Most of us change the oil in our cars and trucks regularly or kinda regularly. Fewer of us rotate the tires as recommended. Even fewer check hoses, belts, wiper blades and such frequently or from time to time.
Far fewer of us carry these checks over to our outboard motors.
We get a hankering to go fishing when spring approaches, so we hook up the trailer with boat and head for the lake or river. The gas tank has last fall’s fuel in it.
Three things can happen here.
One, the outboard will start, maybe after some extra cranking, and we’ll go fishing. Two, the motor won’t start, and we’ll load back up at the dock or launching ramp and head home in a foul mood. Three, the motor will start and we’ll be way out somewhere when it will quit and won’t restart.
The odds can shift sharply toward that first scenario if we just do some checking and preparing before heading out.
At the top of the checklist is fuel. A tank sitting with gasoline for several months is apt to acquire a small amount of moisture — water. If is has sat outside, this chance increases. Sure, gasoline is expensive, and you don’t want to throw it out. OK, pour the boat gasoline, assuming it is not the oil-mix stuff, into your car or truck and fill the boat fuel container with fresh fuel. The vehicle can handle a little water better than the outboard or the lawnmower can.
Do a visual check of the gas tank and the motor. Check the fuel line for cracks and worn spots. Make sure the fuel primer bulb is not cracked and is pliable. Make sure the fuel-line fittings seat properly and don’t leak. Check the clamps on the fuel line for rust or corrosion. Check the fuel tanks for damage and corrosion. Check the tank vent to make sure it operates properly.
Flushing the engine is something many of us are not familiar with — or are totally ignorant about. It is essential to getting the most out of your outboard.
If you don’t know how the flush the motor, get someone at a boat dock or a mechanic to teach you.
For many motors, two flexible rubber seals, sometimes called “rabbit ears,” are used to connect the lower unit of the motor to a garden hose. Turn on the water, start the engine and let the water pump do the rest of the work Be sure to stay clear of the prop and make sure no one tries to shift the motor into gear.
Turn off the hose, shut off the motor and unhook the fuel line. You do this regularly with an outboard, don’t you? Yeah, many of us don’t. By disconnecting the fuel with the motor running, the remaining fuel is consumed and not left in the carburetor and fuel lines to cause trouble with sitting idle for long periods.
When you have finished the flushing and the motor is off, pull off the motor’s cover, the cowling, and look closely for any leaks — gas or water.
Then wipe everything with a clean rag and spray with an anti-corrosive lubricant like WD-40 or Quick-Lube. Get it on all the moving parts like as the shift and throttle cables, carburetor valves and such.
Finally, check the battery and its connections closely. Clean the terminals, even if they look like they don’t need it.
Go fishing with a mind at ease.