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Old 28-08-2012, 07:24   #1
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9.9/15-hp 4-Stroke Outboard Motors?

I've read almost everything on here about outboard motors, but the responses are often so broad that folks eventually begin comparing older 2-hp 2-stroke to 25-hp 4-stroke motors... sometimes both dinghy and auxiliary applications... and I get lost in the winding paths...

I hope to focus on only two options: short-shaft 9-hp 4-stroke or 15-hp 4-stroke outboards for a tender.

Our new-ish dinghy is a Walker Bay Genesis 310FTD (10'2") which weighs 135-lbs dry. Min recommended hp is 10, max is 15, motor weight max is 120-lbs. The motor can be "permanently" rigged, since we can crank the whole dinghy/motor combo onto our davit mount or I can bring the boat ashore on a trailer (e.g., over winter); I don't have to be able to manually lift the motor.

I want a larger outboard (than we have now) so we can mostly always plane with 2 adults and a 90-lb First Mutt, plus various stuff (stores, bicycles, etc.) when necessary. I want 4-stroke because I'm tired of messing with mixing oil, and because I want guiet. (I am aware of the Yamaha 15-hp 2-stroke motors that could be available on the used/secondary market. Held in abeyance for now.) I may want electric start, due to various issues that come along with old age.

I've compared website data for Tohatsu/Nissan/Mercury, Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki... but I'd be very interested in opinion for these motors only -- and even additional factoids, when available -- about and ease of use, planing capability, overall reliability, access to service say anywhere along the U.S. East Coast and/or the Caribbean.

Thanks, -Chris
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Old 28-08-2012, 07:50   #2
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

Before you purchase a motor be sure and check parts availability in the areas outside the USA where you plan to cruise. At least in the Western Carib Yamaha is by far the dominant brand.
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Old 28-08-2012, 16:41   #3
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Before you purchase a motor be sure and check parts availability in the areas outside the USA where you plan to cruise. At least in the Western Carib Yamaha is by far the dominant brand.
Thank you, I did indeed mean to include parts availaibility -- along with access to service techs -- in my original post, so I appreciate your reminder!

Does Yamaha's dominanace in the Western Caribbean include parts and service for their small 4-stroke motors, too? Or is it more limited to their 2-stroke motors?

-Chris
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Old 28-08-2012, 16:59   #4
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

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Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post

Does Yamaha's dominanace in the Western Caribbean include parts and service for their small 4-stroke motors, too? Or is it more limited to their 2-stroke motors?

-Chris
4 stroke yamaha's are beginning to make an appearance, but still are outnumbered by the 2-stroke yamaha enduro engines. Either way, I know at least two of the yamaha dealers in Guatemala had no problem ordering 4 stroke parts.
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Old 28-08-2012, 17:37   #5
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

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4 stroke yamaha's are beginning to make an appearance, but still are outnumbered by the 2-stroke yamaha enduro engines. Either way, I know at least two of the yamaha dealers in Guatemala had no problem ordering 4 stroke parts.

Yes, the "enduros" are a Central American build and the most widely used engine by far especially at smaller HPs. Smaller engines here are almost exclusively 2-stroke. Good parts availability and service.

There is also one distributor here in Guate for Mercury eTech engines, but I don't think they make any smaller HP versions.
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Old 28-08-2012, 18:38   #6
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

Yamaha. Having said that, I would say go for the 15 HP if cost is not a consideration. More power is usually better, and I don't believe they weigh more than the 9.9 HP. I had one of the first generation Yamaha 9.9 HP four-strokes and it was the sail-kicker version geared down and swinging a big prop. It ran for many hundreds of hours and is very reliable and rugged. It does have the same problem as most 4-strokes. The smallest pieces of crud will surely clog up the carburetor and require a tear down to get the motor running properly again. The only way to deal with this is to be extra careful about filtering your fuel both when you put it in the tank and when it goes from the tank to the outboard. Even on a dinghy it will pay to have a large spin-on type of fuel filter, and even then you will be cleaning the carburetor regularly.
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Old 29-08-2012, 15:34   #7
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

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Yamaha. Having said that, I would say go for the 15 HP if cost is not a consideration. More power is usually better, and I don't believe they weigh more than the 9.9 HP. I had one of the first generation Yamaha 9.9 HP four-strokes and it was the sail-kicker version geared down and swinging a big prop. It ran for many hundreds of hours and is very reliable and rugged. It does have the same problem as most 4-strokes. The smallest pieces of crud will surely clog up the carburetor and require a tear down to get the motor running properly again. The only way to deal with this is to be extra careful about filtering your fuel both when you put it in the tank and when it goes from the tank to the outboard. Even on a dinghy it will pay to have a large spin-on type of fuel filter, and even then you will be cleaning the carburetor regularly.


The 9.9 weighs 91 lbs and the 15 weighs 115-lbs. A bit more (3-lbs, at least for the 15) if electric start. I think the 2-stroke 9.9 and 15 weighed the same; apparently not so with 4-strokes, where the 8s/9.9s and the 15s/20s are the pairs that weigh the same.

So 4-strokes are more prone to fuel problems than 2-strokes? Hmmm... I've been wrestling with our current 2-stroke, but so far that has always somehow seemed to track back to an ethanol-related issues. Given these are all carbureted... I'd have expected that would be a wash...

-Chris
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Old 29-08-2012, 15:37   #8
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
4 stroke yamaha's are beginning to make an appearance, but still are outnumbered by the 2-stroke yamaha enduro engines. Either way, I know at least two of the yamaha dealers in Guatemala had no problem ordering 4 stroke parts.

And were they also knowledgable about how to install said parts, do overall service, etc.? Or are they just learning the 4-strokes? Or...?

-Chris
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Old 29-08-2012, 15:38   #9
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

While we're at it, can folks comment on Honda vs Yamaha (4-stroke) in the Caribbean?

-Chris
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Old 29-08-2012, 16:12   #10
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

Have a Tohatsu 9.8 4 stroke on the same dinghy, a Walker Bay Genesis 310 FTD. I can plane with passengers and cargo of 500-600#. Passenger or passengers may have to move or lean toward the bow to get on plane, but once up, it stays up. I don't think I would want any additional horsepower.
Haven't had the occasion to work on it, so can't comment on service availablity in the Caribbean. I carry lots of spares.
To avoid the bad gas that can cripple a 4 stroke, I installed an in-line cartridge filter and haven't had any problems.
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Old 29-08-2012, 16:35   #11
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

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So 4-strokes are more prone to fuel problems than 2-strokes?
In general, yes. But, both motors benefit from getting clean gas and both can have problems. In my experience, a two-stroke can gradually eat through some pretty crappy gas loaded with water, etc., and still keep going. However, due to their greater fuel efficiency, the jets in a 4-stroke are very, very small and the teensiest piece of crud can plug them up, particularly the low-speed jet. IMHO you absolutely need a decent fuel filter inline, or preferably a big spin on canister one mounted on the transom, to keep your 4-stroke running well. Also, use marine StaBil in all your gas, which helps with today's ethanol fuel.
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Old 29-08-2012, 16:45   #12
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

I am a Honda lover had honda outboards since 1978, presently has 2 4stroke
outboards , a 15 horse long shaft el start 10-15 years old,and a 20 hp short shaft ,man start 2006 model .I have never had any of my motors in a shop but as i am 71 years old i wished the20 hp dinghy motor had el start for wife and daughter. All my hondas start on first pull ,or they are not hooked up to the fuel right, same for the 2000 generator, or powerwasher it is good quality if you look after it .Fuel is important for small engines ,buy marine fuel not methane fuel from gas stations .and always run the carb empty when stopping the engine. But Yanmar engines are good too, but not as quiet.the Honda 9.9 and 15 hp uses the same block and weight is the same with a big dog and 2 adults go 15 hp my 20 hp on the dinghy is a bit to powerfull , my 2 cents worth .Ole
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Old 29-08-2012, 17:24   #13
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

I have a 10' Caribe RIB that weighs a bit more than your Walker Bay. Last summer I went up to an electric-start 15hp, and I love it. The major difference for me is that I no longer have to use fin attachments to get the boat up on a plane. While the smaller engine would plane my wife and I, if we added a couple sacks of groceries we were in trouble. This in no longer the case with the 15hp.

Two weeks ago we had to stern tie on a guest dock in the Petaluma turning basin. I had my dink on the davits because I'd been up in the Delta for two weeks. So, once we get into the turning basin we dropped the dink, Wonderblond jumped in and hit the "girl button," which is what we call the electric starter, and then zoomed off to the guest dock, getting there in time to handle dock lines when I backed in. Let me tell you, being able to accomplish such maneuvers makes having a girl button well worth the extra weight and money.
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Old 29-08-2012, 17:50   #14
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My wife is able to easily pullstart our friends Honda 20 hp. I imagine a 15hp is not much different. Having said that electric start is awesome on our 15. But its a 2 smoker. Ditto what is said on 2 strokes vs 4 strokes. A 2 stroke will run with crap thru the gas a 4 s wont think of running with.
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Old 29-08-2012, 20:39   #15
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Re: 9.9/15-hp 4-stroke outboard motors?

We have a Mercury 9.9 - 2008 model. 4 stroke.

Look, it's a decent engine. I got it for $1375, brand new from Academy (in September). It really is OK. But, only OK. I can't believe there is mild steel anywhere on this engine, but there is. What the heck? In saltwater?

If you want the best engine, for a bit more money (quite a bit) that will probably run forever, go with Yamaha.
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