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Author Topic:   OMC V4 Head Gasket
MikeG posted 11-07-2002 09:10 PM ET (US)   Profile for MikeG   Send Email to MikeG  
I was searching the site but I didn't find all the answers I need.
I have a 1988 88hp spl with a possible head gasket leaks. There appears to be a slight leak coming from the head gaskets on top of each cylinder bank. It is evidenced by what appears to be white, evaporoted water marks. It looks like salt water has seeped through to the outside and evaporated all around the edges of the gasket. I can scrub it off but this might be a warning sign of a potential problem. I have not actually seen water coming from the seals but a mechanic mentioned that might be the culprit while he was wiring in a new t/t module.

Compression on the engine is still good so I guess the inside of the gasket is still holding up.

1. From my symptoms I mentioned do you think it is a head gasket issue?

2. Does anyone have experience with this engine to know what to look for or how often the gaskets wear out?

3. At what point should head gaskets be replaced? I would hate to mess with them if a little seepage is normal.

4. What will I be getting into if I try to fix my self? Difficulty, frozen bolts, etc..

Mechanic quoted me $312 parts and labor. Does this sound right? (4hrs * $68 + $40 parts)

Thanks for any input!

Clark Roberts posted 11-08-2002 07:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
Mike, may be the water jacket gaskets and not head gaskets... check it out! Clark... Spruce Creek Navy
MikeG posted 11-08-2002 01:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for MikeG  Send Email to MikeG     
Interesting... What are water jacket gaskets? Better or worse than head gaskets?

Also, how often do people replace head gaskets on outboards?

Our 1983 E-rude 35hp has never had work like that done on it. Of course that engine is only used about 6 weeks out of the year.


Clark Roberts posted 11-09-2002 08:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
Mike, heads are water cooled (water passages etc) and usually have a removable, gasketed cover held in place with smaller bolts than the head bolts. First gasket line will be water jacket cover,,, second gasket will be head gasket. Most times the thermostats are integral to the water jacket cover... Your engine has some cross over hoses from one bank to the other (not really familiar with deteils of your motors configuration) and may be traced to figure out where water jacket gasket is! Jacket cover gaskets are easier to replace (no head removal) but if head gaskets are replaced it's a good idea to get a gasket "kit" and replace all!!! Hope this helps! Happy Whalin'... Clark.. SCN
PS> be sure to tighten (torque) bolts to factory pattern and lb/ft... and to retorque per factory recommendation!!!!
John O posted 11-09-2002 09:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for John O    
I have an 88hp 1988 Johnson spl. The motor was surging one day and after changing all fuel related parts up to the carbs I noticed a tiny stream of water peeing out from under lower cylinder. I had noticed water in the pan below. Mechanic determined that there was a crack in the block. Not sure what I am going to do. Had a quote from a reliable mechanic that works and rebulids OMC. The piston also was pitted which I think means a ring went. Rebuild quote was between 2000 and 2500 depending if block is replaced. Many other mechnics were at 3000. I would have loved to spent 300-400. This was my first year owning a boat. Wish I had more technical info for you. John O
frank_king posted 11-09-2002 09:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for frank_king  Send Email to frank_king     
i had an 87 model 90 on my montauk. the white that you see could be nothing.... i changed the head gaskets on my motor and within 2 months the edges of the gaskets that stick out from between the head and block turns white. i live on the gulf coast and operate primarily in salt water. i don't know where you are at but the salt waterjust turns the outer edges white, like corrosion. i also have the motor i speak of for sale if anyone is interested.((john o)) i have the motor on another boat at the moment and can demo will be cheaper than a rebuild and just think of all the extra parts you have left over,tnt,lower unit, powerpacks, on and on...((john o))
John O posted 11-10-2002 11:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for John O    
let's talk Frank

John O

508 314 9793 cell

MikeG posted 11-11-2002 07:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for MikeG  Send Email to MikeG     
I'm going to be sick. The mechanics pulled the cover for the head gaskets and found a wrecked piston. I just saw it tonight and I want to cry. The face of the top right piston looks like the surface of the moon. They are telling me that a piston ring let go and was loose inside the cylinder. The piston face is seriously scored and the cylinder walls are scratched all around. The piston will actually move side to side inside the cylinder.

What doesn't make sense is how this engine could have made power. On its last run out it was still pushing the Montauk into the low 40mph range. It didn't sound strange or anything. I'm at a total loss.

I had a $250 tune-up, $200+ steering replacement, a $400 t/t unit installed and wired in the spring. Probably too much work to have done on a 14 year old engine but it seems(ed) that these old V4s last forever. I was just hoping for 3-5 more years.

Now I am facing a $2500 rebuild. I can't imagine that it is worth it.

The place that I brought it to is up for sale and said they can't take on a job this big until they know their future.

I'm consider repowering with a newer-used.

Any opinions on a late-model OMC 90hp (pre-Ficht)? The shop has one 1999 90hp Merc 2smoke. 30hrs, no warranty $3500 + controls.

Advice would be appreciated. Kleenex too.


acassidy posted 11-11-2002 09:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for acassidy  Send Email to acassidy     
Man that sucks, I feel for you. It makes me want to replace the head gaskets on my 91 Johnson GT 100 now, and cross my fingers, and hope to avoid water in the pistons in the future. Archie
John O posted 11-12-2002 12:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for John O    
I had the same looking piston. It had a dozen dimpels on the top of the head. I got a simular estimate of 2100-2500. I was ables to get up to low 30 mph but motor surged and bucked at 800 rpm. At 30 mph it was at about 5400 rpm. I too am not sure what to do.I just bought this boat in April (My first) and hoped not to have to repower until end of next season. Now the options are:
1. Rebuild...$2500 w/ one year warrenty
2. New.....5600-7000
3. Used....Who knows?!%4#@)*
MikeG posted 11-12-2002 01:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for MikeG  Send Email to MikeG     

Misery loves company. I feel your pain. I think I am just going to try to repower used. I bought the Montauk for $10K in 1999. The engine had full service records.

Archie, I would say if anything, we went overboard on preventitive maintenance all done by very reputable Whaler dealer. I can't believe this happened. Yes, I know it is a 14 year old engine but we had others that lasted much longer with much less care. I spent $1K on it this year alone. Sometimes it just isn't enough.

Whaler makes a wonderful low maintenance hull... unfortunately everything attached to it requires an incredible amount of maintenance. 2002 expenditures included a new trailer ($1800), t/t $700 with installation, new Teleflex steering, thermos, tune-up, plugs, and untold hours of trying to rewire rats' nest in console.

Maybe I just don't know what I am doing but I think I have bought this boat twice in the last 3 years. I have wanted it forever after years of failful service from a '71 13' and its '83 engine. Fortunately I have all winter to spread out the costs.

Let me know how both of you do.


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