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sail69

Small Engine Fix Anarchy...

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I am a DIY guy... the boat and the house.  Rarely hire out unless I consider the skill set bordering on an art.

So I never worked on outboards and alway brought the eggbeaters to the "experts".  Well my litte 4hp 2 cycle Yamaha needed an "expert".  Sat in their shop for 8 months (dont ask) and billed $400 by a referred mechnic.   Still not right.  Bring it back to give Chuckles another shot...another $300 (dont ask) and still not right.   So I bring it to another mechanic who gives me a $700-$800 estimate.  Wow.   Not happening.

So I resign myself to the fact the little engine that could, would not anymore.   So I pull out the 8hp Merc and it runs fine.  Great.  Till the gas got to the idle and by seasons end no idle.  Now I am pissed and figure I can do no harm by pulling the Merc's carb apart.  You Tube (thank you) observation and the secrets unveiled themselves.  Fascinating bit of kit those carbs are.  Put it back together.  And damned if the engine didnt purr.  I felt pretty darned good about myself.

So I attack the Yamaha.  Rebult carb, impellor and found the source of other anoying problems.   Damned thing runs like a champ.  Really feeling good about myself!

Generator not running?   Pfffttt.   New plug and filter...and vroooom!  110 to spatre

Sometimes its the little things.

 

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Good job(s).

That's why I like restoring neglected old boats and nasty bits of gear.

Very satisfying isn't it?

I find I prefer it to building new stuff - maybe the "before & after" aspect? I dunno.

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Yep, that's awesome. I think society as a whole has been brainwashed into thinking that a trained technician will always do a better job than a keen amateur, but I don't think that's the case at all. Most people can do this stuff, if they're just grave enough to give it a go. 

 

Good work. 

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what is it with some outboard mechanics?? i've heard this story 19 times. Took it in, it sat for weeks, months.....needs a $300 flux capacitor for an engine with a used value of $300. You spend the $300 and take it to the boat, 1.8hrs away from the shop and pull that cord till your arm falls off......

 

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I find that nobody gives a hoot about my boat/house/car/etc quite as much as I do, nor do they understand the symptoms of the problem they are to fix, or my expectations quite like I do. So I end up doing most things myself... eventually. Plus each fix is a chance to learn stuff and acquire tools.

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Small outboards are usually simple to fix. Clean the carb, check the reed valves if a 2 stroke, check the fuel pump. Check for spark.

I've also had the stator go but that is less common. And 1 coil.

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It's really easy to get anecdotal about things like this.  There are certainly alot of bad mechanics out there but there are also alot of very good ones.  It's alot of poor communication usually.  If a service shop can't tell you exactly what or why they did something they are probably full of shit.  This includes saying they don't know why it works in the win colum.  We have run into some great outboard guys, the one in LaPaz is very good.  There are alot of differences between countries with emission requirements where you can have the same engine with different porting ECT that make trouble shooting a nightmare.  In my experience the newer stuff has zero tolerance for any h2o.  Any contamination requires a full breakdown of the fuel side and cleaning otherwise you will be chasing your tail.

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9 hours ago, SASSAFRASS said:

It's really easy to get anecdotal about things like this.  There are certainly alot of bad mechanics out there but there are also alot of very good ones.  It's alot of poor communication usually. 

Yup..but it gets real expensive and frustrating trying to find the good ones, especially with low value "putt-putts" that we use on our dinghys/small sailboats.  Costs quickly out-strip ROI.

As an earlier poster said, and I heartily agree, that only you, the user/owner, really have the motivation and the understanding of the symptoms to track down and PROPERLY fix the problem.

Case in point...one of the haf dozens problems was the 4hp, 2cycle Yammy would leak small amounts of fuel from the cowling into the dinghy when tilted.  Mechanic, informed of this, didnt fix round 1 or round  2.  Said something about a needle valve on back order for a few decades.  OK fine.   I figure its a real complicated fix with an obscure part buried deep in the mysterious recesses of the carb.  

So in the interim I dive into fix other things and find out, tangentially, its the fuel pet-cock (5 minute fix) that was leaking the whole time and only became apparent to me when engine tilted.  It was only obvious when the engine was down with cover off and running.   Some mystery...

I should have done the simpe observation thing myself a long time ago...but I was trusting/paying the "experts".

Rant over.  Thank you for listening.

 

 

 

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Definitely rant worthy and super frustrating once you are stuck with a bad mechanic.  I have had really good looking luck with youtube on stuff like this.  When we were in San Diego the water dropped way off on our 4 stroke.  It was due for a service so I went to the dealer and they said for sure the impellar was probably done sold me a replacement, I pulled the lower unit apart, the impellar looked fine but who knows.  Did a full service fired it up and same problem.  Two minutes on a YouTube trouble shooting video and the guy says bugs love to live in your water discharge line, rod it out with a piece of wire before pulling your lower unit apart.  That was it felt pretty dumb.

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Honda generators. If they start and die, on mine anyway, 99% of the time its mud dauber nests in exhaust

A good Seafoam, or functional equivalent, soak of carbs works wonders. 

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On 12/18/2019 at 1:44 PM, SASSAFRASS said:

Definitely rant worthy and super frustrating once you are stuck with a bad mechanic.  I have had really good looking luck with youtube on stuff like this.  When we were in San Diego the water dropped way off on our 4 stroke.  It was due for a service so I went to the dealer and they said for sure the impellar was probably done sold me a replacement, I pulled the lower unit apart, the impellar looked fine but who knows.  Did a full service fired it up and same problem.  Two minutes on a YouTube trouble shooting video and the guy says bugs love to live in your water discharge line, rod it out with a piece of wire before pulling your lower unit apart.  That was it felt pretty dumb.

The little creatures that love to live in the discharge line also love to live in the thermostat housing and if you only ever use the outboard to get out of the marina it probably never gets hot enough to open the thermostat. 

When you do need to give it a good WOT run you'll find that the thermostat won't open fully and you may overheat it. Don't ask!

Solution is to get 20 litres of cheap vinegar and flush the outboard with it. Costs almost nothing, in Aust $1.09 for 2 litres. The vinegar will dissolve the calcium carbonate. Run till the outboard gets up to temp and the thermostat opens then flush with clean water..

 

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As has been implied, fixing a small motor is not rocket science.  The mech probably doesn't have a PhD in Astrophysics....in fact, he likely doesn't have a degree at all.  So most of us are certainly capable of learning how to fix, and then fixing our small engines...

A good mech will have years of experience that he can apply, to go directly to the problem.  A good mech will listen to you in great detail, and take what you've said into consideration when determining what the real issue is.  A good mech will likely fix the issue the first time.  A talented home amateur will likely take longer, and some amount of the time, will have to take 2 or 3 shots at it before he gets it solved...

Unless its an old british seagull, and then all bets of off, for both the good mech and the talented home amateur :D

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On 12/15/2019 at 8:44 AM, Alcatraz5768 said:

Yep, that's awesome. I think society as a whole has been brainwashed into thinking that a trained technician will always do a better job than a keen amateur, but I don't think that's the case at all. Most people can do this stuff, if they're just grave enough to give it a go. 

 

Good work. 

+1. This guy posts great YouTube’s of fixin’ tractors and stuff. (Though he’s obviously very capable) This vid’s a classic example of what can be done, or check out his vid of fixing an abandoned digger in the bush and taking it home with little more than vicegrips, a grease gun, fresh diesel and a new battery.

 

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Not to mention that is an "Aston Martin" tractor. :D

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On 12/18/2019 at 7:58 PM, Ukuri said:

 

Solution is to get 20 litres of cheap vinegar and flush the outboard with it. Costs almost nothing, in Aust $1.09 for 2 litres. The vinegar will dissolve the calcium carbonate. Run till the outboard gets up to temp and the thermostat opens then flush with clean water..

 

Vinegar is the cure all for almost everything, it has ended up replacing I don't know how many boaty special chemical things because it just works, cleaning the head, windows, disenfectan etc.  And you can get it anywhere.  Our friend for us to switch to dish soap for cleaning the boat too, wish I did that 10 years ago.

 

Re Alcatraz

I don't know that society has been brainwashed, but they have certainly gotten alot lazier and basics trade skills are going away or gone.  It's a replacement society in the 1st world, why fix it.  To the OP the most frustrating part is a lack of commitment to work done.  There seems to be no recourse.  You pay good money and don't get what you were supposed to, rather than the vender apologizeing and making it right they offer to take another stab for another bill and that is the new normal. The good ones sort of make up for it but not really.  Not everyone is mechanically inclined either for DIY, I have friends who are way better sailors than me but there is no way I would ever let them touch a wrench on my boat.

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On 12/20/2019 at 6:20 AM, HFC Hunter said:

+1. This guy posts great YouTube’s of fixin’ tractors and stuff. (Though he’s obviously very capable) This vid’s a classic example of what can be done, or check out his vid of fixing an abandoned digger in the bush and taking it home with little more than vicegrips, a grease gun, fresh diesel and a new battery.

 

I enjoyed that, had an old post war David Brown for a while, a petrol/kero motor.

the plugs were frozen in, never got them out, but it always ran...

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If you run your small occasional use engines on automobile fuel, at least in the US you have a good chance that there's ethanol in the mix. 

Ethanol tends to degrade the seals, hoses and diaphragms in the carburetors. 

whether it's your outboard, weed whacker or generator, NEVER leave Ethanol fuel in the tank during the off season. Always run it dry... 

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