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Author Topic:   Water pump-do it yourself or leave it to the experts?
lc posted 02-22-2002 04:19 PM ET (US)   Profile for lc   Send Email to lc  
bought a used whaler about a 8 months ago. I read somewhere that the water pump should be changed yearly. My question is, is it too complicated for a "do it yourself" project or should I leave it up to the experts? My 15' whaler is powered by a 60 johnson. I have no previous experience with this, but, If this is worth anything, I did manage to change my water pump on my toyota tacoma. Are there any sites that have instructions on how to tackle changing a water pump? Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
DrZ posted 02-22-2002 04:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for DrZ  Send Email to DrZ     
Get the shop manual for your engine from your local OMC dealer and go at it. I just took a machanics certification course and we took apart several lower units. Guess what. The previous work had not been done even though it was billed. The best service is that which you do yourself.
Tom W Clark posted 02-22-2002 04:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

If you have a bit of mechanical aptitude then do it yourself. Water pumps don't really need to be changed every year but it is kind of fun...

I would recommend getting a factory service manual for your motor in addition to an after market manual for your age Johnson and also the factory parts list. The combination of these three items will tell you most of what you need to know.

triblet posted 02-22-2002 04:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Actually, the recommendation is to replace the
impeller and seals, not the whole water pump.
Annually seems overkill if you run in clean


where2 posted 02-22-2002 06:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
Another thing to consider before jumping into it yourself is the overall look of the lower half of the engine. If it looks poorly taken care of (heavy corrosion around the bolts), then maybe the headaches are best left to the pros. Then again, maybe they wouldn't bother with heating it before they wrung off the bolts...

If I bothered to change my impeller regularly, I'd do my own, but then again, I was rebuilding my first outboard at 15 years old... (Still runs 15 years later!) I've had my whaler for 5 years and haven't put a new impeller in it yet. She's about due, I think...

As for the "replace the pump annually" criteria. I once asked a factory engine tech point blank "Why?". His basic answer was that removing the lower unit every year keeps the bolts loose enough that you can change it. My comment was "Why not use Never-Seize at the factory? When I use it at the house, I can go several years and still remove the bolts..." He just shrugged. If you did do it every year and used an anti-sieze, it ought to be a quick job the second year!

JohnAz posted 02-23-2002 12:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for JohnAz  Send Email to JohnAz     
check our this sight for repairs especialy water pumps,,verry enlightening

[Deleted link to webpage about Bombardier Factory Guided Tours.]

jimh posted 02-23-2002 11:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As moderator of this forum I have taken the unusual step of deleted a hyperlink posted by a participant. I don't recall doing this before in any of the 20,000 or more postings to this forum. The reasons for this deletion here are as follows:

--the link did not point to information germane to the topic;
--the link pointed to a webpage that was badly coded and had difficulties in presenting its information to browsers unless using particular software.

There is no prohibition against posting hyperlinks to sources of information outside of the continuousWave website, but in general the links should point to information that is relevant to the topic, is presented in a proper fashion, and offers well researched advise.

The goal of continuousWave continues to be the presentation of high-quality content in its various subject areas. Contribution of direct content, first-hand experiences, and informed advise is always preferred over hyperlinks to other sites.

That said, there is no problem with posting hyperlinks as long as the link meets the basic criterea presented above.

jimh--The Moderator

jimh posted 02-23-2002 11:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There are two questions here:

--How often to change?
--Do it yourself?

I used to belong to a club that owned several diesel-powered sailboats. We fought constantly about how often the water pump impeller should be changed. The majority opinion was "every 100 hours". I looked up the factory recommended interval in the YANMAR factory service manual. Their recommendation was "every 1,000 hours." I think we probably caused more problems from wearing out the pump cover from the frequent removal than the impeller wear did. However, that engine had 6,000 hours and still running strong ten years ago. It still runs fine today.

Doing it yourself is not too hard. The parts are available for most engines from aftermarket sources. Some Japanese engines will need OEM parts.

The biggest problem is to re-install the lower leg of the outboard lower unit. You have to wrestle it back into position, align the drive shaft, get all the shift linkages aligned and connected, get the water passages aligned, etc. This has do be done while holding the (heavy) lower unit in one hand and trying to ease it upward and into place while using the other hand to keep everything aligned.

I have done this on mid-range engines, 50-HP range. On larger engines the weight might become a problem.

My local Mercury shop has a very reasonable rate for doing this. I think it was only $75. Since the parts probably cost about $25, that may be an attractive alternative to doing it yourself. I think they have the younger, apprentice-grade mechanics doing this work, and they probably can knock it out in less than an hour.

Steve Leone posted 02-23-2002 10:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Steve Leone  Send Email to Steve Leone     
change every other season. 1) shift unit into neutral. (2 drain gear oil 3)remove engine cover 4) remove large clip on stainless shift handle 5)push handle toward engine 6) remove 4 large 9/16 head bolts that secure lower to midsection. you may have to heat around the housing where they go through with a propane torch. 7)remove the 7/16 head bolt that holds the trim tab. mark it with a scribe before you remove it so you can put it back the way you had it. 8) remove the 1/2 in. head bolt inside the housing recess above the trim tab. 9) remove the 5/8 head bolt and unit will come off. make sure the engine is tilted up so you can clear with the lower unit. 10)remove the four retaining bolts that hold the water pump housing. 11) grab two large screw drivers and lever the old impeller off. if its stuck you will have to coal chisel it off from the top. it helps if you remove the rubber part with a razor first. that way you can see what you are chiseling. 12)remove the base plate and old gasket. buy a new w/ pump kit. you don`t want to have to do this all over again to save a lousy $20.00. 13)install new w/pump kit as per instructions in box. if no instructions just reverse the dissasemmbly. glue the big o-ring in the hsg with rubber cement. same with the o-ring behind the metal insert. install the impeller over the driveshaft and slide it over key. o.m.c. went to a plastic half moon key. its tricky to get the impeller to seat but not immpossible. use a small screwdriver to push it up. remember that it will only go on one way. there is a recess cut away on the brass ferule which is part of the impeller. then install the housing over the impeller with overhand pressure while turning the drive shaft clockwise. 14) clean and grease the driveshaft splines with white moly grease. this is one of the biggest reasons to do a w/p job every 2 seasons. you don`t want that spline drying out and siezing into the crankshaft. you will never get the lower unit off in one piece again if that happens 15)install the exhuast section. you may have to replace those rubbers if they are swollen or broken. grease them for easy installation. 15) install the lower unit back onto the midsection. make sure you align the water tube into the water tube guide on the water pump housing. 16) you can either turn the flywheel to align the driveshaft splines or shift the lower into reverse and turn the prop shaft counterclockwise with the prop. 17) grease the bolts with o.m.c. triple guard grease. DO NOT USE never-sieze or anti-sieze. these products contain metal and will cause galvanic corrosion making them near impossible to remove next time. 18) attach and tighten all the bolts 19) align the shifter with the eye of the shift shaft and pull the stainless shift handle away from the engine making sure that you are lining pin with shiftshaft eye. 20) shoot the clip back in. 21) refill gearcase with proper lubricant. 22) test it BEFORE you take the boat out. remenber it takes a minute or two for the thermostat to open but should piss through the tell-tell almost immediately. if all else fails spend the $85.00 and have a certified o.m.c. mechanic do it. steve out.
daverdla posted 02-24-2002 08:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
I paid $55.13 for parts and $140.00 (2 hours) for labor for a 100HP Evinrude last December in New Jersey. Is that too much?

jimh and JohnAz, I too looked at that link and couldn't find anything about water pumps.


Steve Leone posted 02-24-2002 10:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Steve Leone  Send Email to Steve Leone     
2.2 hours is what the flat rate manual shows. you are paying retail for parts. steve out.
daverdla posted 02-25-2002 09:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
Thanks Steve. Hopefully its quality work.
lc posted 02-25-2002 08:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for lc  Send Email to lc     
Much mahalo for all of your comments. This forum is awesome, especially for a new whaler owner like myself. I've decided to chance it and fix it myself (projects keep me busy and out of trouble). I have a friend who can do it, but he said to give it a shot, and he'll "back" me up if I hit any obstacles. Thanks for all the advice. Special thanks to the Mr. Moderator. This Forum is a great idea and a BIG help. Mahalo for all the time you put into this. aloha!
JohnAz posted 02-26-2002 08:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for JohnAz  Send Email to JohnAz     
here is the reprint from the OMC articled it mis-poasted earlier i hope it helps,,
13. How often should I replace my water pump?
The modern outboard's water pump should last the life of the motor. The housings are stainless steel, impellers are of compounds that do not rot or deteriorate in salt water. There ARE 2 enemies. first - NEVER Start the motor dry - not even for a "couple of seconds" water lubricates the pump, and a dry impeller is like a locked up set of tires in a panic stop! The pump will self-destruct. Second - abrasion - does the water you boat in have a lot of silt of murk in it? Do you hit a lot of muddy bars and sandy beaches? Ask around to see how frequently this environment in your area eats pumps and act accordingly.

blackdog posted 02-26-2002 08:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
I was thinking of adding a water pressure gauge. I think that would help determine the condition of the pump and impeller and provide added piece of mind. Anyone have one of those?
WhalerAce posted 02-26-2002 09:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for WhalerAce  Send Email to WhalerAce     
Assuming you have an outboard, I don't think you will be happy with it. I bought two for my twin outboard installation (OMC gauges), but where they have you mount the hose pickups is in the OUTLET tube, after the water has been in the engine, and headed for the telltale tube. Basically, there is no pressure there, so the gauges read pretty close to "0" all the time. Temperature gauges, on the other hand, seem to work real well and are more informative as to how the engines are doing, at least in one bank of cylinders.

And I even read and followed all of the instructions (but what are instructiions anyhow, but one man's opinion? :-) )


JohnAz posted 02-26-2002 03:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for JohnAz  Send Email to JohnAz     
I have a pressure gauge and it gives piece of mind it works and shown if the intake gets plugged with plastic junk from the water baggy garbage connects just before the "pisser" outlet on the engine
NEVER SCARED posted 02-26-2002 03:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for NEVER SCARED    
JohnAz, is OMC stating that all "modern" outboards never need water pump replacement under normal operating conditions? I always thought this "every 2 season" was just to keep the dealers registers ringing. I bought a 1992 15hp in 1995 and ran it HARD for 4 more years and never serviced it. I think its all a scam between dealer and manufacturer playing on our fear of our expensive investment getting fried! Most modern outboards have an over-heat protection which reduces your rpms automatically. This should be the only time you would consider replacing the water pump. The pressure comming out of the pisser isnt accurate since my brand new merc outboard had a very stronge stream, while my new evinrude just trickled (both in idle). I also wondered if they even actually change the pump since most of us wouldnt pull it apart to see.

Never scared

simonmeridew posted 02-26-2002 06:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for simonmeridew  Send Email to simonmeridew     
All due respect to WhalerAce, I put a water pressure guage (Cabela's, $34.99 or so) on my 1999 Johnson 70 last summer. The directions that come with it, besides being written in 14 different languages, are somewhat generic and describe several different adaptations and installations for the guage.

But my Johnson owner's manual had one of those pages with arrows pointing to various components on a photograph of the motor, one of which was a brass allen head bolt in the large vertical casting which forms the outside of the water chamber. This was item number 30 in the photo, "water pressure tap".
I unscrewed this screw (or bolt to us non mechanics) and replaced it with a fitting(with teflon tape) which came with the new guage. Basically this fitting converts 1/8 FIP threads in the motor casting to a barb fitting. Push the end of the included rubber hose(also 1/8 inch as I think of it) over the barb,thread the hose through the motor case with the rest of the gas lines, electrical lines, etc, then down through the tunnel to the center console, push it over the barb on the back of the guage which you have installed on the guage panel, and you're in business. At idle I show maybe 12 psi, and at full throttle I show 27 plus or minus psi. Even with the muffs on from the garden hose it shows 10 psi in the driveway immediately upon starting the motor. I haven't been in the boat since September storage, so I might be off a little with the numbers, but you get the idea how it works. \

WhalerAce, I can understand why such a guage wouldn't work just tee-ing into the pisser hose. There is basically no pressure there at all, being open at one end. But the water chamber has pressurized water at all times and this is where you want to measure the pressure

I think it would be a very easy thing to do if your motor didn't have a factory made "water pressure tap" (like mine did,) to drill into this casting and tap for the right size pipe thread. The casting is quite robust and looks to be very easily drilled and tapped. As I think about it, the guage dirctions may have even included a section on drilling the hole if none provided, my directions were thrown out long ago all 14 languages.
Hope this helps, can give more free advice if requested.

jimh posted 02-26-2002 08:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
For the second time in as many evenings I have felt compelled to edit a posting in this thread, however I have restrained myself, and instead I will comment on it here.

I refer to the posting above by JohnAz which purports to "reprint" (without permission some copyrighted material) from "OMC."

I have many problems with this.

First, the material appears to be from another on-line source where it is marked as being copyrighted. It is inappropriate to "reprint" it here without permission. It is also wrong to not enclose it in quotes and to clearly attribute it to its author.

Second, the source of the material is grossly misrepresented. It does not come from "OMC", but from an individual's or business's website on a page titled "THE MASTERTECH'S OUTBOARD PROBLEM SOLVER".

To my mind this is a huge difference. To say it comes from "OMC" adds great weight and authority to the information. The real (but uncited) source is another website, one that is apparently associated with a marine repair business that offers on-line sales. That is a fine source of information, but it does not have the same authority as the factory.

Usually, if I want to find out what the factory thinks about how often the water pump impeller should be replaced in a particular engine, I just look in the instruction book they printed with the engine. It will often have a recommendation for when to change the impeller.

The factory manual is a much better source for reliable information than an unquoted "reprint" of material posted on another website that is not the official factory advice.

Let's lay aside the issues of source, attribution, and authority, and just look at the advice.

The advice proffers that the impeller "should last the lifetime of your engine." This really is a self-fulfilling prediction. If you don't change the impeller the engine's life will end, ergo, the impeller lasted the "lifetime" of the engine.

The next advice is contradictory in that it cautions that the impeller can be destroyed by as little as "a couple of seconds" (two seconds) of improper operating conditions. Clearly, anything that is subject to being destroyed by two seconds of improper operation would not seem a likely candidate to last the lifetime of an engine, given that such lifetimes can span 30 years.

The next advice is a similar caution. The last-a-lifetime impeller must not be operated in silty or sand-laden water.

Finally, the original poster's question was more directed at the expected difficulty of doing the replacement himself, and also if there were sites wtih instructions on the process.

Here is a link to about 240 sites that have instructions on how to change the impeller:

I doubt, however, if you will find that any of them contain advice significantly better than the first hand experiences already offered here.

If anyone spends an evening exploring these links, please let me know if I was wrong about that.

Website publisher

jimh posted 02-26-2002 08:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Administrative post]
clanton posted 02-26-2002 09:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for clanton    
You did not id year of engine, but the OEM kit has part for service bulletin 2276, and up graded spring for pressure relief spring.
billybob1 posted 02-26-2002 11:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for billybob1  Send Email to billybob1     
I changed my waterpump on my 1974 85 johnson v 4 that i bought old 6 HP johnson was a piece of cake so i thought no problem.
I am a master automobile tech 15 years & must tell you that this large lower unit was quite a handfull.
IE: Two water tubes to line up,a shift rod that kept moving ect,ect,
Boy a hope this pump lastes awhile.& ohh yeh'Could'nt get my OMC dealer to get the right housing so i had to use the old one.
I now have more respect for the Marine Technicians than before.
specktrout posted 02-27-2002 08:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for specktrout  Send Email to specktrout     
I just finished reading the very detailed instructions posted here about removing the lower unit to replace the water pump and am worried about my '89 johnson. Several months ago I took off the large planing fin - a "turbo lift"(kind of like a dol-fin), and the bolt holding the rear of the fin broke. This is the bolt that originally held the zinc anode in the small recess above the prop and in front of the round trim tab. With the shaft of this bolt in the lower unit, is it still possible to remove the unit for servicing?
Steve Leone posted 03-01-2002 11:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Steve Leone  Send Email to Steve Leone     
AMEN, JIM!!! i`m tired of reading second hand info. if you can`t put it in your own vision then don`t bother posting it. as for the fellow who does`nt change his impeller every two years: i`ve got an engine for you!!! neoprene. thats what they are made of. squish them into a housing for a couple of years and spin. whallah!!! it gets a "set" to it and loses its elasticity, therefore not pumping as much especially at full throtle. the top piston goes first. its ugly. tears may be shed... steve (not another ripoff mechanic) out.
Steve Leone posted 03-02-2002 12:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for Steve Leone  Send Email to Steve Leone     
yes. it is still possible to remove the lower unit without removing the anode bolt (above the prop). in fact i would not worry about it until you need to have the lower off again. that way you can get a clear shot at it (from the top) when you need to drill it out. be certain to center punch it. take it slow and use a hard drill bit. start small and gain on it with larger and larger bits. when you are just about to the diameter get the tap out. clean the tap and the hole often. use oil when drilling and tapping. lose the doefins. they will ruin you`re lower mounts. steve out.
Mark Gallagher posted 03-02-2002 09:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for Mark Gallagher  Send Email to Mark Gallagher     

you say "lose the Doel fins, they will ruin your lower mounts" I never heard this before and exactly what lower mounts are you refering to?



Clark Roberts posted 03-02-2002 09:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
I have used Doel-Fins on probably 20 different motors from a 15 Merc to a 200 merc and currently have a fin on a 40,70 and a 115. Have put literally thousands of hours on them in all types of water from Maine to Fla East and West coasts, inland shoals (bars/rocks) and to Bahamas and back and have never had a problem of any kind while running or when changing water pumps (which I do myself). Others have had different experiences I suppose! Happy Whalin' .. clark.. Spruce Creek Navy

PS> No, I don't work for Doel-Fin!

Steve Leone posted 03-02-2002 11:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for Steve Leone  Send Email to Steve Leone     
i have had several customers come in with worn out lower mounts (that hold the lower exhaust hsng to the pivot bracket) attributed to the "up and down" stresses of the doefins. almost all were o.m.c. outboards and one 1985 merc 50. maybe it was the type of boat they were used on (application). i understand o.m.c. put out a 40 hp commercial model back in the 70`s i think that had side fins cast right into the lower gearcase. it did`nt last long and was discontinued very quickly. steve out.

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