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Author Topic:   4-stroke Outboard Oil Story
seahorse posted 09-23-2004 07:58 AM ET (US)   Profile for seahorse   Send Email to seahorse  
The latest issue of Trailer Boats magazine has story about their testing of 4 stroke outboard oils and comparing them to less expensive car oils.

The rust test is eye-opening!

jimh posted 09-23-2004 09:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
My postman has not brought that issue, yet, but I will look for it.

Speaking of the "story" of four-stroke oils, I want to mention that there is still an environmental impact from these lubricating oils which have to be periodically changed and discarded from four-stroke outboard motors.

In the modern two-stroke engine, all of the lubricating oil is combusted. The products of this combustion are water and carbon-dioxide, with perhaps a few combustion by-products, but not many, really, due to the emission limits now placed on outboard motors. Recall that the exhaust emission of modern two-stroke engines is often actually cleaner than that of four-stroke engines.

Now, you ask, what happens to the used four-stroke lubricating oil?

"It gets recycled," says the proud owner of the "environmentally-friendly" four-stroke outboard motor.

Well, first of all, it only gets re-cycled if the guy changing the oil goes to the bother of re-cycling it. It might end up in a bottle in the bottom of the trash can at the marina. Or poured on some spot in the yard where weed growth has been a problem. But, for the sake of argument, let us say the used lubricating oil, which is now quite contaminated with combustion by-products and is considered somewhat hazardous to the environment, is taken to a re-cycling center that accepts used lubricants. What happens next?

Many people think this used oil is somehow reconditioned, cleaned, and returned to use as a lubricant. I don't think that happens. What really does happen, most of the time, is the oil is used as a low-grade fuel and burned in some industrial furnace or heating application. So where does it end up? In the exact same place as the oil burned by the two-stroke engine. In the atmosphere, as water, carbon-dioxide, and combustion by-products.

The next question in my mind would be:

"Are the emissions from industrial furnaces which burn used lubricating oil as clean as those from two-stroke outboards which are 3-Star compliant?"

Corollary questions would be:

"What happens to all the containers, rags, filters, hoses, pumps, etc., that were used to collect and transport this used oil?"

"How much energy is required to remove, collect, transport, filter, clean, and prepare used lubricating oil for use as a low-grade fuel? Are the total emission from all processes used in this recycling process greater or less than the emissions that would occur from combustion of the same quantity of oil in a modern two-stroke outboard?"

rtk posted 09-23-2004 12:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
Great point Jim. There are heaters that do burn waste oil used in shops and warehouses.

I think most people do dispose of the actual waste oil responsibly. The days of the common "dig a hole in the back yard disposal system" are I think a thing of the past for the most part.

The disposal of oil filters, rags, etc. I think is still one of those "don't ask, don't tell" deals. There are proper ways of disposing of those items also but I don't think the perceived impact of proper disposal of those items is taken as seriously as the oil itself. I have seen alot of oil filters, anti-freeze containers, empty paint cans, brushes and rags in dumsters.

I guess we are getting there though.


jimh posted 09-23-2004 01:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have been buying my two-stroke oil from my mechanic, who sells it from a bulk drum. This reduces the cost somewhat, and also allows me to truly re-cycle the oil containers.
Peter posted 09-23-2004 01:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
It certainly would be interesting to know the total environmental impact (manufacturing, operating, disposal) of a 2-stroke (carb, EFI and DFI) versus a comparable 4-stroke.
LHG posted 09-23-2004 05:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
I think JimH makes a good point. About 99% of 4-stroke outboard oil is going to be changed by the owners themselves. And it's going to get put in the trash. Isn't this also what happens when you change your stinky gear lube oil? I'll confess, mine goes in the trash, back in one of the bottles it came in.

So, what about you 4-stroke guys? What have YOU been doing? (be honest, now)

Marlin posted 09-23-2004 06:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
When I change my oil, car or outboard, the oil goes into some old anti-freeze jugs I keep for this purpose. Eventually I get it over to the county recycling station, where it goes in to a couple-thousand gallon tank. While I don't specifically know what happens from there, I suspect Jim's right- it's probably burned as fuel in a power plant or industrial furnace.

I suspect the emissions from that furnace will be lower than from a 2-stroke outboard, since in large facilities it makes economic sense to spend millions on scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators, and other emission controls.

Jim's other points, about the ancillary oily stuff and the total amount of energy used to transport and process the waste oil, are excellent questions indeed.

And yeah, I just throw away my lower unit lube, too.

macfam posted 09-23-2004 06:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for macfam  Send Email to macfam     
For 2-strokes, I do the same as Jim.
Buy from bulk drums into re-usable gallon jugs.
In my case, Yamahalube. $11.50/gallon vs $19.95-$21.95/gallon at dealers by-the-case.
I don't own a 4-stroke outboard, but have a snowblower, lawn mower, and yard tractor...all 4-strokes.
Every drop, including lower gear lube from the outboards gets dumped into the container at the re-cycle center.
From there, the local greenhouse buys it, and burns it with the other fuel they buy. grow 'that's" environmental!!
Barney posted 09-23-2004 06:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barney  Send Email to Barney     
I change most of my own oil. Even in southern Mississippi, the second Saturday in each month, the local Sheriff provides a collection service at one of the county buildings. The green stripers (trustees) collect oil, batteries, tires etc. That is where my oil goes. I've got five gallons of oil ready to go next month. If that is not enough the local power company, Mississippi Power, provides a quarterly collection at the power plant. There is no reason to throw that oil onto the ground, at least not here. Also I am seeing fewer stray tires in the bayou as a result. Now for the beer bottles floating around. Jim
Tom2697 posted 09-23-2004 07:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom2697  Send Email to Tom2697     
Jim makes an exceptional point about burning used oil in an industrial furnace and is it as clean burning as a modern 2-stroke. I will say "no".

BUT, since I change my oil, all 5.8 quarts worth, after every 100 hours or an estimated 600 gallons of fuel, I am using less than 1/12 of the oil that a modern 2-stroke will go thru for the same amount of gas. I doubt the furnaces are that inefficient that they will produce 12 times more byproducts than a modern 2-stroke.

Salmon Tub posted 09-23-2004 07:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Salmon Tub  Send Email to Salmon Tub     
All our oil, either engine or gear, goes into the drain tank. When that is full it gets poured into a 5 gallon gas can and driven over to the local Kragen where they collect it free for recycleing. Most service stations will take oil free of charge as well.
andygere posted 09-23-2004 07:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
As part of my monthly garbage fee, the city will provide me with as many 3-gallon oil recycling jugs as I ask for, and will pick them up with the rest of my recycling once a week. Yes, the jugs are reused, and that's where I put all of my "waste oil" be it gear lube, or from my cars. I invert the 1 qt. oil jugs into it to let them drip out as much as possible, but the containers (and residual oil in them) as well as the used 2-stroke oil jugs ultimately wind up in the landfill. My plastic recycling instructions say not to put them in the bin unless they've been cleaned. I guess we are ahead of the curve on a few things out here in California, because this system has been around for at least the 12 years that I've lived here. In addition, there are several waste-oil collection stations distributed througout my marina, and they seem to get a lot of use from the folks maintaining big inboard powered boats.

All that said, I think Jim's notion that one way or another byproducts of this stuff wind up in the atmosphere is true, and that there is some illusion to the environmental benefits of 4-stroke outboards. The only real way around it is to go back to oars and sail power.

jimh posted 09-23-2004 07:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here is a random data point: I bought some lubricating oil at WALMART for my car. When finished changing the oil, I had four gallons of used motor oil. I tried to return it to WALMART for recycling. They refused to accept it. In fact they INSISTED I remove it from their store. They were quite emphatic about it.

Another retailer of automotive supplies gladly accepts used motor oil. I ended up taking the oil back there for collection to be burned--I think that is a more honest description than RE-CYCLING. There is practically no re-cycling of the oil going on; it just gets burned off.

I am now in a dilemma because I like the price and packaging of the oil at WALMART. They have it in the 5-Quart container and at a good price. The other retailer only has the oil in quart containers. This is much more awkward to use. It is not so bad when adding oil, but when collecting the used oil, pouring it off into quart containers is very cumbrous. Also, there is more wasted packaging material involved in five one-quart containers than there is in one five-quart container.

In my community I am not aware of a convenient municipal oil collection point, so I depend on retailers to provide this facility. Apparently the WALMART corporation has no interest in providing this service to its customers.

This tends to make me want to avoid buying oil at WALMART. How do you feel about this situation?

Also, I do not feel good about buying oil at one retailer and taking the used oil to another retailer for disposal. That does not seem like a fair way to treat the vendors. What do you think?

newt posted 09-23-2004 08:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for newt  Send Email to newt     
I believe that in the great commonwealth of Taxachusetts, the law requires any retailer of oil to take back the used stuff so long as the used oil is returned in the original packaging.

The problem is getting tho oil back into quart containers, so I never bothered. For two years I filled up old gas cans, wiper fluid bottles, and all sorts of other containers. Finally, I was able to bring it to a town sponsored hazardous waste collection site.

jstachowiak posted 09-23-2004 10:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for jstachowiak  Send Email to jstachowiak     
"In the modern two-stroke engine, all of the lubricating oil is combusted."

Really? I don't think so. In fact, isn't that why 2 strokes are going by the wayside because they do NOT burn all there gas and oil? That smoke that pours out of all the 2 strokes I see at my ramp is oil, isn't it???

rtk posted 09-23-2004 11:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
I like to give my business to establishments that give me great service, are accomodating and treat me fair. Price is always a consideration but not the determining factor when I decide to purchase something.

If it is common in your area for retailers to accept waste oil and the Walmart does not, I think I would purchase my oil from someone who offers the service. You may be getting your oil cheap but it leaves you with a disposal problem. The other retail outfits may accept the waste oil for free to encourage motor oil sales from their store. I think I would feel "guilty" purchasing from one establishment and disposing at another. Especially if the establishments have to pay to dispose of the waste oil.

I do believe some states do require that establishments in the auto service business accept all waste oil. You may want to check the laws in your locality.

I have a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. I dump my waste oil and filters in it. When it is full I bring it to the dump along with the empty containers.

I cannot believe that people still fill oil containers up and throw them in the garbage. That is lazy and irresponsible, especially those who boat and fish. It will end up in the water.


CFCAJUN posted 09-23-2004 11:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
Honest, you ask?
As far as recycling goes, here in Louisiana we have recycle bins for trash, if you can get the recycle company to provide a bin.

Yes, there are those who want to recycle, and for common household goods, the notion is fairly popular.

Fact of the matter for oil is, not many folks do it themselves these days. In the cities, most folks go to the corner lube store to change their oil.

For the folks still living in more rural areas, the oil gets used in a more "practical purpose", killing weeds.

My cars are bought from a dealer that changes the oil for free, so cars are not an issue for us.

My boat burns the oil, so that isn't an issue. Lower unit oil, haven't yet changed it. When I do, I have never brought oil to a place to recycle it. I wouldn't have a clue where to do this. It simply just isn't done by anyone I have ever met.

CFCAJUN posted 09-23-2004 11:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
I certainly understand and respect your desire for a cleaner environment. My wife feels strongly about this matter also.

If you would like a perspective that I believe represents many from where I live about this, I will offer it.

When some folks who do not recycle or share your beliefs about the environment act the way they do, it is not out of defiance here. I believe the fact is a lack of information regarding the topic. I cannot say who is wrong or right, but here is the common thought.

In the grand scheme of things, the actual extent of any harm that may or may not be done by individual pollution is not self evident.

If someone pours a quart of oil in a ditch, and there is no signs that runoff will cause damage, there is no sign of harm.

If we look around and the air is clean, and there are no factories, then burning something does not seem damaging.

This is a stretch, but if someone would be standing next to a jammed highway, with thousands of cars burning exhaust, and ask someone to put out a cigarette because it produces carbon monoxide, they would think them crazy.

I think for people, as individuals to want to act more responsibly, they need to feel that what they are doing is more harmful than what the whole of society does during the natural course of a day.

jimh posted 09-23-2004 11:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Putting ethics aside for a moment, to respond to the comment by jstachowiak about the two stroke engines:

Yes, a modern two-stroke burns all of the oil, and its emissions are lower than a four-stroke engine. So it is actually cleaner. I don't think there is anything in my statement that is wrong. I think the problem is your interpretation of "modern." You cannot call a conventional two-stroke a "modern" engine.

But a 3-star rated two stroke is as clean as a 3-star rated four-stroke. The rating system is not adjusted for the engine type, it just monitors emissions and the rate they are produced per horsepower.

Chuck Tribolet posted 09-24-2004 12:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
The City of Morgan Hill, where I live, will pick up used
oil and filters every other Tuesday, and leave a new
gallon jug and plastic bag for the filter. We get recyclables
pickup every other Tuesday: Paper, cans, bottles, plastic,
yard trash, oil, filters. They supply the bins, as many as
I want, I just have to put them on the street. Garbage
(EVERYTHING else except toxics) gets picked up every Tuesday.
Toxics we can drop off two or three times a year. Most
if not all of California is similar.

I'll probably have to cut the busted trailer axle in half.


rjgorion posted 09-24-2004 09:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for rjgorion  Send Email to rjgorion     
Here where I live in Napa, CA., we also have weekly recycling that is picked up by the garbage service. There is also a monthly drop-off day at the county recycling center for toxics such as motor oil and paint, etc. However, I usually take a five gallon bucket of used oil from autos and the 4 stroke outboard to the local Kragen auto Supply for free drop-off.
On a side note, I would rather give my business to the local marine store or Kragen when purchasing oil and other products, than I would to Walmart, even if it does cost a few exta dollars. Although this would be the subject of an entirely different thread, I have my reasons and the research to back it up.


jimh posted 09-24-2004 09:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Tom2697 made a good point about the different rate of consumption of the oil in a two-stroke versus a four-stroke. He says in 100 hours of use he will only have consumed 6-quarts of oil while burning 600 gallons of fuel. How much would a two-stroke use in that same time?

It is hard to say with precision how much oil will be consumed by a modern two-stroke in 100 hours of use, as it depends entirely on the amount of fuel burned. If we use a ratio of 1:100, and assume we will use 600 gallons of fuel, then this implies 6-gallons of oil used. On this basis, the two-stroke is consuming four times as much oil.

In another scenario, let's say we just change our oil after 100 hours of use, no matter how much gasoline has been consumed. If you are a fellow who does mainly low speed boating, say trolling, you might have only used 100-gallons of gasoline in a four-stroke. You still have 6-quarts of oil to change. In a two-stroke, you might have only burned 4-quarts of oil. In this example the two-stroke is consuming less oil than the four stroke.

Also, the two-stroke does not consume an oil filter each time. Old oil filters do not get recycled, and I doubt they get combusted. They just go into land fills.

The burning of an extra gallon of two-stroke oil is not really a big deal in any case. In the unfavorable example, where we burned a couple of gallons more of two-stroke oil than a four-stroke would have used, don't forget we have already burned 600-gallons of gasoline. If you were really worried about the impact on the environment, you might have as much concern for cutting down the amount of gasoline burned as well as the amount of oil burned. It is not like the atmosphere can take all the combustion in the world from gasoline, but things will go to hell if we burn a gallon of two-stroke oil in the process.

To get the two stroke back on an even footing with the four stroke in the example cited by Tom, all I need to do is cut back on my gasoline consumption by a gallon or two, and we're back to being even in terms of pollution. It might easily be that because my two-stroke weighs 100 pounds less than Tom's four-stroke, that I easily save a gallon or two of gasoline over 100 hours of operation. In fact, I am just about sure I would burn less fuel because of the lighter weight.

We saw a guided fishing lodge in British Columbia were they were changing the oil on their four-stroke motors about every ten days. In that operation each motor uses about 20-30 oil filters every year! And they have about 20 boats (Boston Whaler 17's) in operation. That means about 400-600 oil filters in the trash every year! Switch over to an E-TEC and save the planet!

jstachowiak posted 09-24-2004 10:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for jstachowiak  Send Email to jstachowiak     

Your definition of a "modern 2 stroke" is just the Evinrude E-tec, then? What other 2-strokes meet the 3 star rating?

If you look at the history of fuel consumption and saving the planet, without government limits on pollutants, there is little or no progress in this area.

Some studies suggest, in fact, that the only way to get real conservation is to "ration" fuel. While this seems extreme, just imagine, for a moment, what cars and boats would look like if we could only use an allotted amount of fuel each week/month.

In regards to dumping fuel or oil in the drain, on the ground, etc. I believe that each gallon of fuel disposed on the ground contaminates 100,000 gallons of water under the ground.

Some interesting science type projects for kids to experiment with regarding pollutants and ground water contamination:

jimh posted 09-24-2004 12:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Actually, this comparison between two-stroke and four-stroke emissions is looking better all the time in favor of the two-stroke. Here is another advantage:

At the end of that 600 gallon fuel burn, the two-stroke has already combusted its oil and met the emission limit, in fact it might have come in lower than the four-stroke. The four-stroke engine, however, still has to burn its six quarts of lubricating oil. So those emissions are not considered in its rating. On this basis of comparison, it seems like the two-stroke wins. We don't have to worry that we might have burned a gallon or two of oil, as we just worry about the emissions, not the fuel source.

I think there are some 3-star compliant Optimax engines, too. So the E-TEC is not the only game in town for two-stroke low-emission engines.

A couple of years ago in Florida I was talking to a professional captain who was running a 55-foot yacht rigged for sport fishing. He said the owner liked to fish, and they were routinely burning 700 gallons of fuel a day running out and back to chase big fish. That seems like a lot of emissions for one or two guys to have an afternoon of fishing. If you gave most Boston Whaler owners 700 gallons of fuel, they'd be able to fish for a decade instead of single day. Ethical questions like these are a whole discussion onto themselves.

My observation is that if your engine is 3-star compliant, you are doing your part to help preserve water and air quality, and there is no special "star" to be given for choosing a four-stroke.

CFCAJUN posted 09-24-2004 02:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
I really admire your knowledge on this subject. You present this and other articles in an intelligent and coherent manner.

The only thing that jumps out in my mind, is if you're right, then California should not force users to buy 4-strokes if 2-strokes are cleaner. Certain 2-strokes that is.

Plotman posted 09-24-2004 03:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
I found the article in this month's trailer boats magazine comparing various flavors of 90hp engines very interesting - especially the comment that the way that the Honda meets the 3-star requirements is by adjusting the carbs very lean and putting special stops on the adjustment screws to prevent you from adjusting for optimal performance.

The article also mentioned that this caused some hesitation as you started out and would cause the engine to stall if you weren't careful during the hole shot.

Dollars to donuts that anyone who understands this (including the mechanic who gets the boat when the onwer complains that the boat stalls during a hole shot if you don't feather the throttle) figures out a way to adjust the carbs so this doesn't happen. Hey, the engine left the factory meeting 3-star requirements - what happens after that Honda can't control...

As for what happens to used oil that is recycled... up here the outfit that sells fuel oil to freighters takes it and adds it to the bunker fuel it sells ships. In other places most of it gets sold to people who burn it in "unlicenced" boilers that typically don't have much in the way of emissions controls (ass opposed to power plants that typically do, or at least have limits on their emissions.)


CFCAJUN posted 09-24-2004 03:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
Sorry, but this last line was a classic double entendre:

You wrote:

"...(ass opposed to power plants that typically do, or at least have limits on their emissions.)"

Emissions from exactly WHAT again?

LOL! ;-)

Peter posted 09-24-2004 03:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Interestingly, in a service manual I have it has a warning about making any adjustments to the motor that would take it out of compliance with its emissions certification. Will it be long before we are taking our outboards for an annual emisssions inspection like they do with cars to make sure there is no tampering and the controls are working?
CFCAJUN posted 09-24-2004 04:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
I cut from Evinrude's website:

"Designed to meet CARB 3-star emission standards, Evinrude E-TEC will optimize oil and gas consumption. The stratified combustion chamber creates 80 percent less carbon monoxide than a 4-stroke creates at idle.

The sealed fuel system minimizes evaporative emissions. The engines feature the E-TEC auto lube oiling system that eliminates the mixing of oil and fuel. Evinrude E-TEC engines also have a lower oil flow due to targeted oil delivery system and pass-through connecting rod lubrication.

With the on board monitoring system ensuring the exact precision use rate of E-TEC oil, Evinrude E-TEC engines use approximately 50 percent less oil than traditional direct injection systems and 75 percent less than traditional 2-strokes*.

* When EMM is programmed by dealer to accept E-TEC oil."

Good reading since I had no idea what E-tec was.

elaelap posted 09-24-2004 04:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
I change my four stroke oil every 70 hrs. Bought a black plastic shallow rectangular box-like thing from Kragen's to catch, store and recycle the oil--six or eight bucks, I think. Part of the deal is that when you return the box filled with old oil to Kragen's, they empty it and return it to you right then at the limit on how often you can do this, but they do ask you to log the amount returned and initial their logbook. Like Napa County, Morgan Hill, and OF COURSE Santa Cruz, Andy, Sonoma County waste collectors provide a recycle container which is picked up weekly, as well as several county-wide free disposal sites for hazardous waste.

Jimh's point is an interesting one. As a self-described 'environmentalist,' I'm an easy mark for form over substance assertions involving such matters. How many of us really think through the consequences of our actions, our 'footprints on the sands of time,' as we enjoy the benefits of our wealthy, almost post-industrial society? As I hurry much too fast through my day and my life, any simplistic appeal to my sadly non-analytical 'green' nature starts my left(y) knee to jerkin'...but as for four stroke outboards, screw the complexities of complete combustion, particulate pollution, and the entire oil economy controversy...I love 'em 'cause they smell good and keep quiet!


15ftlover posted 09-24-2004 06:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for 15ftlover  Send Email to 15ftlover     
I am curious if indeed 2 stroke oil is entirely combusted. Whatever non-gasseous exhaust particles produced would go directly into the water supply-right?. I like JIMH's argument about the big boat (hatteras) vs. small boat (whaler)in fuel consumption. The tradeoff to that argument however is the amount of fuel one burns using a vehicle to tow the small boat. That Tow vehicle is also likely to be the daily driver SUV-a huge energy consuming vehicle (compounded annually). Given that the SUV has become the preferred vehicle for many non-boat owners it seems naiive to assume choosing any outboard based on emissions will have any signifcant environmental impact. Think of the waste oil produced by over 200 million vehicles! I can't wait till they come out with the hydrogen fuel-cell outboard in 2180.
TampaTom posted 09-24-2004 11:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for TampaTom  Send Email to TampaTom     
Great thread. Jimh, thanks for reminding us to think. I hadn't considered the 2/4 stroke debate from that angle.

15ftlover, I don't get your point on SUV's. Sorry, to go off, but large hydrogen fuel cell use is another short sighted feel good idea supported by oil companies because they know it will die on vine. Where is all this hydrogen going to come from? Methane? The co-stream from a methane plant is Carbon dioxide (global warming dude.) The storage ratio is a joke. And it's kind of volitle (Hindenburg) It would be the perfect boat for Al Qaeda suicide missions. The Boston Whaler "Jihad".

cheesehead posted 09-24-2004 11:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for cheesehead  Send Email to cheesehead     
I have been an engineer at Honda Automotive for 8 years. I also grew up 30 minutes from Fondulac, WI. Home of Mercury. I have a large respect for each company as well as the former OMC in which I grew up using on a daily basis. This article of bashing engine manufactures and "four strokers" is not what Whaler People Do. What we do is plan trips and and have fun talking about our boats and families. This article has so many opinions not followed up on facts it is a joke to read. I have had 6 Evinrudes 10-225HP, Twin Yamahas, and finally twin 90 Hondas which by the way do not have and off idle stumble. I also must reply that we at Honda do not adjust our idle screws to run lean and pass emissions but do not care about the performance to the customer. This is a slap in my face. Honda prides itself on the customer. Have you ever looked at a JD powers survey? We have been at the top every year and that doesn't come easy. Our engines lead the industry in fuel efficiency, emmisions, and reliability. Enough. If your engine puts you and your family or friends to that perfect island or hot fishing spot then that is the "best engine". And if you are sitting in a boat 9 to 31 feet long marked WHALER then that is the best boat. Bar None. I choose Honda because they will run a lifetime. If anyone wants to dispute that fact call me on channel 17. Location : Georgian Bay.
bigjohn1 posted 09-25-2004 03:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
Interesting points here but this thread has taken a detour from talking about a test of various 4-stroke oils to talking about oil combustion and recycling and disposal stuff. Please stay on topic - what were the results of the oil comparison tests in Trailer Boats Magazine?
Big John
jimh posted 09-26-2004 09:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As soon as the postman brings my issue of TRAILER BOAT magazine, I'll be back with comments. Really, I didn't mean to hijack the thread. I just wanted to point out that at the end of its useful life, four-stroke outboard engine oil just gets discarded into the environment, exactly like modern two-stroke oil, and perhaps not even as cleanly.

Hey, I like all these new outboard motors. But I keep buying used boats with old two-strokes on them, and the darn engines just keep running. Thus at the moment my interest in four-stroke lubricating oil performance is only academic. But, who knows, there might be one (or two) on my transom in the future.

By the way, I ran the ol' CHEESEHEAD Revenge-22 with its twin Honda 90-HP engines, and they were smooth machines. No hesitation. No smoke. No oily mess. The pristine water of northern Lake Huron was left unspoiled.

And we always admire folks who eat their own dog food. Says a lot about the product.

jimh posted 09-26-2004 09:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Wow--I can't believe this, but I just thought of another advantage to the two-stroke oil burner. To my knowledge, no one has ever mentioned this before:

Accepting the fact that the oil used in lubricating both a two-stroke and a four-stroke outboard ultimately gets burned, and the products of that combustion go into the atmosphere, then one ought to consider that the combustion and energy release of the two-stroke oil goes into the propulsion of the boat!

After the two-stroke oil is done lubricating, that oil gets burned and releases its energy to help make the boat go. The four-stroke oil is going to be collected and distributed for industrial applications, and may end up raising the temperature of some vat of goo for a driveway sealing contractor in your neighborhood. At least the two-stroke oil helped make the boat go.

newt posted 09-26-2004 10:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for newt  Send Email to newt     
Hey, don't rule out hydrogen power yet. Iceland is working on producing hydrogen from electricity generated from Iceland's vast geothermal supply. Several groups are perfecting hydrogen engines, and one guy already has a patent on solid hydrogen storage. The cool thing is that only water comes out of the tailpipe!
russellbailey posted 09-26-2004 11:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for russellbailey  Send Email to russellbailey     
Two thoughts from an environmental engineer that works a lot with air quality. I have no beef either way - I just wanted to address some factual errors.

1. Some used oil is re-refined and used again - you can buy recycled motor oil at some locations. What is left after re-refining is called "rags" and is a waste that can only be burned, but it is a small fraction. They add new detergents and other additives to the recycled oil to make it equivalent to new oil - the US Postal Service uses almost all recycled engine oil in their fleet. See for example, or

2. Most used oil that is burned is burned in large boilers, such as at a pulp mill or a powerplant, where the combustion process is closely controlled and often a particulate filter catches metals contaminants released when combusted with the oil. If you think that you get lower emissions from burning oil in a reciprocating engine, 2 or 4 stroke, you are wrong. This will take more digging on your part to pull the emission factors, but they are all available from EPA.

jimh posted 09-26-2004 01:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Russell--Thanks for the comments. As far as oil being re-cycled as a lubricant, I can only make this observation: if this were actually happening, an let's say one could only re-cycle the oil once, then one ought to find at least 50-percent of the oil available was non-virgin oil. It is my experience that I have never seen any of this re-cycled oil for sale on a retail basis. If typical automotive crankcase lubricating oil is actually be re-cycled and re-used as automotive lubricant, they must be selling a whole lot of it somewhere else than where I am shopping. Never have seen it. Not once.

Anyone else?

russellbailey posted 09-26-2004 02:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for russellbailey  Send Email to russellbailey     
It is hard to find retail, and it is not a large % of the total used oil. Most of the re-refined automotive product is sold in drums to fleets or to service centers. I've only seen it one place retail, a Pep Boys in Atlanta.
CFCAJUN posted 09-27-2004 05:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
Just subscribed to Trailer Boat magazine. Hope they have good information. I came across them doing a boat search on Google. Read their long history and thought, "this name sounds familiar." Came back to this thread and voila!, there it was.

6-8 weeks before they deliver.

jimh posted 09-27-2004 08:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Finally got my issue of TRAILER BOAT magazine. Now I have to go read the article. I skimmed it already. Sounds interesting. I always like VALVOLINE more than PENZOIL, but might give 'em a try.
kglinz posted 09-27-2004 08:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
You big two stroke guys can come up with a million excuses for staying with two strokes, but when you change to four strokes you'll find yourself sitting in a marina, saying "I can't believe I ever owned a noisey, stinking two stroke"
CFCAJUN posted 09-27-2004 10:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
Hey Bud, I would love a 4 stroke. Honestly.

Please send a check or money order to:
P.O. Box A.E
Down the Bayou
Louisiana, USA


fno posted 09-27-2004 11:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for fno  Send Email to fno     
Jim, I didn't realize the lakes have frozen over so soon.. You are on your annual two stroke/four stroke rant early this year. All kidding aside this is an interesting thread. Of course "modern" two strokes are only clean when they are running properly.
jimh posted 09-28-2004 06:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
See Jim Baron's article in the same issue: he discusses the myopia of four-stroke owners.
kglinz posted 09-28-2004 08:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
NO, NO, NO, Jim, I can see them OK it's the damn noise and smell that's the problem.....
Nearsightedness (Myopia).....
Nearsightedness or myopia, occurs when light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina instead of directly on it. This is caused by a cornea that is steeper, or an eye that is longer, than a normal eye. Nearsighted people typically see well up close, but have difficulty seeing far away
WSTEFFENS posted 09-28-2004 11:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     

Having spent 40 years in the commercial garage bussiness, there was a time when engine lubricants (engine oil) was reclaimed. Waste collectors would come around and pump out our drain oil tanks and pay us for it. It was taken to a processing center (nice name for a collection of sand pits) and filtered then reblended. It smelled awfull and looked worse. It was very cheep and sold in discount stores (I remember it in the Kmart in the early 60's) and cut rate gas stations. No good mechanic would use the stuff!

The pratice died at the same time "oiling" of dirt roads for dust was stopped. It was an EPA type of thing. The process centers most likely became superfund sites. I can think of one locally that is still roped off. This is when the pratice of using "waste" oil for fuel came about.

As for 2cy vs 4cy,its a matter of power to weight ratio that matters. If the engine manufactures can get the weight down, a 4 stroke engine will be successfull. However at this time the difference is still suggnifiant. A 2stroke 150 hp weighs around 400# a 4 stroke of the same power is around 600# plus.

As for the noise and aroma of a 2 stroke, I sort of like the sound of the choff, snort, and the hornets nest at high speed, as well as the smell of burnt hydorcarbons. Its an old guy thing that takes me back to my childhood. Same thing for the smell of castor oil from model airplane engines.

My .02.



bsmotril posted 09-28-2004 03:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
I take the discarded engine oil from all my vehicles and implements and burn it in my '97 Dodge Cummins Diesel PU. I let it settle in a 5 gal plastic jug, then decant off the top 4.5 gallons and pump it through a racor fuel/water separating filter with an old electric Groco Vane pump. From there it goes into the fuel tank of the truck. The .5 gallons of sludge goes to the local Jiffy Lube for recycling when I get a full jug full. The truck has close to 200K miles, no problems yet. Bills
hbrigiii posted 09-28-2004 06:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for hbrigiii  Send Email to hbrigiii     
One thing all lost in all the blah,blah about 2 stroke vs. 4 stroke is that 4 strokes DONT burn ANY oil. The Honda owners manual says to change the 4 quarts in my 90hp Honda every 100 hours. Can you 2 stroke guys calculate how many quarts of oil you have poured into your tank during the last 100 hours??? And all of it goes into the water that you are trying to keep pure. None of it even has a chance to be recycled. Remember that when you are braging about the wonderfulness of 2 strokes.
ratherwhalering posted 09-28-2004 07:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for ratherwhalering  Send Email to ratherwhalering     
kglinz: My two stroke is quieter, cleaner, and produces less odor than your four stroke. In addition, I do not need to recycle any oil at all, and I believe this was Jimh's point.
ratherwhalering posted 09-28-2004 07:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for ratherwhalering  Send Email to ratherwhalering     
After a re-read, that last comment came across unintentionally harsh. I just wanted to point out that the modern two strokes (E-TEC in my case) are purported to be quieter and cleaner. I'm guessing on the odor part.
TexasWhaler posted 09-28-2004 07:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for TexasWhaler  Send Email to TexasWhaler     
PLUS, now with BRP's E-TEC technology, not only are smoke, soot, and particulate matter associated with older 2-strokes becoming a thing of the past, but these new engines are even MORE enovironmentally friendly than 4-stroke engine that are going to have to ultimately answer to their NOx and CO emissions. Some parts of the country have even placed limits on the use of 4-stroke lawn equipment for this reason.
WSTEFFENS posted 09-28-2004 08:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     

Yea, I can. 100 hrs @ .5 throttle setting @ 10 gal/ hr @ 50:1 mixture equalls about 20 gal of oil. None of which did I have to drain, treat as "Haz-Mat" waste or recycle including the filter! It got combusted. (double this for twins)

If you really think a 4 stroke burns no oil, get real. You worked in the "Honda" dealership too long and believe the company BS; and didn't read any warrenty complaints.

Where do you think the oil goes? Past the valve guides and past the rings and out the tailpipe! Not to "fantasie" land. No series of engines is assembled perfect! Some consume more than others, it can't be helped.

Bottom line is still power to weight ratio!


jimh posted 09-28-2004 08:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As it turns out, not only do some four-strokes not burn oil, they actually "make oil". It seems that gasoline leaking into the sump produces a steadily increasing volume of oil, albeit somewhat diluted. This special advantage is often overlooked in promotional literature.
2manyboats posted 09-28-2004 08:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for 2manyboats  Send Email to 2manyboats     
Awhile back I bought some oil for one of my trucks and some outboard motor oil for the big whaler at Walmart. On the receipt there was an oil disposal fee of $1.00 for each gal. of oil, automotive and outboard.

I asked the checker about the fee and she said it was a state fee to pay for disposal of used motor oil. I asked why it was collected on outboard motor oil and was sent to see the manager and he could not tell me why it was charged on the 2 stroke oil.But he did tell me they would take the used 2 stroke oil back as well as the used auto oil.

Back at home after several calls to different state offices I found the one in charge of the disposal fee.She told me it was collected on all motor oil and walmarts computer most likely just showed it as a seperate charge.

I tried to tell her that the 2 stroke oil was burned and could not be recycled, but I don't think she understood. She did thank me for the call and said she would check on it for me.

Now down to just an 8 hp 2 stroke 100:1 mix I don't buy outboard oil at walmart, but I wonder I we still pay the fee.

Those of you in other states may want to see if you are paying fees on 2 stroke oil.

CFCAJUN posted 09-28-2004 09:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
Sounds interesting. Perhaps you could do some investigative reporting and get a response from Wal-Mart on this matter.

Great way to make a profit.

CFCAJUN posted 09-28-2004 09:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
Here is a copy of what I submitted to Wal-Mart online:

Dear Wal-Mart,
Can you please tell me if any Wal-Mart store in any state collects a fee when one purchases Boat Outboard Motor Oil?

Specifically, many stores collect a fee when someone purchases automobile motor oil, because Wal-Mart then collects the used motor oil later.

So, my question is then, does Wal-Mart charge any additional fee when someone purchases Outboard motor oil?
Thank you.

wwknapp posted 09-28-2004 10:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for wwknapp  Send Email to wwknapp     
From the thread: "A 2stroke 150 hp weighs around 400# a 4 stroke of the same power is around 600# plus."

Specifications, just a couple random ones, first ones in each class that google coughed up:

Mercury Blue Water 2 stroke 150 Long: 416 lbs

Honda 4 Stroke 150 Long: 478 lbs

I'm not sure you can find a 600lb 150hp outboard, either 4 or 2 stroke, in the new ones. While there is some difference, and it does vary with choice of model, it's not near that great. Especially when you add in a oil tank and it's associated components and contents. To hold that oil the 2 stroke is using.

I was kind of hoping that there might be at least a small report on the original topic of this thread, the differences between various oils that could be used in a 4 stroke. So far nothing but a fog from the 2 stroke folks. I own 4 strokes, and am interested in the original subject. Any 4 stroke folks who care to comment on the original subject?

jimh posted 09-29-2004 08:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Re the article in TRAILER BOATS magazine, October 2004, pg. 60.

This is a good article, at the level I expect from TRAILER BOATS, the magazine with the best technical content available. Also glad to see author Bill Grannis contributing. He has been active in on-line boating groups (USENET) and is a respected source.

An interesting quote: "Four-stroke outboards are more prone to corrosion than their two-stroke cousins." I do not recall seeing that particular characteristic mentioned before.

An interesting sidebar: Analysis of oil from a Yamaha four-stroke F225 showed "fuel dilution was higher than normal (possibly from extended trolling), and that lowered oil viscosity from the initial 30-grade when new to a thinner 20-grade after 135 hours." Curiously, comments from a Yamaha official indicated the fuel dilution (3%) was "low due to the high-speed run back to the dock from offshore, which would 'burn off' some of the fuel in the oil."

I interpret that comment as saying that Yamaha expects the dilution would typically be higher. This seems to be an open acknowledgment of the "making oil" problem that has been associated with four-stroke engines, particularly ones that spend much of their time operating at low speeds.

As the only four-stroke engines I own are in my cars, the effect of the article on me is to try PENNZOIL for my next oil change. This brand was cited for good lubrication and excellent rust protection.

WSTEFFENS posted 09-29-2004 12:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     

Weight data given was based on memory. My 150hp Evenrudes were listed in the catalogue ('90) @ 395#. The 600# figure was based on early high HP 4 strokes circa 1998. The new Mercury "V" engine is very heavy, however what it brings to the table is outstanding. For one look at the size of the alternator! Its heavy, on the line of an automobile, but I bet you could light a city with it!

I don't know much about how Honda outboards are made. With the weight that close to a 2 stroke they are well on the way to the power to weight solution. They may be using aircraft engine type parts, such as hollow cranks and rods.

As for your question about oil, if I was running the power plants you are I would be using a synthetic, such as the products made by AmZoil in Wis. They are parallel products the stuff used in both civil and military jet engines.


mikeyairtime posted 09-29-2004 02:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for mikeyairtime    
I'm confused, if direct injected two strokes run as clean or cleaner why couldn't any of the motorcycle manufacturers get any of their 2 stroke direct injected motorcycles projects to pass California emissions for on highway use. And that was years ago when standard were lower. Seen any two stroke street bikes lately. (under 50cc are exempt) Also direct injected or not 2 strokes are not allowed on Lake Tahoe. More lakes will probably follow. They blame their algee problems on two stroke emissions. You know when you look at pictures the Dodo was a heck of a bird.
kglinz posted 09-29-2004 03:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
This rumor about 2 strokes being banned on Lake Tahoe is not true....
ratherwhalering posted 09-29-2004 03:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for ratherwhalering  Send Email to ratherwhalering     

Vessels powered by the following engines are still allowed in Lake Tahoe:

• Direct fuel injection (DFI) two-stroke engines
• Two-stroke engines that meet the California Air Resources Board (ARB) 2001 or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) 2006 emissions standard.
• Inboard engines
• Four-stroke engines

TexasWhaler posted 09-29-2004 03:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for TexasWhaler  Send Email to TexasWhaler     
In fact, the TRPA (Tahoe Authority), has made a deal with Evinrude to start using E-TECs on its own agency craft.

Hmmmm, Lake Tahoe, one of the most prestine lakes in the country, and it's enivironmental authority has chosen 2-stroke E-TECs over everything else.

seahorse posted 09-29-2004 04:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     
Originally Lake Tahoe patrol used FICHT engines, then when OMC went "belly up" they switched to Honda motors. After Bombardier started their FICHT production motors and Lake Tahoe found out they emitted fewer total emissions than the Hondas, they switched back to FICHT and have used them for several years. Now they will upgrade to the E-TEC motors next month.
LHG posted 09-29-2004 07:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Everything I have read indicates that the Lake Tahoe marine patrol goes with the low bidder, using their Lake's reputation for advertizing side benefits for the successful bidder. Yamaha 4-strokes have also been used, and hyped, out there. Honda came in, and underbid Bombardier for the engines, making a big deal out the fact that 4-strokes were the obvious answer out there. Then Bombardier got back in, and now all of a sudden, 4-strokes were out as the favored technologly and DFI's were it. In reality, it's only about the money!

I have heard that Bombardier, like the others, are very aware of the high visibility of various marine patrol boats.

Is there any truth to the rumors that they, and other brands too, basically "give away" engines to these Agencies? I heard that is what BRP has been doing in the FL market also.

What the heck, why shouldn't these Agencies save the taxpayer money, and take the engines they can get the cheapest? It's good marketing practice.

Reading through other comments in this thread, someone said E-tec were the only clean DFI's. Actually, right now, Mercury has more mid-range (75 & up) 3 star DFI's for sale than BRP does, 75, 90,115 & 135 V-6 Optimax (which has been out for 5 years!)

Conventional 2-strokes do not burn all of their oil, as was mentioned. Some does get into the water, which is why CA got so upset with this situation. The unburned gas has mbte in it, which was contaminating reservoir drinking water. Oil was not the problem, it was the MBTE additive, now banned.

2 star DFI's are just as clean as 2 star 4-strokes. Same for 3-star engines of both types. So in CA, you can buy either type of engine.

As for the weight of 4-stroke engines, experience has shown that certain manufacturers have intentionally under-advertized the weight on new models, than jacked them up once people got used to the big numbers. Suzuki and Yamaha have both done this. The Suzuki 60 & 70HP comes to mind, which everyone thought was a neat little 4-stroke package at 330#. Well, actually it weighs 360#, 110# more than Mercury's 60 HP EFI 4-stroke. Not so neat a little package any more! Yamaha did this with their 80/100hp engine, indicating it at 359#, while all the while Mercury was showing the same engine at 386#. Now they have changed it to 375#. So one has to wonder what the huge Yamaha 150 4-stroke actually weighs. I'll bet it's more than published.

Although I am prejudiced toward "black", I think Mercury has it really right with Verado (which is designed to go beyond 3-star), the high performance 4-stroke. This is actually the only 4-stroke that can take on a good DFI and outperform it. The Verado, and it's Japanese copies, will be the most real threat to longtime survival of the big DFI's. Don't sell them short, not until you've driven one. The ones I experienced were really excellent, and they will be "THE" status engine to have on your boat in the forseeable future. Like the luxury autos, the premium price will only make them more attractive to a certain portion of the boating market. When you have a pair of Verado's on your boat, you have "arrived"!

TexasWhaler posted 09-29-2004 07:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for TexasWhaler  Send Email to TexasWhaler     
Your cynicism suprises me. This is not only use by the Lake Tahoe marine patrol, but this is an endorsement by the environmentalists of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA). I read articles about these folks and I seriously doubt they are the types to focus on the "lowest bid" as opposed to what is best for the lake and its environment.

I just read another aritcle stating that the Coast Guard is now officiallt endorsing E-TEC Evinrudes due to increased saftey hazards from high CO emissions from marine engines including 4-stroke outboards.

You really need to relax, and accept and embrace all that the E-TEC technonlogy can bring to our boating world, now, and in the future.
(My endings are sure getting juicy)

LHG posted 09-29-2004 08:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Texas - My information came from "Soundings Trade Only" monthly magazine (not for the general public's consumption), where they indicated that Bombardier (before they split off E/J into BRP) had been the successful low bidder on marine engines for such and such a year. They evidently put their engine contract out for bid, probably as required by law, every season. That's why the engines change a lot. Business is business, so don't read too much into the advertizing hype.
mikeyairtime posted 09-29-2004 08:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for mikeyairtime    
Even running Chevron gas and Quicksilver TCW 3 oil in my Yamaha 130 I still suffered two lubrication related rod bearing failures which were attributed to the oxygenated fuel here in California. The first one was covered by warranty the second wasn't. That experience has permanently soured me on two stroke marine power. I've still got two 2 strokes in my stable, my kids KX65 and YZ85 dirt bikes.
mikeyairtime posted 09-29-2004 08:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for mikeyairtime    
BTW if I read that Boating and Waterways document correctly, 11 lakes have banned high emmission outboards (regular two strokes) even if the dirrect injected ones are allowed. That would preclude many members of this board.
wwknapp posted 09-29-2004 09:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for wwknapp  Send Email to wwknapp     

I just feel we should be comparing current engines, and the difference there is much less. I would never repower with a 15 year old engine, no matter how good it might have been. If I'm repowering I'm going to stick close to current. If for no other reason than parts will be available a lot longer. I tend to get very long life out of my equipment.

I do have a Honda 50 4 stroke, on a 22' pontoon boat. The engine is in a large way a small honda car engine turned on end. Anyway, many of the Honda parts are the same as their car ones. Car small 4 strokes are aluminum pretty much now, so a lot lighter. That's some of why the newer engines are lighter. The 50 is a real nice engine, though with such low fuel consumption comes very tiny gas passages, you have to be careful about leaving gas sit in them a long time.

I also have a Yamaha 50, which is the main engine on my Montauk. I've not had it long enough to compare to the Honda, but in looking through repair manuals, the carb design looks like it may be easier to keep from the gas crud problem. Time will tell. Meanwhile I'm unhappy they don't provide proper carb drains as honda does.

These engines are each a little over 200 lbs. So, my Montauk has the capacity to carry the weight of a proper 2nd small engine. I'm adding a 9.9hp Yamaha 4 stroke. So I can go in hp limited areas, along with other reasons.

I don't mess with or have any use for the really huge outboards. If I need that much power, I'd be more interested in diesel inboard. And in that size boat, sail. But I'm not a speed freak.

Oil, I'm used to looking for oil that's going to keep quality diesels running for a very long time. Don't like the trend to lighter oil, less margin of safety. Synthetic might become the wave of the future when it get's it's price under control. The biggest, most important change in motor lubrication was when lead was removed from gas. We quit making grinding compound out of our lube oil. We still change oil with a schedule based on the lead days. As far as 4 stroke outboard oils, I'm still trying to find why? They are usually carrying a automotive rating that's not as good as current automotive oil. I'm interested in discussions of the actual lubricating or other such properties of oil, not their politics.

wwknapp posted 09-29-2004 09:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for wwknapp  Send Email to wwknapp     

"An interesting quote: "Four-stroke outboards are more prone to corrosion than their two-stroke cousins." I do not recall seeing that particular characteristic mentioned before."

I expect this is somewhat so, and a lot so with older 2 strokes.

Although a 2 stroke burns some of the oil, some of it becomes oil particles in the vicinity of the engine. With all the metal of the engine coated in time with a thin oil film, it is going to corrode less. A 4 stroke, with good gaskets, will not have such a oil source, with no oil protection for the metal, they will corrode more. I expect as 2 strokes get more and more stingy with oil that the difference will be less.

What frosts me is how many parts of outboards will be put out as bare metal, or only slightly protected. Corrosion, particularily in salt water is a big problem. Only partially taken care of with anodes.

An interesting sidebar: Analysis of oil from a Yamaha four-stroke F225 showed "fuel dilution was higher than normal (possibly from extended trolling), and that lowered oil viscosity from the initial 30-grade when new to a thinner 20-grade after 135 hours." Curiously, comments from a Yamaha official indicated the fuel dilution (3%) was "low due to the high-speed run back to the dock from offshore, which would 'burn off' some of the fuel in the oil."

My Yamaha 4 stroke has a recommended oil change interval of 100 hours, what's someone doing with the same oil in the engine for 135 hours? I'm sure a F225 costs enough to deserve a occasional oil change.

Also, if oil grades were not so thin, this would be less of a problem anyway. The shift to thin oil was done for gas mileage in cars, even though it contains a large potential to shorten engine life. Probably something like that for outboards too.

4-stroke outboards have crankcase ventilation and the resulting gases are fed into the engine to be burned. Lower fraction hydrocarbons like gas ones would definitely be some of the first to go that route as the oil heats up. So, the Yamaha official is probably right.

WSTEFFENS posted 09-30-2004 11:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     

I wasn't trying to insult your intelligence. Yea it would be stupid to repower with 15 year old engines. As I stated the data was from memory. It stll shows that the power to weight ratio for the 2 stroke was and still is better, at this time. As LHG says, "time will tell".

As for the oil, you comment about diesel truck lube, synthetic isn't in the future it is now. I believe even some 2 stroke (TCW3) oils are currently (engine brand, Merc, Yam, etc) synthetic or para-synthetic (blend). This may also be a way around the "more corrosion" problem for 4 cycle engines mentioned above.

As for the cost, it is non exsistant in your application, compaired to the payoff. Your 4 stroke outboard uses only a couple of quarts, compaired to a "road tractor" which could hold up to 5 gallons. Go to the Amsoil web site and read up on the stuff, I have used it in my turbo-diesel suburban and it was great! I never lost a turbo shaft or seal in over 100k miles. And the turbo wasn't water cooled as is the pratice today!



WSTEFFENS posted 09-30-2004 11:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     

PS: The lead (tet-eythel) in fuel was originally put in as an octain booster (RON today), It increased the octain rating of poorer quaity stocks and boosted production. It had a side advantage of being able to lubricate the valve seats of the engine and prevent valve seat errosion. Had nothing to do with engine oil lube. When we eliminated it from the gasoline supply, engine manufuatures countered with hardened valve seats and valve rotators to prevent seat errosion and make the engines last as long as they did before.

As a side, when we shipped gasoline to the Brits in WW2 this really played havoc with the trucks and other land vehicles they were producing. It wasn't compatable with the carbs they were using. They used "white" gas (no lead) same stuff we used to buy for our lawn mowers and ("Colman stoves and lanterns) in the 50's.



jimh posted 09-30-2004 08:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
How to test your oil (in your car) (like it will be tested in your four-stroke outboard):

First, disconnect the radiator and thermostat on the engine. Replace the thermostat with one set for about 140-degrees. Replace the radiator with an infinite source of water at about 60-degrees.

Next, hook up several thousands pounds of trailer to the vehicle. This will better simulate the load of the boat on your outboard.

Ready? OK, start the car, and head up a 5-percent grade for about thirty minutes, holding the engine at 4000-4500 RPM.

Now, back your speed off to idle, say about 650 RPM. Maintain this speed for six hours on level pavement.

Next, punch it back to 4000 RPM and ascend a 5-percent grade for one hour.

Shut the engine off immediately. Let it sit for three weeks outdoors.

Repeat until total time run is 100 hours.

How many think their four-stroke engines will survive twenty years of service like this?

kglinz posted 09-30-2004 08:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
I'll take 10 years. It beats the hell out of of the 26 months one of my last 2 strokes lasted. I just hope Honda get their 300 Horse engine out in time to be proven before I need to repower.
mikeyairtime posted 09-30-2004 08:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for mikeyairtime    
Where the four strokes really shine is in long term durability. Time has proven it in the motorcycle world and is proving it again in the outboard world. The four strokes have been around for 15 years now. Anybody here have to replace a 4 stroke powerhead yet? My 89 9.9hp Yamaha high thrust 4 stroke is still purring along for it's second owner. My 89 (bought in 88) 130hp Yamaha 2 stroke had 2 major rod bearings failures by the time I sold it in 96.
cheesehead posted 09-30-2004 09:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for cheesehead  Send Email to cheesehead     
I'll take that bet any day. I'll put up a hunderd now. We'll see in 5 more years. We can talk about it now till the cows come home but time is the true test. I think we need to have a survey of hours before major rebuild for each. Data doesn't lie. Another reason I am so for the 4 strokes is all the grief I get from snowmobile engines. I have been running sleds in Wisconsin for a long time. I have encountered every possible problem on earth with these engines. I realize sub zero temps play a huge role in this as well. Proper storage is the key. Lots of fogging oil, stabilizer, and inside a garage is the only way to do it. I have to buy a new sled every 2 years to keep me reliable. That is pretty standard in sledding. The 4 strokes are on their way in this industry as well. Power to weight is more important here and everyone seems to be proving 4's are just as fast. Of course yamaha and suzuki's are leading this trend. I will hang on to my oil injection because I love porting the heads and beating everyone to the bars. It's only a matter of time though. 4's are here to stay.
wwknapp posted 10-01-2004 02:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for wwknapp  Send Email to wwknapp     
How to test your oil (in your car) (like it will be tested in your four-stroke outboard):

First, disconnect the radiator and thermostat on the engine. Replace the thermostat with one set for about 140-degrees. Replace the radiator with an infinite source of water at about 60-degrees.

Four strokes have thermostats, at least mine do, and if I remember right they are 190 degree ones. And a car handles radiator return water that can vary from near boiling to sub zero temps. Outboards have it much easier than cars as far as temperature extremes.

Next, hook up several thousands pounds of trailer to the vehicle. This will better simulate the load of the boat on your outboard.

Not at all how a outboard is loaded. A outboard, 2 or 4 stroke would die quickly under such a high load. Outboards are more smoothly and evenly loaded than cars. And lightly loaded. That's the only way you can run them at the very inefficient rpms that people use. Very low torque requirements.

Ready? OK, start the car, and head up a 5-percent grade for about thirty minutes, holding the engine at 4000-4500 RPM.

Now, back your speed off to idle, say about 650 RPM. Maintain this speed for six hours on level pavement.

Next, punch it back to 4000 RPM and ascend a 5-percent grade for one hour.

Shut the engine off immediately. Let it sit for three weeks outdoors.

Repeat until total time run is 100 hours.

How many think their four-stroke engines will survive twenty years of service like this?

The things that kill outboards are things like corrosion, they don't generally wear out if maintained. They corrode until they can't be fixed. That is if they are not run into something (crashed in car terms). Or just plain neglected in some weed patch.

In any case, there are 4-stroke outboards today that have run more than twenty years. And those were earlier designs, and spent their early days on leaded gas.

You might want to learn a little bit about them. There were 2-stroke cars too. They lost to 4-stroke cars.

And, I've run several cars for more than twenty years. And thousands of hours. Car engines are very durable.

jimh posted 10-01-2004 08:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Forgot one important thing in my car/boat comparison:

Rotate car engine 90-degrees so pointing skyward.

jimh posted 10-01-2004 08:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
To get back to the main topic, the oil:

Apparently no four-stroke outboard engine owner has ever had to ADD oil to the lubricating sump between oil changes. I guess unlike car engines, four-stroke outboards apparently never lose any lubricating oil in operation. Is this correct? I hope so, otherwise any four-stroke lubricating oil lost in operation would have gone--Oh my!--into the air or water?

jimh posted 10-01-2004 08:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Wow--I hate to make three replies--but here is a comment for knapp:

The 20-year-old four-stroke outboards you mention--Did any of them happen to have 6-valves per cylinder, dual overhead cams, variable valve timing with hydraulic linkage, or superchargers? My recollection is that most of these features were only seen on Formula One Grand Prix engines up until about three years ago, and they really do not have a twenty-year history of successful operation in a saltwater marine environment.

Peter posted 10-01-2004 09:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
I like Jim's test. But a couple of other things need to be done to make the test more complete.

First, stand your automotive engine on its end (vertically)so that some pistons are further away vertically from the oil sump than others.

Second, to simulate the impact of waves your outboard experiences while underway, if you have a Whaler Classic or Legend style hull with no deadrise, remove the front shock absorbers from your car (assuming it has an engine in the front). If you have an Outrage, Revenge or Conquest style hull with some deadrise, then reduce the dampening of the front shocks so that they bottom out every now and then. Make sure some of your experimental drive is over speed bumps (size may vary between 1 to 5 feet) spaced 30 feet apart in a manner to cause occasional bone jarring impact for several hours at a time. This is to make sure you shake that oil in the sump real good every now and then. If simulating a big boat, make sure you get a good 2 to 3 foot sudden vertical drop in to the mix every now and then to simulate heavy wind blown chop superimposed over ocean ground swells.

Third, if doing the experiment in my area, make sure you drive your car in a saltwater rain storm periodically and then park your car for one to two weeks with its vertically arranged automotive engine so that the engine is tilted at a minimum 75 degree angle (15 degrees from horizontal) directly over a puddle of saltwater. Do this for at least six or seven continuous months between uses. Then for the other five or six months, don't drive your car, but rather, just let it sit with the engine standing vertically adjacent to the saltwater puddle without running it and subject it to several of those months at sub freezing temperatures. This ought to allow a good part of the oil in the oil passages in the engine to drain to the sump.

Peter posted 10-01-2004 09:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Jim, you caught my first point while I was typing my post up. Good for you.
kglinz posted 10-01-2004 10:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
We are getting confused as to wetherheter
kglinz posted 10-01-2004 10:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
I hit the wrong button. Sorry
WSTEFFENS posted 10-02-2004 12:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     

This string is getting off target. It isn't beat up on Knapp. His questions are ligitimate.

Here is one for the group. Since a 4cy engine sits at 90 deg to its normal position, (crank at 12 & 6 oclock) are they built as dry sump engines? Do they have a scavange and a pressure oil pump such as is (or was) used on race car engines such as "Offenhouser"? If not built as "dry sumps" how do the manufactures deal with both dynamic and static oil containment on the lower crank shaft jornal? This is a serious problem, as reflected by the "electric gear motor" industry since only one " SEW" will openly state you can mount their product in the verticle position.

Just a thought, mabe that is why 2cy engnes were chosen for outboard manufacture originally. The engine doesn't care what angle it is at as long as the carbs and bowls are in the correct position. The lube is in the fuel mix and it doesn't matter. I am sure manufactures such as MM, Honda and the like can figure it out!

By the way "knapp" or anyone else with a high HP (150 or better) how tight does the 4 stroke have to rev to make its power? Just interested.



seahorse posted 10-02-2004 12:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     
The 4 banger 4 stroke Yamahas use a single oil pump with the sump in the midsection. The oil filter has an anti-drainback flap in it, but is still drains dry after a while. You hardly spill a drop when you change the filter. That means the oil has to pump up and fill the filter, then still travel upwards to the top oil passageways in the motor, every time you start it up.

The V6 oil filter stays full.

WSTEFFENS posted 10-02-2004 03:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     
Thank you.

The filter design you describe goes back to the early '70's. Can't remember but I think was originated by AC Declo. The anti-drain back feature was to eliminate what we called "cold start clatter". The anti-siphon feature is heavily dependent on filter placement and orientation.

The Yam 4 cyl 4 storke, you refer to, is it inline or a "V" configuration? If inline, how does the engine deal with the oil in the bearings and cyl's 3 & 4 if the cyl's are numbered top to bottom, if the sump is mid-section? I am making the assumption that oil control is by gravity.


seahorse posted 10-02-2004 04:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     
The oil in the mid-section -also called the exhaust housing- is below all 4 cylinders. The pump in the sump, on a cold start, has to pump oil up to the filter, fill it up, then work its way up to the top oil passages and #1 cylinder.
WSTEFFENS posted 10-02-2004 06:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     
Thanks again:

Wish I knew your name!

What you tell me makes perfect sense. The "Exhaust Housing" is the same on a 2 stroke. It only houses the drive shaft in that case. You then check the oil in a sump below the power head as I get it. I suppose that a series of sliger rings or screw type threads keep the oil away from the lower crank shaft seal under power? What you describe is a dry sump engine, with only one pump. Gravity takes the place of the "scavenge" pump. Does it have a "windage"tray?


wwknapp posted 10-02-2004 10:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for wwknapp  Send Email to wwknapp     
I can see that a great many of the 2 stroke crowd have never looked at 4 stroke outboard construction. If you are going to critique something and say how long it's going to last and so on, at least get a little familiar with it.

Dry sump, the oil "pan" is in the mid section entirely below the power head. Oil is pressure pumped to all the engine. It does not matter if it's top or bottom cylinder, full lube is not going to start until pressure is achieved in the system, way less than a second on my honda as that's now long it takes for the pressure warning to go out.

During the initial startup the bearings depend on remaining oil on their surfaces, as they do in cars (or even 2 stroke outboards). As long as you don't simultaneously turn the key and ram the throttle full, this is just fine. If you do that either with a car or a outboard, it's your money you are wasting. BTW, this is one of the things the ratings are about, how well oil clings to parts.

I am not talking about the huge 4 strokes. I've already stated such size should be a inboard anyway in my view. I have max of 50 hp 4 stroke outboards personally. Such engines have the regular set of one intake, one exhaust valve, at least mine do. Same as 4 strokes of 20 years ago did. In my case I don't even have a fuel injected outboard, although I have nothing against them.

My take is that for ultimate speed it's possible 2 strokes have a advantage, all they need now is a good turbocharger. But, for durable cruising, 4 strokes have it all over 2 strokes. And you can see the different emphasis by looking at things like lower unit gear ratios. It's not that 4 strokes cannot produce speed, they can. Or that you can't cruise with a 2 stroke, you can. It's what's best for your use in what's available.

Someone asked about power. Torque or horsepower? Rpm for Torque max is usually much lower than horsepower max. Typically torque max is somewhere around 2000-3000 rpm as that's the area of the most effective fuel burn. Horsepower is usually at whatever rpm you can force the engine to without having pieces of metal flying at you.

For economy, you need to run as close to the max torque as you can. For length of life of engine, avoiding highest rpm, particularily before the engine is warmed up is a big help.

I'm still looking for the discussion of 4 stroke lube oil. This thread is seriously misnamed, there is near zero information content on 4 stroke oil. Why don't we start with what various users of 4 strokes use? How many use the high priced oil with some outboard manufacturer's name on it? How many use some automotive oil? If so, what kind? And do you have a non-religious why? I'm interested in what oil to put in my engine at the next oil change. Though I'm glad I don't need advice from here.

On the lake today, on a 80 mile (roundtrip) run with lots of play periods, I noticed about 70-80% of the outboards on the backs of boats were Honda or Yamaha 4 strokes. (to be fair, most were on pontoon boats or deck boats) Even though there are big dealers for all brands around. Next most common was Mercs, mostly on bass boats where they came as part of the deal. That is if you only looked at outboards, inboards are also common. And the only other Whaler I saw (15' sport) had a Johnson older 2 stroke on it, much smaller than what folks here seem to think is essential. And the boat I stopped to help, two nice ladies with a dead engine, had a 2 stroke on the stern. I did not examine the cause of the death, though it was not lack of fuel.


jimh posted 10-03-2004 08:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you look at the gear ratio used in various engines, you see that the four-strokes are always geared lower (higher numerically). My assumption is that this was because they develop lower torque at lower engine speed, and thus they must run faster than a two-stroke to develop the same amount of torque.
WSTEFFENS posted 10-03-2004 12:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     

Lighten up. I just wanted to know how the 4 stroke was built. I don't have time to go to the local shop and tear one down, or even read half a dozen shop books. I have no ax to grind here. You still haven't told me ( or anyone else) what the max RPM is for a 4 stroke! This would be between 5000 & 6000 for the domestic 2 stroke (rather conservative by todays standards). Are the 4 stroke engines needle and roller bearing or babbit (tri-level)? Does the 4 stroke work similar to the (Japan inc.) motorcycyle (best in the world) tech and wind very tight to get its HP. IE 10,000 RPM range. If going to 10k range do they have a windage tray?

As for the oil, as stated earlier, go the the "Amsoil" web site and read up. Great products and will solve all your fears. Cost is is more than "Walmart" but they can ship to your door in 2 days. As old time race car builder "Smokey Younik" used to say "if there is a failure, it ain't the oil"!

By the way, like your name, mine is also "Walter". I appreciate you signing your name!

PS: At repower it will most likely be 4 stroke! If the power to weight ratio is right. And I think it will!



seahorse posted 10-03-2004 04:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     
Most 4 strokes are for up to 6000rpm, but some Suzuki and the Mercury Verado go as high as 6400rpm.
WSTEFFENS posted 10-03-2004 05:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     
Thanks agin!

Seems the 4 stroke is winding some-what tight. Not as tight as a Motorcycle, however tighter than a traditonal 4 stroke domestic engine which goes no higher than about 4500 RPM to red line. This could explane the difference required for a 2 stroke vs 4 stroke for HP vs engine displacement. Hence the need for the MM "V" engine to have a supercharger. Not bad, but a way of getting around an efficiency problem. Got to go back to my "Thermo-Dynamic" books.



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