The "best" 6 HP outboard
is not a simple question. First, there is the two stroke vs 4 stroke
decision. Two strokes are lighter (my 1986 8LJ weighs 62 pounds, a similar new 4 stroke weighs 85,) simpler, and have better acceleration. That 23 pounds will make a big difference in performance when placed on the back of a small dinghy
. Four strokes are quieter, smoke less, and have better torque. Fuel
economy is better with a four stroke, but a 6HP outboard
only burns half a gallon an hour at wide open throttle so economy is less of a concern in small outboards. Smaller four strokes lose a lot of their advantages as the injectors are so small to maximize economy that they are easily clogged by bad fuel
, and again who cares if you burn 0.3 gallons per hour or 0.4? Four strokes idle better and at idle their fuel economy is more pronounced over a two stroke, which is even more inefficient at idle. If you idle a lot and especially if you run too much oil
in your gas a two stroke will need to have new plugs more often. Mixing gas and oil needs to be done correctly, but having oil in the gas means you are getting great lubrication.
Then there is the issue of cost. Four strokes are always more expensive than two strokes, and there aren't many old four strokes to purchase
inexpensively on the used market. If you are in an area where theft is a problem, an old 2 stroke
with a crappy paint
job is less likely to be stolen.
Ease of starting is more dependent on maintenance
than type or brand IMO. A well maintained older two stroke can be extremely reliable and easy to start- see the video below of my new to me a few days ago 1986 8LJ which was not maintained well but has perfect compression
120/120 and starts first pull after putting in new plugs. It sat for several years in someone's garage and had significant signs of neglect.
Recently I needed to add a small kicker
to my 19 foot boat. I've been using a 1980's Honda
5 HP I picked up for $200. It runs well and is reliable but is fairly noisy and vibrates a lot due to being only a one cylinder engine
. I like Yamahas, and I've been looking for an 8 HP, but a new high thrust, electric
start model is $1200 used. A few days ago I found a 1986 Yamaha 8LJ (long shaft, manual start) for $300 on Craigslist. I didn't have my tools with me so I couldn't evaluate it but took a chance on it.
This is how to evaluate a used outboard:
-look at the prop and check for dings and excessive wear, spin it and see if the shaft is straight (it will have a wobble if there was a bad prop strike.)
-ask about the maintenance history
, see if they have a shop manual.
-loosen the lower gear
oil drain screw, let a little gear
oil out and make sure the gear oil isn't milky (which means the seals
will need to be replaced.)
-take the cowling off and look for excessive corrosion
, or discolored paint
(bronzed/lighter) around the cylinder area by the spark plugs which implies it overheated at some point.
-take the spark plugs out (13/16 socket or big adjustable wrench,) disconnect the kill switch and check the compression
with a $35 guage from Autozone. You screw the guage in the spark plug
hole and pull the starter a few times until the guage maxes out. 120 is typical and each cylinder should be within 10 psi of the other.
-get an $8 inline spark tester in case the engine
won't start. If the compression is good and there is good spark, it is probably a fuel supply problem. In mine, just changing the fuel hose and primer bulb fixed an engine that wouldn't start. Compression plus spark plus fuel equals tiny explosion.
-bring "ear muffs" to hook to a water
supply to run the engine, check to see if the impeller is pumping water
out from under the cowling. The one I just bought had a clog from sand in the outlet that I fixed by poking it with a small drill bit. I'm still going to change the impeller.
-look at the spark plugs and make sure there is no metal bits on the plugs, metal would mean the bearings are tearing apart.
-make sure the fuel line primer bulb will get nice and hard when you pump it. Pump it with the flow area pointing skyward so the check valve will work. Put the fuel tank
at a reasonable height. Have the motor
down in operating position so the carburetor bowls will fill more easily.
-see if it will idle nice and slow. If it coughs and dies, the carbs need cleaning
. There are YouTube videos on how to clean a Yamaha carb, which prevents poor performance and running lean which is bad for the engine. Or you can pay 1.5 hours of mechanic
time at $85 per hour for the first carburetor and 0.5 hours for each successive carb.
-put it in gear after it is warm (prop warning applies) and run the throttle up to check for hesitation in the high speed jets. Best to water test it on a boat if possible, this problem may only show up when under a load.
are easy to get for old Yamaha outboards. Check out Simyamaha.com. Get a shop manual for your specific outboard and learn how to take care of it, change the impeller etc. $75 well spent (proprietary Yamaha literature, don't get a cheap
knock off like Seloc.)
Old two strokes hard to start? A myth based on poor maintenance, although they can sometimes be a little cold natured. Google
"Yamaha 4 stroke hard to start" and you will find examples of brand new little four stroke outboard engines that are cantankerous.
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