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Old 28-09-2010, 08:30   #1
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Reliable Small Dinghy Outboards ?

We'd really hoped to make do with an electric trolling motor like the Minn Kota but the reality of the state of the battery technology seems to be that gasoline is still much more practical

So, we are starting to look at 2 hp and up. The little 4-stroke 2 hp Honda seems really convenient but it is as noisy as it's 2-stroke counterparts due to the air cooling. Even with the noise it is at the top of our list right now, but what else should we be looking at ?

Requirements are reliability, serviceability, and low weight in that order. We'll be using it for ship-shore trips and exploring local shores and for diving from the dinghy.

We aren't outboard savvy so we could use some help.

Thanks,



-Sven (who has been the dinghy inboard for 40 years)
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Old 28-09-2010, 09:08   #2
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I have the Honda 2HP. I like the self-contained fuel and that it is the lightest gas OB on the market (to my knowledge and and according to their marketing). The fact that it is air cooled, makes maintenance a bit easier. You only worry about oil changes, spark plug and lower unit oil. It is as reliable as any Honda. (I own 2 Honda motorcycles, 2 Honda vehicles (4 cars altogether, non-stop since her since 1988), and the 2K generator. I've never had any major issues, and non have ever left me stranded.

I agree it is loud, but no louder (frequently quieter) than other 2-strokes I've seen in the anchorages. The fuel capacity is limited, so you're range will be as well, though it does sip fuel. It is not fast and won't plane a dinghy, but it will get you from A to B. There is no forward, neutral, reverse, just gas and go. To go in reverse the outboard needs to be spun 180 degrees.

I love it, but I couldn't say whether it would meet your needs.
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Old 28-09-2010, 09:25   #3
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Quote:
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I love it, but I couldn't say whether it would meet your needs.
You may be a shrew but I found your reply both pleasant and informative !

Thanks.



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Old 28-09-2010, 09:45   #4
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We've had the 2.5hp Suzuki 4-stroke for 2 years. It weighs 29#s, it's miserly on fuel, and it's very quiet. I'll let you know about the reliability in a few more years, but so far we've had no problems.
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Old 28-09-2010, 09:50   #5
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We use a Suzuki DF 2.5 outboard, went with it over the Honda 2HP for many of the reasons you state. It is indeed quieter (water cooled), and seems to have less vibration. And at 30 pounds, it is only slightly heavier than the Honda. It has an internal fuel tank like the Honda and at half throttle it seems to last quite a while (several hours). Can't really tell a difference for that extra 0.5 HP, and it is not powerful enough to get our 9' inflatable dinghy up on plane but we aren't worried about going that fast. It will get the dinghy going about 4.5-5.0 knots according to our hand-held GPS.

Another plus is the neutral gear in addition to forward on the Suzuki. I know the Honda has a centrifugal clutch and it does work pretty well once the engine is warmed up (we use a Honda on the San Juan 21 we race). But when you first start the Honda you have to give it a little more gas until it is warmed up and that engages the clutch so your motor is pushing the whole time. I find that to be a bit of a pain, and something I don't have to deal with using the Suzuki.

Best of all, the Suzuki was cheaper than the Honda! This was our third year with the Suzuki, no problems at all in that time and starts right up. Really have nothing bad to say about it...
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Old 28-09-2010, 11:32   #6
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You can't really get a more reliable engine than a Honda.
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Old 28-09-2010, 11:50   #7
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Quote:
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You can't really get a more reliable engine than a Honda.
This Seagull currently sat in my garage is probably older than both of us
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Old 28-09-2010, 11:56   #8
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However we also have a little Johnson 3.5 hp 2 stroke. I am led to believe they like the small Mariner and Merc models are all made by Tohatsu and just rebadged.

Anyway, its now 5 years old, never been serviced, still on the same spark plug and does just fine. Just a shame you can't buy them anymore in Europe due to environmental concerns.

Pete
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Old 28-09-2010, 12:04   #9
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This Seagull currently sat in my garage is probably older than both of us
I dunno man.. look at all the old motorcycles riding around requiring barely any maintenance. Pretty much all Honda 700/750's that are 30 years+.

I ride a Honda motorcycle and I always explain it as "I like to ride my bike not have it towed to the shop."
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Old 28-09-2010, 12:11   #10
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I've had Honda motorcycles and cars and they were all excellent.

Based on that, I bought with great expectations a small Honda engine on a lawnmower. It was utter cr*p; I've never seen a cruder or more poorly engineered small engine, nothing in common at all with the lovely Honda 750 I used to ride. More like a Chinese motor scooter, except worse. After that died, I foolishly bought another, more expensive one. Same thing.

I have no experience with the small Honda four-stroke outboards, but if they are splash lubricated I would be very skeptical. That 2-horse air-cooled Honda outboard looks suspiciously like one of those cr*p Honda lawnmowers I used to have.

We have always had two-stroke dinghy motors and every one of them has been magnificent -- entirely trouble-free, powerful, smooth, and nice.

As I recall we have had:

Yamaha 5hp
Mercury 15hp
Mercury 5hp

and now we have Mariner 25 horsepower.

All two strokes, all trouble-free, all lovely. The Mariner is 10 years old and we only changed out the original spark plugs last year. A fine piece of machinery, simple, elegant, and powerful, albeit somewhat thirsty.

That's my data, which you can make of what you wish.
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Old 28-09-2010, 12:14   #11
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It might be helpful to understand your requirements a little better. We have the honda 2.3 and it's been incredibly reliable over 6 years of use. If it died, which seems unlikely, we would get an electric motor, and put a small solar panel on to the the thwart to support the battery when cruising on the hook. What don't you like about them? As for distance with the (very handy) integral fuel tank - well we just carry the jerry can if we are the slightest bit worried.

Sticking with a petrol outboard, we prioritised weight and the Honda is the smallest. But it has required very little in the way of maintenance, and we've only had two problems - one a shear pin which snapped when we beached with undue care, which was easily fixed from the integral spares kit on the spot. And the other when some b---r dinged us in an anchorage while the outboard was on the pushpit - and broke the throttle handle. Not it's fault!


The other key issue you haven't mentioned is how well it fits your dinghy. Not all outboards fit all dinghies, particularly if it's not an inflatable, so that's worth checking.
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Old 28-09-2010, 12:16   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
However we also have a little Johnson 3.5 hp 2 stroke. I am led to believe they like the small Mariner and Merc models are all made by Tohatsu and just rebadged.

Anyway, its now 5 years old, never been serviced, still on the same spark plug and does just fine. Just a shame you can't buy them anymore in Europe due to environmental concerns.

Pete
You can buy them in Guernsey
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Old 28-09-2010, 12:53   #13
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Yamaha 2 stroke. Tough to get in the USA though.
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Old 28-09-2010, 13:53   #14
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You may be a shrew but I found your reply both pleasant and informative !

Thanks.

-Sven
LOL, I know it's a bit of an odd name for a guy named Steve. The name is almost 20 years old now and is still used as my primary name by a majority of friends. It took my wife quite a few years to get used to calling me Steve. Oddly enough it has nothing to do with Shakespeare's comedy. It doesn't cross my mind until someone comments on it. I find most folks on forums think I'm a lady.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyxis156 View Post
I know the Honda has a centrifugal clutch and it does work pretty well once the engine is warmed up (we use a Honda on the San Juan 21 we race). But when you first start the Honda you have to give it a little more gas until it is warmed up and that engages the clutch so your motor is pushing the whole time. I find that to be a bit of a pain......
Ditto ^^^ Like my Honda motorcycles, the OB also starts Cold.
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Old 28-09-2010, 17:32   #15
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We had a Johnson 3.5 that spent more time in the shop than on the boat. While trying to fix on the dock following it failing to run again, an onlooker happened to tell me what he did to get his fixed. He ended up throwing it overboard after several years of heartache trying to get going and claiming it on his insurance. I ended up giving ours to my dock neighbor after finding an old 6 HP chysler. This was 6 years ago and he still is having trouble with it. This may be an isolated case from the previous replies.
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