Outboards: Crises and Cures

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If you’re an experienced boater and have been an outboard owner for a time, you’ll know that things might not always run as smoothly as you’d like. The trick is to know enough about your engine to be able to troubleshoot when you’re in a sticky situation.

While some engine problems may require a professional eye, there are a few that can be fixed on the spot if you have the basic know-how. Take a look at these few common outboard issues that may arise from time to time and how to go about remedying them.

What is it?
The first problem to tackle would be determining what exactly an outboard motor is. To describe it in the most essential respects: it is a selfcontained unit attached to the stern of a boat as a means of propulsion. It contains an engine, propeller, gearbox and jetdrive, and is the most common motorised propulsion system for boats.

An outboard motor may also provide steering control when the engine is switched off, acting as a rudder. They are available in a vast variety of different sizes and power levels and can be used to propel everything from the very smallest craft to reasonably large vessels. There are two types of outboards; electric-powered motors and those powered by fuel. While petrolpowered outboards provide more horsepower, they also produce a great deal of emission and noise. Electric-powered engines, also known as trolling motors, are typically used on smaller craft or by bass fisherman to glide from one fishing hole to the next without making too much noise and can even be handheld. They provide significantly less horsepower than petrol engines, but are also environmentally friendly and are tolerated on some waterways where petrol motors aren’t.

Furthermore, outboard motors are easily detachable for maintenance, storage or to fit to another boat.

There are a few complications which may cause your engine not to start, some of which would require professional help and others that are less serious. Below are a few checks that can be performed to determine the severity of the problem.

First of all, check whether your kill switch is engaged and if so, disengage it. If this doesn’t solve the problem it may be that the switch is faulty. This can become a frequent problem, particularly if your kill switch is mounted horizontally on a surface where water might pool and cause damage. To find out if the switch is the culprit, you need to get to the back of the switch panel where the wires are. Find the black one with the yellow stripe, disconnect it and try starting her again. If she’s still not firing, you at least know it’s not due to a defective kill switch.


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