The New Used Motors

by Chuck Petersen

I have never purchased a new outboard motor. During my racing career, we were running 1950’s era Mercury 30 and 40 CID motors that were carefully rebuilt, with some new parts from the ground up. With the purchase of a cabin in Northern Wisconsin, I wanted to find a simple fishing boat my wife, Amy and I could enjoy with a minimum of maintenance. My brother, Jim, Service manager of at large marina in Michigan, helped me locate a 2001 Boston Whaler, 13.5 foot model with very low hours of operation. Wow, I thought, my first turn-key operation!!! Well, I found myself spending a few evenings in the shop to bring the “almost new” unit up to standards. These minor maintenance steps will hold true for the “daily driver’ classics purchased by club members.

The first issue was cosmetics. The top cowl paint was in great shape, but a bit water spotted and dull. Remember, motors are painted, not gel coated. Use your favorite high quality car wax to bring out the shine. The tower housing and lower unit presents unique challenges. The heat generated by the exhaust system will cause a build up on the tower section. Lime-Away brand solution works great to dissolve the build up. I use a tooth brush to apply the cleanser full strength and rinse with lots of water quickly. When the paint is clean, wax away. Gear housings should be checked for nicks, paint and filled with new synthetic gear lube even if the motor has been recently serviced.

Speaking of maintenance service, my motor had not been run for two seasons. My guess was that the cylinders had been fogged and stored properly. Using the “ear muff” style adapter, run the motor in your driveway to clear out the storage oil. Replace the plugs. Factory originals will show signs of engine block paint. I always use NGK plugs if available. Clean or replace the fuel filter element as applicable. While the top motor cowling is off, why not run all rubber and plastic surfaces with and Armor-All type silicon protectant. The spark plug wires and boat caps, inside and out, are especially good candidates. Finally, grease all linkages, fittings and prop shaft with a good quality water proof product.

Speaking of propellers, my 40 hour, low mileage unit had an after market replacement prop with a few nicks to boot. I contacted the boat manufacturer directly to determine the original model number shipped with the rig from the factory when new. Why not start with the factory set up as a base line?
A final note. With two-stroke motors on the endangered species list, factories are streamlining their product lines. The 30 and 40 hp motors sharing the same power head displacement may only differ by a carburetor size or restrictor plate. An inexpensive upgrade may be possible.

My best to all at BSLOL. Hope to see you on Minnetonka.