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Old 28-08-2013, 06:13   #1
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Mercury 3.5 HP Outboard Junk?

I'm considering buying an engine for our dinghy.

From the reviews I've read (West Marine and others) about the Mercury 3.5 HP it appears the engine is very, very unreliable...if it runs at all.

What's your opinion about the engine?

What other make would you recommend for a dinghy?
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Old 28-08-2013, 06:41   #2
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

That engine is the same as the Tohatsu, Evenrude and Nissan (all four made by Tohatsu), so if you don't want it, don't consider those brands.

You might also check reviews on those brands to see if they are consistent.

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Old 28-08-2013, 06:42   #3
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

I've got one of the old Mercury 2.5 HPs two strokes, made by Tohatsu as far as I can tell. Super reliable, and uses hardly any gas.

I replaced a 25 hp Mercury with it after I got tired of manhandling that heavy thing on and off the dinghy and realized I was never running it very fast anyway.
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Old 28-08-2013, 06:45   #4
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PDA1 View Post
I'm considering buying an engine for our dinghy.

From the reviews I've read (West Marine and others) about the Mercury 3.5 HP it appears the engine is very, very unreliable...if it runs at all.

What's your opinion about the engine?

What other make would you recommend for a dinghy?
I'm thinking the problem isn't the engine, but the people trying to use it. How many people are even used to using a choke these days?

On most cars, you just turn the key, and it starts right up with todays fuel injection and computer ignition systems.

It was common practice back in the day .............even in your average automobile or truck to have a choke.

I have a 5 hp Mercury 4 stroke outboard (2011) I use to push around my 6600 lb 27' Bristol Sailboat. It does fine..............
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Old 28-08-2013, 06:49   #5
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
That engine is the same as the Tohatsu, Evenrude and Nissan (all four made by Tohatsu), so if you don't want it, don't consider those brands.

You might also check reviews on those brands to see if they are consistent.

Mark
They are all made by the same company?

As it stands I'm not that naive to think if I get a Mercury 3.5 I'll be the ONLY one not to have the typical problems with it.

There is another consideration too- many, many owners of mechanical things don't take care of them and expect them to run perfectly....always.

Any opinion about Hondas?
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Old 28-08-2013, 07:14   #6
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

Yes, same company for all of those brand's smaller engines - Tohatsu.

I like Honda a lot, but some have had problems with Honda's very small engines.

In general, the smallest 4-stroke outboards are more finicky due to gas and particles gumming up the very small passages and jets in the carburetors.

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Old 28-08-2013, 07:34   #7
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

You have to run the small outboards dry when turning them off using the fuel lever. You can't just switch them off or the carburetor will clog up.

They are very economical. I ran my 3.5 hp on a gallon per week. They are really easy to carry. Mine weighed 35 lbs. They are only good on a dinghy of 9 ft or less. You are trading off power for light weight and fuel economy. When you start paying $8/gallon for your gasoline you'll understand.
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Old 28-08-2013, 07:38   #8
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Yes, same company for all of those brand's smaller engines - Tohatsu.

I like Honda a lot, but some have had problems with Honda's very small engines.

In general, the smallest 4-stroke outboards are more finicky due to gas and particles gumming up the very small passages and jets in the carburetors.

Mark
Some how I figured the jets or manner of carb' problem would be the source.

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Old 28-08-2013, 07:40   #9
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

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You have to run the small outboards dry when turning them off. You can't just turn them off or the carburetor will clog up.

They are very economical. I ran my 3.5 hp on a gallon per week.

Ok....I'll remember that.
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Old 28-08-2013, 08:13   #10
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

I bought the Merc 5hp 4/stroke a few years ago and broke my own rule of price shopping for the least expensive piece of equipment. Like Colemj mentions above, the carburetor clogging is a real issue even when I run it dry. I've got maybe 200 hrs on this engine and I've stripped the carb down four times already. When it runs it's fine, but out of the several small outboards I own now and the ones I've had in the past, even considering my 5hp Seagull, this one has been a disappointment. I'd give up a little fuel economy for a better jetted and quality carburetor on the Mercs. Heck I've never re-built the carb on my 6hp lawnmower and it's been fine for 18 years.
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Old 28-08-2013, 08:30   #11
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

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I bought the Merc 5hp 4/stroke a few years ago and broke my own rule of price shopping for the least expensive piece of equipment. Like Colemj mentions above, the carburetor clogging is a real issue even when I run it dry. I've got maybe 200 hrs on this engine and I've stripped the carb down four times already. When it runs it's fine, but out of the several small outboards I own now and the ones I've had in the past, even considering my 5hp Seagull, this one has been a disappointment. I'd give up a little fuel economy for a better jetted and quality carburetor on the Mercs. Heck I've never re-built the carb on my 6hp lawnmower and it's been fine for 18 years.
And I've had the opposite experience on my Mercury 2011 Model 5 hp 4 stroke outboard.

I've had no problems what so ever and I rarely run the carb dry. I just turn it off when I'm through, and I've been using it quite a bit lately crossing the entire 17 miles of bay when there is little or no wind. I have done zero maintenance on this engine I sorry to say and it probably has about 110 hours on it. I plan on doing it this winter .........

Sometimes when you run it out of fuel it is a little hard starting so I just hookup the external tank and pump the fuel in with the bulb on the hose. Then it starts right up. Maybe this is your problem........

I had lots of small engine experience with old lawn mowers as a 10-14 year old.
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Old 28-08-2013, 08:37   #12
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

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And I've had the opposite experience on my Mercury 2011 Model 5 hp 4 stroke outboard.

I've had no problems what so ever and I rarely run the carb dry. I just turn it off when I'm through, and I've been using it quite a bit lately crossing the entire 17 miles of bay when there is little or no wind. I have done zero maintenance on this engine I sorry to say and it probably has about 110 hours on it. I plan on doing it this winter .........

Sometimes when you run it out of fuel it is a little hard starting so I just hookup the external tank and pump the fuel in with the bulb on the hose. Then it starts right up. Maybe this is your problem........

I had lots of small engine experience with old lawn mowers as a 10-14 year old.

Yeah no one example can be taken as true for all. But I know how to start an outboard and the problems were in the carb. It was visually obvious when I stripped it down. Plus, I can buy a lot of lawn mowers for the price I paid for the Merc.
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Old 28-08-2013, 09:02   #13
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

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Yeah no one example can be taken as true for all. But I know how to start an outboard and the problems were in the carb. It was visually obvious when I stripped it down. Plus, I can buy a lot of lawn mowers for the price I paid for the Merc.
Four 4 carb rebuilts does seem a bit excessive. Maybe it's dirty fuel etc.

I've just never had any problems, but I have seen people freak out over there POS outboards when they have the fuel selector in the wrong position or they ran it dry and wonder why it doesn't start on the first pull next time out.
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Old 28-08-2013, 09:17   #14
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

Mass production, poor quality control. I have the Merc 3.5...did not run well the first year...now broken in runs fine. However my wife cannot start it..small carbed engines require a sense of mixture and temperature that eludes both wife and kids. Tried to teach them how to sniff...no dice.
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Old 28-08-2013, 09:19   #15
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Re: Mercury 3.5 HP outboard junk?

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I'm considering buying an engine for our dinghy.

From the reviews I've read (West Marine and others) about the Mercury 3.5 HP it appears the engine is very, very unreliable...if it runs at all.

What's your opinion about the engine?

What other make would you recommend for a dinghy?
I owned the Tohatsu 3.5, the same engine, for a couple of years. I used it on my Wayfarer dinghy.

It was 100% reliable. Well, 99% - the only time it wouldn't start easily was when I took it up to a lake at 10,000 ft and it spent 6 hours on it's side on the way. It did start eventually.

The engineering I would consider to be better than other similar-sized engines I've had.

All small 4-strokes have the same issue - the passageways in the carbs are very small and will not tolerate bad practice. Good practice being :

Always run the carb dry after use.
Use stabiliser in the fuel.
When the fuel is over a month old, stick it in the car and buy fresh. Don't use old fuel.
Don't transport the outboard on its side. They say you can, but don't.

You can either do this, or write bad reviews bitching about carb rebuilds. I just know that I did the above, and never had a problem, ever.
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