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Author Topic:   General info on 1989 Mercury 200
andygere posted 11-06-2002 02:38 PM ET (US)   Profile for andygere   Send Email to andygere  
LHG, Clark and the rest of the Merc experts out there, I'd like to mine your knowledge base for some info on this motor. First, was there more than one model available in '89, and if so, what are the differences? Overall, is this a reliable powerplant that has a history of long life, or is it one to avoid? Are there any "trouble spots" particular to this engine to look for when evaluating a purchase (corrosion of certain parts, oil injection system, power packs etc.)? In addition to doing a compression test, looking at the lower unit oil, and taking a sea trial, is there anything else that might help me evaluate the viability of this powerplant? I'm looking at it as part of an Outrage 22 package of the same vintage. Thanks in advance for the help.
lhg posted 11-07-2002 04:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Andy - Outrage 22? Sounds nice!

You've asked the right question, as I installed these same engines on my 1989 Outrage, new. See photo of boat on trailer, Cetacea page 11. Unfortunately, they still looked so good in 1997 that they were both stolen off the boat, while on vacation in Savannah, Georgia.

They were great engines, and very strong, with excellent corrosion resistance due to Mercury's EDP paint system. Although much quieter than a friend's Yamaha 200's of same vintage, they were not as quiet at speed as my current 1997 200 EFI's, nor quite as fuel efficient.

There were two problem areas, both eventually corrected by Mercury, under the 3 year corrosion warranty, with replacement parts. So you want to be sure these upgrades were done, and if not, you might have these expenses to deal with eventually. Most important were the cylinder head gaskets. When used in saltwater, these tended to gavlanically corrode, and if not serviced every 300 hours, would tend to let water into the cylinders, with possible powerhead damage. By 1992, Mercury had changed the gasket material, and the problem was solved. So you want to be sure this upgrade was done. See if there are repair bills to prove it. If the owner knows nothing about this, beware. I would have the heads pulled, cylinders checked out visually, and new gaskets installed. It's about a $200 job, and WELL worth it.

The other problem I encountered were stators.
Evidently, some defective products went into the 1989 engines, and I had failures, while under warranty, on both engines. Once corrected, no other problems with these.

You must be used to OMC engines if you're asking about oil injection problems. I have never had a problem here with any of the 4 Mercs I have owned.

If you buy this rig, run Mercury '

lhg posted 11-07-2002 04:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
What happened? Anyway, run Mercury "Quick Clean" through evey 4th tank of gas to prevent carbon build-up, the great killer of V-6 outboards.

One other thing, check the power trim system.
Those tend to fail eventually, and cost about $750 to replace. I had one replaced on my 1989's.

Bigshot posted 11-07-2002 04:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
My theory is if they still run good at 14 years old....have to say they are dependable. Good luck.
andygere posted 11-07-2002 06:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Larry, thanks for the very practical advice on these motors. Based on your favorable recommendation, I'm going to take a drive to check out the boat in person. If you don't mind, I have a few more questions.

Can evidence of the head gasket corrosion be seen from the outside, or do the heads need to be pulled to detect it? I would assume that if the gaskets are already bad, it would show up in the compression test, true?

What WOT RPMs should this motor turn if propped correctly and what prop pitch/dia is right for an OR 22?

Are there any warning signs of a weak power trim system such as noise, unusual corrosion, etc.? If it moves the motor up and down and doesn't leak down, it's ok?

I assume from your reply that all of these were oil injected motors. I've never owned an oil injected motor before, but I'm tired of pre-mixing. I have no fear of oil injection, but it does seem to get blamed for a lot of blown powerheads (I know, mostly VRO's). I fear carbon like the plague, and have used OMC's carbon guard with every tank on my old V4--it's cheap insurance in my book. The boat also has a Merc 15 of the same vintage, would that be oil injected or pre-mixed or 4-stroke?

Bigs, 14 year old motors are young puppies to me. Remember, I'm running an oldie but goodie '79 :)

Thanks for the great info!

lhg posted 11-07-2002 07:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Andy, to find head gasket potential problems, I believe the heads have to be removed. This is a simple job on these engines, very accessible.
The problem was seepage from the water passages into the cylinder. Don't think it's visually noticeable. You want to catch it BEFORE it blows through. If the gasket has already gone bad, the engine is already damaged! You just want to make sure the gaskets are good, and they have to open them up, and replace with new to make sure. This is also a chance to look into the cylinders for carbon deposits, etc. I would consider this as something you MUST have done for peace of mind.

The engine redlines at 5800, and I would expect a 19" prop to be correct. This will handle a load range of 2600-4000, and will give speeds up to 54 mph, assuming no bottom paint. Engine should be mounted in the 3rd (middle) holes, similar to what Kingfish has done.

I would recommend either a Laser II or 4-bladed Offshore Performance prop. Louie Kokinis has indicated he prefers the 4 blade prop on his 22 Guardian. I run Laser's, which are for high HP-to-weight installations.

I would think the 15 HP pony motor would be 2-stroke (definitely) and pre-mixed (probably). Is a separate tank carried in the boat for it? If so, that's a give away. I would switch to a 4-stroke if possible, so you can run off the boat tank as is.

andygere posted 11-08-2002 12:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Thanks for the additional info Larry. If the owner does not have the paperwork showing head gasket replacement, I'll see if he'll let me take it to a Mercury dealer to have the heads pulled as a contingency of sale if I make an offer on the boat.

Bigshot posted 11-08-2002 11:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Andy....before you go through the dealer route(they all lie anyway:), check the plugs when you do the comp test. If there is ANY water getting in there, the plug(s) will be EXTREMELY clean compared to the others. Slight water intrusion is basically a carbon remover(old trick back when) so the water cleans the plugs and piston, etc.
lhg posted 11-08-2002 02:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Be there, watching, when he unbolts the heads, and see for yourself. The gaskets may be fine, and this a waste of money, but with new ones, you'll KNOW you now don't have a problem. One downside - if you don't get the boat, you will have given the guy new head gaskets!
andygere posted 11-08-2002 02:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Bigs, thanks for the tip. I am a little worried that the owner may be reluctant to let me take his boat away and have a mechanic pull the heads off and look at them. If I were the seller, I know I would. Is there any way to tell if the gasket is corroded by the way the motor performs? Would there be steam in the exhaust, or would the engine miss under load or fail to make expected RPMs? Intuitively, I think the compression test would show a drop in the cylinders where blow-by to the water jacket could occur. Any thoughts on this? I suppose that if the plugs/compression look good and the engine performs well, I could do the head gaskets as a precaution if I decide to buy it. It would be a risk, which would have to be reflected in the purchase price.
JFM posted 11-08-2002 04:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     

One other thing to visualize is the color of the gaskets. When original they are usually painted. When they are replaced, they are sometimes brown, silver or red.

Just a thought.

Regards, Jay

lhg posted 11-08-2002 07:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Andy - Using the engine VIN, you could have a Merc dealer, or Merc customer service, check out the 3 year warranty claims history on the engine. That may tell you what you want to know.

Everything I have ever heard from my mechanics on this situation, is that if the head gasket blows, the powerhead failure is not far behind.

If you like the boat and engine, and it runs well, and pulls 5500-5800 RPMs, buy it with the assumption you should spend about $200 to have new gaskets installed.

andygere posted 11-15-2002 04:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
The local Merc dealer quoted me 3-4 hours labor + parts at $400-$450 for the job. I sure wish I could get those midwest prices! Just the same, I think it's cheap insurance, and if I buy the boat and there's no record of the gasket change-out I'll have the work done. Thanks to all for the sound advice.
Clark Roberts posted 11-15-2002 05:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
After intallation of new head gaskets suggest that you retighten (to factory recommended torque and pattern) after about 10 hrs running (others may recommend a different time period)! Happy Whalin'.. Clark.. Spruce Creek Navy
lhg posted 11-15-2002 07:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Andy - when I had the gaskets done on mine (Sundance Marine, in Ft Lauderdale), I stood nearby and watched, boat was on the trailer. For each engine, the job took about 1/2 hour. You might want to look around for another Merc dealer.
andygere posted 11-15-2002 09:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I wonder if labor hours are always shorter when the customer is standing by looking at his watch? I also wonder what the Merc factory service guide suggests for approximate time to pull the heads on this motor? If it's not any harder than pulling the heads on a small block Chevy, it's probably something I can handle myself. Good outboard mechanics are hard to find where I live, and I've already fired one of the 3 shops in my town. Perhaps I'll just print this thread and see who is willing to do the job in a reasonable amount of time. Thanks for the tips Larry & Clark.
Clark Roberts posted 11-16-2002 05:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
Andy, it's not as difficult as the Chevy heads (no exhaust manifolds, intake manifold, etc)and not nearly as heavy! Go for it! Happy Whalin'... Clark... Spruce Creek Navy
Clark Roberts posted 11-16-2002 05:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
PS, a service manual would be a great investment,in my opinion! Clark
andygere posted 11-17-2002 11:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I bought the boat. Compression in all 6 cylinders was good (115-120 psi), and the motor started, idled and ran well. She roared out of the hole, and turned 5300 rpms at WOT with 2 people and a full tank of gas with the motor trimmed all the way in. I ran out of lake before I could see if she'd do any more, but I was satisfied that it was a viable power plant. The motor is turning a funky looking 5 blade SS prop that I think is a 19 inch pitch. The head gaskets appear to be original, and from the outside, there were traces of corrosion visible. I will definitely do the head gaskets bofore putting her in the water. There was no hour meter on the boat, but both motors were very clean. Factory shop manuals for both motors came with the boat.
andygere posted 11-18-2002 01:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
The prop turns out to be a Mercury High Five, which seems to be a performance prop designed for fast holeshots favored by water skiers and wakeboarders. It certainly did seem to hop up on plane quickly. Larry, any thoughts on this? It sure looks wicked back there!
rsess1 posted 11-18-2002 04:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for rsess1  Send Email to rsess1     
I happen to have a high five as original equipment on my 1994 175 Merc EFI on a Sea Ray Ski Ray ski boat.(I also have an original 1972 Nauset).The high five makes the boats holeshot and turning ability amazing. It's like four wheel drive. Their is no way to make the motor cavitate(or is that ventilate) on turns or start. It's a great prop. Good Luck
lhg posted 11-18-2002 05:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Well, Andy, first of all, congratulations on your new Whaler. That's a big jump from a Montauk to a 22. And it's nice to see an OMC guy converted to Mercury! Hope the engine works out for you. Sounds like it's a good one.

I have no experience with a High Five prop, but I know Clark does and liked it. I have heard they are great, as mentioned, and hang on like glue. it's reportedly the smoothest propeller made. Mercury even recommends them for offshore duty in the smaller 4 1/4" gearcase mid range size. They are not available in Counter rotation, which tends to indicate how they should be used (single engine rigs only) on the larger gearcase models. I would guess engine should be in the third (middle) hole, as you don't want to run this prop fully submerged. To do so would reqquire a 17 instead. Lifting the engine will bring the RPM's up to 5800, where they should be. The High Five will not be quite as fast top end as a three bladed Laser II, or even a 4 bladed Offshore, but I say give it try and see how it works for you. It will out-accelerate and out-pull anything on the market. They are an impressive looking chunk of polished SS.

andygere posted 11-18-2002 07:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I'll have to check the engine mounting hole position. I think it would have turned more than 5300 if I had trimmed up a bit and let her rip. Folsum lake was really low, and there were a lot of bass boats coming in from a tournament, so I was a little cautious. They sure looked tiny next to the Outrage at the boat ramp. The High Five might be just right for my use since there is rarely a chance to run faster than 30 or 35, and I really do like the idea of jumping right on plane with a full tank and boatfull of friends. I will post a full peformance report as soon as I can get her out for a run.

By the way, my first boat had an OMC ('68 Evinrude Lark 40-loved it) but my first Whaler had a Merc (Mid 80's 40 loved it for a while, then hated it). I have a feeling I'm going to love my new Merc for a while...

lhg posted 11-18-2002 08:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
If that 40 Hp was 2 banger, I know why you correctly hated it!
andygere posted 11-18-2002 11:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
It was a 2-banger, at least when it was running well. At least the 13's aren't that difficult to row.

My Merc 200 is indeed mounted on the third or middle hole, and appears to be the original mounting location.

lhg posted 11-18-2002 11:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Well, then, Andy, you should be set to "scream and fly". Have fun! Really a nice Whaler you found.
Bigshot posted 11-19-2002 01:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Andy if you are mainly doing salt water runs, try it there first. The salt water may give enough lift to get it at a better running angle and more speed. Just a thought.
andygere posted 11-20-2002 01:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Once I get her prepped and in the water I'll be able to do a better job of determining performance characteristics. I didn't have the GPS on when I did the sea trial, and was really focussed on listening to the engine and watching the tach and temp guage. I must say that the High Five prop looks like something off of a nuclear attack sub. I like it!
andygere posted 12-03-2002 03:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
LHG you called it. I ended up having a shop do my head gasket job after getting a little worried about snapped bolts, and some reasurance from Dick that my shop was quoting a fair price. Anyway, the gaskets were corroded, but not quite to the point of leaking. My mechanic seemed impressed that I know to look for this, and was aware of the newer gasket material. The good news is the powerhead looks clean inside, with almost no carbon at all.

I did learn that there is a minor downside to the leg extension (20"-25") on this outboard. Since the lower unit is a 20", so is the drive shaft. It connects to a short splined shaft that stays in the powerhead when the leg is dropped. This means there is no easy way to grease the top of the shaft spline without pulling the powerhead. My mechanic says he has had good luck with drilling a hole in the casing to allow a port to get grease up to the top of the spline. From my shop manual drawings, I can't see any problem with it, and will probably give him the go ahead tomorrow. Interestingly, he says he has seen a fair number of these extended leg motors of similar vintage.

lhg posted 12-09-2002 04:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Andy - Glad you caught the head gasket problem before Mercury got some bad press on CW! Had the original owner been properly informed, that repair could have been done for free under the 3 year corrosion warranty.

Regarding the shaft extension from 20" to 25", I wasn't aware that the driveshaft didn't come out with the lower unit. On my 25" engines it did. I'm still confused about that situation, as the 1989 Mercury catalog shows the photos of the 25" single piece shaft, as I had on mine. Since this was the first year of this improvement, maybe the the very first models off the line had to be extended and the new casting wasn't quite yet ready. Or maybe they were initially going into all of the CR engine sets until the supply increased. It's possible that you could find a used 25" shaft section and make the conversion.

andygere posted 12-09-2002 05:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
It turns out that the two-piece shaft was not really a problem. My mechanic simply enlarged the drive shaft hole inside the leg (about 3/32" he said) to give him enough space to get a tool on the upper shaft and pull it out. It's a retrofit he says he's done many times so I told him to go ahead and do it. This guy is an old time Merc mechanic in a tiny shop, but really seems to know his stuff. Also, the guy wrenching on my motor owns the business, which I think is the real key. I paid California labor rates, but I feel like the job was done right, and I've paid the same rates at another shop for outright shoddy work. It sure would have been easy for him to forget about greasing the upper spline and then sell me a new motor in a year or two.

My guess is that the motor was early in the '89 run, and may even have been installed as a leftover. No matter, I'm just stoked to have the mechanical taken care of so now I can begin detailing and getting her ready for salmon season in the spring. Thanks again for the excellent advice, and I hope your warm water Whalering was enjoyable.

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