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Old 20-03-2018, 20:17   #1
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Hydraulic lock in 4 stroke outboard left on wrong side

My 25' sailboat's engine is a Yamaha 8 HP outboard. Four stroke, high torque gears and oversize lower unit and prop.

When I bought the boat, the seller delivered the outboard in his car. It was on the wrong side, with the tiller side up. He said he knew you weren't supposed to do that but that he didn't want to damage the tiller. Right.

I've had the motor upright on a stand in my garage ever since and went through it this last week, water pump impeller, thermostat, gear oil, motor oil, usual stuff.

There was motor oil everywhere and the flywheel would not turn. Engine was in hydraulic lock due to oil running into the cylinders. Carb bowl was full of oil. I cleaned up the mess and put in new plugs, all OK now.

So, no, don't leave them on the wrong side, because the problems with that are real.
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Old 20-03-2018, 21:55   #2
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Re: Hydraulic lock in 4 stroke outboard left on wrong side

Thanks. Helpful story.
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Old 21-03-2018, 06:24   #3
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Re: Hydraulic lock in 4 stroke outboard left on wrong side

Good Gravy!!! What'a mess. I'm sure glad we still have our old 2-stroke!
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Old 21-03-2018, 07:04   #4
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Re: Hydraulic lock in 4 stroke outboard left on wrong side

Well the top end will be well lubed!! Glad you could resurrect it.

Lent a small OB (3 hp Tanaka 2 stroke) to someone and it worked fine when they took it. They threw it into the bottom of the lazarette. When they tried to use it to get to shore, it would run fine, but then wouldn't go in gear or the prop turned slowly. At the time I was perplexed why it didn't work properly, but when I got it back and disassembled it, I found out why.

Apparently my friend had laid the motor over enough to allow the lower gear lube to run up into the shaft soaking the centrifugal clutch pad with oil. It then did not have enough friction engage the shaft drive.

The once trusty motor was now not worth repairing.

Lesson learned was to instruct people that even a 2 stroke needs to be laid down properly. In most cases this is to avoid any residual water from going up into the top end/cylinders as described in the owner manuals.

Bill O.
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Old 21-03-2018, 08:01   #5
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Re: Hydraulic lock in 4 stroke outboard left on wrong side

Yeah 4 strokes are picky. Read the manual and check for stckers before you lay them down. As mentioned 2 strokes less picky but going full upside down can cause issues.
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Old 21-03-2018, 08:48   #6
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Re: Hydraulic lock in 4 stroke outboard left on wrong side

Is it an industry standard that small four strokes should be laid on the tiller side?
My Lehr Outboards are that way.
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Old 21-03-2018, 09:55   #7
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Re: Hydraulic lock in 4 stroke outboard left on wrong side

Generally, there are two "feet" on the bottom of the engine cowling that the engine can rest on, and a "this side up" sticker on the opposite side.

I had a similar problem when testing inflatable boats on a California lake. I tried to start a Mercury 9.9HP engine, and it would not turn over. It seemed like it was in gear and the neutral interlock was keeping the flywheel from turning. Turns out it was a few ounces of oil in one of the cylinders. I was able to remove the spark plugs, and turn the engine over repeatedly with a paper towel outside of the spark plug holes. I did this for about 15 minutes and was able to start the engine, albeit with enough smoke to remind me of the old two-stroke days.

Engine ran fine after that.

Chuck Hawley
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