DDW

How do you stop a British Seagull?

Recommended Posts

No, that isn't the opening to a joke. As an interim measure and for my own peculiar purposes I bought a fairly pristine Silver Century Plus off of Craigslist which had not been (by the P.O.s reckoning) started in 20 years. I bought a 2.5 gallon can for gas, poured a full quart of oil in it (that's right, 10:1!), put some in the tank, wrapped the cord and pulled it. Not much. Second pull, started right up and ran.....well, like a British Seagull. They can tell you are coming by the noise and the smoke plume. But it pushed the dinghy like a scalded cat. 

Anyway, the time came to shut it off and I realized there were no means to accomplish this. I vaguely recall a shorting spring or some such device on one I owned many decades ago, but this one had no such device. With the motor I got the Clymer repair manual covering all British Seagull models, there is not a mention anywhere of a way to stop it. 

I put the choke in and covered the intake with my hand (being careful to keep my sleeve out of the open flywheel). That did make it quit. On subsequent runs I've shut the fuel off and then choked it after a bit. It will run quite a while on the float bowl.

What is the official means of shutting off a British Seagull? OK, the jokes are on, but I would really like to know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The owners with which I'm familiar are so surprised they start that I've never heard anyone ask how to stop them.

I believe the throttle linkage is supposed to be adjusted do that throttled back fully starves them to death.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh dear. He's gone eccentric.

Quote

I got the Clymer repair manual covering all British Seagull models...

Somewhere , a First at Merton mailed off the last corrected proofs and hanged himself in the rafters. The British are great writers of comedy. Just the right leaven of self-loathing. Did you obtain the complete set of Seagull repair manuals? Perhaps "Stopping the blasted thing" is in a missing volume. That manual (664 pages, handwritten) also contains home remedies for tinnitus and a poem in the end notes, beginning: 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, SloopJonB said:

Pull the plug wire.

Make sure it's properly uninsulated for maximum effect.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, SloopJonB said:

Pull the plug wire.

Was watching the motorcycle races in Laconia, NH, back in the early 1990s. Rider wipes-out and injures himself pretty good. Looked like he broke a rib or two. His bike had a magneto and was lying on its side revving out of control. Our injured hero rises and attempts to kill the engine by pulling the plug wire. Shorts himself out and gyrates in DC electrical agony for a bit. My friends and I thought it was a little funny. A few years later I shorted myself to a plug on my cranky KZ650 as I tinkered in the driveway. It felt as if someone was tapping my heart with a pencil. Spooky. 

The Seagull? Probably better to kill it by cutting the airflow, instead of letting it run lean for a little while until the fuel runs out. Lean is mean. Probably doesn't matter much, but having a full carb bowl is useful.

Snubs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Normally they only run when they are well clear of water. It does seem remarkable that yours runs with the bottom section submerged. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m amazed you got the bastard thing to start in the first place! 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After many years of engineering development, the team was able to develop a prototype that would start 38% of the time. Unfortunately, the engineers had reached retirement age and left the firm. In an effort to generate profits, British Seagull went into production with no means to stop. This was considered adequate due to the nature of the engine quitting so often on it’s own accord. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your chances of it restarting go down about 10 to 15% every time you use it,

just leave it running.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well it sounds like I've used the official method. 

To the jokes about starting, it did honestly start on the second pull after a 20 years layup, and since has started at least by the 3rd pull or so. This model is the extra sophisticated one, with the neutral clutch. I remember from the one we used to keep in the cockpit locker of our 22' sloop (about 1975 this was) would go a year to two without starting as we would sail in and out of the berth. When needed you'd get the Seagull out, twist the flywheel back and forth until all the rust was scraped from the bore and you could get it to turn through, then it would usually start. That one deep sixed it's own lower end off of Half Moon Bay one day. 

When I went to look at this one the guy said he didn't know if it ran and couldn't guarantee it. I checked for compression and spark and said it'll run and took it to the boat. Started second pull. 

The Clymer manual is informative: the rod caps are held on with slotted head cap screws ("tighten firmly"). There are plain bearings on the crank - which explains why they don't freeze up. The lower end isn't really sealed, and runs on a mixture of 140W and seawater. To remove the flywheel you hold it up by the flywheel and whack the crank end with a hammer ("be sure to hit is squarely so you don't deform the threads...").

The technology and engineering at least rivals Harley Davidson motorcycles, which are quite popular today. 

Best of all, it weighs 38 lbs. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Overbored said:

Can I watch? need a good laugh

Jeezuss - you guys never heard of insulated handles on pliers?

If you're "running" a Seagull you better have a comprehensive tool kit on board

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, weightless said:

 

Max Ehrmann was to poetry what the Seagull is to motive power. Poorly formed, deeply unreliable, and hard to stop once he got going. But always a rich target for parody. Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DDW said:

Well it sounds like I've used the official method. 

To the jokes about starting, it did honestly start on the second pull after a 20 years layup, and since has started at least by the 3rd pull or so. This model is the extra sophisticated one, with the neutral clutch. I remember from the one we used to keep in the cockpit locker of our 22' sloop (about 1975 this was) would go a year to two without starting as we would sail in and out of the berth. When needed you'd get the Seagull out, twist the flywheel back and forth until all the rust was scraped from the bore and you could get it to turn through, then it would usually start. That one deep sixed it's own lower end off of Half Moon Bay one day. 

When I went to look at this one the guy said he didn't know if it ran and couldn't guarantee it. I checked for compression and spark and said it'll run and took it to the boat. Started second pull. 

The Clymer manual is informative: the rod caps are held on with slotted head cap screws ("tighten firmly"). There are plain bearings on the crank - which explains why they don't freeze up. The lower end isn't really sealed, and runs on a mixture of 140W and seawater. To remove the flywheel you hold it up by the flywheel and whack the crank end with a hammer ("be sure to hit is squarely so you don't deform the threads...").

The technology and engineering at least rivals Harley Davidson motorcycles, which are quite popular today. 

Best of all, it weighs 38 lbs. 

It’ll make a good sea anchor then. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a Honda would be better as a sea anchor. Seagull better as an artificial reef. More nooks and crannies. 

I don't think you need a comprehensive set of tools to work on a Seagull. Vise grips and pump pliers is all, perhaps a few yards of bailing wire. If you want to use proper tools, you will need a set of British Standard Whitworth tools. Good luck finding those.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Every Seagull motor starts on the second pull once every twenty years.

However, past performance should not be misconstrued as a prediction of future results.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don’t think it ever occurred to the designers that you would want to stop the engine deliberately, they designed in an automatic stop function that activated if the engine started.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Moonduster said:

Every Seagull motor starts on the second pull once every twenty years.

However, past performance should not be misconstrued as a prediction of future results.

:lol::lol:

I've discovered that the Yamaha on the sailboat doesn't always start on the second pull either - though it has been pretty reliable. The newer Tohatsu and Suzukis are fuel injected once above about 15 HP, intuition suggests that's a bad idea in a salt water bath, yet users say they are more reliable than their carbureted brethren. What if I were to adapt a Suzuki F.I. system to the British Seagull? Too much lipstick?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The single biggest reliability and maintenance issue with small engines is the carburetor. I'll take FI in a heartbeat, saltwater or not, and would love to see FI trickle down to even the smallest engines..

Polish up the Seagull and mount it on the wall. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, IStream said:

Polish up the Seagull and mount it on the wall. 

 

IMG_1643.thumb.jpg.6fe17347400239f96203e18d1e257d3f.jpg

Curiously, I have plans for the Seagull. I plan to convert it to electric. This isn't as whiggy as it sounds, in proper context.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's the fun in that? 

Also, it's not like the Torqueedo has a sterling reputation for design and reliability. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, IStream said:

I like the idea. Something like this but with about 2X the power would be good.

https://www.electricpaddle.com/

They have these at Fisheries Supply now if you want to see one in person.  It is really cute, and I like them, except for the gears because a consumable item.  They aren't trivial enough to machine to make my own if the company goes out of business.

I also wish that they ran on 36V vs 24V, because that has become the standard for e-bike batteries and as a result there are a lot of good quality 36V battery packs available at good prices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem with the existing electrics in this application (beyond the absurd prices) is it needs to run on 120V AC. Not just for safety reasons, that is what I have on board in unlimited amounts. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Alex W said:

They have these at Fisheries Supply now if you want to see one in person.  It is really cute, and I like them, except for the gears because a consumable item.  They aren't trivial enough to machine to make my own if the company goes out of business.

I also wish that they ran on 36V vs 24V, because that has become the standard for e-bike batteries and as a result there are a lot of good quality 36V battery packs available at good prices.

My buddy bought one and took me for a quick tour of Shilshole in his dinghy. It's adequate for taking the dog ashore in a calm anchorage but too anemic for much else. Agreed on the gears. If I bought one, I'd stock up on props...

  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Geez. A might 240 watts. That is about 1/3 HP. Enough to make a decent blender but to propel a dinghy in a stiff breeze? Probably not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Blue Crab said:

If it's British, it'll leak oil on the driveway.

How else would you know if your car had oil?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My Silver Century Plus Seagull (fan blade prop), I just put it in Neutral and turn the fuel off. However a pair of pliers and pull the plug cap off is quicker if you need to.

I fitted the later 25 to 1 jets to the carb so there is less smoke..sort of..

It spent a couple of months under water,  I just turned it upside down drained everything, Filled with fuel and it started second time. It always started second time as the first pull draws fuel.

Yes Seagulls leak oil, as said before they are designed to mix fuel and water in the gear box.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Zonker said:

Geez. A might 240 watts. That is about 1/3 HP. Enough to make a decent blender but to propel a dinghy in a stiff breeze? Probably not.

What is human power output with a pair of 7' oars?  240 watts is better than what an average cyclist can do for 1 hour output, so I'm guessing a rower is lower than 240 watts. 

It is still very low power, even compared to the smallest Torqeedo.  

I had a Honda 2hp (sold it a couple of years ago) and it was a good motor but also didn't seem to be well tuned to dinghy use.  It reached hull speed on my 8' rigid rowing dinghy at under half throttle where it was probably putting out half a hp (and it's even less at the prop).  This one seems like it has a prop design that is less likely to cavitate and speeds better tuned to match a small light rowing dinghy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Alex W said:

They have these at Fisheries Supply now if you want to see one in person.  It is really cute, and I like them, except for the gears because a consumable item.  They aren't trivial enough to machine to make my own if the company goes out of business.

I also wish that they ran on 36V vs 24V, because that has become the standard for e-bike batteries and as a result there are a lot of good quality 36V battery packs available at good prices.

You know, if you took it one step further you could use the whole e-bike setup. Put one of these in the head and run it with a 36V e-bike battery pack:

http://www.syimotor.com/productDe_4.html

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Someone like the FTC needs to put the smack on these electric motor claims. "Performs like a 1 hp", or "4 hp propulsive power". These are bullshit. Power is power. It reminds me of the old days when compressors and vacuums were sold this way: "develops 5 hp". When it can only draw 1800 watts from the 110V outlet. Bullshit. The Torqueedo 2.0 pod for example, "Propulsive power 5 hp", yet spec'd to draw 2000 watts. That's 2.7 hp at 100% efficiency. 5 hp is a wet dream. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ideally we'd talk about thrust at the prop, not power at the motor head.  In a really ideal world I could also get a graph of speed vs thrust for common load points on dinghy designs.

I do think that electric drive can be more power efficient by taking advantage of the high available torque at low RPM, but we need good units to use when discussing this.  We've seen this before, the common 30hp Atomic-4 engines used on 30' sailboats using tiny high rpm props are replaced with ~15hp diesel engines which have plenty of power with a larger prop and lower prop speed.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, DDW said:

Someone like the FTC needs to put the smack on these electric motor claims. "Performs like a 1 hp", or "4 hp propulsive power". These are bullshit. Power is power. It reminds me of the old days when compressors and vacuums were sold this way: "develops 5 hp". When it can only draw 1800 watts from the 110V outlet. Bullshit. The Torqueedo 2.0 pod for example, "Propulsive power 5 hp", yet spec'd to draw 2000 watts. That's 2.7 hp at 100% efficiency. 5 hp is a wet dream. 

Hey, "torqe" is like torque less one small sheep and "edo" is and ancient city with katanas! That's power!  Come on sheeple, it's all so simple when you think about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our family owned a Seagull 40 Plus bought in the early 60s.Over about 30 years it pushed everything from 8 ft pram dinghies to a Jaguar 22 [ Catalina 22 clone ].

It was totally immersed in seawater at least twice in it's life but after a freshwater wash it started after a few pulls. I can only remember fitting points twice We always carried a spare spark plug but again I don't ever remember changing it. It was never changed to 25 to 1 so did leave an oil slick but it started and ran reliably.

I remember being caught out one night in a gale and needed it to push us round a headland. It ran flat out for a couple of hours [ with hot refueling] and got us home in pouring rain. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A friend of mine bought a brand new Seagull back in the 70's.

Offhand I can't recall ever seeing it running.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

British Seagull rated their engines in thrust, converted to horsepower. Minn Kota also rates their motors in thrust. I can understand the marketing need to exaggerate the power of the rather anemic electric offerings, but they do themselves long term damage by it. 

A new British Seagull that's never been started is worth some money in the right crowd. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

    There was a boat mechanic out on the docks at Yacht Haven in St Thomas who must have originally sailed there from Britain. Hanging up in the rafters was the oddest looking watercraft and a sign proclaiming it as the 'World Fastest British Seagull Outboard Record Holder'. I asked about it and the guy pointed over in the corner at the motor that had powered it to that distinction. It had a megaphone exhaust pipe and other than that and a propellor that looked to have been hand filed down to just slivers for blades it still looked like the old plow horse Seagulls we all love to hate. If I remember correctly the had gotten over 60 mph out of the contraption in a competition back in the 60's held in Bermuda.

    Funny thing about the competitiveness between VI and Bermuda sailors is that they used to have sports car races out at the big Navy airfield in Bermuda.  There was a twin engine plane that would make direct flights from St Thomas to Bermuda a couple of days a week and word got back to the car enthusiasts on St T so they built a car of sorts with the smallest engine size class that was raced in Bermuda. Probably a Morris Minor 1100 or something like that. The St Thomians built a chassis that would just fit in the cargo door of the airplane and started flying up and entering the competitions. It probably only weighed half of the proper MG's or Triumphs that were raced by the Bermudians and had blinding acceleration but poor steering and brakes so they were good sports and let them race. Eventually the St Thomians flew their bastard car over to Daytona and started entering some of the USSC association events. That led to big improvements in their car and eventually the Bermudians had cut down a Mini Moke so they could fly it over to Daytona to join in the fun. The United Sports Car Association would have none of that so the St Thomians granted membership to the Bermudians so they could race under the auspices of the USVI Sports Car Association until the Bermudians managed to appeal and gain proper membership under their own flag. It was a result of that gesture of good sportsmanship that a few years later when the vote was taken at the Olympic Committee for new member nation status that Bermuda sponsored the USVI in applying for recognition. That was not too long after the Cuban missile crisis and Cuba, Angola, Russia were all voting on the USVI's behalf for political reasons and I think it was Bermuda that cast the deciding vote giving the USVI full team status. 

    I heard this whole story from Rudy Thompson late in the night at the Rolex Regatta and I think I got most of the facts straight. 

    RIP Rudy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, TQA said:

Our family owned a Seagull 40 Plus bought in the early 60s.Over about 30 years it pushed everything from 8 ft pram dinghies to a Jaguar 22 [ Catalina 22 clone ].

It was totally immersed in seawater at least twice in it's life but after a freshwater wash it started after a few pulls. I can only remember fitting points twice We always carried a spare spark plug but again I don't ever remember changing it. It was never changed to 25 to 1 so did leave an oil slick but it started and ran reliably.

I remember being caught out one night in a gale and needed it to push us round a headland. It ran flat out for a couple of hours [ with hot refueling] and got us home in pouring rain. 

Yeah yeah,  how'd ya stop the damn thing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you can't pull the plug, a brief immersion will usually do the trick.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, DDW said:

A new British Seagull that's never been started is worth some money in the right crowd. 

There's a crowd of them? :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Blue Crab said:

Yeah yeah,  how'd ya stop the damn thing?

If the throttle cable was correctly adjusted completely closing  the throttle [ small thumb lever on handle ] stops them without any spark plug heroics. Shutting the fuel supply tap and running in on the fuel in the carb looked cool if you got it right. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, SloopJonB said:

There's a crowd of them? :blink:

They even race them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now