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Author Topic:   1985 Johnson 90 V4 smoking
blackdog54 posted 08-13-2007 10:24 AM ET (US)   Profile for blackdog54   Send Email to blackdog54  
I went out yesterday after a longer lay up (5 weeks or more). When I launched and when I came back to get out, I noticed an usual level of smoke from the engine exhaust holes.

Enough that I got a headache and nausea and it took me about 4 hrs. for it to clear. I was sick.

Performance while I was out was unchanged. No change in fuel or oil brand.

I had, the last couple of times out, changed from 50:1 to about 55 or 60:1 in the oil ratio when pre-mixing (VRO is disconnected by the prior owner).

Any direction as to what might be going on or where I need to start looking?


brisboats posted 08-13-2007 10:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for brisboats  Send Email to brisboats     
Were you trolling or idling in no wake zones? Even a rich running motor won't smoke you out if the boat is moving along on plane. Doubt it matters but 55 or 60:1 should make less smoke. Do a compression test and read the plugs while they are out if oil fouled get a new set.

Smokey motors at least keep the bugs away.


Sal DiMercurio posted 08-13-2007 11:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
If you were using the XD50 oil from Bombardier, you wouldn't have all that smoke, in fact, you would most likely have "NO" smoke.
My guess is, your using the cheapest TCW-3 oil you could find.
jimh posted 08-13-2007 12:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The combination of actual wind and boat wind often combine to bring exhaust fuels back on board.

When a boat sits for a while unused, the gasoline tends to evaporate from the fuel system of a carburetor motor because it is vented to the atmosphere while the oil remains, and this creates a richer oil:gasoline mixture on the initial re-start.

rtk posted 08-13-2007 09:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
"When a boat sits for a while unused, the gasoline tends to evaporate from the fuel system of a carburetor motor because it is vented to the atmosphere while the oil remains, and this creates a richer oil:gasoline mixture on the initial re-start."

Agree, and changing the mix too. The engines are designed to run on a certain mix of fuel and oil. The amount you increased the oil may not seem like much, but could tip the scales on the smoke factor.

I would change the mix back to 50:1, and try to run the engine more often. Tilt the engine up a bit on initial start up- don't know why but it seem to help a bit with the smoke.

As long as the smoke is blueish and fuel consumption is the same it sounds like you had a bit too much oil going into the combustion chamber. If fuel economy is suffering you may be running too rich, so I'd keep an eye on fuel.

Was the smoke better after running the boat a while at idle than initial start up? If you didn't have the same amount of smoke sitting at the ramp waiting to load the boat I'd say jimh is right on.


blackdog54 posted 08-14-2007 10:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog54  Send Email to blackdog54     
Have not pulled the plugs yet to see if they are fouled. I could barely drive home.

It was smokier than usual both starting it up, running at low RPMs but mostly at the end of the day, when I tied up at the dock waiting to retrieve my trailer.

It is always smoky, due to being a 2-stroke but I am telling you, I was almost overcome at the dock.

If my oil ratio was 50:1 initially and I am now using 55-60:1, my oil to gas ratio is lower, right? So, why more smoke? I think that Jim hit it on the head, the motor was tilted up for 5 weeks, gas drains from the carbs (this I know as I find oil on the transom) and evaporates and my oil mixture must have been too rich. I am a bit surprised, as I have had it sit that long before last year.

Will pull the plugs this weekend and that may be telling.

Sal, I am using the West Marine brand of TCW-3, their highest grade (they sell 2 grades). I have no idea who supplies it to them.

Regarding fuel consumption, mine is poor, period. It is a 21 y/o Johnson two stroke, it drinks heavier than the Irishman across the street. Plus, I have mixed use activities, so it is hard to gauge. But I did not notice anything glaring.

Buckda posted 08-14-2007 12:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     

I'd decarbonize the motor using Sal's technique described elsewhere on this board, and then begin running decarboning additives every other tank. Given that work and life sometimes interfere with our boating, I also think it is important to use a fuel stabilizer in every tank of gas. That way, it is fully in your system when the unexpected baoting hiatus begins and ends.

My guess is that the carbon levels have gotten to the point where the smoke is becoming excessive. Sal's technique is like a colonic for your outboard - not pleasant to perform, but worth it afterwards.

If that doesn't work, I'd see a mechanic who can tune the motor.

Good luck,


rtk posted 08-14-2007 12:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
Duh, your right. Higher ratio is less oil, my mistake.

Don't premix much anymore. Sorry about that.


Sal DiMercurio posted 08-14-2007 03:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
My 1997 - 70 hp Johnson [ on my 15 sport ] used to smoke like mad, had the engine re-built & went to the Bombardier XD50 oil & even at start-up, there's absolutely no smoke.
If I were you, I'd decarbon that engine first, than switch over to Bombardiers XD50 oil.
A good buddy of mine, [ can't use his name, or where he worked ] was in charge of maintaining a fleet of boats, many outboards of OMC origin.
They were using OMC TCW-3 oil with very few problems.
A very, very, very, big oil company offered them a great deal on 10 - 55 gallon drums of their TCW-3 oil.
In less than a week from the time they started using the big oil companies TCW-3 oil, they went nuts with engines not running right, smoking & just plain lousy performance.
They didn't put 2 & 2 together, & figure it was the oil that was making these engine run lousy until about 5 weeks later when he got the idea to switch back the the OMC oil, as he still had about 20 gallons left in a barrel.
When they went back to OMCs oil, the engines that were driving them nuts stopped having problems such as running rough, hard starting, & smoking something terrible.
Than when Bombardier took over & came out with the XD30 [ for the older 2 strokes ] , XD50, [ for the newer 2 strokes & DFI engines .....FICHT ] & the XD100 oils [ for the newer DFI engines....e-techs ] they went to the XD50 & the same engines that had problems with the major oil companies oil & ran much better on OMCs TCW-3 oil, now ran much better & cleaner on the XD50 oil.
West marines oil might be fine for some applications, but if your getting big time smoke, or rough running , I'm willing to wager money, that Bombardiers XD50 will change the way that engine is now running, for the better, by a long shot.
I would pore the west marine oil back into the gallon jug you bought & put Bombardiers XD50 in & give it a few hours of running to see if there's an improvment.
I am confident you will see a major change in that engine.
If you do take this advise, please come back & share what you find.

jimh posted 08-15-2007 12:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am using Evinrude XD50 oil in my 1992 vintage OMC V6. It smokes a little on start up, but otherwise I seldom ever notice smoke in the exhaust. Most of the boat gas we had to buy on the water this year was priced over $5-per-gallon, so using an oil that cost $5 more per gallon at a 1:50 ratio is a barely perceptible cost increase compared to the gasoline. People who use the cheap oil usually recommend some sort of fuel additive to help out, like QuicKleen or Ring Free, but the better oil already has that stuff in it. So the cost is a wash, really:


Cheap Oil

1 x $10 = oil cost = $10
50 X $5 = gas cost = $250
1 X $7 = additive cost = $7
TOTAL = $267

XD50 Oil
1 X $17 = oil cost = 17
50 X $5 = gas cost = $250
(no additive)
TOTAL = $267

blackdog54 posted 08-15-2007 10:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog54  Send Email to blackdog54     
I purchased some Sea Foam Auto/Marine Motor product, multi-use, including decarb properties. It came highly recommended from a parts guy at Napa who has a long personal history of with older Johnson engines.

It sounds messy but will try that this weekend, along with pulling the plugs. I guess you lose a set of plugs in the process, as he recommends changing the plugs after the procedure.

I am also going to try to find the Bombardier or Evinrude XD50 this weekend. I have no problem with spending more on oil, Jim's breakdown makes it pretty clear. Moreover, its a drop in the bucket compared to what it takes to run and maintain even a small boat like this.

I can not wait for the day that I:
1) get an E-tec for my Montauk
2) Step up to an 18/19 Outrage needing re-power with an E-tec

Will keep you posted with my results. Thanks for all of the input.

Tohsgib posted 08-15-2007 12:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Ah Jim...does your owner's manual clearly state that you can run that oil in your engine?

Be carefull kids...running certain oils in older engines is not allowed. Not sure about the XD50 but the Ficht and XD100 along with optimax oil is a no-no.

Sal DiMercurio posted 08-15-2007 01:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
Nick, you are 100% right in saying the "XD 100" is "NOT" for the 2 strokes of old, or even the FICHT engines.
It is only for the E-Tech engine types.
The XD 50 can be used in any of the engines, even in the e-tech, as long as the engine is programed for it.
I started using the XD 50 in my 1980 - 15 hp kicker as soon as it was introduced, & it just plain stopped smoking completely, & ran smooth as glass even after trolling for 6 hours on end everyday.
Same with my 2000 - 200 hp FICHT, plus a good deucing with engine tuner, or sea foam every 50 hours, sure dosen't hurt.
I've found that the plugs can be cleaned & re-gapped & still give good performance for another 50 hours, after the de-carb treatment.
blackdog54 posted 08-20-2007 10:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog54  Send Email to blackdog54     
OK, I tried the Sea Foam in the fuel tank. I did not apply any directly to the carb as I wanted to try the least effort to greatest effort approach. It still smoked a lot but the fumes were far less toxic.

It was a little harder to start but ran like a bat out of hell once it did.

I did not get time to pull the plugs. Next steps- pull plugs and Sea Foam the carb.

Sal DiMercurio posted 08-20-2007 10:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
Blackdog, your engine will smoke like hell for a while, with seafoam in the fuel, because it is cleaning out some of the carbon thats built up.
You are doing the maintenance method [ lazy ] , not the shock treatment that your engine needs.
Adding seafoam to the fuel will maintain a clean engine, but will take forever to get in behind the rings etc & loosen up years on buildup.
Shock the engine first, than add to your fuel.
Tollyfamily posted 08-20-2007 11:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tollyfamily  Send Email to Tollyfamily     
Are the Bombardier XD50 and OMC XD50 oils the same? I ask because I was at Joe's and they only had the OMC XD50.


Sal DiMercurio posted 08-21-2007 12:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
No such thing as OMC XD50.
OMC went bankrupt in the year 2000, & Bombadier bought it in 2001.
XD 50 oil didn't come out until Bombardier had the company.
I don't think XD-50 came out until around 2003 - 2004.
A long time after OMC went belly up.
Tollyfamily posted 08-21-2007 10:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tollyfamily  Send Email to Tollyfamily     
Sal, I will go back to the Bellevue Joe's store today and look, maybe it was Evinrude XD50, I was surprised it had the same number whatever it was. In any case would it make less smoke like the other brand?


Buckda posted 08-21-2007 12:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Let's be carerful here. I am convinced that high quality oils burn cleaner and result in less carbon build-up in healthy engines. But if you took a teaspoon of high quality oil and a low quality oil and burned them, you would not likely see a difference. We're talking a cumulative effect here - buildup on your engine that later causes more smoke etc.

It is unlikely that switching will magically cause your motor to stop smoking. You need to decarbonize your engine and then make sure it is tuned...and then switch to the higher quality oil for long lasting results.

Tohsgib posted 08-21-2007 12:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Ya might have had a blonde moment and added oil twice, I have done it before.
blackdog54 posted 08-24-2007 04:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog54  Send Email to blackdog54     
You know Judge, the VRO is disconnected so I am VERY paranoid about my oil and gas mixing. I may be nutty, but I put a tab of blue painter's masking tape over the filler cap (on the original 12 gallon tanks), over the ignition and they key. All 3 come off once I have fueled up AND added oil, so that I don't have to wonder.

Just a quick question, as I did the cheater's attempt last weekend (by just adding to the fuel tanks) without much improvement, if I add it to the carb, as per Sea Foam directions, and then start it up in the driveway with the muffs on, I am thinking that there is going to be a big mess. Never having done this, am I correct? If so, any recommendations to confine the mess? I do not have a large drum, so that is out of the running.

I am in an historic neighborhood, our sidewalks and driveways are 85 y/o rose-colored concrete and I do not want to upset the locals.


Sal DiMercurio posted 08-24-2007 07:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
Black D, it really dosen't make that big of a mess, "BUT" as you say, rose colored cement just might absorb a streak of oil, & you would be tared & feathered.
To be honest with you, I don't have a stain in front of my house, "BUT" I also de-carb my engines ever 50 hours, so there shouldn't be much of a build up in my engines.
Go over to your mother-inlaws & do it.
Good luck.

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