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View Poll Results: how many times a year does your outboard stop working?
Never 79 57.25%
1 time a year 25 18.12%
2 times a year 15 10.87%
3 times a year 2 1.45%
4 or more times a year 17 12.32%
Voters: 138. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 18-05-2010, 21:24   #76
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I have largely ended problems with my outboards by using a Racor fuel filter housing with NAPA 3757 filter. The filter housing comes with a clear plastic cup that fits on the bottom of the filter and the filter fits onto the housing proper. This does the same thing that the old glass filters on early model, 1950s, cars; it allows any water or sludge that gets by the filter to be trapped. There is a tap on the bottom of the unit and if you see anything in the bowl you drain it into a small can and "recycle"it.
I do not do any thing special, just change the oil once a year and replace the plugs at the first sign of rough running.

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Old 18-05-2010, 23:02   #77
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Im quite sure if I wake up late and its drizzly cold it wont start. Ill have to row. I can rely on that. unless its unreliable again, Dam Ill have to row to work.

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Old 18-05-2010, 23:38   #78
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The old outboard was a 1991 2 HP Yamaha 2-stroke. It never once failed and it took a lot of abuse.

The current engine isn't really tested yet, it's a 1959 British Seagull (named Jonathan). It had been sitting in a garage for an unknown number of years when I picked it up. I changed the old fuel for new fuel and pulled the cord once, twice and it started and ran fine. Our dinghy was stolen last weekend so the engine is still waiting for a sea trial. I wonder why no one stole the engine though, it wasn't locked... Benefit of using a 50 year old engine perhaps The seagull doesn't really have an impeller, it has a hard rotor that doesn't touch the sides so there's virtually no wear and the seldom need to be replaced. Ours has probably beein in there since 1959 and still works great.

I always close the fuel line and let the carb run dry. In fact, with the Seagull it's the only way of stopping it. Apart from putting your hand over the air intake

The regular outboard maintenance now only involves changing gear oil and spark plug and to keep the tank topped up

Oh yeah. There IS a careful thought behind our choice of outboard

On the way back to Sweden.
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Old 20-05-2010, 14:39   #79
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For our Nissan 5hp I replaced the carb and then only use avgas in it now. Runs extremely well now. The airport guessed my purpose first try "Ah, you must be a boat owner?" Seems that the pros in the Annapolis area use nothing but avgas when winterizing engines as it can be stored for long periods of time and quite a few customers use it for their four strokes. The main outboard engine repair shop in Annapolis recommends that the only way you can really be sure with regular gas is to dump the gas into your car if your not going to use the engine from more than 2 or 3 days. They should know, it's the majority of their business is cleaning carbs from the ethanol.
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Old 20-05-2010, 15:11   #80
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OK, so I know I am jinxing our outboard and it will now never start again, but here goes...

We have a 1998 Honda 4-stroke 15hp electric start. We acquired it with the main boat in 2003, so I do not know the maintenance from 1998-2003. Since 2003 I have done the following in maintenance: nothing. No oil changes, no gear oil changes, no spark plugs, no impeller, no carb anything - nothing.

That is actually quite embarrassing because I do constant routine maintenance on the two main engines and the generator, but somehow I have never gotten around to even opening the cowling on the outboard. So, from 2003 on it has not received a lick of maintenance - to the extent that if I were to lift the cowling, I would be blinking at it in wonder.

Now this is the part that defies all logic. For the first 6 years of its life with us (5 years old when we got it, so 11 years old by the end of our 6 years), we had it in CT. Winterization consisted of leaving it on the dinghy in the davits hooked to the gas tank after its last use and going home (I did disconnect the battery and take that home). All other engines in the boat were obsessively winterized and coddled, but I always ignored the outboard.

To this day, it never fails to start within a single revolution of the camshaft. It still has the original spark plugs, although I picked up a set of spares this year. Earlier in the year, I got a tank of gas containing a gob of water and the engine ran like normal for half the tank - when I looked into the tank and saw water floating around in it and switched fuel sources. Also this year I finally broke down and put in a new impeller. The old one was fossilized and had permanent bends in all the vanes. I also changed the oil and gear oil and installed an external fuel filter. The old in-line filter remains, as does the original spark plugs. Probably didn't need all that work, and the clean fuel will probably be the death of it...

I did spin a hub on the original prop this year and had to have it re-hubbed. Does that count as unreliable (it still worked - just not at full throttle). Even that surprised me since the blades are bent and chewed up from the many times I have ran it into the bottom, rocks, trees, etc. I expected the hub to go years ago...


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Old 20-05-2010, 15:18   #81
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I have a nine year old Yamaha 15 hp two stroke. 100 to 1 oil mix. I use it a lot during my six months cruising every year from November to May. I change the plugs usually every season, sometimes go two seasons with the same plugs. For eight years I did not have a single problem. Only maintenance was the plug changes. The motor sits idle on my dink on the back of the boat all summer. Come down to the boat in November, motor starts first or second pull.

This year I had starting problems and it was my fault. The hose developed a hole in it and water got in. I got to the boat in November and put the hose on and used the old tank of gas. Problems starting and running. Found the hose had a hole and replaced it. I took the carb off and cleaned it. Engine runs fine now, starts ok but seems to flood and die if I've been running wide open and shut it down fast. I might get a mechanic to look at it.

I admit the motor doesn't purr like it used to. The zinc is half eaten away. That's about it for a motor that's been totally reliable over the years. Toying with the idea of replacing it with another Yamaha 15 hp two stroke. The new ones really purr nicely.
Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.
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Old 21-05-2010, 17:46   #82
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Tohatsu 5hp 2 stroke new 2007... never failed, sweet as a nut...
Evinrude 4hp 2 stroke, age unknown.. came with the boat so probably late 70's... problem not fuel but persistant cooling blockage.. someone told me its to do with a sharp 90degree bend up in the engine somewhere... probably end up binning it soon..
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Old 21-05-2010, 21:48   #83
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the curse returns, my wife mentioned today she couldn't get the nissan started after it stalled. I'm thinking it may have been flooded, but I'm checking tomorrow. Enduro, enduro, enduro....need an enduro.
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Old 22-05-2010, 11:50   #84
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after i discovered in line fuel filters for them i have had no problem with any outboard i have owned in the past----hhhmmmmmmmm--since 1996.....for real---makes a great huge difference in the amount of dirt getting into carb ---yes fuel has dirt from their tanks also---after i found in line filters i didnt have to rebuild carb as often!! without filter is /was every 1-2 weeks for that job..after filter addition-more like rebuild carb every year...engines were used yr round i kayak so i havent had a problem with mine for a looong time ..LOL
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Old 22-05-2010, 12:16   #85
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I hope posting this does not jinx me, but we have 3 outboards, all two strokes, and never have problems with them. They are:

1) 1978 Johnson 70 HP
2) 1996 Force 40 HP
3) 1996 Tohatsu 5HP

Use Sta-bil in the fuel.
Never start the engine out of water, even for a second.
Don't keep fuel over the winter
Charge batteries once a month in the winter
Make sure the water pump is functioning properly
Use a spin on type water separator/filter
Keep a canvas cover on when not in use

Once a year:
Check the lower unit grease. If it has a milky tinge, reseal the lower unit
Clean and gap the plugs - replace if worn
Check the factory fuel filter
Grease the zerk fittings
Inspect the prop - if bent or the hub is worn, rebuild or replace
Spray some carb cleaner inside and outside the carb
Wax the motor cover
Clean battery terminals

One tip that I would give for greasing the lower unit - fill the case not quite full (down 1/8 inch or so). To check the grease, straighten a paper clip and bend 1/4 inch at the end with a pair of pliers. Insert in the filler screw hole to check the grease level. This takes a few seconds longer than just overflowing the grease, but it is much neater and doesn't get oil in the water.

If I were to get a new outboard, it would probably be a four stroke, but I hesitate to get rid of a good motor.
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Old 28-05-2010, 16:56   #86
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Dinghy outboard - Yamaha 15 Enduro. I think it's a 1995 so it's 15 years old. Bought off Ebay about 4 years ago. Sat in a cold wet boat stern locker without even touching it for 2 years after purchase. Added gas, 2 pulls and it started

Starting? 1 or 2 pulls except we just changed the plugs to the *correct* ones and now it won't start easily at all. Otherwise nothing to report

Maintenance - it needs a new prop due to lots of rock hits. Hard to find due to the engine age. It was probably a Caribbean engine and we're in Mexico so the model codes don't match up.
Blogging about rebuilding our cat and setting sail:
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Old 29-05-2010, 05:27   #87
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I voted once per year, but many years I have zero problems. My outboard is a merc 9.9 2 stroke new 2002.

Most common problem is bad fuel line. I now just put a new one on at the start of each cruising season.

I got one batch of bad fuel this year.

I put a 15 hp carb on it a few years ago when I bought a larger dink. This is a great little engine and usually starts on the first pull.

She took my address and my name
Put my credit to shame
Sunspot Baby, sure had a real good time
Bob Seger
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Old 10-06-2010, 14:06   #88
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'99 two-stroke Merc. Has never failed me, except the time I tried to burn last-year's gas. Haven't changed the impeller or the plug (though I carry a spare for both). I do change the shaft oil.

In a similar vein, by lawnmower sports a 2HP Briggs and Stratton, and has been running problem free for decades with no maint whatsoever, on always old gasoline.
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Old 06-07-2010, 23:37   #89
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I have never ever had a problem starting my outboard, maye thats cause I dont have one. 12' flat bottom duck boat dont use one.
As far as gas goes all the gas at the stations that is ment for cars here in the states is E10, EPA mandated. you can get non ethanol gas at some card lock stations that is offroad gas, usually super. one station has it all winter here for the sleds. AV gas is the best, better power and cleaner on the reeds. 2 stroke or 4 use av gas, all gas motors like happy gas.
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Old 07-07-2010, 01:55   #90
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Originally Posted by schoonerdog View Post
If you have outboards without issues, please reply to this thread and tell us what you've got and any tips for maintaining it. I've had to go rescue cruisers here in Annapolis whose outboard stalled out three times last year.
I don't know. We have had various outboards, all two-strokes, and never (knocking vigorously on wood) any significant problems.

Current one is a probably 10 year-old Mariner 25 horsepower electric start remote steering.

Service it every year (impeller, leg oil, spark plugs, etc.) and keep fresh gasoline in it.

Only problem I ever had so far (vigorously knocking on wood again) is running out of fuel. Runs great; lovely smooth-running very responsive motor.

My advice to people with unreliable outboards: Change them. Sell them and buy a different one. Sounds very much to me, especially reading all the stories here of total reliability even when neglected, a matter of luck, getting a good one.

I love outboard motors. My first experience on the water was in an outboard-powered jonboat, before I was even a year old. I have a Pavlov's Dog type psychological association between outboard motors, freedom, and happiness, all triggered by the lovely smell of two-stroke exhaust wafting over the water.

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