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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 05-01-2010, 10:12   #1
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Unreliable Outboards

Looking at everything, how many times a year do you either have your outboard not start or have an issue that makes you dock bound while you fix it. It can be do to anything, no coolant stream, stalls, won't start, etc.

Here in the states they've added ethanol to all gasoline fuel. After a week or two it develops a sludge in the tank. As a result I've really never seen a reliable outboard anymore. Even "that mechanic guy" with all the tools who strips and rebuilds everything gets stuck on the dock at least once a season. My own outboard, if professionally cleaned, should be good for about 2 months. Last time though it was only a few weeks. Of course, there's also coolant flow issues, etc that's typically two times a year something will get into the coolant flow for my nissan 5hp and require me to fix it. My old boat was powered solely through outboards and we'd joke inside the community that none of us ever had both outboard working at the same time.

Be honest!
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:25   #2
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It is imperative with the ethanol gasoline that additives be added to the tank in additon to the normal small dose of StabBil. The ethanol additives bring more H2O into the tank, so sealing the tank when not in use is helpful as well.
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:33   #3
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Does the addition of ethanol mean that 2 stroke oil isnt disolved as well as with a straight gasoline mix?
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:36   #4
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Ka4wja claims to never have an issue. Never. Sorry, but that's the boldest lie ever told by a sailor since Moby Dick. Is he a avid rower? I think the ultimate solution will be to filter the heck out of it. My PDQ had outboard issues till I put the fuel through a fuel strainer, and then a water fuel seperator, and then to the outboard. Then I only had to worry about impeller issue, or fuel pumps, or starter issues, etc, which brough the unreliability down to about once or twice a year with brand new yamaha 4 strokes (arguably one of the best outboards there is).
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:40   #5
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Three more people have voted that they never have issues. Would they care to divulge their secrets? Never had a coolant problem, never a fuel pump issue, as someone whose owned 4 different outboards and probably travelled a couple thousand miles by outboard alone, I'm mystified. Even with new outboards I've had starting issues.
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:49   #6
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Had my Merc 4hp 2 stroke on my dinghy for 3 seasons without a problem. I use Seafoam in the tank. Empty it when stored over the winter. Pour a little seafoam in the carb. Change the leg oil. Make sure the mix is right.

Never had a problem........
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:59   #7
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Thanks solitude, that's great feedback. Do you regularly change your impeller? Some recommend it seasonally. My Nissan 5hp has a notoriously difficult impeller to change. And the seafoam, do you use that simply to clean the tank once a season?
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:05   #8
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Should have a catgory " Less than once a year ". I have only once had a problem and it was water in the fuel. It took more than a month to resolve and my self and amechanic cleaned it out more the half a dozen times. The rest of the time my 15 hp Yamaha Enduro 2 stroke usually starts on the first pull. I have had it for more than 3 years and the motor is 6 years old.
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:06   #9
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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.
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:08   #10
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Thanks Billyehh, the last person I gave a tow to had some fuel that had been sitting around and absorbed moisture. The cleaned out their tank properly, but didn't clean out the fuel line leading from the tank, so that water was what did it.
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:13   #11
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I have a Yamaha 15 4 stroke on my dinghy. I have had no luck since they stopped labeling gas containing ethanol. I used to be able to rely on pumps that were not labeled as containing ethanol, but now you never know what you get. I have been using the Yamaha fuel stabilizer at the recomendation of my mechanic. It has helped a bit, but has not solved the problem. I always disconnect the fuel line and run the system out of fuel if I'm not going to be using it within a day. The carburator float valve still sticks. It's been replaced a couple of times but it still sticks after it sits for a while.

I have considered the possibility of using aviation fuel in it. Avgas is basically a single molecular weight product and doesn't change significantly while sitting and is guaranteed not to have any ethanol. Has anyone tried this in an outboard? The stuff does contain tetraethyl lead which might tend to accumulate on the valves and cause a problem. It is a bit more expensive that automobile gasoline, but if it does away with the problems it might be worth it.
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:15   #12
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Since i installed a inline filters i have had no troble with my 2 outboards -2.5 yamaha 4 stroke & 15hp yamha 2 stroke, the 15 is a better runner starts faster (1 pull) and uses not much more fuel than the 2.5 4 stroke- of corse i change the oils- but have not cracked open the impeller yet on the 2.5 since new about 3 years old now
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:18   #13
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I my experience with quite a number of outboards at work, fuel stabilizer for ethanol has little positive effect.

The only real solution I have seen are buying engines with fuel injection. If you have no choice but to have a carburated engine then you MUST run the fuel out after each use. This means running the engine with the fuel line disconnected until the engine runs out of gas. Even then its an iffy situation.

Avgas is $4.50 to $5.00 per gallon. Is it easy to get with all the security around airports now? I don't know, I have never gone to the airport and tried getting it.
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:23   #14
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David, what you mention echos what the outboard mechanics here in Annapolis say as well. Of just the people on my dock, not at my marina, one has had to have his injectors replaced due to ethanol clogging up, the other was stuck at least once do this, in fact, everyone with an older outboard has had it stall.

Given that though, would an inline water/fuel filter fix the issue along with another inline particulate filter?

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Old 05-01-2010, 11:26   #15
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Captain Bill,

I haven't tried Avgas, but I did have a guy who repaired outboards for a living recommend it. And let me tell you, a good outboard mechanic here in Annapolis had no end of work.

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