This is quite a lengthy post…let me apologize in advance.

I went out to the marina last week to do some work on the v-berth [check this post or this one]. I’m almost finished removing the old wood now. My plan is to get the interior finished over the winter so I’ll be able to weekend liveaboard starting next spring and summer.

Part of my normal routine when I go out to work is to start the outboard motor and let it run for usually about ten minutes or so right before I finish up for the day. I like to do that so everything will stay lubricated and hopefully keep the engine from giving me problems.

Well….problems is what it gave me that day…and for several days now it has been my greatest frustration. I got the motor started and it ran fairly smoothly for about five minutes before it began sputtering and finally died. I tried starting it again and got nowhere. I checked the fuel line and gas tank. Everything looked ok there.

I took the cowling off and one thing I noticed that was different was a little wire broken. I know you’re thinking, “ahh, broken wire equals easy troubleshooting.” Not so fast, though. The wire was not an electrical wire, but was actually a piece of bailing wire that the prior owner had ‘rigged’ on some timing plate that rests below the flywheel. Apparently a prior owner had removed the tiller (which includes the integrated throttle control) and converted the throttle control to the front of the motor. The tiller controls had been attached to that timing plate (don’t know the actual name of the part). I tried to get the part re-positioned correctly, but the motor still wouldn’t start. I ended up having to leave that evening without getting it started. That, of course, frustrated my mind and occupied my thoughts for several days until I could get back out to check on it again. Of course, during the entire time I was super-frustrated. I kept thinking there was a serious (expensive) timing issue. I thought about the timing chain failure on my car (see this post). In the photo below, the part circled in red moves fore and aft as well as the little piece directly below that with a little nipple.

Throttle control & timing?

Throttle control & timing?

I had an hour to kill and since my mind was working overtime, I went to check on things again yesterday. The motor started right up as soon as I pushed the button (YES!), but ran for about two seconds and died (NO!)! Up until now, I hadn’t considered the spark plugs since the guy I bought the boat from told me he replaced them a week before I bought the boat. I decided to pull them anyway to check em out. Glad I did…both were pretty well fouled up. I didn’t have any spares with me, so I tried cleaning them up as best I could. I soaked them in some gas for a few minutes and then used a wire brush and sandpaper to try and get em shiny again. I re-installed them, but still no luck. I did notice the plugs were NGK brand and I remembered reading the recommended plugs were Champion brand.

Fouled spark plug

Fouled spark plug

Went to the auto parts store today and got two Champion brand spark plugs for a grand total of $8. Off to the marina, installed the plugs (which I gapped to .030) and viola! The motor started like a champ(ion). I let it run for a few minutes then shut it off. Crossed my fingers and pressed the starter button again and she roared to life. I know the fouling was an issue, but I wonder if the brand of spark plugs had anything to do with it?

Either way, my frustrations are gone (for now), but I know I still need to do some maintenance on the motor. While running, my water discharge is showing, but it’s not a really good stream, so I’m gonna replace the impeller and seals.

Anyone out there know much about outboard? Don’t know if I need to do a carb rebuild kit or not? Points? Anything else?

I’m open to advice…thanks!