either side of the cut to make sure the ring is severed.
Walk the screwdriver around the ring to slowly lift it out. Wipe the pump clean before installing the new ring.
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Installing the Wear Ring
You should be able to tap the new ring in with a rubber mallet or with a board of wood and a metal hammer.
Some DIY installers like to place the ring in a freezer before installation to make it shrink and allow for an easier installation.
Reinstall the Impeller if Removed
If you had to remove the impeller, now is the time to put the impeller back in. Make sure that all shafts and seals have been wiped down before re-installing.
You may want to put some Loctite on the impeller shaft before reinstalling it.
Be gentle while reinstalling the impeller since you don’t want to cut grooves into your wear ring.
Again, having a little bit of play between to impeller and wear ring is normal.
Reattach the impeller nose cone, and then apply some gear lube to the shaft before reattaching the tail nose cone. You will also want to apply lubrication to the impeller splines.
Reinstall the Jet Pump
Reattach the venturi nozzle to the pump, and then reinstall the pump of the Sea-Doo. It would be a good idea to replace the pump shoe seal before doing this. Reattach all bailer tubes and steering linkage.
Different Types of Sea-Doo Wear Rings
There are two main types of wear rings for a personal watercraft–stainless steel and plastic.
Both have different qualities, so make sure you get the best one for your riding style.
If you want your wear ring to last the life of your Sea-Doo, if properly taken care of, then get a stainless steel ring. Stainless steel rings resist damage from debris and erosion, making them last much longer.
These are especially recommended if you frequent the beach or do shallow and swift water riding. Wear rings are designed to fit specific skis. The Solas store on Amazon carries multiple performance products (link below.)
While these will protect your impeller from light debris for a time, these are designed to wear down.
These are usually made of plastic with a fiberglass core, although some are made of 100 percent Delrin or Polyoxymethylene (POM), an acetal homopolymer.
The plus side is that they’re much cheaper than steel rings. A stainless steel ring can run from $204.99 to $309.99, while the average cost of a standard plastic one is $61.99 (source).
For a little added strength, you can also purchase a heavy-duty wear ring for $66.99.
You will probably have to change a plastic wear ring out several times over the lifetime of your Sea-Doo.
If you change out your $61.99 plastic wear ring four times, that’s $247.96, assuming you install it yourself.
If you plan to be on the water with your Sea-Doo on a regular basis, you should invest the money in a stainless steel ring as soon as you get the opportunity.
Any significant debris in the water will knock out your plastic wear ring in no time.
Best Impeller for a Sea-Doo
When it comes to picking the best type of impeller for your PWC, the two main brands to consider are Skat-Trak and Solas.
Both companies offer a number of options for Sea-Doos that offer their own benefits.
These blades are favored for competitions, so they are designed for optimal performance.
Skat-Trak impellers are also very reliable, and a Skat-Trak Sea-Doo impeller typically costs around a few hundred dollars, depending on the model (source). They are available from the Riva Racing store on Amazon.
They typically don’t provide the same top speed as a Solas, but they provide better acceleration and are better at reducing cavitation.
Extend the Life of Your PWC Wear Ring
To help extend the life of your wear ring, it will help to adopt riding practices that limit wear on your Sea-Doo.
Here are some simple habits that you can practice while out on the ocean or lake.
Some Rules for Avoiding Debris
- Avoid shallow water: always start the engine in water that is at least waist-deep (read more in my post about water depth for PWC operation)
- Avoid riding after a heavy rainstorm since there will be more debris in the water.
- Always be aware of your surroundings and account for all fasteners like ropes or cables.
There will always be debris in oceans and lakes, so it is important to keep an eye on your impeller and ring to avoid potential problems.
Simple twigs, weeds, pebbles, or bits of trash can cause cavitation in your impeller. If not cleaned out regularly, trash, sand, and leaves can become lodged in your impeller, causing the whole engine to shut down.
When removing debris, take care to not bend impeller blades or damage the wear ring.
Cleaning Your PWC
Making sure your personal watercraft is maintained properly is essential to keep it running for years to come. One important part to maintain and keep clean is the wear ring.
Properly maintaining your wear ring will prevent Sea-Doo maintenance from becoming a huge project, so let’s explore ways to maintain the ring while remaining aware of potential causes of breakage.
The first step to keeping your wear ring and watercraft running like new is to clean your Sea-Doo regularly, especially after every ocean visit.
Saltwater is known to be highly corrosive to all parts of a watercraft and, if not cleaned properly, this will result in long-term damage.
Here is how to properly clean your watercraft. Take a freshwater hose to your personal watercraft and rinse off all the salt water from the surface as best as you can.
You can use a rag to wipe off excess salt that you may see, and this is also a way to make sure you are getting every inch of your Sea-Doo.
While cleaning your watercraft, it is important to focus on these main areas: the seat, any coverings, the engine bay, and the water injection valve, which will keep the interior clean.
To flush out your Sea-Doo, you can hook a hose up to the back, usually somewhere to the side or in the jet pump area.
Cleaning your Sea-Doo regularly will also help protect the coat, especially if you’ve read my post and had your Sea-Doo vinyl wrapped.
A Sea-Doo wear ring plays a critical role in the top speed, acceleration and fuel efficiency of your watercraft.
As with many things in life, the best antidote is prevention. Take care of your wear ring by taking great care of your PWC.
Take regular maintenance seriously, treat our PWC well and avoid running it through an environment that will accelerate the wearing down of your vessel.
If you want a wear ring that will last much longer, and you are willing to pay for it, a stainless steel wear ring will be the best option for you.
For owners who are proactive or want to prevent potential challenges in the future, this could be a great option for you.
Just a quick reminder, if you notice that your top speed or acceleration has decreased, you may want to check your wear ring and impeller.
If you are experiencing the symptoms described in this article, there is a good chance that a new wear ring could help solve your problem and help you get the most out of your personal watercraft.