Moderated Discussion Areas
  ContinuousWave: Whaler Performance
  How To Start Outboard Engine

Post New Topic  Post Reply
search | FAQ | profile | register | author help

Author Topic:   How To Start Outboard Engine
lhpdiver posted 01-21-2012 05:04 PM ET (US)   Profile for lhpdiver   Send Email to lhpdiver  
I try and start my engines at least every other week if we can't get out. They are twin 2001 225 OMC outboard engines. I have always had trouble starting them when they haven't run for a while. This year I bought new deep-cycle batteries [and] a Quest Charger, hoping that, if the batteries were truly fully charged, things would be easier. No luck there.

Someone told me to trim the motors up so the propellers were almost out of the water. I really don't see that making much difference.

I replaced the primer bulbs within the last year or so. I'm not quite sure how many times to squeeze them. Today, for example, I gave each about 10 slow deliberate squeezes until the bulbs felt kind of full. Still gave me a hard time.

I'm afraid I'm hurting the starters.

Once I get the engines started and let them run for a while I can stop and start them right away. It also seems that if I take the boat out every day they start up right away as well. Any thoughts appreciated.

Buckda posted 01-21-2012 07:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Sounds like you're operating the primer bulbs correctly. If you have a manual for the motor, check it for the manufacturer's recommendation on starting procedures.

Check to make sure your choke is working - you should hear a "click" sound at the engine when you press the key in. You may need to take the cowling off to hear this.

I don't know if your engine is equipped with an electronic fuel primer - but if it is, you need to press in the key (choke), and then turn the key partway, and allow the electronic primer to run some fuel, then turn the ignition so the starter engages.

If none of this works, remove the cowling, and look on the right side of the powerhead (as you're looking at it) for a red lever switch - this is on the primer solenoid - and flip that lever 180 degrees. See if that helps start the engine - it's a manual fuel enrichment valve. If that works, then you probably have a problem with your choke or electronic fuel primer circuit.

I would usually also say that carburated engines are hard to start when they're cold - in my experience, they usually are, however, I just started a 1972 Mercury 500 on the first turn of the key after it had been sitting for 2 months, so that theory went out the window this afternoon....sorry about that!

contender posted 01-21-2012 07:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Its not your motors it the crap fuel the government is now selling (some here will disagree). Couple of things, I have now read that its better to disconnect your full line at the end of the day to let the gas run out of your engines (run them dry before you storage, dock, trailer) This prevents the varnish build up and will not clog your jets/fuel injection, lines and any small openings in the fuel system. Some people on this site use a fuel additive as well(can not think of the name of the product right now) Also your battery should be in tip top shape as well, if the engine does not turn over fast its a lot harder to start. Last check your plugs make sure the wires are good and they are all getting spark. If you still are having a problem this would have to be a dealer/mechanic fix. One more, you can get/carry a can of starting spray shooting it into the intake...good luck
jimh posted 01-21-2012 11:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Get your engines in good tune. Follow the recommended starting procedure. I used to have an Evinrude 225-HP with carburetors. It started very nicely, usually on the first turn of the key and with only a revolution or two of the flywheel. It was in good tune and I followed the recommended starting procedure in the owner's manual.
L H G posted 01-22-2012 02:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
OMC went bankrupt, so if you have 2001 engines, you have BRP engines, either Johnson carbureted, or Evinrude Ficht.
Which are they?
lhpdiver posted 01-22-2012 06:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for lhpdiver  Send Email to lhpdiver     
Good Morning!

You are right. The engines are 1999 Johnson's purchased new in 2000. (Had to pull out the boat repair file).

Last night I re-read the "operation manual" and there is one thing I can try differently. Years ago a mechanic working on the boat told me to a) use the primer balls and the b) turn the key at the helm pushing it in and out while cranking. In this regard the manual is a little unclear.

Under "engine starting" it says "if equipped. activate the electric primer pump for 20 or 30 seconds".

Under "cold Engine" it says "Turn the key clockwise to START position and push/hold key IN to PRIME. (Primer works only while the engine is cranking or running). Crank the engine no longer than 10 seconds at a time."

Those two instructions seem to contradict each other ??

I was concerned that some of the fuel might be getting a little "old". When I topped off the tank recently I threw in jug of Yamaha Ring Free. I used to use that stuff until I switched over to the good XD50 oil.

We plan on having our mechanic look the boat over soon. Local nautical flea market next weekend and I want see if we can pick up some stuff. The last thing we had done was replace one of the oil pumps because of excessive smoke. But now, the cowlings have some black soot on them.

Sorry for jumping all over the place here.

Peter posted 01-22-2012 08:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Larry, 2001 model year outboards were OMC, not BRP. 2001 model year came out in 2000. 2002 was the first model year for BRP.

There is no choke on these motors. There is a fuel enrichment valve.

Regarding the starting of OMC carbureted V6 outboards, squeeze primer until firm, advance throttle in neutral about one-third, while turning key to start position, push key in. When motor fires up, stop pushing the key in and if it sounds like it is stalling push key in again for a second or two. If the motor is in good tune, that should get the motor started and running every time when stone cold.

jimh posted 01-22-2012 09:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
lhpdiver--There is no contradiction in the instructions. You have misread them.

The "electric primer pump" and the "choke" are two different devices. You seem to have become confused and think they are the same device.

There is an option for an electric primer pump. It is a very nice option, and I had that on my boat. You accomplish the fuel system priming by operating an sophisticated electric primer pump with pressure bypass. If you do not have the electric primer pump you accomplish the fuel system priming with the in-line primer bulb in the fuel hose.

The choke is a fuel enrichment mechanism that is also electrically operated from the ignition switch. When you push in the ignition switch it operates a solenoid that opens a valve that permits added fuel to flow into the air stream into the cylinder intake, enriching the fuel mixture for a cold start.

You need to read and follow the directions in the operating manual. Pay particular attention to the procedure, and to the position of the throttle handle. Many people invent their own starting procedure, but, in my experience, the procedure that the manufacturer recommends will give the best results.

If you follow the procedure in the operating manual the engine should start easily. I am not exaggerating when I say this, but my 1992 Evinrude V6 with six carburetors started very quickly. I could haul it to the ramp after it had been sitting for a month, prime the fuel system, and apply the starting procedure, and the engine would fire up after about two seconds of cranking. If it were a cold morning I might have to hold in the fuel enrichment ("choke") for a moment to keep it running during the first minute. The engine has enough electronics that it knows to run at a fast idle until it is warm. When the engine is operating properly, has good fuel, good spark plugs, and is started with the procedure in the operating manual, it is no problem to start a cold engine, even one sitting for a month since its last operation.

jimh posted 01-22-2012 09:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Also--on your OMC V6 engine, check the position of the manual fuel enrichment valve. This valve usually has a red handle. The manual valve should be in the closed position. If the manual valve is not completely closed it will permit fuel enrichment all the time. This leads to a fuel mixture that is chronically too rich, and it can also lead to hard starting from too much enrichment. Operate the red lever clockwise to close the manual fuel enrichment valve. It should be clearly described and shown in the operating manual.
jimh posted 01-22-2012 09:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Re how to prime the fuel system on an engine with six carburetors using the primer bulb in the fuel hose:

If the engine was stored in a tilted-up position for a long time, there is a tendency for fuel to run out of the carburetor float bowls. The float bowls will often be dry or very low on fuel after storage with the engine tilted up. When you want to start the engine after storage, you must prime the fuel system so that all the carburetors will have fuel. You can tell from the feel of the primer bulb when the fuel system has been primed. Do not squeeze the primer bulb with too much force. You can create too much pressure in the fuel system, and you might cause a leak. Squeeze the primer bulb until it becomes firm and full of fuel. A few more gentle squeezes of the primer bulb should push fuel through all the lines and to the carburetor float bowls.

If you do not properly prime the fuel system with the primer bulb, the engine will not start because of lack of fuel in the carburetor float bowls. You can eventually move fuel to the carburetor float bowls by cranking and cranking the engine. The cranking will operate the fuel pump and push the fuel to the carburetors. But this is not a good method to prime the system. It is better to prime the system with the fuel primer bulb. The electric primer is a nice accessory because it lets you prime the fuel system by simply operating a switch. Also, the electric primer only creates a certain amount of pressure, so it cannot force fuel under high pressure into causing leaks. If you really squeeze hard on the primer bulb when manually priming you can cause something to leak.

The tilt position of the engine during starting should be level. The advice you received about tilting the engine upward so that the propeller was out of the water is not--in my opinion--good advice. This was probably recommended to you in order to reduce the back pressure on the cylinder exhaust path. If the propeller hub is out of the water then the exhaust path will not be underwater, but rather into open air. However, most engines have an idle exhaust bypass which automatically provides an exhaust path to open air at low speeds and when starting. Some people believe the engine might start more easily if its main exhaust is not under water. However, the manufacturer designed the engine to start with the propeller exhaust hub under water, and the engine should start under those conditions. The engine will probably run better and more smoothly with the exhaust underwater, as too little exhaust back pressure may alter the behavior of the cylinder air flow.

jimh posted 01-22-2012 10:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You will also notice that the idle quality of the six carburetor OMC V6 will vary with the engine tilt position. In the intake manifold downstream of the carburetors it is possible that some fuel comes out of suspension in the air and drops out as liquid fuel. This fuel is collected and recirculated. If the engine is tilted upward away from level operation, the flow of the liquid fuel in the intake manifold may cause it to move away from the recirculation inlets. I found that my six-carburetor OMC engine idled best when it was in a level operating position. You can notice changes in the engine idle characteristics as you alter the engine tilt.
lhpdiver posted 01-22-2012 10:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for lhpdiver  Send Email to lhpdiver     

Thanks for the info.

After reading your reply I went out back, turned on the batteries, lowered the engines in the water (level) , moved the throttles (in neutral) forward maybe 1/3, and cranked (while pressing the key in) for about 5-10 seconds. I did this for both engines, neither started.

Notice I left out the primer bulbs. From past experience I don't need to use them if I run the engines every day...

So - I started squeezing the bulbs and I simply couldn't get the feel of fuel moving through them, neither of them. I squeezed them maybe 100 times each. Never got hard. (They are pretty new - maybe a year old).

Anyway - I went to the helm, turned the key(s) (pressing in) and both engines fired right up (maybe a little more smoke then normal).

Now the manual makes no mention of the throttle other than to leave it in neutral - but I have heard several people now say to push it forward a little when starting...

I'm going to go back out now and look at the "manual fuel enrichment valve".

btw - I always leave the props in the water when starting the engines.

lhpdiver posted 01-22-2012 11:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for lhpdiver  Send Email to lhpdiver     
The manual fuel enrichment valves are closed.

I didn't mention that when I tilt the engines out of the water (at the end of the day) I also need to turn them (all the way) and even then the very tip of the lower unit sits in the water. I wonder if turning one way versus the other might make a difference ?

Switching topics - I doubt that in the good times in the Garden of Eden that the weather could have been any nicer than it is today in South Florida.

Peter posted 01-22-2012 12:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Primer bulbs need to be held vertically (arrow pointing up) for the check valves to work properly. Now would be a good time to invest in a pair of new OEM fuel bulbs.
L H G posted 01-22-2012 12:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
[Changed topic and went on one of his usual fear, uncertainty, and doubt campaigns, spreading disinformation about OMC engines. Larry, please, help this fellow get his engine started, and stop trying to use him as a means to insert your usual pro-Mercury and anti-OMC propaganda--jimh]
jimh posted 01-22-2012 04:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The usual starting procedure for OMC engines of your epoch is to leave the engine throttle in the idle position. The engine control system provides an automatic means to force the idle speed to increase during engine start and engine warm-up, but if you move the throttle out of the idle position the automatic system is defeated. I found it to be much easier to let the automatic fast-idle system built into the engine control take care of the engine fast idle instead of moving the throttle myself. Really, the best advice on starting comes from the engineers who designed the engine, and I would follow that advice in preference to all the guys who have their own methods for starting.

Again, if everything is working properly, the engine should start easily, maintain a fast idle until warmed up, and not stall during warm-up. If you do not get that result, I would investigate the engine to make sure it is in good tune and that the automatic systems are working properly.

If you want to defeat the automatic systems and invent your own procedure, you are welcome to do that, but there is no guarantee the results will be any better than if you just followed the recommended procedure.

Another important element in engine starting is the spark plug gap. These older engines do not use exotic modern spark plugs, and the spark gap is very likely to erode with use, causing the gap to increase. If the spark plug gap is too wide, you may suffer with poor starting and poor running. The spark plug gap is typically 0.030-inch. Check here for more details:

jimh posted 01-22-2012 04:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
For information on using the primer bulb, see my article


lhpdiver posted 01-22-2012 04:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhpdiver  Send Email to lhpdiver     
I guess the orientation of the primer bulb is just something which those in the know just take for granted. I took Peter's advice and while there is not enough slack in the fuel line for me to get the bulb vertical I can get it to maybe 1 or 2 o'clock and that does seem to make a difference (The bulb gets full much more quickly).

In the past then it has been chance as to how that bulb was oriented in my usage. To be honest, when I wasn't studying the procedure, I would probably just give each bulb 5 or 6 quick squeezes and go.

I have another portable fuel-line I use to put fuel onto the boat which also has a primer-like bulb which gets the flow going. I also use it to fill the generator when needed. In both of those applications the source fuel is elevated above the target tank. I've never had a problem in those applications and I'm 100% certain that the arrow would be pointing down.

Anyway - the things I have learned since asking my original question are; a) keep the engines trimmed level b) watch the orientation of the bulb arrow when priming c) keep the throttles in neutral/idle d) press the key in (steady) when turning to crank the engine.

I can't wait to put my new knowledge to use and see if I get better results. I'll post my results.

And Larry - by no means am I an OMC bigot but I guess we got lucky with our pair of engines. Not only did we get a pretty good price, there really haven't been any manufacturing issues in the 12 years we have had them. Also I think that was the first year of those Ficht engines and everyone warned us to stay away from them.

Well - thanks everybody for your help on this.

Buckda posted 01-22-2012 05:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
One final thing to think about - new fuel primer bulbs are often of suspicious quality. By that, I mean that I've encountered more than a couple primer bulbs that were pretty much junk right out of the packaging. I had a pair on my 25 for my Johnson 130's that I'll be replacing in the current refurb. The OEM Bulbs are 'spensive, but the quality seems to make it worth the extra cost, as I've had failures with TEMPO and ATTWOOD branded bulbs with plastic fittings.

Good luck - I hope this thread was somewhat helpful and you have an easier time starting the engines moving forward.

Tohsgib posted 01-23-2012 02:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
I had a 1994 Johnson 225 and I will say 3 things:

1) Deep Cycle are NOT starting batteries and should NOT be used. They are for electronics and electric engines. Shocking them by starting and recharging will severly lessen the life.

2) Engine should be in neutral, not at fast idle. Prime bulbs, turn key, push in key 10-15 times, push key in and hold and start engines, should fire in a coule seconds.

3) Buy quality fuel lines and hoses, not cheap stuff from Wally World or Theft Marine. OEM is the only way to go and it does not matter if Yamaha or BRP bulbs, just buy good ones. FL sun and cheap lines make for maybe a year of use.

lhpdiver posted 02-05-2012 10:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for lhpdiver  Send Email to lhpdiver     
Ok so my new starting methodology works great. Both engines fire right up with just a little choking. The real clincher I think is making sure the arrow on the primer balls is oriented upwards.

I used to worry me was how much oil and gas globules used to sit on the surface of the water when I started my engines. That has disappeared pretty much now that I am not cranking and choking as much as I used to. Does that make sense?

jimh posted 02-05-2012 10:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Great news about the faster starting when following the recommended procedures. Your experience matches mine. The best starting occurs when the manufacturer's instructions are followed. Good outcome in this case.
lhpdiver posted 02-05-2012 12:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhpdiver  Send Email to lhpdiver     
As I said earlier both engines started right up this morning. No problems. Then I left them running (in idle), came in and used the internet, and when I went back out the starboard engine had stopped. Maybe 15 minutes or so had passed. To be honest it kind of sounded a little wheezy when I first started it.

After it had stopped, I tried to restart it by simply turning (and choking) the key. It did not start right back up. When I checked the primer ball it was very flexible so I squeezed it until hard and then the engine started up again. Is there something simple I can check / do ?

Thank you.

lhpdiver posted 02-05-2012 05:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhpdiver  Send Email to lhpdiver     
Well I just threw in 2 new fuel filters and 12 new plugs. It starts fine now but perhaps it is all the attention the engines have been given today. I'll let it sit a couple days and check again.

I don't know what 2 year (or so) spark plugs are supposed to look like. I'll say this, the plugs look just about the same as the last 12 plugs we pulled about 2 years ago. I bought a 24 plug shop pack and kept the old ones. In any event, there is a lot of oil residue on all 24 plugs...

Any thoughts appreciated.

Tohsgib posted 02-06-2012 01:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
try switching to BRP XD50 oil.
jimh posted 02-06-2012 09:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You can only read the spark plug color if you shut off the engine after running at speed. Once you run at idle speed the plugs will become dark and oily. If you want to read the color of the spark plug insulators, make a long high-speed run, then immediately shut off the engine. Coast to a stop and pull the spark plugs. Then you can read the insulator color accurately. Any other method and you are likely to get dark, black, oily insulator color.

Post New Topic  Post Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | RETURN to ContinuousWave Top Page

Powered by: Ultimate Bulletin Board, Freeware Version 2000
Purchase our Licensed Version- which adds many more features!
© Infopop Corporation (formerly Madrona Park, Inc.), 1998 - 2000.