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Author Topic:   Interpreting SYSTEM CHECK Indicator Flashing
Buckda posted 07-06-2010 08:49 AM ET (US)   Profile for Buckda   Send Email to Buckda  
Well, it's been more than a month, but I finally got my boat back on the water over the weekend. We had a beautiful, warm weekend with WSW breezes that kicked Lake Michigan to a 3-5' chop - but felt good to get a little wind and spray when it's 90 degrees and humid.

Anyway, I had a good time with good friends.

Here's the setup, then the question.

I had a little trouble starting the port motor. Well, both motors were difficult to start (these are 2000 Johnson 130's that are carburated 2-strokes). I'm coming off ownership of E-TEC engines, but still, they seemed difficult to start.

The port engine literally took at least 15 minutes of cranking - I'm not kidding. 5 minutes at the dock, 5 more minutes a half hour later on the lake and finally another 4 or 5 minutes back at the ramp when I was going to pull the boat and go home - finally...finally, she started, and I enjoyed the day.

Soon after getting it warmed up, we stopped to anchor in a small lake to go swimming. After about 2 hours, both engines fired immediately...and then I went fishing and trolled on one engine for about two hours (1 hour on each). They fired fine. I took a 15 mile run up to Grand Haven and anchored in the river to watch the fireworks. About 3 hours later, I had trouble firing the port engine again. It took about a minute of cranking.

Then, on the way back into about 3' seas, I noticed all of the LED indicator lights on the port tachometer flashing. The flash was a very brief flash, with 3 or 4 seconds of black, then a quick flash...repeated. This was not in sync with the seas we were working into. It was black/dark with no moon so I couldn't see the tach speed (apparently the lights don't work on the dash!) - but both engines sounded good - and in harmony. We were, however, shuffling along at about 13 mph - just barely on plane. I was knocking down the waves for a 17' Montauk which was following me in the darkness.

Yesterday afternoon, I started the engines on the muffs. Again, the port engine gave me a bit more trouble starting up (but did in about 30 seconds) and there was no flashing lights on the tach.

This is a new-to-me boat.

Also, I just completed an extensive rewire of things in the console. I didn't touch the wiring for the gauges, but may have inadvertently bumped/tugged some when rewiring the switch panels for lights, accessories, etc.

Also, SYSTEM CHECK tach lights work normally during startup.

Thoughts on what it might have been?

I don't have a System Check manual to use in troubleshooting.


Buckda posted 07-06-2010 09:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
"Touch", in the case mentioned above, meaning that I did not rewire the gauges...I'm sure I "touched" them physically when stripping out old wiring and running the new wiring.
jimh posted 07-06-2010 12:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
With an OMC System Check gauge, I believe that the only time all four of the LED indicators would be illuminated in unison is when the ignition key switch is initially turned to ON from OFF. One possible explanation for the display you saw while the engine was running is that power to the System Check gauge was momentarily lost.

The System Check gauge usually has a connector on the rear which is mated with the corresponding plug from the MWS-style wiring hardness. Check that the plug is seated into the connector on the System Check gauge.

Buckda posted 07-07-2010 09:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Thanks - I'll check that. I also think that it may be the keyswitch, as I'm not hearing the "click" of the chock solenoid when I press the key in on starting - which would account for all that cranking...perhaps the keyswitch is on the way out, causing an intermittent signal/power to the tach as well?

Out comes the multimeter again...

jimh posted 07-07-2010 09:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Yes--The ignition key switch is the source of the power to the System Check gauge. If there is an intermittent contact in the key switch you will want to replace it.

On some OMC ignition key switches I believe the wiring is accomplished with a push-on connector arrangement. Check those connections first.

newt posted 07-07-2010 01:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for newt  Send Email to newt     
I am not familiar with the system check, but can address the hard starting. Have you tried advancing the throttle while cranking the port engine? If your choke isn't working, advancing the throttle will help. Just be ready with your hand on the throttle lever so that once it catches you don't over rev the engine.

Even on a bad day, either of my old carburated 2-strokes will catch within 10 seconds or so, and typically much faster, so something is definitely wrong. Now for the stupid questions...

Are you priming the engines after they sit for a long time?
Does the primer bulb get hard?
Are the plugs and fuel filters new?
Does the engine run well through the entire rpm range?
Have you noticed any fuel leaking anywhere under the cowling?

newt posted 07-07-2010 01:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for newt  Send Email to newt     
One more thing. Do you have the maintenance port on your carbs? If so, is the red lever in the correct position?
Buckda posted 07-07-2010 05:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Newt -

yes, I advance the throttle in neutral when starting the engines (I do remember SOME rules from pre-E-TEC!)
I primed the fuel lines and the bulb gets hard
I've not replaced spark plugs. I may do that this week.
I've not replaced the fuel filters. I may do that this week as well.
The engines both run very well through the RPM range. In fact, they're pretty darn impressive compared to my tired old 1985 Black Max that I had on the 18 before the E-TECs. - fairly quiet and smooth.

I've not noticed any fuel under the cowling. There is the "normal" oil that drains out into the cowling pan when the engines are tilted up, but there are no leaks anywhere. These engines, although old, only have 200 hours and are in really good visual condition under the cowlings.

I'll have to check for the red lever. My 1994 Evinrude 70 HP had that manual primer override switch. I've not noticed it on these engines, but will check.

Thanks for the thoughts guys. I guess I'll have to take it systematically.


seahorse posted 07-07-2010 06:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     

Did all 4 light just flash on momentarily or did they come on briefly then sequentially turn off as when turning the keyswitch to ON?

There is no CHECK ENGINE light signal for the 130 carbureted motor so if all 4 flashed on then immediately back off, then the gauge is probably suspect. It contains all the electronics for the light sequence and the driver for the warning horn.

seahorse posted 07-07-2010 06:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     


yes, I advance the throttle in neutral when starting the engines (I do remember SOME rules from pre-E-TEC!)

Uh oh, the 130 has the Quick-Start feature that automatically advances the spark while the motor is cold or starting up. The throttles should be closed for starting.

Buckda posted 07-07-2010 06:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Seahorse - thanks for chiming in - I appreciate your expertise.

I'll try "NOT" advancing the throttles to see if that helps.

Regarding the lights - they were "blipping" on - all of them - and then off...with a pause of off for 3 to 4 seconds, then another blip.

The blip was all four lights, very briefly flashing once, then off again. No "countdown" sequence like starting...

seahorse posted 07-08-2010 12:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     
Sounds like a bad gauge, you could swap them to see if the problem follows the gauge.

Those motors need a lot of juice and a healthy battery and electrical system to crank the flywheel over fast enoughto generate adequate ignition power for quick starting.

Be surethe motors are level or trimmed in, then hold the primer ball "arrow up" and squeeze until rock hard. Turn the key to ON and push in for the "choke" and hold it for a few seconds, then continue holding in while turning to START. The motors should fire up within less than 10 seconds. You may have to push the "choke" in momentarily a few times until the motors get some heat to keep them running.

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