Use of "Saltwater" in Outboard Engine Model Designators

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jimh
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Use of "Saltwater" in Outboard Engine Model Designators

Postby jimh » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:35 am

In another discussion on a different topic, the following question arose:

Papag wrote:Another rookie question: [when] taking a boat between fresh water and saltwater, does it matter which engine I have? [I] see "salt[water]" in some [outboard engine] model [names].

Is "salt[water]" a marketing term or a technical difference?


The history of engine model designator with the word “saltwater”: at one time outboard engines were used most in freshwater lakes, and use in saltwater was not very common. As outboard engines became more powerful and could be used on larger boats, outboard engines began to more frequently be used in saltwater. This gave rise to special models that were more expensive because they used more corrosion-resistant components. These models were often designated as a “saltwater” model. Today outboard engines are generally all made to be corrosion resistant as much as possible, and there are no special saltwater models.

Generally the upgrade to an outboard to become the "saltwater" model was limited to a few external engine components, like the steering tilt tube or some external fasteners. If buying an older engine that has been used extensively in saltwater, it will already be apparent what parts of the engine have suffered corrosion from saltwater.

There is no harm in taking an engine from saltwater to freshwater. It actually will be good for the engine to be flushed out. Taking an engine from freshwater to saltwater will not be particularly beneficial.

My own experience with occasional use of an outboard engine in saltwater: I would extensively flush the engine with fresh water.

An anecdote: while trailering my boat back to Michigan from the Washington where it had been in operation for two weeks in the Pacific Ocean, I pulled off the highway at the first opportunity with freshwater and a boat ramp nearby. I backed the boat into the freshwater and started the engines. I let them run at fast idle for about 15-minutes in order to flush out all the saltwater in the engine cooling system. It was about 1 a.m. in the morning so there was no waiting at the boat ramp.

Papag
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Re: Use of "Saltwater" in Outboard Engine Model Designators

Postby Papag » Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:09 pm

Thanks Jim.

jimh
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Re: Use of "Saltwater" in Outboard Engine Model Designators

Postby jimh » Fri Aug 07, 2020 8:04 am

While I have not researched the precise history, I suspect that once one outboard manufacturer declared they had a model that was especially constructed for use in saltwater, all other outboard manufacturers soon followed that same marketing path.

Declaring one model of your product as having superior corrosion protection soon became a problem: who wants to buy the model with inferior corrosion protection? As a result, outboard manufacturers eventually reduced or eliminated the special "saltwater" models and began to make all their products with superior corrosion protection.

Another variation in model designator emphasizing saltwater use was to include "ocean" in the model name.

biggiefl
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Re: Use of "Saltwater" in Outboard Engine Model Designators

Postby biggiefl » Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:20 am

I love the way many people think running an outboard in saltwater is like running it in acid. Back before flushing ports the engine got flushed when it was pulled for the season. We never had any corrosion problems.
On my 24th Whaler. Currently in the stable: 86 18' Outrage, 81 13' Sport(original owner), 87 11' Sport, 69 Squall(for sale cheap).

jimh
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Re: Use of "Saltwater" in Outboard Engine Model Designators

Postby jimh » Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:00 am

Outboard engine have been designed specifically to operate in saltwater--they're the "saltwater" models.

Now the durability and longevity of a steel boat trailer with brakes is an entirely different proposition in saltwater.

dtmackey
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Re: Use of "Saltwater" in Outboard Engine Model Designators

Postby dtmackey » Sat Aug 08, 2020 9:02 pm

biggiefl wrote:I love the way many people think running an outboard in saltwater is like running it in acid. Back before flushing ports the engine got flushed when it was pulled for the season. We never had any corrosion problems.


And when I pass through the harbor, I still see 1980's and older engines still in use in saltwater that were not designated Saltwater Series, and they don't get flushed.

D-

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jimp
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Re: Use of "Saltwater" in Outboard Engine Model Designators

Postby jimp » Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:38 pm

Back in 2003 when I replaced my 1990 Johnson 225 with a 2003 Mercury Optimax 225 I asked the dealer about the color of decals on the 225s. He said the blue decals were for salt water and had more stainless steel in them, but seems after 17 years I forget where the extra stainless was located. I forget the price difference too. In reality, I think the blue looked better than the red.

I always flushed after every trip. And back when I had my 1982 Montauk with Evinrude 90, at the end of every season we used to run her in a freshwater lake for 15-30 minutes. Did it help? I have no idea.

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Re: Use of "Saltwater" in Outboard Engine Model Designators

Postby dtmackey » Tue Aug 11, 2020 10:42 pm

jimp wrote:Back in 2003 when I replaced my 1990 Johnson 225 with a 2003 Mercury Optimax 225 I asked the dealer about the color of decals on the 225s. He said the blue decals were for salt water and had more stainless steel in them, but seems after 17 years I forget where the extra stainless was located. I forget the price difference too. In reality, I think the blue looked better than the red.


Saltwater Series usually boiled down to the following:

- Stainless steering shaft
- Stainless tilt tube
- Additional stainless nuts and bolts above the waterline

The cost to the manufactures was minimal and I question their decision of having two part number of the same items (in different metals, steel and stainless steel). I'd imagine it cost about the same since they basically split their volumes in half between Salt Water Serties and non Salt Water Series, and had to manage additional part numbers of the same thing.

D-

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Re: Use of "Saltwater" in Outboard Engine Model Designators

Postby biggiefl » Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:03 am

My opinion is Yamaha might have started it all with their saltwater edition V6. OMC then came out in 92 or 93 with their Ocean Pro and Runner models which were basically the same as their other engines. Mercury was still using steel items on their engines and they actually made changes to their engines for more corrosion resistance than the other brands as mentioned above. Older Mercs and Yamahas still used steel shift rods which would rot/break after a dozen years or so, OMC had been using SS for decades. I would have to look through my 1993 OMC brochure to see what, if any, differences their was except the Ocean model V6's did not come in 20" shaft.
On my 24th Whaler. Currently in the stable: 86 18' Outrage, 81 13' Sport(original owner), 87 11' Sport, 69 Squall(for sale cheap).