Moderated Discussion Areas
  ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
  Tilt-Trim Gauge Not Working

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

Author Topic:   Tilt-Trim Gauge Not Working
Smithsm posted 05-18-2009 03:10 PM ET (US)   Profile for Smithsm   Send Email to Smithsm  
I just bought a 1998 Outrage 20 with a c.1999 FICHT 225. All electrical functions work exept the tilt and trim gauge. Is there any secret to checking these out other than just checking the connections ?

I am moderate to low on electrical stuff - but will give it a try if I have an idea of what I am doing. I have meters.

Any advice or comments are appreciated.

jimh posted 05-18-2009 05:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I show a schematic diagram with annotations of the trim gauge circuit used with most OMC or BRP motors in

This gives enough information for electrical troubleshooting by a competent technician.

If you want a step-by-step procedure for a non-technical person to follow, I think there is one provided in the service manual for your engine. Most OEM service manuals are written with the assumption that the service technician understands nothing about electricity, and they provide procedures that assume very little knowledge on the part of the service technician about the behavior of electrical devices.

Smithsm posted 05-18-2009 08:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Smithsm  Send Email to Smithsm     
[Thanks] much. I am semi competent and can certainly follow a trouble shooting guide. I will get the manual. I tried to buy it today at the dealership but they didn't have it. I am going to try some on-line sources including eBay.

jimh posted 05-18-2009 10:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you have a reliable voltmeter, check the terminals at the meter as follows:

Hook meter negative to the G terminal.

With meter positive, measure voltage at other terminals a follows:

I = should be at battery positive or close to it, about 12.5 volts

S = should have voltage, but lower than 12-volts, perhaps just a volt or so.

Disconnect the WHITE/TAN lead from the S terminal. Change meter to resistance. Measure resistance of WHITE/TAN to G terminal. Should be 50 ohms or so. Tilt motor and see if it changes.

newt posted 05-19-2009 12:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for newt  Send Email to newt     
Before you go and spend an hour troubleshooting connections, power supply and relays, try tapping the trim motor with a hammer - it may just solve your problem. I was in your shoes last season and even spent a day on the water running with one engine stuck tilted up. When I got home that night, I followed the entire trouble shooting procedure in my factory manual (about 45 minutes) and couldn't find the problem. A quick internet search in desperation found the hammer suggestion - and it worked.
jimh posted 05-19-2009 02:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I believe the motor is tilting, just the gauge isn't reading. But electrical motors with brushes can often be cajoled into working again with a little jolt, especially low-voltage motors like a 12-VDC motor. At 12-VDC it does not take much insulation to stop current flow.
westcoastwhaler posted 05-19-2009 03:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for westcoastwhaler  Send Email to westcoastwhaler     
Before you start checking electrical, it may be mechanical. Check the sending unit that is mounted inside the engine bracket, aft of the transom. On my 1988 70HP Johnson it is a spring clip that is located on the port side of the engine. I had the exact problem and it was stuck in the down position.

It could be that the sending unit is stuck in position due to corrosion or a foreign object.

To check, light up the gauges (not the engine) and move the sending unit up and down and see if the trim gauge moves.

newt posted 05-19-2009 04:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for newt  Send Email to newt     
My bad. Disregard the hammer advice as it certainly won't help the trim gauge.
Smithsm posted 05-21-2009 08:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for Smithsm  Send Email to Smithsm     
JimH is correct - the motor is tilting but the guage is not working.

Before I go into full blown trouble shooting mode I plan to remove all electrical connections, wire brush them, put some electric goo on them to increase connectivity and prevent future corrosion, and see if that helps.

jimh posted 05-21-2009 09:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Don't use a wire brush on electrical connections. Don't put "goo" on them, either.

Many electrical connections are silver plated. Oxides of silver are conductive. Below the silver is copper. Oxides of copper are not conductive. You don't want to remove the silver plating with a wire brush to end up with the copper exposed.

If terminals are dirty or badly corroded you should clean them as much as possible with an appropriate solvent. If you have to remove a top layer of corrosion use a very mild abrasive. A wire brush is too coarse. The resistance of the connection depends on how much surface area is in contact. Forming small grooves with a wire brush will just reduce the surface area and create little places for new corrosion to form.

Electrical current flows through the conductors, not through any "goo" you put on them. In certain instances it is reasonable to apply a grease to an electrical connection after it has been made or tightened, to help keep water away from the connection. The grease is called a di-electric grease because it does not conduct electricity and can withstand a lot of voltage without conducting. The grease does not alter the connectivity of the conductors, it just keeps water out of them.

Smithsm posted 05-21-2009 12:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Smithsm  Send Email to Smithsm     
JimH--[Thanks] again. I thought it would increase my connectivity but in fact it is hurting me. [Sounds] like I need to go wipe it off the connections.
Smithsm posted 05-21-2009 12:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Smithsm  Send Email to Smithsm     
[Can] I buy a CONDUCTIVE grease ?
swist posted 05-21-2009 05:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
I would wager that 95% of all trim indication malfunctions are sender-related. They are usually located in a very exposed area which may never dry out. Many rely on the engine frame for the return feed, and the mounting screws loosen and or corrode easily, thus also compromising the electrical path. And as someone pointed out, many use a spring loaded system to return to either full down or full up, depending on the design. These are often small springs and the whole thing is mickey-mouse if you ask me.
jimh posted 05-21-2009 05:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Electrical supplier BURNDY makes a product called Penetrox. Penetrox is a thick conductive grease designed for use on electrical connections, usually high-current connections.
westcoastwhaler posted 05-22-2009 12:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for westcoastwhaler  Send Email to westcoastwhaler     
Have you checked the sending unit?
Newtauk1 posted 05-22-2009 08:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for Newtauk1  Send Email to Newtauk1     
Thanks for the info regarding oxides of silver and copper. I did not know that. I have used abrasive devices to clean up connectors in the past removing the tinned materials in some cases. I will change my process in the future.

My money is in the sending unit.

Newtauk1 posted 05-22-2009 08:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for Newtauk1  Send Email to Newtauk1     
ps. the mechanical sending unit on my 2001 75hp Mercury failed last season. The unit had corroded on the trim bracket. Easy replacement. Poorly constructed.I am surpised it last as long as it did.
Bigfish18 posted 05-23-2009 09:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigfish18  Send Email to Bigfish18     
[Changed TOPIC to something completely unrelated. Begin a new thread to change the topic. Move to a different area to discuss topics not related to SMALL BOAT ELECTRICAL topics.--jimh.]
Newtauk1 posted 05-24-2009 03:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for Newtauk1  Send Email to Newtauk1     
welcome to the site. it would work better if you started a new topic under the REPAIRS/MOD section rather than jumping into another topic thread.
Smithsm posted 06-17-2009 09:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for Smithsm  Send Email to Smithsm     
Well what do you know - the trim tab guage is working but is way out of calibration - meaning that it does not begin to register on the needle guage until the motor is pretty far up.

so "level"on the needle guage is the motor way, way up - almost out of the water

has anyone ever seen this before ?

it seems like I just need to make a calibration adjustment

jimh posted 06-17-2009 01:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If the TRIM gauge and the sender are matched to each other, the calibration adjustment generally is limited to a mechanical change in position of the sender relative to the outboard motor.

If the TRIM gauge and the sender are not matched to each other, you might see the effect as a change in the dial calibration. Usually the sender resistance and the meter configuration have to be designed to work with each other. I do not think there are universal values for these components in the circuit.

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.