Outboard-flushing the motor

I’m very excited about having my own sailboat. It’s nice to have one that actually works, and I’m kind of sad that I have to winterize it when I just got it.  Actually, I’m really bummed out.  I’m not a big fan of winter, especially since it’s cold and I can’t sail.  I also really don’t like how it gets dark so early.  I don’t think I’d ever make it up north.    Maryland is as far north as I ever want to live – actually, to be truthful Florida is as far north as I want to live.

I think you can pretty much tell that most of the time I don’t really know what I’m doing. I just kind of fumble through the best I can. I have very little experience with outboard motors, other than a few times as a kid when I was either a passenger or when I managed to sink a friend’s fishing boat and motor while trying to launch in a windy Lake. I have no experience operating or maintaining one. Come to think of it, I don’t have that much experience with boats either. Especially not a working boat. I have lots of experience with broken boots!

What I DO have is an attitude that pretty much no matter what it is, I’ll give it a go.  It’s really great that sites like YouTube and others offer so much “how to” advice.  There are many times where I don’t really know what to do but I just do some research and dive in anyway.

In this case I also have some experience with the motors on riding lawnmowers. People keep giving them to me or selling them to me cheap on Craigslist and somehow I managed to get them running. I’m hoping that experience will transfer to the outboard. A friend once told me that with motors all you have to worry about is compression, gas, and spark. If you have all those you are doing pretty good. I’ve noticed that with outboards you also need to make sure that you have a good outflow of cooling water while running.

To get ready for using and winterizing the outboard motor I have been reading the maintenance manual. Flushing the motor is not actually part of winterizing.  The maintenance manual recommends that it be flushed with freshwater after every use in salt water. I’m not sure if this is practical while it’s moored in the slip, but in the spring I’ll see about the feasibility of doing so.

When it is running, an outboard motor is cooled by sucking in seawater and running it through a heat exchanger then pumping the water back out. This means yucky corrosive salt water is running amok inside the engine.

Now that the motor is off the boat and on my handy-dandy new motor stand…

Outboard motor on motor stand

Outboard motor on motor stand

I can start running through my winterizing tasks. First on the list is flushing all that nasty saltwater out of it. The motor came with a nifty little device to go over the water intake and attach a hose to it.

Nifty Flushing Device

Nifty Flushing Device

The motor sucks in cooling water through little openings at the bottom of the motor.  These openings are usually under water.

Water intakes, this vent goes through to the other side

Water intakes, this vent goes through to the other side

The clamp slides onto both sides and covers up the intake vents so you can supply with water from a garden hose.

Device attached and ready to use

Device attached and ready to use

So I put it on, attached it to the hose, turned the water on and fired up the motor!

Flush in progress – see the top of the Catalina 250 rudder in the far right garage bay?

Since the stand is not made out of pressure treated wood I clamped on a large garbage bag to redirect the water. It worked pretty well. That’s a nice jet of water squirting out to the side of the motor so I would say it’s getting flushed pretty well. I’m guessing the impeller in the water pump is in pretty good shape too.  I let the motor run about five minutes to get a good flush.

Wow it felt great to see it running.  Somehow I had tamed this loud smokey mysterious beast to do my bidding – it felt a bit like taming a dragon.

After removing the hose and flush device I let the water drain out.  Then I tilted the motor to the up position and a bit more came out.

While it was running I unplugged the gas line and let the gas burn out so there is no residual gasoline in there. These are two tasks that should be done after every time the motor is operated. I’m going to start operating the boat on checklists until I get more comfortable with everything. Here’s the start of my first checklist:

OUTBOARD MOTOR POST OPERATION CHECKLIST:

  • flush motor with freshwater
  • unplug gas line and let motor stop on its own when it runs out of gas
  • Close vent in gas tank

So here is a question for my knowledgeable boat buddies out there. I was told to do the flush with nontoxic antifreeze using a bucket to hold the antifreeze for inflow and to catch the outflow. Since the water drains out (and it seems like it is completely drained out) there doesn’t seem to me to be any need to use antifreeze. Also, the maintenance manual only mentions flushing and doesn’t say anything about using antifreeze. Please comment with your thoughts. Thank you!

I built another motor stand

Yup,  title says it all.

motor stand number two

motor stand number two

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Notice this one doesn’t have wheels.  I used scrap wood that was laying around and nails from the last motor stand.  I didn’t spend much time planning, just pulled out the tape measure and started sawing and hammering.  It’s 40″ high, 35″ long, and 20″ inches wide.  Total cost, $zero!

It was great to get outside.  I’ve been spending way too much time obsessing about finding a job.  The weather was great.  Somewhat cool (53 degrees f), but with long johns on, sweater and cotton gloves it was quite enjoyable.  I managed to bang my hand once, but I didn’t do too much damage.

Happy new year all.

7.5 hp Mercury Outboard winterized

Oh, how I love craigslist!

I advertized for someone to help/teach me how to winterize my outboard.  I got a few responses from businesses that wanted to do it, one wanted to do it for $200 and then charge me $65 so I could watch.  Another guy just offered to come pick it up.  I passed on all those.  But I got an email from a guy in annapolis that is a mechanic/ship captain that said he’d show me how for $20.  Just the ticket!

I met up with him yesterday evening and we winterized it.  Turns out it’s pretty simple stuff.  I got to get dirty and smelled like an engine when I got home.  Yay!

Also, I’m updating my other pages (O’Day 22, O’Day 23) as I complete stuff on the list.  The winterize portion for the O’Day 22 is complete.  If you notice anything I miss, let me know.

Note for all you that might want to try www.craigslist.com at home.  Be safe.

 

Done, Done, Done & Done

Project Central Here.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.  I sure did.  Had 2 kids home from college, and daughter and son-in-law visiting too.  For some reason, not everyone wanted to do boat projects.  Can’t figure that one out.  So I had to take time to “Visit”.    My cousin and her husband also stopped by on their way back from New Jersey.  They are such fun!  Come back soon!

I did manage to get some things done. First, as I mentioned in the last post – the tire is now on the craigslist lawnmower. (First Done)

Little Red the lawnmower

Little Red the lawnmower

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Having completed its second epic mowing of the lawn (Second Done) , it has earned a name and henceforth shall be known as “Little Red”.

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Next, following a timely project post from Brian at Dock Six Chronicles, (Thanks Brian) I built an out board motor stand. (Third Done) I’ll probably put a shelf on it at some point, but I want to use it a bit and find out what I want. I did go ahead and put wheels on it. Total cost $0 for scrap wood, $20 in wheels , and $15 for 3 boxes of different sized nails and screws. I still haven’t recovered completely from the move and can’t find all my shop stuff. One thing I still haven’t found are all of my hardware like nails, screws, etc.

Last, I took the outboard motor off the boat and put it on the stand. (Fourth Done)!

Ready to get to work on it!

outboard on stand

outboard on stand

Winterizing continued – outboard

OK, wordpress is really pissing me off.  I can’t make it do a simple thing like insert a line break, or break into multiple paragraphs.  Sorry if this post looks bad.  It was originally much longer.  Also, the published post doesn’t really look like the edit I’m working in.  VERY annoying.
    • If some of what I do seems wrong, hey, cut me some slack – I’m learning as I go.  Also, comments arereally good – I LOVE comments.  And followers.  (Click the Follow button at the bottom right of the page)
    • I know I need to winterize the outboard. On reading the manual, it says if you’re going to not use it a while then unplug the gas while it’s running and let it run out. So today, I set up a bucket with water and started it up, unplugged the gas, and let it run till it ran out of gas on its own. It took a long time! I guess it’s pretty efficient.
    • I also put an ad on craigslist to see if I could find someone to teach me about winterizing and maintenance. I know I can figure it out from books, but maybe I can take a short cut and get some good guidance. We’ll see.
    • When the motor shut off I was left with a nasty looking bucket of water – yuck! I hope
      this is not the standard output of outboard motors and that when it’s tuned up
      it won’t be dumping this in the Chesapeake bay.
Winterizing Motor

Winterizing Motor

Dirty motor water

Dirty motor water

What to do first?

I managed to back the sailboat into the shed without knocking anything down.

Boat in Shed
Boat in shed

Ignore the condition of the shed.  It’s not mine and there isn’t anything I want to do about it other than seal it up so I can work in a heated space over the winter.

From this angle, it looks crooked, but it isn’t.

So, what is the first step?    Winter is coming, so I think I need to make sure freezing temperatures won’t damage anything.  Water will be the culprit to look for.  I think there are two places to worry about.

1. The motor: These things are a necessary nuisance.  I hear of people winterizing these things, so more research is needed here.  I did find the outboard’s manual scattered about the cabin.  I’ve rescued it and most of it (although moldy) is readable.

2. The bilge:  This poor boat has been pretty neglected, and I believe it has been awash with water inside.  It has a bilge pump that pumped it dry for the sale, but I’m guessing there might be water in the lines and the pump.  That probably needs to be emptied before the first hard freeze.

Why do I live in the frigid wastelands of Maryland? – oh yeah, for love, the wife’s job is here.  Someday I’ll move back to my beloved Florida,  (or as we like to say Flor-i-duh)

Mecury 7.5 hp
Mecury 7.5 hp

So back to the motor.  It’s a 7.5 horse power Mercury.  Built between 1974 & 1976, it’s younger than me, but not by much. The boat was build in ’75, so this motor is probably the original.  I know it runs, because the previous owner powered it around the point when bringing it from the slip to the boat ramp.  So I’m pretty confident it can do what I need.    I just need to learn how to take care of it.

So here’s the plan:
I want to sail, not just work on boats.  This is a trailer sailer, so I plan to get good at zipping down to the marina, pop up the mast, and zip out in the water.  I have two public ramps within 1/2 hour drive, and a couple more within an hour.  I may resort to a boat slip for the summer, we’ll see.
Over the winter, I plan to :
    1. gut the interior, clean it out and leave it that way till next winter’s project
    2. repair exterior items as needed – for example, the leaky windows
    3. check the rigging and repair anything needed to hold the mast up
    4. check the sails
    5. repair the trailer – lights don’t work, missing a spare, etc.
    6. Build any props, helpers, etc. to raise the mast easily.  Then practice!
    7. SAIL!
 When spring comes, I sail.  Would like it to be nice, but I don’t really care how it will look, since I don’t need external approval.  Looking for friends that want to go sailing.  All positive commenters are considered friends.  All commenters with beer are considered good friends and get priority seating over people who are just friends.
Oh, don’t forget I need to find a trailer for that O’Day 23 pop-top I’m aquiring this weekend.  Any help with that appreciated.