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Author Topic:   Merc 115 Classic vs. 115 Optimax
jim_usa posted 07-27-2003 12:41 PM ET (US)   Profile for jim_usa   Send Email to jim_usa  
I know a 115-HP Optimax is MUCH cleaner to operate [than a Mercury Classic 2-stroke 115-HP engine]. But I'm guessing it costs significantly more money.

I'm curious about a couple things.

Which one performs better?

And is the extra maintenance (if any) for the Optimax worth it?

BW is now offering the Optimax 115 for the 160 Dauntless.


Jamie 20 outrage posted 07-27-2003 03:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamie 20 outrage  Send Email to Jamie 20 outrage     
I sound like a broken record, but I would feel guilty if I didn't at least mention that it has been my experience that all six Opti's I work on locally have been unreliable.
Dick E posted 07-27-2003 08:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick E  Send Email to Dick E     
I would go for neither.
I would go the 115 4 stroke EFI MERC.
No carbs quick start great fuel economy
jim_usa posted 07-27-2003 10:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for jim_usa  Send Email to jim_usa     
I've heard the 115 four-stroke is expensive to maintain because of valve adjusting and oil changes.

The carb classic sounds simple which is usually less trouble. And it's pretty cheap and good in the power department.

But I like the idea of cleaner exhaust with 2 stroke power.

If the Optimax's are as bad as the OMC Ficht's I'll probably stay with the classic.

Jamie 20 outrage posted 07-27-2003 10:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamie 20 outrage  Send Email to Jamie 20 outrage     
I too, like the Merc EFI. My experience with them is that they are one heck of a work horse. But, I have to correct you on fuel economy, they are only slightly better than carburated and nothing near Ficht or Opti. The proof is that I have actually observed this and that they do not meet any emission standards, neither Carb one star, two star or three star. Good engine, so-so on fuel economy.
Jamie 20 outrage posted 07-27-2003 10:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamie 20 outrage  Send Email to Jamie 20 outrage     
To Jim-usa, Ficht's got better. Try
Many answers to many questions in the forum section.
Dick E posted 07-28-2003 07:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick E  Send Email to Dick E     

Merc EFI's DO MEET emisssion standards in fact they are three star rated.
They are up to 40 % more fuel efficent then carbaurated engines.

Opti have had their problems .
You don't see cars with carbs any more -it is all fuel injection.

Jamie 20 outrage posted 07-28-2003 08:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamie 20 outrage  Send Email to Jamie 20 outrage     
You caught me.Sort of . You may not realize that Merc makes a 2-stroke EFI. I assumed that we were limiting our discussion to 2-strokes, since 4-strokes are a whole different animal, with their own pro's and con's. Please show me where EFI 2-Strokes meet all those standards. It is hard to have a conversation of this sort, with so many variables. Especially with each person's happiness being a major issue. It is easy to have four of the same boats with four different owners, all having different horsepowers and technologies and all being happy with their choice, not neccesarily happy with any of the other's choices. So, for the moment we have misinformation or what looks like misinformation, because each person can find one feature of an outboard and decide that that must be the answer.
Dick E posted 07-28-2003 11:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick E  Send Email to Dick E     
I wrote "I would go the 115 4 stroke EFI MERC".

Many people are pondering either for new power or re-power what outboard to hang on the boat. 4-strokes do play in the equation. To eliminate 4 strokes from discussion would be ludicrious.
There are three Merc outboards in the 115hp range.
115 classic ,115 optimax and 115 4-stroke EFI. To my knoweledge there is no current model year 115 2 stroke EFI.
Merc does make 2 stroke EFI in the higher hp range.

Today we have many choices of outboards.
I have a 2-stroke Merc classic it has been a good engine.
My fishing buddy has a Merc 4-stroke EFI it starts like a dream purrs like a kitten, stingy on gas,and very smooth acceleration. I wish I had this engine.

The forum is place give your experience with engines, boats etc. to others.
This is my opinion based on first hand knowledge.
I have no problem when someones opinion is different then mine;however when someone tells me my information is wrong I will disagree until proven otherwise.

Jamie 20 outrage posted 07-29-2003 12:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jamie 20 outrage  Send Email to Jamie 20 outrage     
Yeah, I missed the 4-stroke part, and yeah Merc, as far as I know only makes 6 cylinder 2-stroke EFIs.
jim_usa posted 07-29-2003 09:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for jim_usa  Send Email to jim_usa     
What kind of fuel injection do Optimax motors have if not EFI?

Is there mechanical fuel injection?

bsmotril posted 07-29-2003 10:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
Opti's are DFI, Direct Fuel Injection as opposed to the throttle body injection on the Merc EFI's. Opti's get their benefit in that they can run very lean in stratified charge mode in the mid to low RPM range. That charge is injected directly surrounding the plug, so it can ignite and use the excess air in the cylinder for complete combustion. Carbed or EFI must run rich enough to get a good stochiometric charge throughout the cylinder to insure ignition and combustion as it enters the intake ports versus being sprayed on top of the plug. When you get in the high RPM to WOT range, they all burn about the same. EFI is better economy wise in the midrange than carbed, but Opti is better still (economy wise) in that range and even into the lower trolling RPM ranges.
Merc is now making 3 cylinder Optis in the mid HP ranges. For a while, they had a 115hp version of the V6 small block opti used for the 135/150/175 hp motors. Not much HP/weight advantage there ;-)

I've got a pair of 135 Optis and love em. The EFI mercs have been around for a while and all the teething problems have been worked out. I feel the same about the small block optis now as they've been out since 1998.

acseatsri posted 07-29-2003 10:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
After being out on my friend's new 18' Hydrasport with a Johnson 115-HP 4-stroke this weekend, I have to say I was impressed (with the motor!). At idle the predominant noise is the splash of the confidence stream, smooth operation throughout the rpm range- not dead silent at speed but definitely quieter than a 2-stroke. The absence of smoke and oil smell is quite refreshing, and the gas gauge barely moved off of full after putting on nearly 80 miles (55 gal tank). I wouldn't even consider another 2-smoke after spending the day on his boat.

Anxiously waiting for the day I decide to repower, and it won't be a 2-stroke.

jim_usa posted 07-30-2003 03:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jim_usa  Send Email to jim_usa     
Thanks for that great explaination bsmotril.

The four strokes I've been exposed to aren't as quiet as I thought they would be.

And the power delivery is not as crisp.

And yes, they don't burn oil which equals no smoke. But then again, the scent of 4 stroke exhaust is not exactly like sniffing roses. 4 stroke exhaust gives me a huge headache just like 2 stroke exhaust.

The smell of exhaust from both are no good if you ask me.

acseatsri posted 07-30-2003 04:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
Hmmm, interesting. I didn't detect any smell from the 4-stroke exhaust.
jimh posted 07-31-2003 09:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Administrative post]
lhg posted 07-31-2003 02:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Although the 3 cylinder 115 Optimax is too new ( I have not yet even seen one) for operational/reliability results, I would think it would be a superior engine to the 4 cylinder conventional 2 stroke 115. Weight is only about 10 lbs more, and it has fuel (direct) injection. The block appears to be 1/2 of the Mercury 3.0 liter V-6 which power the 225-300 EFI's and 225 & 250 Opti's. Getting 115 HP out of it should be no problem. I think tests have shown that the Evinrude 115 Ficht out-performs all of the 115 4-strokes, so I would imagine this new Mercury will too.

The biggest problem I have with DFI engines, all brands and sizes, is that the oil costs up to 4 times as much, and the spark plugs 12 times as much, considering much more frequent required changes. That can offset a lot of fuel savings, and that is a cost the 4-strokes don't have.

Jamie 20 outrage posted 07-31-2003 10:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamie 20 outrage  Send Email to Jamie 20 outrage     
From what I have been learning on other forums is that just because oil meets tcw3, it can still be junk. I have also learned that carbon build up is one of the biggest killers of engines, hence the need for good oil, even in older engines. Running carbon guard helps, but even the good oils need carbon gard. The early fichts went through plugs super often. My boss recently complained his fichts were idling poorly, found out he hadn't a plug change since new and he had about 250 hours on them. His engines are 2003 250 hp. Whenever I hear about merc or yamaha coming out with a 115 4 stroke, I wonder what people have against Hondas, after their initial problems, this engine seems amazing to me. Keep in mind, some of the engines locally reach a thousand hours a year. Unfortunately, none are old enough to see how they will do, but I will be watching. As far as I know no new engine has come out without a whole bunch of problems. Why buy one of those? I love ficht, but would not buy an E-Tec, until it has been out awhile, I want to boat problem free, not waiting for the manufacturer to come up with a solution for a new unforeseen issue. Just my two cents.
jim_usa posted 07-31-2003 10:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for jim_usa  Send Email to jim_usa     
The DFI engines use different oil than a regular two stroke?
acseatsri posted 07-31-2003 10:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
The biggest problem with 115-130 HP Hondas is WEIGHT. At over 500 lbs, it's 100 lbs heavier than most competitors engines, or the additional weight of a kicker without actually having one. On an 18OR it can make a big difference in the trim attitude at rest.
Jamie 20 outrage posted 07-31-2003 11:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamie 20 outrage  Send Email to Jamie 20 outrage     
If you are smart, considering your investment, you will use the oil that they recommend. E-TEC has a different thing going if you use their oil, they have some sort of switch to cut the ratio in half. Obviously there are different grades of tcw3. Ficht ram oil is the oil I am familiar with and the 2 things cool with it is that it is compatible with other oils and secondly it is at least partially synthetic. The label says synthetic blend, whatever that means. again a different tcw3. I always hear from people how they use cheap oil and do well. I dont think we will hear those stories from the DFIs and cheap oil usage.
lhg posted 08-01-2003 03:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Getting back to the 115 Mercury Optimax questions, I just received a magazine with a new advertizement for this series of engine. Mercury says: (I'm just the messenger here)

The engines have been tested for 3 years to make sure they are trouble free.

They are designed for the Smart Craft system.

They are 3 STAR rated, like the 135 Optimax. (I don't believe any other DFI engines, any brand, currently carry the 3 star C.A.R.B. rating).

They have a 3 year warranty

In acceleration testing 0-30, the 115 OPTI is 9.3% to 13.1%
faster than the 115 Evinrude Ficht, and 16.2% to 34% quicker than the Suzuki 115 4-stroke. The ranges involve the same boat, lightly or heavily loaded. (a 17' Stingray, whatever that is!)

In fuel economy, they claim 11.2% better than 115 Evinrude Ficht and 12.3% better than 115 Suzuki 4-stroke.

Weight is 375 lb, Yamaha 115 4-stroke is 407lb, Suzuki 115 is 416 lb, and Honda 115 is 496lb. ( I think the Ficht is lighter than 375#?)

All these tests were conducted by Mercury. (not by JD Powers). So many here will find them suspect!

I think it's interesting that no performance/economy comparisons are made to Yamaha 115 4-stroke, whatever it may be. Why? It's also the Mercury 115 4-stroke, which weighs 386 lb!

sensortive posted 10-06-2008 07:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for sensortive  Send Email to sensortive     
A little information from my experience with two Mercury 115-HP OptiMax motors on my boat, less than 400-hours old. I am an abalone diver of 13 years, and I have worked on boats for 23 years,

From brand new one outboard burned plugs like it was going out of fashion. Nothing showed up on diagnostic test, 170-hours, five sets of plugs, lost track of how many days coming home on one motor because engine run so roughly. The cause turns out to be a piece of rubber 15 cm x 8 cm half blocking one of the intake holes. Piece of rubber in motor from factory. Compensation: nil. S**t happens was their excuse.

The steering bracket on front of motor snaps from metal fatigue after 225-hour on the twin motor set up. 18 kilometres from boat ramp. I have to sit on motor and steer with legs off transom for 4-1/2 hours to get home after diving for eight hours.

At 227 hours a water pressure sensor dies. Repair is $250 plus fitting.

At 240 hours the water pressure sensor on other motor dies.

The starboard engine continually beeping logging overspeed faults. Their explanation, I'm "going to fast." The damn thing logs one at 4000-RPM and if you hit a 6-inch chop.

At 270-hours the alarm continually sounds; had to wear ear plugs and ear muffs so we could go to work with out going nuts.

The port motor starts blowing the main fuse. Come home on one motor. Turns battery connection not good enough. tight as but had a very thin film of green corrosion. Enough to stuff it up anyway.

Hand control lever snaps thru the trim switch again for the third time. Lord knows how they think that they are strong enough.

The port motor starts blowing fuses again, turns out to be dodgy key barrel

Had to replace control box with binnacle controls; mechanic hooks up cables so one motor is in forwards when control lever is in reverse.

The poppet valve starts leaking from gasket. Never been touched since new.

The thermostats replaced on service. one motor now idles at 96-degrees-F and other idles at 135-degrees-F. They run at same temperature, 96-degrees-F.

The motor continually logging overspeed faults turns out to be neutral overspeed sensor. Replace. Next day go to work and the opposite motor starts doing exactly the same. Replace neutral overspeed sensor.

One motor dies. Come home on one motor. Turns out the battery brackets they fitted wore hole in bottom of battery. Lost one cell. New battery required.

The very next day drive 80-Km out of town to go to work again. Launch boat, opposite motor wont turn over. Go back to town. Turns out exactly the same thing has happened to battery on opposite motor. Replace battery and both battery brackets.

One week later lose all charge in starboard battery. Engine stops as not enough charge to run computer. Took 4-1/2 hours to get home on one motor. Turns out alternator has died. $800 later it works again.

Replace water pressure sesor again.

Go to work today. Motor continually beeps. Goes into Guardian Mode, logs overspeed faults, and I haven't even done 400-hours with these black anchors. Please note that normally a day's work consists of approximately a one-hour boat ride from place of launching and back and approximately six hours on idle (on a day where they don't break down).

Along with continual check engine, check pitot sensor, check paddle, coming up on gauges.

Now the mechanic thinks I've got a fried ECM.

My deck hand doesn't feel safe , his wife doesn't like him going to work any more and wants him to get a land based job because she thinks he wont come home soon. He has three kids.

These Mercury Optimax motors maybe fine for some who operates where there is Coast Guard and sea rescue, or out in open water, but for any one working around rocks or islands, so on, I honestly think you are taking your life into your own hands.

When I went to to boat shop today and asked if they would ring the state rep and see what they would do about these motors I was told to ring them myself as Mercury doesn't care. Then the mechanic told me he was sick of me coming in complaining about the motors. I think I have $30,000 worth of reasons to be complaining. As for them being economical it cost me three times as much in fuel to go to same place to do one days work because I have to go there three times. I personally wouldn't recommend these motors to anyone but your worst enemy. I am quite prepared to bolt these little beauties on anybody's boat who disagrees with me for a month and we'll send you to sea with no radio or EPIRB. If you get back we'll see if you would buy a set of these for you boat. Oh, and how would you sell any outboard with this many problems with a clear conscience. I couldn't. I think they will be a bin job when I can afford to buy a new brand. Oh, and I only lease a abalone license I don't own it. I get paid 22% and supply and pay for everything. So I'm no millionaire. I just love my job and the ocean.

Tohsgib posted 10-07-2008 10:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Get a pair of Suzukis and stop worrying.
jimh posted 10-07-2008 05:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Thanks for your narrative of your first-hand experience with a Mercury OptiMax motor. Some of the problems you cited were related to poor electrical rigging and cannot be attributed to the Mercury OptiMax motor. The need for a very strong cranking battery is well-known among Mercury OptiMax owners. Also, the engine needs a battery to run, so it is not surprising that when you had severe damage to the battery or to the primary battery distribution wiring that these boat electrical system problems affected the operation of the Mercury OptiMax motor.
L H G posted 10-07-2008 10:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
[Went into a long analogy to policitian and prostitutes]
elaelap posted 10-07-2008 11:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
[Replied with old Budhist parable.]
jimh posted 10-07-2008 11:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Fellas--please move your political discussion to someone's blog. We're talking about the Mercury OptiMax outboard motor. First-hand experience preferred here.
L H G posted 10-08-2008 12:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
I've got to agree with Jim. [Hyperbole about Mercury motors elided--jimh.]
elaelap posted 10-08-2008 01:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
Yikes, Larry, I'm staying out of that one. I know nothing about Optimax two smokes, and don't even know whether they're made in China like so many modern Mercury outboards ;-)


jimh posted 10-08-2008 03:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
My interpretation of the narrative given above by sensortive is that these Mercury OptiMax motors were being used commercially and in saltwater. That use has a significant influence on both the operating conditions and the warranty provisions.

Regarding all the problems reported in which corrosion is the primary cause, the Mercury Corrosion warranty is out the window and does not apply due to the commercial use. So when the tiller arm rusts out or the remote throttle controls break down, these corrosion problems might have been covered with a non-commercial customer by the Mercury Corrosion warranty. And they might not have occurred at all in freshwater use.

The problems reported in the cooling system with failures of the thermostats and the poppet valves are very common problems with Mercury engines which are operated in saltwater environments. The cited operating times of 240 to 270 hours when these failures occurred would correspond to about five years of use in a typical recreational boat, and when taken in that regard, the cooling system failures are not atypical. Many Mercury outboard owners have reported service of cooling system components, even in fresh water, more frequently than once every five years. Some Mercury owners report replacing cooling system components annually, even primarily freshwater users. I am not at all surprised by the many cooling system problems cited here. They seem quite typical for a commercial saltwater environment.

The problems reported as poor workmanship by the service provider in both the installation and the repair of several problems cannot be attributed to the OptiMax motor directly. If your service technician connects the remote control cables backwards, that is not Mercury's fault.

The one situation which does seem shameful is the poor response to a clear manufacturing defect (in which some errant piece of rubber was left in the engine's fuel induction path). That probably should have earned a better response that was reported, and I suspect that in a different situation Mercury might respond with more concern for the customer's satisfaction than was described here. Because this owner is apparently overseas, the level of factory support in his region may not be as good as we obtain here in the United States.

In any case, in this discussion there are first-hand comments with positive reports about the OptiMax. Again, first-hand data is the most valuable, and it is appreciated, whether pro or con.

Casco Bay Outrage posted 10-08-2008 10:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Casco Bay Outrage  Send Email to Casco Bay Outrage     
This thread was started 5 years ago and brought up by a newbie member on 10/6/08.

The hash has been hashed and the rehash has been rehashed. Let it go.


Tohsgib posted 10-09-2008 10:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
I would but this hooker just showed up at my door in a smoking Mercedes!

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