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Awakening a sleeping outboard; by BoatBuoy

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  • Awakening a sleeping outboard; by BoatBuoy

    Awakening a Sleeping Outboard
    Frequently Asked Question (FAQ): I got this motor and it hasn’t been run in several years. What do I need to do to get it going?

    I see a lot of posts from folks who have a motor that has been in storage, belonged to their dad or granddad, or for another reason, hasn’t been started for quite some time. It occurred to me that this would be a good topic for a FAQ. I recently went through most of these steps myself in preparing a motor which hadn’t been used for 15 years. Following is an attempt to provide a concise list of steps, an expanded bullet-list if you will, that have been suggested by the many experts on this forum to prepare that motor for the water.

    First get yourself a manual, there is a ton of help on this board but to be fair, and so that you can learn, a reference book is a must. They can be found for sale on many sites, a few of which are kencook.com, ***************** theoutboardwizard.bizhosting.com, maxrules.com, and iboats.com. Although some folks use Seloc or Clymer manuals, they cover a range of engines and sometimes details are omitted. The reprints of the original OMC manuals are the most specific to your particular engine. Get one of them.

    If any steps prove challenging or if there are questions about any of the processes, post a question in the applicable forum here at iboats using the red "search" selection at the top of each forum. You will receive an answer from one or more of the many experienced veterans here.

    Let’s get started.

    Lower Unit – Remove the prop and any fishing line that may be tangled, wound around the prop shaft. If the shaft is splined, apply a coat of marine bearing grease to it before re-installing the prop. If an inspection of the prop indicates any damage that could cause a vibration or imbalance, replace it or have it repaired. The rubber bushing securing the hub to the prop itself may also need replacing, but that probably cannot be determined until boat-tested.

    Remove the drain screw (bottom) from the lower unit and observe the quality of the lube as it exits. If it is milky, there has been water intrusion. If you observe metal shards, there may be gear damage requiring a re-build of the lower unit. If it is empty, there may be other problems. Remove the vent screw (top screw) to allow complete draining. If none of the above mentioned situations exists, fill with lube from the bottom screw hole until lube emerges from the vent hole. Lube should be available from any oil outlet and labeled as suitable for outboard lower units.

    Note: Electric shift lower units require different lube than manual shift units. Check your manual.

    After unit has been filled, replace vent screw using an appropriate new screw-head gasket. Then do the same for the fill screw, trying to prevent as little loss of lube as possible.

    Water Pump – Using your manual as a reference, replace the water pump – if not the complete pump, by all means replace the rubber impeller. This is absolutely necessary on motors of unknown history or on motors that haven’t had a new one in a couple of years. Before re-assembling mid-section (lower leg), see next step.

    Cylinder Walls – If not already, lay the motor so the sparkplugs are up. Remove them and put in a few squirts from an oil can filled with TCW-3 oil. Move the engine around so that the oil will contact cylinder walls. Allow it to soak for a day or two. By hand, rotate the flywheel a couple of times. If it resists rotating, allow to soak longer. When flywheel finally rotates freely, install new sparkplugs.

    Spark – Pull the plug wires from the sparkplugs. Your spark should jump a minimum of a 3/8" gap with a hot thick spark. If it doesn’t, you need maintenance on the ignition system. Check the sparkplug cables for cracked insulation. Otherwise, the needed maintenance will be determined by type and year of motor you’re working on. Refer to your manual. Replace the spark plugs with the manufacturer's recommended plugs, keeping the old ones as spares.

    Wiring – Check all engine wiring for brittle insulation or fraying. This would necessitate re-wiring or installation of a new wiring harness.

    Lubrication – Lube all moving parts including throttle linkage (white lithium) and steering shaft (chassis lube is OK).


    Carburetors – Remove and disassemble carburetor(s). Soak in carb. cleaner or spray with aerosol carb. cleaner, paying particular attention to all small passages and fuel-ways. Blow dry with compressed air, again, paying particular attention to internal passages. Reassemble using an appropriate carburetor rebuild kit. If kit doesn't include a new needle and seat, get one. If the float is cork, replace it with a plastic one. Some kits include them. If the float is plastic, make sure the integrity has not been compromised. Re-install and link and sync according to your manual. Replace all under-cowl fuel lines.

    Fuel pump – Using your manual as reference, remove fuel pump and clean metal parts with carb. cleaner. Install a new fuel pump kit, or replace fuel pump entirely. Replace fuel filter and any vacuum hoses that may be connected.

    Fuel tank – Replace the fuel line along with the squeeze bulb (OEM bulb preferred). Note: on dual-line tank, there is no squeeze bulb. Drain fuel tank. With a flashlight, inspect for dirt, debris, or rust. If OK, rinse and refill with correct fuel/oil mix. If there are quick release connectors on the fuel lines, check the small o-rings at either end. Replace if necessary.

    Controls - If remote control, check throttle and gearshift cables for proper operation. Mine were frayed and rusted and had to be replaced.

    Carburetor Adjustment - For Johnson, Evinrude and Gayle motors with a low speed needle or a low and high speed needle, see the FAQ by Joe Reeves, "Carb Needle Valve Adjustment for Assorted Carb Variations".
    Attached Files
    Last edited by tashasdaddy; April 23rd, 2009, 07:21 AM.
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    Re: Awakening a sleeping outboard; by BoatBuoy

    ^^^^^^^
    Don S.


    Please, no PM's (Private Messages) regarding boat/engine problems.
    That is what the forums are for.
    Only forum/moderator issues will be answered in PM's.

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