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Taylor posted 07-30-2001 06:14 PM ET (US)   Profile for Taylor   Send Email to Taylor  
As you might have guessed if you read my last post, I'm pretty new to buying used outboards. It seems like most of the mid 80's boats I've seen at are still on the first engine, '86 mercs, '80 Johnson V4's, 81 Force. That kind of thing. Mostly on the 17's I'm looking at these are 90hp. My question is, what can I expect from a 15-20 year old outboard. How long might it be expected to last, what's it cost to rebuild? I trust the hulls, and my ability to fix, polish, rewire, varnish, oil, etc, but the motors on these boats are giving me serious concern. Should they?

Is there a way to value the engine and hull seperatly so I can figure out if the package price is OK?

I don't mind repowering in a few years, but say I spend $6500 on a 1980 now, and $5K plus on a new engine next year, I might have been better off spending $9K now.


Thanks, -Taylor

Bigshot posted 07-30-2001 06:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
You are correct in all your thoughts and concerns. The hulls are solid. If the engine has made it this far it has probably been maintained and cared for(usually). With anything used it can last 1000hrs or a 1000 seconds, that is the chance you take for buying used, whether a 99 or a 79. If you buy used and is cheap enough and you get a couple seasons out of it cool. I have also bought used and ran it for a month and sold the engine. If you can get $1200 for a 90 hp towards a $5000 boat and have new, might be worth it. Or you might want to run it till she croaks. Many people are running 60's and 70's stuff so 80's could last MANY years. Do a compression test and check the lower unit oil before you test ride. This will give an idea as to the internal shape of the engine. Selling the used engine is also an option if you see one with a 70 and you want a 90. This allows you to buy a nice one and repower.
Taylor posted 07-30-2001 06:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
Thanks Bigshot. I had not thought of the 70 to 90 "sell old motor and repower" senario. I'd been staying away from 70's cause I really to be able to pull a skier, and I'm edging up to 190lbs. Yikes :)

On the lower unit oil, what am I looking for. Is it like tranny fluid, am I looking for burned, or water... or, wait... must be like a trans. or diff... so I'm looking for clean, brown, not black, no water, no floating pieces of metal shavings. Corect?

On the compression test... I assume I want all cylinders even. Right?

Bigshot posted 07-30-2001 06:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Lower unit oil should be a brown, blakish, greenish maybe and STINK. The thing you need to see is if when you get the initial bit of fluid(slowly unscrew until it starts to weep)is water(settles to bottom). If oil is not water or milky like coffee or grey coffe, you are good(change it though). WHile doing the oil change, do a water pump too, no matter how good it streams.
Compression should be close, say within 10+%. What you do nat want is 130,125,132,100. You want the last to be better than 115 or 120. This is just an example. Do not be worried that the comp is only 110 across the board so much because all "cheap" comp testers are different. You might get 115 and I might get 130 on mine. If they are under 100, have guage checked with another one, etc. If it is Ok, then that motor is worn even though it runs good. If you have any more questions, let me know.
whalernut posted 08-05-2001 10:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalernut  Send Email to whalernut     
Tayler, my 75` 85h.p. Johnson still runs very strong, so just be careful when buying a used outboard, but not because of the age of it, but the care that has been put into it as Bigshot has mentioned! Good luck-Jack Graner.
Chesapeake posted 08-06-2001 10:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chesapeake  Send Email to Chesapeake     
Somewhat related and thought you might find this helpful...

I have, actually had, the same motor as Jack Graner -- a '75 Johnson 85 hp. It has lasted an awful long time, mainly because of an old-timer (local Johnson repair guy) that looked after her every spring (tune-up) and fall (winterize). I am not a motor head, although the skill would be valuable. This motor was still running strong when it was taken off the boat last November, prior to my repowering with a Yammy 90 hp 2-stroke. The "new" Yamaha dealer wouldn't offer me a dime for the motor, despite the fact that it still ran strong.

I told my old (now friend) Johnson guy to try and sell her if he could. To my surprise, he called me a couple of weeks ago and let me know he sold the old 85 for $1,000 after tuning and touching up. Surprised, I gave him half of the sale price, since it was all his work.

Morals of the story... 1) Before buying a used motor, find someone you trust, preferably someone who works on the brand for a living, to look at the motor and give you an opinion. 2) Ask the owner who has serviced the motor, how often, and if he would mind if you spoke with them. 3) Talk to the guys on this sight who know an awful lot about what motors and years were good ones and which were not for that particular motor. 4) Take care of it and maybe selling it will be a nice down payment on your next re-power.

My only regret to all of this stuff is that Tom, my old Johnson repair guy, doesn't work on Yamahas.

Bob (Chesapeake)

jimh posted 08-08-2001 08:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have an older Mercury, a 1976 50-HP engine. This is a 4-cyliner in-line block, and it runs beautifully.

I think the local Merc shop likes working on it. They have mentioned to me that if I ever want to sell it, the guys there all want to buy it.

Curiously, I now also have a pair of Yamaha engines. My friends at the Merc shop have been kind enough to do some work on the Yamaha engines for me. I buy the parts from a Yamaha dealer, and they put them on for me!

Some Yamaha parts, like the water pump impeller, are available from Quicksilver parts, so the Merc guys can handle that stuff, too.

Around here (Detroit area) there seems to be a strong anti-Yamaha bias, and there are only a couple of dealers who sell and service. Neither are simultaneously competent, convenient, and resonably priced, so I have been lucky do get my Merc dealer to do some of the work I needed.

When I bought all these used engines, I judged their condition more by my estimation of the seller's integrity than by making a bunch of checks and inspections. So far I have been pretty trouble free. Maybe a bit lucky, too.


andygere posted 08-08-2001 11:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Like Jack, I'm running an old Johnson V4 85 hp, 1979 vintage. I paid for the boat and trailer, and any time I get out of the motor is bonus. That said, it's clean, was well maintained (previous owner had all records, receipts and even factory shop manuals) and it had low usage. I expect to get a few more years out of it, so I don't beat on it, do all the routine maintenance, use a fuel/water filter, put OMC carbon gaurd in every tank, and always use high quality oil and gas (Quicksilver & Chevron). There are no guarantees, but follow the prepurchase advise of Bigshot and others on this board and you'll probably do allright. For what it's worth, on my recent trip to Cape Cod, I saw a lot of older Evinrude/Johnson V4's still running on the back of even older Montauks and Nausets.

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