Written By Bob Brown
Dry Land Evaluation : Chris Hamlin of Prestige Marine, Aaron Fluent of Absolute Speed and Marine
Photos by : Dusty Wooddell (Primary) / Andrew Ruzek (Secondary) / Bob Brown (Back Up)

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When Eliminator Boats founder and owner Bob Leach comments "we're building the best boats today in our 45 year history," that says a lot. Looking back at the past five decades of the high performance custom boat industry, Eliminator legitimately has the credentials to make the case that no one has had greater impact or developed more lasting innovation on this marketplace. Front and center is Eliminator's incredibly successful and sustainable Daytona line, an air-entrapment hull configuration that Ron Ehde tooled up and continues to have a profound effect across three propulsion platforms; outboards, jets and stern drives since the mid-1970s.

Initially beginning with a 19-footer, the Daytona Mod-VP style center pod bottom has now evolved into the basic running surface of Eliminator's 28 Fun Deck, a roomy, stable and impressive performing deckboat that's one of the cornerstones of Eliminator's extensive model line-up. Plain and simple, the 28 Fun Deck is classy and elegant whether it's on a trailer or in the water.

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In a generic way, performance deckboats can be divided into two basic interior layout categories, single helm or dual console. Eliminator's 28 Fun Deck falls into the dual console classification which means that there is a forward passenger compartment with same length lounges, a mid-ship/aft area with a pair of bucket seats for driver and co-pilot, a jump-seat behind the driver bucket and a 2-3 passenger wide rear lounge. Which configuration, single helm or dual console, is better? The answer is personal choice and need. To me, the dual console style feels more like a performance sportboat (especially since Eliminator adds a very nice wrap-around windscreen in front of both consoles), while the single helm allows for an extra long lounge seat to run along the port side gunnel able to accommodate a few additional passengers.

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One thing I'm always conscious about in a deckboat is the cockpit floor. It's just the nature of the beast that passengers will be routinely walking around inside the interior from bow to stern and the elevation differences of the floor become an important factor. Too large or too many steps isn't a good thing, affording too many opportunities to trip or toe stub. The 28 Fun Deck has two floor steps, one immediately behind the walk-off bow and the other as you enter the drivers area at the aft edge of the consoles, but both are very shallow and easily negotiated. Also, the steps on the starboard side access-way to the swim platform are especially well done. Non-skid is molded into the fiberglass surface of those steps and there's plenty of walk-thru space to the transom, something to be appreciated when you go wakeboarding, swimming and water-toying.

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The initial overall interior feel of the Fun Deck is spacious and open. There's no crowding concern when passing between the twin consoles or the facing lounge forward benches. At the helm, the ergonomics are thoughtfully executed. Enhancing the comfort factor is an adjustable electric helm bucket because drivers are not all the same size. The dash panel is filled with easy to read Livorsi gauges including oil temp, water pressure and fuel pressure. Just personal preference, but I like having these sometimes neglected instrument read-outs on the dash. They are important reporters of potential early warning signs when engine failure is soon to follow. Nobody wants to hurt parts, especially when an engine like a V-10 Ilmor is under the motor hatch. Also two thumbs up for the Eddie Marine Elite Control throttle/shifter. Not only is it mounted in a comfortable position for the driver, but the shape of the levers and the machined billet aluminum knobs on top with a built-in trim switch just scream high performance. This was not a wireless digital unit, but the ease of operation of the cable connections could not be faulted.

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So, when you board a deckboat with a bunch of friends for a day on the water, what's one of the first things you take note of? That's right...you bring "stuff" with you, usually lots of "stuff" that needs to be stowed away before you leave the dock otherwise there's no place to sit. Apparently Eliminator knows this as well since they've done an excellent job of utilizing on board storage space. There are storage compartments virtually everywhere including a nice beverage cooler under the aft seat. There's also two generously dimensioned in-floor lockers mid-ship and aft which have snug-fitting/no rattle lids. Doors that don't rattle as soon as you start the engine and put it in gear makes every outing a bit more enjoyable. Also noted, the storage compartments all have large, well placed drains to the bilge. There's nothing more irritating than having storage areas that don't drain which encourages mildew to form on everything locked inside.

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Eliminator also does its own upholstery in-house and it's top notch. We dubbed this particular Fun Deck model "Snow White" because it's essentially an all-white interior surrounded by a mostly white hull, and that's not a bad thing if you boat in extreme warm weather climates like the lower Colorado River. What we did notice, however, is that Eliminator seating had a firmer feel than other boats at the test round-up. Whether this can be accounted for because of using denser foam padding in making the seats or due to other factors was undetermined, but the difference in feel was noted. Not a negative, just different.

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Not surprisingly, Eliminator doesn't skimp on the bling. The elliptical stainless steel rails along the forward deck sponsons are great, the custom machined aft vent to the engine compartment excellent, and the billet storage door on the port side helm console was very cool too. Six cleats (three on each side) also make marina tie-up easy.

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As for rigging, it's very good throughout. Nothing fancy, just functional and clean, especially in the engine compartment. An upgrade to replace the plastic battery boxes would be recommended, however. Dash wiring was immaculate, no room for improvement there.

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During our dry land inspection of the Fun Deck, we gave the exterior a close going-over. Since this is an Eliminator, expectations run pretty high as their reputation for solid construction, straight molds and outstanding gelcoat graphics are an industry standard, and they didn't disappoint. Although Eliminators are not an all-wood free build, the Fun Deck is a full liner boat displaying great fit and finish. The mold work is wrinkle-free and the gelcoat colors are vivid and tastefully applied. Could the pin lines on the graphics be a little sharper, yes, we did notice some minor bleed in a couple of areas but that's our job to be super critical.

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Time to go for a ride, and instantly upon hitting the ignition switch, you know by the unmistakable sound (muffled by a set of IMCO Gatlin thru-tip silencers) that an Ilmor V-10 is under the engine hatch. It has a low pitched rumble all its own, but quiet enough so normal conversation can be carried on in the cockpit without shouting. Idling out of the no-wake zone, slow speed tracking was excellent and visibility is not obstructed or hindered by the wrap-around windscreens.

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Up on plane was accomplished in less than five seconds and 30 miles an hour took just a tick over seven seconds from a standing start. Bow rise was not an issue, forward line-of-sight was never compromised.

The slow cruise ride and throttle response in the 30 to 40 mph range was good, but you could feel that things were about to get even better. At 45 mph/4000 rpm, propeller efficiency jumped from mid-60 percent up to nearly 80 percent as the 22 pitch four-blade Bravo prop really began to get hooked-up. The hull started to feel light, packing a little air and wanting to run. Adding a little more positive trim angle to the drive also helped. The Fun Deck appears to have a pretty wide and usable trim range. Fortunately it didn't exhibit any tendency to porpoise or lope as bigger numbers started to climb on the GPS speedometer. By the time 5,000 rpm was reached, we were running a solid 60 mph and the propulsion efficiency factor was at a very respectable 85 percent. About the only cruising criticism we could muster was the stern retractable boarding ladder generated a noticeable rattle at speeds over 40 mph.

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What you have to remember with boats powered by Ilmor V-10s, at 5,000 rpm, you're just getting into the good stuff. Recommended full throttle redline is 6,000 rpm for the MV-10 625 and it was obvious that the 22 pitch prop was a little under-sized for our relatively light on-board load. With throttle sticks mashed to the max, both miles per hour and rpm climbed quickly. The radar gun flashed 79.1 mph while the GPS was pegged on 80 and the tach was showing 6380 rpms, definitely pushing the upper most boundaries of the rev limiter. Propeller efficiency was now at an impressive 89 percent, excellent for a 5,500 pound payload. Did it feel like 80 mph? Not really, it was smooth, effortless and almost eerie quiet. Facial wind blast behind the windscreens for the driver and co-pilot was virtually non-existent which really disguised the speed.

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If you're concerned about how the Fun Deck turns, don't be. We took it through a number of slalom maneuvers at speeds from 30 to nearly 60 mph. No problems. I can't say that the hull banks into the turns, but it does maintain a consistent flat/level attitude without showing any tendency for stern slip or bow grab. Steering response was also first class, exhibiting its best behaviors in the 40 to 60 mph range. The IMCO full hydraulic dual ram external steering and helm unit eliminated all torque feedback to the hands of the driver. It's safe to say that a one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the throttle is an easily maintainable all-day driving posture.

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Eliminator always has had a knack for dialing-in great performance from its various models and the 28 Fun Deck is no exception. It's solid, predictable and will get down the lake or river with the best of them. This particular engine and propeller combination was obviously not intended to maximize top speed. To do that, it needed at least one step up in pitch size. On the other hand, this prop selection was an all-around winner, from low end acceleration right through WOT. Were there a couple of extra top end numbers left on the table because of it? Most likely, but deckboats rarely visit that place for long anyway.

If you look just at the bottom line numbers and see the nearly $75,000 difference in price between our test model Fun Deck with the 625 Ilmor engine package and the manufacturer's suggested base price of this model, there is a good answer for the size-able spread. Eliminator uses Mercury's standard 5.7L small block V-8 as its standard base motor for pricing and everything else is an optional upgrade in power from there. Would we recommend a 28 Fun Deck with a 5.7L package? Probably not. However, with anything in the 400 plus horsepower range under the engine hatch, you've got yourself an incredibly fine performance deckboat with assured excellent resale value thanks to the Eliminator name for years to come.

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Eliminator Boats
Model: 28 Fun Deck
Hull type: Air-entrapment
Length (centerline w/swim platform): 28' 5"
Beam: 98"
Deadrise at transom: N/A
Weight (approx. total as tested): 5,500 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 80 gal.
Price (base suggested retail, excluding trailer): $139,000
Price (as tested): $199,500

PERTINENT STANDARD EQUIPMENT

5-color gelcoat graphics, bilge pumps, bilge blowers, powdercoated gauge bezels, custom steering wheel w/powdercoated hub, instrumentation - tach, oil, water, fuel, volt and trim, custom color coordinated upholstery and 40oz. carpet, ski locker, swim step, running lights, speedo, deck cleats, deck rails, ice chest, electric blender, sink w/pump & fresh water tank, removable table.


OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT AS TESTED

IMCO dual ram external hydraulic steering, electric power driver seat, Ilmor 625 MV-10 engine and Bravo XR.


ENGINE/PROPULSION

Manufacturer (engine):
Ilmor Marine 625 MV-10
Number of engines: one
Cylinder type: V-10
Cubic inch displacement: 511 c.i.
Max rated PSHP @ RPM: 625@6,000
Propulsion type: Mercury Bravo XR
Gear ratio: 1.50:1
Propeller make: Mercury Bravo I
Propeller blades: Four
Propeller diameter x pitch: 15.25" x 22"

PERFORMANCE:

Top speed @ Max RPM (radar): 79.1 mph
Top speed @ Max RPM (GPS): 80.0 mph

Acceleration:

0-30 mph: 7.03 seconds
30-50mph: 6.65 seconds
50- WOT: 17.8 seconds

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RPM @ Speed and PEF (propeller efficiency factor)

1000rpm @ 5.1 mph = 36%
2000rpm @ 11.4 mph = 40%
3000rpm @ 27.3 mph = 65%
3500rpm @ 32.8 mph = 66%
4000rpm @ 44.2 mph = 79%
4500rpm @ 50.3 mph = 80%
5000rpm @ 58.7 mph = 84%
WOT: 6380 rpm = 79.1 mph = 89%

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SCORE CARD (subjective ratings/opinions by test team)

LEVEL 1 (rating scale, 1=least, 10=best)

Hull/mold: 10.0 - Eliminator continues to be the master
Construction: 9.0 - Solid and dependable, craftsmanship still evident
Rigging/installation: 9.0 - Business as usual, no tricks, just do the job and it?s right
Interior/upholstery: 9.0 - Elegant and functional
Innovations/unique features: 8.0 - Adjustable electric power seat is very cool, so is the aft jump seat behind the driver's bucket. Just missing the "wow" factor.
Driveability: 10.0 - In less than sixty seconds, you?re at ease behind the wheel.
Attitude/set: 9.0 - All good marks, just better at 45 mph plus.
Turning/slalom/handling: 9.0 - Among the best on the market. No surprises here and that?s a good thing.
Acceleration (low speed): 9.0 - Lower pitch prop matches up nicely with Ilmor V-10 power curve.
Acceleration (mid-range): 9.0 - 6.68 seconds from 30 to 50 mph is very respectable
Acceleration (high end): 9.5 - Pulls hard all the way through to WOT.
Performance (low speed): 9.0 - Rolls over on plane at half throttle.
Performance (mid-range): 9.0 - Mild mannered and fun to drive.
Performance (high end): 9.0 - You get that air-entrapment hull feel at 60 mph plus.
Suitable purpose/function: 9.0 - No weaknesses, ample passenger capacity.

LEVEL 2 (rating scale, 1=least, 5=best)

Gelcoat/graphics: 4.5 - Still among the best in the business.
Helm/instrumentation: 5.0 - Never can have too much engine feedback. Great gauge display.
Comfort/ergonomics: 5.0 - 45 years of boat building experience shows.
Amenities/storage: 5.0 - Day boating doesn?t get better than this. If you bring it, you can stow it.
Engine serviceability: 5.0 - Your service tech will love you.
Cockpit noise level: 4.5 - IMCO Gatlin muffler tips take out the bark.
Cockpit wind factor: 4.0 - Breezy in the bow for passengers, center cockpit area behind the dual console windscreens is comfortable.
Appropriate power: 4.5 - Anything 400 horsepower and up is good to go.
Tracking: 5.0 - You would think it?s on rails
Lateral stability: 5.0 - Like you?re in your living room at home.

SCORECARD TALLY: 183.5 out of a possible 200 max
VALUE VS POINTS SYSTEM : 1084.46

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CONTACT:
http://www.eliminatorboat.com
Eliminator Boats
10795 San Sevaine
Mira Loma, CA 91752
(951) 332-4300

Written By Bob Brown
Dry Land Evaluation : Chris Hamlin of Prestige Marine, Aaron Fluent of Absolute Speed and Marine
Photos by : Dusty Wooddell (Primary) / Andrew Ruzek (Secondary) / Bob Brown (Back Up)