Moderated Discussion Areas
  ContinuousWave: The Whaler GAM or General Area
  Reliability of 20-year-old Outboard Motors

Post New Topic  Post Reply
search | FAQ | profile | register | author help

Author Topic:   Reliability of 20-year-old Outboard Motors
Fatherof2 posted 04-07-2008 09:21 AM ET (US)   Profile for Fatherof2   Send Email to Fatherof2  
Hello all. I found a Montauk for sale that has a c.1988 Evinrude. The hours are unknown. The present owner has told me that he has never had an issue with the motor. He is the second owner. Is this the kind of thing where I may get 5 years out of it? Or it may die after 5 days of use? Do I need to be prepaired to re-power fairly soon? How does one gauge this kind of thing?

Thanks everybody,


Ferdinando posted 04-07-2008 09:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for Ferdinando  Send Email to Ferdinando     
Dave: I'm no mechanic by any means but I think a good compression ck of each cylinder would be in order. Plus the general appearance should give you an idea of how well it was taken care of. Fred
willy one posted 04-07-2008 10:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for willy one  Send Email to willy one     
He's correct. A good compression/cylinder leakage test would be a good indicator. Remove the plug in the lower unit and check for "milky" gear oil. If cared for, outboards can last a very long time. My advice is to spend a couple of bucks and let a professional take a look at the motor. Be sure you listen to his advice!


cooper1958nc posted 04-07-2008 10:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for cooper1958nc  Send Email to cooper1958nc     
If I was selling, or buying, a 20 year old outboard, which would be worth barely four figures, or less, I could not imagine involving a "professional." The time and money involved would outstrip the value of the motor. If it runs, take a chance for the money involved. If you want certainty, buy new or warranted.
adlert posted 04-07-2008 11:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for adlert  Send Email to adlert     
I dunno Cooper, depending on location, some shops will allow a departure from the typical "one hour minimum" labor charge for motor assessments and allow a mechanic to spend a half hour checking one out. A half hour is plenty time to check out a late 80's engine and well worth the expense IMO for those that want to buy, but arent't mechanically inclined and as such don't know if they should buy for fear of stepping into a rat's nest.

If mechanically within specs, OMC crossflow V4's and 3 cylinder "loopers" are extremely long-lived engines that are also very reliable as long as the rubber parts are replaced (fuel lines, carb gaskets, etc.). In my opinion their value in terms of being able to reliably push your craft around for years of good times on the water far exceed their actual market value.

Should you take the engine to be checked out, in addition to the compression test you want to have a spark check performed, check the lower unit for evidence of water (prior to cranking the engine for other tests), check the charging system operation, and ask for a "piston slap" check to assess connecting rod and wrist pin bearing conditions. This last one is sometimes overlooked but is very important. It IS possible to have good piston rings and cylinder wall sealing and bad piston connections.

Fatherof2 posted 04-07-2008 11:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for Fatherof2  Send Email to Fatherof2     
Great stuff guys..........thank you!


Tohsgib posted 04-07-2008 12:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
ANY used engine can last 5 minutes or 5 decades. If you don't have a warranty, don't worry about it but start saving for "that day".
cooper1958nc posted 04-07-2008 12:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for cooper1958nc  Send Email to cooper1958nc     
I assume if you are buying an older outboard you have cash in hand and make a deal on the spot. If I were selling it I would say, "cash talks all sales final you can hear it run." If I were buying I would listen to it run, then peal off a few hundreds and go for it. If it shifts, charges, and pushes the boat, have fun!
contender posted 04-07-2008 07:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Couple of things most have been stated already, start the motor and hear it run, (make sure the owner does not start the engine before you get there, you want to see/hear a cold start) (go for a ride check the power) is this a fresh water motor thats a plus, check the compression, check the lower unit oil, ask when was the last water pump replacement, check the power trim and cylinders for leakage, how much rust is on the engine, did the person take care of it, lower unit foot it good shape? Cracks on the cowling. Like adlert stated Evinrude loopers are bullet proof, however Tohshib is also correct could last 10 years or ten feet...good luck to you
jimh posted 04-08-2008 12:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
"The present owner has told me that he has never had an issue with the motor. "

I think this speaks highly for the present owner. Any fellow that would try to have issue with an outboard motor would be suspect, in my opinion.

Tollyfamily posted 04-08-2008 04:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tollyfamily  Send Email to Tollyfamily     
I bought a similar setup years ago and it's still going strong. If it has good compression have the carbs cleaned out so it won't run lean, put a new water pump in and run the snot out of it.


Whalerdog posted 04-09-2008 03:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whalerdog  Send Email to Whalerdog     
where do you get parts?
Mobjack posted 04-09-2008 09:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for Mobjack  Send Email to Mobjack     
I bought mine hoping I could make it last five years, but I managed to fry it in half that time!

If I was a little better about maintenance, I might have been able to prolong its death for another season or two, but bigshot is right, if its that used and no warranty, you could get five minutes, five weeks, or five years, maintain it well and start saving for a new engine.

hauptjm posted 04-09-2008 10:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    

The word issue has many meanings, from a publication standpoint, a progeny standpoint and most commonly a legal standpoint.

I would propose that it is the legal meaning that has caused this word to be so misused in our dialect. We must be watching to much Law & Order.

gnr posted 04-09-2008 10:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for gnr  Send Email to gnr     
I purchased my 1987 Evinrude 88sp in 2002.

Still going strong after 6 seasons of use.

Probably just jinxed myself for saying that but what the hell.

Tohsgib posted 04-09-2008 12:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Hey my friend is still running a 1978 115 Evinrude. Damn thing runs like a champ and has perfect compression.
andygere posted 04-09-2008 12:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Lack of oil and overheating are two of the major causes of death to outboard motors, so pay attention to these things and you can get some more life out of her.
In general, these Envinrude/Johnson V4s are robust motors as others have said. Spend $25 at your local auto parts store on a compression test gauge, and search the archives here on how to do a compression test. This will tell you a lot about the overall health of the powerhead. If you buy the boat, have the oil injection system checked out, replace the water pump (impeller + housing) and have the carbs checked out and synced if needed.

If the owner will let you, ask for a sea trial (water test) of the boat before purchase. Running the motor under load will tell you more about how it performs than just starting it on the hose. If the boat/motor/trailer is priced right, an '88 Evinrude certainly wouldn't scare me away. The '79 Johnson V4 on my former Montauk is still running strong for its current owner. I still see it around the harbor once in a while.

EIKNIB posted 04-09-2008 01:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for EIKNIB  Send Email to EIKNIB     
I`m running a 50 year old 35 Evinrude on my 13 footer. I replaced all the parts in the ignition system, and the impeller. It has same compression as it had when new. Probably not a lot of hours, since it came from the upper Midwest, and was always run in freshwater. It starts instantly, and runs flawlessly. The downside is it is a bit thirsty, the gas oil mix is 24-1, I qt oil-six gallons of gas, and it is electric start, but no generator,( an expensive accessory) so I have to keep the battery charged. It draws a lot of attention at the ramp.


Florida15 posted 04-10-2008 02:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Florida15    
You are getting some good advice here. Go to an auto parts store, or even better Harbor Freight ($15) and get a compression tester. It's easy to use.
Check the foot oil for milkiness and take it for a spin.
Heck, I'm running a 1982 Johnson 35 and it runs great.
I've also got a 1956 Johnson 7.5 that starts by the second pull.
Just take a look at the motor (also under the cowling) and you can tell a lot by looking at it whether it was taken care of or not.
WT posted 04-10-2008 03:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
A new 90 hp outboard installed/out the door will cost you around $10,000 for the classic Montauk.

Now, knowing that there is a $10,000 liability hanging over your head, I'd have a professional mechanic go through the current outboard.

Also figure you'll spend $500 to service the current boat. Impeller, filters, tune-up, steering cable, trailer bearings, ......etc.

Good luck,


Teak Oil posted 04-10-2008 11:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Teak Oil  Send Email to Teak Oil     
23 years and going strong for the 90hp V4 Evinrude on my Montauk...
home Aside posted 04-11-2008 08:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
I had a 1982 Montauk with a 1982 Evinrude that I owned from 1992-2006, it was a strong runner when I sold it, I baby'd it, had it maintained properly & professionally each fall before putting it away for the Michigan Winters.

I now have a 1985 Revenge 22WT with 1985 Yamaha 225, another strong runner, I sea trialed it prior to buying it and looked it over very well, I used it for the Month of Septermber 2006 and had it thoroughly checked out before I put it away for the Winter, I had it tuned, compression checked, preasure checked the lower unit, had the shift shaft checked, water pump impellor changed, she runs like a champ.....that being said, you just never know, I'm saving as much as I can for a new motor and hoping I get a few more seasons out of this one.....

The only problem I see at this time is I have to pick my summer trips carefully knowing that there are dealerships available just in case. I'm taking a pass on the trip that Buckda is doing to Lake Nipagon because it is just too remote to take the chance of getting stranded.


Fatherof2 posted 04-11-2008 09:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for Fatherof2  Send Email to Fatherof2     
This forum is priceless!

Thanks everybody.

Mobjack posted 04-11-2008 09:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Mobjack  Send Email to Mobjack     
I am planning on the Yamaha 90 2 stroke. I can get that out here in Va for $5300, plus $800-1000 for rigging...
crabby posted 04-11-2008 05:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for crabby  Send Email to crabby     
My old 1986 70hp Evinrude is still sitting patiently on the side of my house waiting for another boat to be hung upon (it was finally replaced by an ETEC several years ago). Some older motors just won't die, and they shouldn't. On the other hand, I just picked up a rig with twin 1990 Johnson 150 hp engines and I am in a pickle trying to decide whether to spend the money to do the needed maintenance and keep my fingers crossed it's not good money spent on bad or just bite the bullet up front and stick a nice new (insert ETEC, Optimax, 4-stroke) on the transom.

A new motor will give you much better fuel economy and the (ahem) confidence of a new powerplant (see my old posts for my ahem). But some of those old timers can be coaxed into running forever if you can swing a wrench even if they will burn more fuel and oil.

Jkcam posted 04-12-2008 02:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jkcam  Send Email to Jkcam     
The value of any used outboard engine is much more difficult to evaluate by the amature surveyor than any Boston Whaler hull of the same vintage.

The nature of engines is that there is a lot going on out of eyesight. Those hidden components are what can take you from joy to dispair in the snap of a connecting rod. A Whaler hull is a little more obvious in condition.

When evaluating the purchase of a boat/motor/trailer package that is twenty years old. I would have to be pretty satisfied that I am getting a decent deal on just the hull, with the engine and trailer as a bonus. Clearly, a trailer frame can become a road worthy trailer with new springs, axels, hubs, wheels, tires, lights, and if equiped, brakes. Adding those things up coupled with the value of your labor time, frequently exceeds a new trailer cost. Unless you are a capable engine mechanic, a 20 year old engine may be worth a pile to a long time owner, that has enjoyed reliablilty over a nuber of years, but is not worth much to me, as a new owner.

That having been said, I have one engine from the late 60's that powers my small sailboat, and a British Seagull from the early 70's that can wake the dead with it's enthusiasum for a strong run.

gss036 posted 04-12-2008 03:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for gss036  Send Email to gss036     
I will sound in on this simply because I have a 1989 Mercury 200 hp that I thought was flawless up until about 2 weeks ago. Heading out for a day of fishing with a friend. Alot bump like a miss then a little surge. I slowed and listened and heard a knock, then slowed to idle and it died. End of story, blown power head, really scuffed cylinder and ring damage. I have owner the engine since new and knew that one DAY!, that this would happen. "Buy" the boat for the boat, but don't put much value in the engine. Here today and gone tomorrow.
EIKNIB posted 04-12-2008 03:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for EIKNIB  Send Email to EIKNIB     
Old outboards have reputations, good and bad, get to know these reputations, and stay away from the bad ones, like the Black max in the above post.

Post New Topic  Post Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | RETURN to ContinuousWave Top Page

Powered by: Ultimate Bulletin Board, Freeware Version 2000
Purchase our Licensed Version- which adds many more features!
© Infopop Corporation (formerly Madrona Park, Inc.), 1998 - 2000.