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  Reliability of an Older Outboard

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Author Topic:   Reliability of an Older Outboard
fester posted 04-08-2001 12:26 AM ET (US)   Profile for fester   Send Email to fester  
I want to begin by saying I think this web site is great. Although I am not a real active participant, I have looked at it weekly for about the last six months and have learned a lot.

This past week I purchased a 1978 20 foot outrage from the wife of the original owner. The owner recently passed away and the wife was selling the boat for $6,200. I had a professional survey done of the hull and was told it was in fantastic shape for the age of the boat. The motor is a 1979 175 horsepowe Evinrude which runs very well. The motor has good compression and according to a receipt I obtained with the boat, had about $3,000 worth of work done to the engine about two years ago. The work included rebuilding the lower unit, a new stator and variety of other things. The boat did not come with a trailer. Given the condition of the boat, I paid the $6,200 and did not try to negotiate the price because I felt sorry for the wife.

My question is can I expect this 1979 outboard to be reliable or should I try to replace it due to its age? I plan to frequently take the boat in the ocean and I do not want to have any problems. I recently read a portion of a book which stated that the usefull life of an outboard used in saltwater is only ten to fifteen years irrespective of whether its been rebuilt. Is this true or is a well maintained older outboard nearly as reliable as a newer motor? Given the cost of new outboards ($10,000 to $13,000) I would like to keep the current motor as long as its reliable. Please let me know your thoughts.

Thanks, Jeff

jimh posted 04-08-2001 02:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A lower unit overhaul should be as-good-as-new, if done right. It is mainly a question of gears, bearings, and seals. If they are all in good shape the lower unit should run as strong as ever.

I have an engine slightly older than yours, 1976, which in the four years that I have owned it has been quite reliable. It suffered one season from some sticky float valves that would starve the carburetors for fuel, but a professional rebuild cured that. This problem could have happened with any age engine that had gummy fuel, varnish, form in the float bowls.

Although I don't boat in the ocean, I have been as much as 12-miles offshore in Lake Superior with this engine, so I do tend to think of it as fairly reliable.

I would experiment with your engine and discover how well it runs, etc., before getting too far away from the marina.

You might also consider buying a small auxillary engine as a "come-home" engine, although those aren't cheap either--a 10 HP 4-cycle outboard is probably $3,000 these days, I don't know for sure.

JRB posted 04-08-2001 03:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for JRB  Send Email to JRB     
Jeff, I'd second the above comments.If the work on your '79 was done properly, it should be almost as good as new. My '67 Currituck has a ' 75 Evinrude 70hp on it that runs like a top. I had the carbs rebuilt and some other routine maintenance when I bought it in '93 and it has run fine. The boat had sat for 3-4 years (garaged) when I bought it from the original owner. He had used it a good bit along the coast. I was suprised to learn how many folks run with very old motors that have been rebuilt and do fine. Unfortunately, I usually only have time to enjoy my boat 3-5 times a year (one of those being an annual beach week), and always run the motor out of gas when I put it up for more than a few days. I've replaced the water pump once, and probably need to do so again.
With all the OMC mess, I'd sure look at a Yamaha or Honda if I were going to repower. Several knowledgable boat folks have told me how good a motor my little '75 is. I would think that would extend to yours as well. Ask around among those "salty" coastal guys!
Going offshore, I'd sure invest in a marine radio if you don't already have one, as well as an auxiliary engine. Sounds like you have a great boat! Send some pics in to Cetacea!! John B.
triblet posted 04-08-2001 05:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
A 9.9 HP Mercury four-stroke is $1949 in the
West Marine catalog. A 9.9 two-stroke is
$1919.

You can get a 25HP with power trim and tilt
for under $3K.

I wonder if the closeness of the two/four
stroke prices is a peek at what will come
with the bigger four-stroke prices.

Chuck

fester posted 04-09-2001 12:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for fester  Send Email to fester     
Thanks for you input. I have a 9.9 horsepower longshaft Evinrude that I plan on using as a kicker. I am going to try to use the 1979 motor this summer before I do anything with respect to purchasing a new motor. This past week I did a little checking on outboard prices. The Yamaha's and Mercury's are very pricy for a 175 horsepower engine, $11,000 plus. Given what is going on with OMC, new Evinrudes and Johnsons are quite cheap. I was able to find them for under $7,000. It was my impression that some of the dealers just want to get rid of the OMC motors.

Jeff

andygere posted 04-09-2001 10:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Jeff,
I think the "10-15 year usefull life" theory is a lot of bunk. Like any mechanical equipment, the service life will depend on 3 things: The number of hours in service, the maintenance (or lack of) performed and the environment the equipment is used in. I have a '79 Johnson 85 hp on my Montauk that I expect to get several more years out of. The reason? It was infrequently used, regularly maintained and stored under cover on the trailer. Take care of your old motor and it will take care of you. Good luck and have fun!

Andy

lhg posted 04-09-2001 01:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
You might want to check out a discussion in the "Performance" section, dated 10-14-2000.
I think that engine is probably not the best suited for the original 20' Outrage you have, as many have complained about "porpoising" problems, due to lack of trim range (mostly tuck in).

Engines must be pricy out there on the West Coast! I've seen prices for Merc 200's from $8200 (carb model) to $11,300 (Optimax). The same range for 150's is about $6800 to $10,000.(these would probably be as fast as the old 175 OMC). Twin 90's would be a good setup, and they should be about $9600 for the pair, Saltwater version. Yamahas are always marked up more than Mercs.

whalernut posted 04-09-2001 08:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalernut  Send Email to whalernut     
Andy, I agree with you. I have a 75` 85h.p. Johnson(all freshwater use) on my Currituck and it still runs very strong! Care and use seem to be the best for any engine, plus enviroment. Regards-Jack Graner.

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