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Old 09-06-2008, 10:23   #1
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Rethinking the outboard choice

I'm wondering how many others out there are rethinking their choice of outboard for the dinghy now that fuel prices are still aiming skyward. Conventional wisdom among cruisers has for a long time been to stick to the 2 stroke yamaha enduro because of it's weight and reliability.
Now that I'm looking at outboards, looking at fuel costs and the price trend, the 4 stroke with it's 40% better fuel efficiency is starting to look better and better for the long run. 5 years worth of fuel savings will probably pay for the outboard hoist!!
My thinking has now changed, I for one would rather lift the heavier outboard than another $30 jerry can of gasoline.
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Old 09-06-2008, 10:27   #2
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Wait until you have to get that four stroke serviced in some strange place. Good thing about two strokes, almost anywhere in the world they know how to fix them. Most of the time you can do most things yourself.
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Old 09-06-2008, 11:14   #3
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Currently use a 6hp, 57lb. 4 stroke Tohatsu. A bit heavy, but it is still managable. If I were starting out new, I would consider the electric Torqeedo motor and a solar cell to charge the battery when not in use.

West Marine: Travel 801 Folding Electric Outboard with Battery Product Display
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Old 09-06-2008, 11:40   #4
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Wait until you have to get that four stroke serviced in some strange place. Good thing about two strokes, almost anywhere in the world they know how to fix them. Most of the time you can do most things yourself.
I've heard that statement before, and I still don't understand it. Why would a 4 stroke outboard be so difficult to service? I always figured since cars are 4 stroke, the average shadetree mechanic as well as professional mechanic would have a better understanding of how it works than a two stroke, which has always been limited to motorcycles, old outboards, and lawnmowers.
What is it that I can do myself to a 2-stroke that I can't do to a 4-stroke?
I'm not trying to be confrontational, I just think that conventional wisdom should be frequently challenged, because it usually doesn't keep pace with real changes.
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Old 09-06-2008, 11:47   #5
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Don't let the manufacturers bragging about fuel improvements sway your decision. They are not based on real world usages. If you can deal with the weight and never leave the central areas in the US so you can haul it to a service department then go for it, but the fuel savings will never outweigh the benefits of a two stroke in cruising. Besides the fuel usage is not that great to begin with. Consider a smaller engine such as a 3 1/2 HP for getting ashore 90% of the time and the larger one for longer distance runs. the extra expense of the second engine will pay for itself in a short time.
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Old 09-06-2008, 11:53   #6
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Consider a smaller engine such as a 3 1/2 HP for getting ashore 90% of the time and the larger one for longer distance runs. the extra expense of the second engine will pay for itself in a short time.
Thanks, I like that suggestion, that's one I hadn't really thought of but it seems to make good sense.
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Old 09-06-2008, 12:24   #7
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I use a Honda 4-stroke 2 HP on a Walker Bay with buoyancy tubes most of the time. At aprox 27 lbs I can pick it up one handed. Being a 4-stroke I don't have to mess around with fuel oil mixes. Its air cooled so a quick freshwater rinse is all it needs or gets.

I still have my Achilles inflatable with a 6 HP 2-stroke that I would consider packing along on multi-week trips but I must admit I'm spoiled by the lighweight kit.
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Old 09-06-2008, 12:26   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishspearit View Post
I've heard that statement before, and I still don't understand it. Why would a 4 stroke outboard be so difficult to service? I always figured since cars are 4 stroke, the average shadetree mechanic as well as professional mechanic would have a better understanding of how it works than a two stroke, which has always been limited to motorcycles, old outboards, and lawnmowers.
What is it that I can do myself to a 2-stroke that I can't do to a 4-stroke?
I'm not trying to be confrontational, I just think that conventional wisdom should be frequently challenged, because it usually doesn't keep pace with real changes.

Fish,

We frequently go to islands where there aren't any or if there are,only a few cars. And that's just in the Bahamas. When you go cruising quite often there aren't any garages, in any event auto mechanics seldom work on outboards. What you will find in remote spots is fishermen and most of them use two stroke motors. It is easy to troubleshoot a 2 stroke, not that easy for a 4 stroke. No special tools required as there aren't any valves, well sometimes there's a reed valve but that's totally different. If you're just day sailing or cruising along the US east coast you'd probably be ok with a four stroke but fixing them once you're away from "civilization" forget it.
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Old 09-06-2008, 12:29   #9
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What is it that I can do myself to a 2-stroke that I can't do to a 4-stroke?
For myself, I can pull the head and replace the rings on a two stroke but I wouldn't dare try that on a four stroke.
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Old 09-06-2008, 13:42   #10
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Dinghy fuel is at the low end of items in our cruising expenses. The reasons I went 2 stroke still hold true the power to weight ratio being the most important for me.

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Old 09-06-2008, 14:08   #11
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There are, of course, also environmental issues to consider. Four-strokes are cleaner and they are also more fuel efficient. If you care about this planet (and in my experience, most cruisers do) then these are HUGE advantages.

I have also found that 4 stroke outboards are becoming increasingly popular in the Caribbean; in fact, there is a dealer that carries my 4 stroke Yamaha on Margarita Island. In addition, finding mechanics that are capable of repairing a 4 stroke may be difficult on some Bahamian Out Islands, but you will generally never be more than a daysail away from somewhere with numerous 4 stroke cars, motorcycles and yes, mechanics.

I must admit, I did get annoyed at the weight of my Yamaha 6 HP 4-stroke. My answer, after it was stolen, was to replace it with another Yamaha 4 stroke, but this only a 2.5 HP that weighs half that of the 6 HP. No, I can't get up on a plane - but then, the elimation of a separate (and easy to steal) fuel tank, the ease of mounting and dismounting (no small thing for anyone with back problems) and the reduction in both purchase and operating costs have all more than compensated for the inability to plane.

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Old 11-06-2008, 17:35   #12
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I guess I STILL don't understand the issue of the difficulty of servicing a 4-stroke. I recently finished a course in Outboard Motor Repair (I focused on small - 15 HP and less, outboards) and the same issues affect all outboards. First, few folks read the maintenance manual, then follow the directions. The result? It is impossible to service a water pump because the owner has never removed the lower end. Difficult? Not if you do it before the stainless bolts seize in the aluminum housings. The same with electrical systems(spark system, alternators, starters, etc. Lubrication of the mounting hardware, and for that matter, anything that could use a shot of grease or lubricant. Buy a first-rate book on outboard repair (about $100), or at least have the service manual for your motor. I bought a couple of more neat tools to add to my kit, including a laser heat sensor. I use it on my reefer, on the diesel, of course the outboard, and lots of other stuff. For a four stroke, change the oil religiously. For ANY outboard, change the lower end oil regularly. It's a lot cheaper than an hour of the mechanic's time. Play with the outboard when it's working and fixable, don't wait until it seizes. Scrape and repaint the worn spots. Keep new zincs installed. Pull the prop and inspect that no fish line has tangled behind it. Buy a spare prop and whatever you secure the prop with. Talk to folks who have your motor and ask what service they have had performed. Buy the parts before you need them, preferably on sale or on the net. Go find a community college class in outboard mechanics. It's really cool.
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Old 11-06-2008, 17:55   #13
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Good advice Roy.

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Old 11-06-2008, 21:27   #14
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Interesting that there are no comments from people who OWN 4-stroke engines who have had trouble servicing them... Only 2-Stroke owners who "know" that service is a problem...

I know that modern 4-stroke outboards are a bit more complex than the lawnmower engines I used to rebuild as a kid, but still, what the heck is the big deal?

Roy's comments are right on, learn to fix it yourself. It's really NOT a big deal. If you can put new rings in a 2-stroke engine you certainly can do it on a four stroke.
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Old 12-06-2008, 03:40   #15
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I have a four stroke 8 HP Honda. I don't like the weight, but do like the quietness and reliability. I have had 2 stroke, Mercs, Evinrudes, Chysler, and I find the old 4 stroke Honda just as easy to work on. I would consider a 2 stroke Yamaha because of the weight but I am told the new ones aren't as good as the older models.
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