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Author Topic:   low oil alarm
litnin posted 03-27-2002 10:39 AM ET (US)   Profile for litnin   Send Email to litnin  
Just purchased my first Whaler, a 1987 Montauk with a 1987 Evinrude with oil
injection. Runs great but I am concerned as I have no idea about the low oil alarm. Should it beep when the key is turned on? Should I siphon full oil canister to a low level to test? First boat with an outboard that I have ever owned. Any imput would be helpful.
GAwhale posted 03-27-2002 11:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for GAwhale  Send Email to GAwhale     
Welcome litnin!

I have a 2001 90 HP two stroke Mercury. It does not beep when first started.

The first time the low oil alarm beeped, it kind of scared me. I was cruising along and hit some wake which rocked the boat. It beeped more than once.

The oil tank was still a quarter full. I am glad to have confidence in the alarm.

knothead posted 03-27-2002 01:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for knothead  Send Email to knothead     
lightning-Does the boat have a warning horn? Have you actually seen it? If you're worried about the oil tank being low, just fill it up before each trip. I would be more concerned about overheating, water pressure, and no oil going from the oil tank to the motor. Istall temp and water pressure gauges and get the dealer (Jeffries) to verify that the no oil alarm does indeed work.

Then just enjoy the boat!!


Bigshot posted 03-27-2002 01:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
My Johnson and evinrude beeps once when the key is turned on.....why I don't know. They are 1994 and 1999's.
Taylor posted 03-27-2002 01:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
I'm new to outboards too, and my experience is the same as GAwhale's, the first time the low oil warning went off it sort of scared me. I thought we might be overheating.

I'd say check the level when you go out, and when it hits 1/4 (or whatever level your manual tells you should be the trigger) that will be the test. BTW, the oil gets used pretty slowly, its not like you are suddenly going to drop from full to 1/4.

My 88 Merc sounds when you turn key on as a system test.

And remember to keep an eye on the water telltale, too.

Clark Roberts posted 03-27-2002 03:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
There are varied alarm beeps for oil reservoir/ready tank and overtemp. Most produce a steady tone for overheat and a beep/beep/beep for oil. If you have the temp gauge (as mentioned above) you can quickly determine if alarm is heat or not! My advice is to aquaint yourselves with your particular outboard's alarm system (and all other systems for that matter), its audible alarms, its engine cutback/shutdown system (if any) ...etc.. this info is usually in the engine's operation manual... check it out... if no manual it's worth the price of ordering! That's my story and I'm sticking to it! Happy Whalin'... Clark... Spruce Creek Navy
David Ratusnik posted 03-27-2002 08:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Ratusnik  Send Email to David Ratusnik     
Litnin-- Recommend disconnecting the oil injection in a 1987. Premix 50:1. It's not a matter of if the injection will fail but when. .03 David
Tom W Clark posted 03-27-2002 11:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
As Clark Roberts points out the alarm makes different sounds based on what is going on. A description of these sounds is in the owners manual and is also included on a yellow placard that was provided with the motor when it was new. It was a peel and stick decal intended to be placed near the helm so you (or your guest) could tell what the beeps meant.

The alarm makes one beep when you turn the ignition on to confirm that the horn (beeper) works.

When the oil in the reservoir gets to the 1/3 full level it will make one short beep every 20 seconds.

If the engine overheats it makes a continuous sound as well as when there is a fuel flow restriction or empty oil reservoir.

Bigshot posted 03-28-2002 11:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Biggest misconception of all times. VRO pumps rarely fail on anything other than Mercs which mistakably used plastic gears(duh). The original VRO had some issues but back in like 84 by 86 they had it figured out. Most common failure of VRO is it will start mixing too much or just a constant 50:1.

I have heard so many time sthat "my VRO went and I stuffed a piston" Well if VRO goes you stuff ALL the pistons, most piston stuffing is done by gummed carbs or a leaky fuel line that leaned out a cylinder. With an 87 you should have the carbs cleaned and if it makes you feel better you can disconnect the VRO.

litnin posted 03-28-2002 01:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for litnin  Send Email to litnin     
Thanks for all of the useful information. I have searched the console for the alarm horn but see no sign of one. Where are they usually located and would anyone in their right mind, remove it?
David Ratusnik posted 03-28-2002 01:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Ratusnik  Send Email to David Ratusnik     
Biggs- your timing on the Merc VRO plastic gear problem is amazing. My neighbor was "muttering" around his front yard last weekend. I say - Rod what's the problem? He says, You know the Merc on the Carolina Skiff. Yea. Well the VRO pump failed yesterday and the engine is trash. The plastic gear item may interest him. Thanks David
Clark Roberts posted 03-28-2002 02:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
Mercury does not have a VRO system! VRO stands for Variable Ratio Oiling and is an OMC exclusive! The VRO system uses diaphrams (driven by plus/minus crankcase pulses) to pump oil and mix with gas at fuel pump while Merc uses a crank gear driven positive displacement gear pump to acomplish the same thing. Yamaha uses merc type pump to inject oil into fuel/air stream just fwd of each reed set. Clark... Spruce Creek Navy
Caceman posted 03-28-2002 03:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Caceman  Send Email to Caceman     
The horn doesn't really look like a horn. It is a small plastic box. Mine was located inside the console. There should be a wire from the ignition switch to the warning horn. This is what causes the beep when you turn the ignition on. I don't remember the colors of the wires running in and out of it, but I do remember that there was a one purple wire.

My horn broke last November while fishing the Mississippi delta. I had just launched the boat, and was putting around the marina to the houseboat. Right before coming alongside the houseboat, the warning horn started a continuous beep. Of course, this was Saturday evening, so I couldn't fish or bring the boat to the shop on Sunday. Monday morning, I put the boat back on the trailer and trailered it back up to the shop. Fifteen minutes after arriving at the shop, the mechanic had replaced the horn and everything was working right.

David Ratusnik posted 03-28-2002 04:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Ratusnik  Send Email to David Ratusnik     
Clark- Thanks for the clarification on OMC VRO versus Merc pump. To the typical guy on the street I believe VRO now stands for injecting the oil automatically into a 2 stroke. Sort of like JELLO- the jiggely stuff regardless of maker. Appreciate the tech ed. David
skookum point posted 03-28-2002 04:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for skookum point  Send Email to skookum point     
litnin - I have an í87 Evinrude VRO too. You can test the warning horn by turning the ignition on and inserting a second key (or similar metallic object, I assume) in the slot under the fast idle lever. The horn should sound.

As you can see, there are wildly different opinions about the reliability of the of the VRO system. I have been toying with the idea of running premix to avoid the consequences of a VRO failure. I called a local OMC mechanic and he said that VRO failures were not very common in his experience. Iím still not sure what to do . . .

Two best options, in my opinion, are: 1- disable the VRO and use premix, 2- Test the alarm frequently and rely on it to alert you to trouble.

litnin posted 03-29-2002 05:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for litnin  Send Email to litnin     
Once again, I searched the console for anything that resembles a horn or buzzer,and found nothing. I cannot, for my own peace of mind, run the engine again without a horn or series of gauges. As I stated before, it runs like a scalded dog so I don't want to ruin a good thing. Thanks all! Skookum, I have no such slot under the fast idle, wish I did.
simonmeridew posted 03-29-2002 05:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for simonmeridew  Send Email to simonmeridew     
My 1999 OMC stock tach has some lights on the bottom of the dial, like at 6 o'clock. I'm sure you did it but you didn't mention it: did you turn the key on, not enough to start it, but enough to get ignition on; you should hear the 'horn', actually an electronic beep, which may in fact be generated inside the back of the tach itself. That is, no horn visible. The lights also come on at the same time, like when you first turn a car on, the warning lights, air bag light, abs lights etc self test for a couple of seconds then turn off.
I was on the Kennebec river last summer when my "low oil" horn went off--light also as I recall. Scared the stuff out of me for a second, I shut the motor off, put in a pint of 2 cycle oil, and off I went.
My feeling about the VRO oil thing: lots of diehard "truckers" from my generation won't buy a car with an automatic tranny, even though today's automatics are more reliable than stick shifts. They want the "control" whatever that is. They also get to put in a clutch or two and rebuild the syncros at 80,000 miles because of the way they downshift to "save the brakes". Has anyone ever said, looking at half a tank of 2 cycle gas, "did I put 2 cycle oil in last week or was I going to do it with the next fillup." In other words, neither the VRO nor the 50:1 mix system is 100% reliable, there are potential problems with each.
just my thoughts

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