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Author Topic:   Fuel primer bulb puzzler
PDM posted 07-12-2001 03:23 PM ET (US)   Profile for PDM  
I've been having a problem with my Evinrude 175 Oceanpro lately and I think its related to the primer bulb and I thought I would check with the knowledgeable and experienced folks of this board for advice. The "check engine" alarm has been coming on frequently especially when I'm making a hard turn or in choppy water. I usually just slow down to idle speed for a few seconds and the alarm goes off and everything seems fine. The manual indicates that the "check engine" alarm indicates a restricted fuel flow. I recently changed the water/ fuel filter and the fuel filter located on the engine in an effort to solve the problem. Now I suspect it may have something to do with the primer bulb which is the only other component between the tank and the engine. I checked the primer bulb while the engine was running and it was soft. Shouldn't it be hard when the engine is drawing gas from the tank? Any other thoughts? Does anyone know how the primer bulb works? Is it a one way valve that keeps the fuel flowing in the right direction?

Thanks for any help.


Bigshot posted 07-12-2001 03:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
You are sucking air from somewhere in order for it to get soft. When it collapses, you are not getting enough air(glogged vent, etc). Check all your connections and make sure they are not leaking. Easy way to do this is remove cowling and squeeze the piss out of the bulb. If there is a leak, it will leak gas at that point. How full is your tank when it happens? You might be sucking air into the line when it sloshes to one side. Same goes for oil tank. If you have zip ties on your hoses instead of clamps, I personally would replace them (SS of course). Could be the fuel pump but lets narrow it down first being it only happens on tight turns.
PDM posted 07-12-2001 04:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for PDM    
If the bulb is soft but not collapsed does that indicate a leak between the bulb and the engine or between the bulb and the tank?
Most recently when this condition occurred the tank was 1/4 to 1/3 full. Its a 90 gallon tank that sits in the bilge so the sloshing from side to side could explain it. I'll check the vent to make sure its clear. Any trick to checking other than a visual inspection? I believe the only vent is in the fuel filler assembly. I do have the plastic ties which hold all the cables and the fuel line together in the engine well. I'll check to make sure they aren't binding when I turn which was my next best theory of the problem.
Clark Roberts posted 07-12-2001 05:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
PDM, if you do indeed have restricted fuel flow and run the engine at high rpm you are in jelopardy of scoring/seizing the an engine begins to loose power due to loss of fuel the cyl temp (piston temp) will soar out of sight and all it takes is a second or two to ruin engine(hole a piston).. the ultra lean mixture burns super hot and that's what does it! The above is a worse-case scenario of course... just don't want you to hurt that engine... Clark
lhg posted 07-12-2001 06:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Sounds like your primer bulb has gone bad, a common problem. They do have an anti-siphon feature on them. Try replacing the bulb - they only cost about $4.
jimh posted 07-13-2001 09:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I think Bigshot's reference to clamps in preference to plastic ties was for use at the hose-to-fitting connections. However, I do think retaining the lines with padded stainless steel clamps is a good idea, too. At some point you will need a Ty-Rap or two, but use a wide one so that it does not cut into the fuel line. And don't pull it so tight that it compresses the line.

I am going to replace all the hoses, filters, connectors, etc., in my fuel system this weekend. They are all 14 years old and for the money (about $100) the peace of mind will be worth it.

Tom W Clark posted 07-13-2001 10:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
I agree with lhg, replace the primer bulb. This may not be the problem but start with the simple things first. Plastic zip ties are fine (preferred actually) for the primer bulb.

If the primer bulb is soft but not collapsed, that is normal. If it is collapsed then you have a restriction between the bulb and the tank which could be the check valve in the tank itself. For more on check valves, look here:

JE Mejia posted 07-13-2001 02:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for JE Mejia  Send Email to JE Mejia     
I had a similar problem on my 17 Outrage I. It turned out to be a partial fracture of the plastic fuel pick-up inside the tank. In my case, when I banked hard in a turn or got in really bumpy water, the fuel would slosh and the pick-up would move and lose siphon. Turned out that the break was higher than the fuel level, so it just pulled air in through the vent. I tried everything, but did not figure out the problem until later when the pick-up broke off. The bulb never collapsed like when you have a restriction, but also would never move fuel no matter how much I worked it. When I replaced the pick-up, the other problem never returned. You can check for this problem by unscrewing the pick-up and carefully pulling out the pick-up.
PDM posted 07-17-2001 09:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for PDM    
Thanks for all the advise. I now think it has something to do with the fuel pickup. The problem seems to occur only when the tank is less than half full. The easy solution until I get it fixed is just keep lots of gas in the tank. However, based on the comments of Clark Roberts I'm concerned that I may have damaged the engine. I haven't noticed any problems with the engine(no loud explosions or excessive smoke) but I had an engine throw a rod once and it wasn't a pleasant experience so I'm a little concerned. This weekend the "check engine" alarm went off three times, twice I just slowed down to idle speed for about ten seconds and the alarm stopped, the third time the alarm stopped before I could slow down. After filling the tank I had no more problems. Am I courting disaster with this condition as Clark Roberts seems to suggest?


Tom W Clark posted 07-17-2001 09:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

I think you can stop worrying about damage to your motor at this point. I've had the fuel restriction (check engine) alarm go off many times without any harm done. But Clark Roberts is right about the potential for damage. There is that risk if you keep having this happen and fail to correct the problem. Get it fixed, stop worrying and enjoy the summer.

PDM posted 07-17-2001 09:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for PDM    
Now that's some good advice. Here's my shortened "to do" list...

1. fix problem
2. enjoy summer

Thanks again to all.

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