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Flushing Outboard Engine?
|Author||Topic: Flushing Outboard Engine?|
posted 03-06-2004 02:32 PM ET (US)
I'm purchasing a 130 Sport with a 2-stroke 40 hp engine. Since I'm going to be trailering this boat and using it in salt water, I was wondering if it's worth flushing the engine out after each use? If so, is it safe to use the Tempo Flusher?
posted 03-06-2004 02:50 PM ET (US)
You must flush the engine every time you use it and as soon as possible, our local ramp has a flushing tap and everybody flushes a soon as we pull out.
if you don't flush the water jacket and passageways will fir with salt and she will eventually overheat, probably a very serious repair at best and dangerous if she goes at sea.
we use the old flushing muffs which can be bought very cheaply ($15)
posted 03-06-2004 09:03 PM ET (US)
Are you saying the 40hp Mrec is not rated for saltwater use? I purchased one last spring (130 Sport) and the boat stays in the water, have never flushed it after using. I don't know anyone here at the NJ shore who does this as a routine procedure on any size OB. I can see where, when pulling the boat it becomes an easy task and is a good idea.
posted 03-06-2004 09:14 PM ET (US)
Whooaaaaa now Chris, you're scaring people here.
Flushing is generally a good idea. I have flushed maybe three or four times in over a thousand hours of boating. And the three times were only because the 90 ELPTO on my Montauk came with a flush fitting. Is it a good idea? Absolutely. Could it prevent costly repairs? Probably. Are you going to incur costly damage if you don't flush your engine right away everytime? NO WAY.
I can only speak from experience, but I have never had an overheating problem. My advise is this: flush when you can, but don't lose sleep if you're on vacation and it's going to go a few days until you can flush.
posted 03-06-2004 10:47 PM ET (US)
Like jaccop said; no need to be so obsessive.
posted 03-06-2004 11:03 PM ET (US)
If your trailering the boat there is no reason why you can't make flushing the engine a regular part of your post trip routine. I am a trailer boater and after a trip I rinse everything down, then hook the hose up to the coastal flushing attachment on the Mercury 90, put the boating gear in the garage and by that time the engine is done flushing and I'm ready to put the boat away. Doesn't make sense not to flush my engine, but I know plenty of boaters who flush it a couple times a year and they don't seem to be having any corrosion problems.
posted 03-07-2004 12:20 PM ET (US)
ok guys its obviously a personal choice whether you flush however.
"Flush the internal water passages of the outboard with fresh water after each use in salt,polluted or muddy water. This will help prevent a buildup of deposits from clogging the internal water passages."
source: page 47, maintenance section, mercury outboards owners manual. copywrite 1995,Brunswick Corporation.
It takes hardly any time at all and then if you don't get it back in the water for a month, six weeks due to commitments you won't have to worry that concentrated salt deposits are corroding your/ your engines passages!
posted 03-13-2004 12:21 AM ET (US)
FLUSH DON'T RUST!
posted 03-13-2004 07:05 AM ET (US)
Funny thing that in all my years of saltwater marina kept boats, I never, ever flushed, not once, without problem. Now that I trailer, I flush every time. Go figure!
posted 03-13-2004 08:42 AM ET (US)
One of the distinguishing features between the engines in the Mercury line that are branded as "Saltwater" engines compared to those that are not is the inclusion of a flushing attachment.
posted 03-13-2004 09:58 AM ET (US)
Good point JIM
posted 03-13-2004 09:58 AM ET (US)
Good point JIM
posted 03-13-2004 11:23 AM ET (US)
Ask your wife if you should flush after each use or not. She's gonna give you good advice that you should listen to at home and with your boat.
How bout this solution?
I agree with all of the posters - you should flush, and you should do it in a way that fits your personality, and level of risk acceptance.
The most important things to remember are these:
posted 03-13-2004 12:01 PM ET (US)
My neighbor, who fishes the same water as I do and also keeps his boat on a trailer, will pull his boat out of Puget Sound after a day of fishing and tow it to Lake Washington where he will run the engine and dunk the trailer (less than 10 miles between ramps). Seems excessive to me, but his boat and trailer always appear to be in working order.
posted 03-14-2004 04:47 PM ET (US)
I assume the need to flush is the same and it doesn't matter if you trailer your craft or you simply return it to it's slip. What is the best way to flush out the engine if you slip your boat?
posted 03-14-2004 06:46 PM ET (US)
I grew up on the LI sound, so I am very familar with boats and saltwater. Everything is a tradeoff. The advantage of flushing the outboard of a boat that is moored or docked in saltwater needs to be contrasted with the sacrafices in doing so. It may possibly make the motor last longer, but using it on a regular basis and doing preventive maintenance would help more. I think the burden of flushing the motor every time might discourage you from deciding at 6:00pm on a wed night to take the boat for a quick 1 hour fishing trip. I think then the owner who doesn't use his boat much then decides that he can put off a maintenance activity for a while, since it doesn't have that many hours on it since the last service. I have seen pristine 15 year old motors. I still wouldn't pay you that much for it as I would the latest and greatest four-stroke, fuel efficient motor with the warranty. Can I see how rigorous you were about flushing? No, not unless I want to take it apart. Do many people leave a boat in the saltwater for a season without flushing? You bet, and if I am buy a motor that was used on a boat moored/docked in saltwater, that is what I assume, irregardless of what the seller tells me. So I don't see it enhancing resale. Do many post 1985 outboards have problems due to saltwater corroding a water jacket or some other internal saltwater problem? This is fairly rare. I would be more concerned about things like pulling the prop mid year to check if fishing line has gotten into the lower unit seal, and keep the prop shaft greased so the hub will come off easy in an emergency. Take the time to spray anti-corrosion spray liberally on every surface of the motor. It won't look shiny, but you can always rub it off and it will look brand new when you go to sell it. If you live in a region with a limited boating season then I think the avantages of flushing after each use are even less. From june to september would be four months out of 12. So for 75% of it's life it will be flushed clean. Driving the other 25% to zero versus spending more time boating or doing other types of maintenance is a personal choice.
posted 03-15-2004 01:03 AM ET (US)
Boating season - March/April to November - Total 8 Months give or take some on either end.
posted 03-15-2004 06:57 AM ET (US)
The make up of this forum is so diversified that posts get very spcific as to there needs from where they live, how often they use there boat, boating season etc.
My two cents: I live on a lake in Fl but use the the lake only to run boat when I haven't been fishing in Salt water for a while or to flush after a long trip to the Keys. I had my neighbor(marine mechanic) take my boat last year and change the water pump etc. I told him to check the thermostats and he said I rarely see any problems with them on newer Mercury outboards, but I insisted, he did check them out and they were frozen half shut and cloged with stuff, and almost in a condition to cause over heating problems, that may not have showen up quickly enough to detect by the motor system or gauge. He now checks all outboards automatically after 3 years of age.
I do flush, but I have a great deal of down time where boat is not run. There, I think, is the problem, lack of use, I have friends in the keys with older motors with no problems in the water jacket but these boats are used 2-4 times a week and flushed each time as well.
I still flush but now I have added a product called Saltaway to the mix, I have been told my reliable sources that this stuff will keep the water jacket clean and will clean all the old salt/corrision out if used correctly and religously.
A tv show I was watching highly recommend that on particularly 4 strokes, that everyone pay close attention to the flushing and water jacket corrision. Reasoning was that the 4S run hotter, but so does my new opti.
I might add that even many fresh water lakes have enough corrive stuff in them to do damage as well, the water in my lake will pit stainless steel chain the county uses to hole marker in place.
Sorry to ramble
posted 03-15-2004 04:43 PM ET (US)
A flushing question:
I have a Merc 90 with a flushing port. But I have been told by Whaler mechanics that, if possible, use the old "earmuff" style flushing device. This circulates fresh water through the entire cooling system, including the water pump. Any thoughts on this?
posted 03-15-2004 07:54 PM ET (US)
My merc 90 has the flushing port I've used a few times but I run it with the earmuffs to flush it too. Depends on if the neighbor's car is blocking my driveway when I get home with the trailer. I usually flush mine after each saltwater outing I have an attachment with salt terminator or saltaway running through. I guess it's cheap insurance for the 5 minutes each time it takes to flush.
Someone told me once that if the motor stays submerged in saltwater it's o.k. but can cause more damage when exposed to air (like on a trailer) to cause corrosion from salt?? Maybe wrong but just a thought.
posted 03-19-2004 02:24 AM ET (US)
I have been taught that the ear muffs are the more correct way to flush salt from the merc four strokes....even tho they have an built in attachment for hose connection...by flushing from lower unit..you inject more water into..the water pump/impeller housing that encompaaes the driveshaft..this housing although its stainless steel..sits on top of an alluminum..spacer..alluminum corrodes in salt.
basically..the hose bib..flusher on lower cowl rinses the power head effectively..thats all..
the smaller hp yamahas..have a flush attachment too...
posted 12-14-2004 11:34 AM ET (US)
How long should you flush the motor? 5 minutes? 10 minutes?
posted 12-14-2004 02:38 PM ET (US)
Flush long enough to get the water warm/hot.
posted 12-14-2004 07:49 PM ET (US)
Should I turn the water on full-stream when flushing or is that too strong?
posted 12-14-2004 08:07 PM ET (US)
There are an awful lot of saltwater boats that are moored or slip kept that never get flushed, and those motors don't corrode into a useless pile of junk overnight. Obviously, it's better to flush your motor when you can, and I always do it when I trailer mine. It's in the water most of the time, and so it only gets flushed 3 to 4 times per year. As for thermostats corroding shut, that's a regular preventative maintenance item, and they should be checked and replaced at regular intervals anyway. I think small outboards (eg. kickers) are more prone to problems related to not flushing simply because the channels in the water jacket are smaller and more easily plugged. These motors also don't have guages and overheat alarms, so you really have to watch the tell-tale stream closely.
Bigjohn, don't put the hose on full blast, you could damage the impeller (at least according to several owner's manuals I've seen). Provide enough flow so that some water leaks by the muffs when the engine isn't running, but not so much that it's blowing them off the outdrive. Also, get out of the boat and monitor the flow out the exhaust and the telltale to make sure the motor is getting enough water once you've started it up. I put an in-line ball valve in the hose set-up on my muffs so I can adjust it right at the motor. Different line pressure from the hosebib will yield different flow at the motor.
By the way, I'm amazed at how many people are meticulous about flushing after every use, but never bother to touch up the paint on the lower unit. The paint is a big part of outboard motor corrosion prevention, particulary for moored boats.
posted 12-15-2004 12:24 AM ET (US)
My 2 cents on the subject.
I live in hot sunny south florida, warm salt water, boat on a lift behind the house.
If I am going to use the boat in the next day or two I will not flush. Not because I don't think it needs it but because I am lazy and justify not doing it.
If I am not using the boat till next weekend I will absolutely flush the motor on the lift while I am cleaning the rest of the boat. It takes a second to hook it up and it runs by itself while I am working cleaning up. So what's the big deal to do it?
I realize that there are many people that have had positive experiences with not flushing and I can certainly respect that. But, living in THIS climate I can tell you that I have seen the damage that warm salt water and sun can do to not only power heads but a lot of other things as well. I know Bigjohn living way out in the Pacific has made more than one comment on the damage in his area that salt corrosion can do. So if we can all agree that salt is corrosive then why in the world would anyone want to leave it inside your power head where it can do nothing but no good?
I do agree with the gentleman that said regular use is maybe one of the most important things you can do to maintain your boat. Down here lack of regular use of their boats by some people is the cause of a lot of damage.
Hot salt water (in the summer water temp is in the mid to high 80's) and hot baking sun all day long do not make for a healthy environment for a boat. Anything we can do down here to get an edge on mother nature is a point in our favor.
Oh, btw. If I do not flush the motor when we get back from diving (remember the "lazy" comment above)it's my wife that kicks my ass to do it. :-)
posted 12-15-2004 07:35 AM ET (US)
I agree with everything Divefan states above. His climate and mine are nearly identical and everyone here who trailers also flushes after every outing. I even see many owners with boats that stay tied up to the marina hooking up their hoses dockside and flushing, then tilting their gearcases up out of the water for storage. A few guys who store their boats in slips and do not flush regularly tell me they simply flush with salt-away once a month or so. I am not for or against this latter method, just repeating what I am told by some owners.
posted 12-15-2004 12:16 PM ET (US)
I'm always amazed to watch the occasional skipper pull his/her nice, new, very expensive boat with ridiculously expensive outboard motor(s) (and trailer) out of the salt water and just drive off without washing down the trailer, the boat, and without flushing the motor(s). I've kept a series of sailboats in slips, and realize that maintenance for a permanently moored craft is very different from a trailered boat, but now that I'm trailering I sure can't imagine NOT taking the extra twenty minutes or so after a day on the ocean cleaning up my boat and trailer a little with fresh water and flushing the motor. I use my boat about 95% in salt water, and the thought of pulling her out and just letting her sit corroding away 'til her next trip gives me the shivers...
posted 12-15-2004 12:35 PM ET (US)
And don't get me wrong...I'm anything but obsessive about post-boating/fishing washdowns. I use my Outrage 18 twice a week on average, and maybe only once every couple of months do I give her a real washdown with powerwasher and soap. My usual post-voyage maintenance is often only pulling the plug and hosing down the hull and trailer, deck, boat's interior including console and seats, motors' exteriors, maybe scrub the decks with a brush if there's a lot of blood, all the while flushing the motor (or motors if I've used the kicker). Whole thing never takes more than half an hour, and it's a great time to b.s. with the other guys/gals at the washdown station.
posted 09-08-2006 03:00 PM ET (US)
I have a new 90 ELPT 4 stroke with the flushing adapter to hook a hose up to. I'm used to my old outboards that use ear muffs. I have a basic question. How the heck do you get enough water through that tell tale hole to flush and keep the motor cool?
posted 09-08-2006 04:05 PM ET (US)
All the flush water does not exit the telltale. 99% of it goes through the block, out the exhuast manifold, and down the exhaust housing leg, and then out the prop hub, idle ports, or leg vents. BillS
posted 09-08-2006 09:21 PM ET (US)
Thanks for your reply. Once it gets in the motor, I can visualize where it goes, I'm just amazed that that small bleed hold in the tell-tale can supply enough volume of water at idle to do any good. After all, Mercury tells you to turn your faucet on no more than 1/2. I'll give it a try since they have more experience than I do, I'm just amazed from a fluid flow point of view. By the way, I read previous discussions on this subject for an hour today on this great website and it appears that there are a lot of similar questions on the proper procedure. Mercury makes it sound so basic in their owner's manual, but it would be great if they explained it better. Many owners have questions and if Mercury read this website, they could certainly help us all. I guess my next note will be to them. Thanks again.
posted 09-08-2006 09:32 PM ET (US)
Mel, I think there is some confusion in terminology here. The telltale does not supply cooling water, so any small bleed hole in it isn't going to affect your cooling one way or another, at idle or any other speed. The telltale is intended as an indicator that cooling water is circulating in the motor. The water associated with your telltale is leaving your motor, not entering it.
Maybe when you used the word, "telltale" you meant something else, like the flushing adaptor fitting?
Or am I confused?
posted 09-09-2006 09:45 AM ET (US)
When you hook the hose up to the tell tale connector and turn the hose on, the water flow has to pass through the tell tale hole into the motor. My question/comment is that I'm surprised you can force enough water through that small tell tale passage to flush the cooling system.
posted 09-10-2006 08:41 AM ET (US)
You're not hooking the hose to the telltale. You're hooking it up to the threaded washing port. They are two completely different things you're talking about.
The telltale merely indicates the presence of flowing water in the cooling system.
posted 09-10-2006 09:18 AM ET (US)
Thank you rumrunner- I was beginning to think the world had shifted on me. I was trying to envision a telltale that was intentionally (for some reason way beyond my understanding), designed to come out of the middle of a hose connection, which hose connection would effectively shut off and reverse the normal flow of water as soon as the hose was connected and the water turned on.
posted 09-10-2006 10:42 AM ET (US)
You guys are completely missing my point. I realize you cannot see the tell tale when you hook up the hose. What I am making a comment on is that when you hook up the hose, all of the water from the city water supply has to pass through the tell tale hole(app. .025" orifice) into the engine. I'm surprised enough water can pass through a .025" orifice to flush the motor. See ya.
posted 09-10-2006 11:08 AM ET (US)
Mel, call me hard-headed (many people have), but I still don't get it. How does water introduced through a garden hose into your motor's flush port wind up running through your motor's telltale assembly back *into* the motor? And what happens to water that normally would be running *out* of the telltale, indicating the presence of cooling water, when this is happening?
posted 09-10-2006 12:38 PM ET (US)
I'm just as hard headed. I guess you aren't familiar with the Mercury ELPT 4 stroke. The tell tale hole is in the center of the flushing port connection so all of the flushing water enters the motor through the tell tale hole. It exits through the prop and water pump inlet since those are the other ports open to the cooling system. Take a look at a new Merc 90.
posted 09-10-2006 03:23 PM ET (US)
Thanks for your patience - that is the only way I could envision what you were describing, but it was so different from every other motor I have seen that it just wouldn't register with me. I have never seen a Merc ELPt 4-S 90; guess I just learned something. Back to your initial question, I'm with you; I'd have to guess the Merc engineers know what they're doing...
posted 09-10-2006 03:43 PM ET (US)
Yes, guess it is very different from what I have dealt with. By any chance, is there any opening at all between the tiny telltale passage and the circumfrence of the hose threads? Or is the only thing within the washout diameter the telltale passage?
posted 09-10-2006 04:12 PM ET (US)
Just the dinky tell tale hole. The hose bottoms out around it. I don't get it, but I'm not a fluids engineer, just a mechanical motor head engineer that has to ask the dumb questions.
posted 09-17-2006 10:25 PM ET (US)
I just had a heating problem with my(new to me) 2004 40HP 4Stroke Mercury. I fish only saltwater with this engine and have always flushed with the screw-in attachment on the back of the motor. Last month after running for 5 minutes the alarm sounded. As soon as I pulled the throttle to idle the alarm quit. After sitting for a couple minutes I took off again and the alarm never came on again that day. The next trip out the alarm sounded after running for 3 minutes. The alarm stopped again when I went to idle. This time every time I went above idle the alarm sounded. I went ahead and let it cool off and the slowly headed back to the ramp. When I took it in and they checked everything the thermostat was really salted up. I flushed this engine for 15+ minutes at the house after every trip at the screw in fitting and the thermostat was still corroded. I also have a 2000 25 HP Mercury 4Stroke and have always flushed with the screw in attachment and have never had any heating problem at all. By the way the impeller looked fine. Just wondering if the 3 cylender 40 HP does not get flushed as well as the 2 cylender 25 Hp while using the screw in attachment. I checked the thermostat in the 25 and it looks free from corrosion and I know I have used it twice as much in salt water as the 40 always with the same flushing routine. Also the mechanic at the Mercury repair shop where I bought the motor said to always use the ear muffs to flush. I told him I wish someone had told me this 2 1/2 years ago. He said he has arguments with the sales guys on this one. Apparently they sell the fact that you can flush at the attachment provided on the motor for conveniance. I have not had a chance to put it in the water yet but it still seems to be alot warmer than the 25 while flushing at the house. I will always flush with the ear muffs from now on, at least on the 40HP, for sure. Hopefully the inside of the powerhead is not as corroded as the thermostat was! Any thoughts on this one? Thanks
posted 09-18-2006 10:16 PM ET (US)
Ahab - where do you live and boat?
posted 09-18-2006 10:37 PM ET (US)
According to his profile, it's Texas Coastal Bend.
posted 09-19-2006 06:43 AM ET (US)
Anyone use SaltAway when flushing?
posted 09-19-2006 07:47 AM ET (US)
Ahab, sounds like you need to be flushing with salt-away. I use the muffs and salt-away most of the time even though I have the flushing attachment on the rear of my outboard. If I get home late and run short of time, I sometimes omit the salt-away but do use it the majority of the time. I boat in the salty South Pacific and my thermostat looked like new at 360 hours, that was about 18 months worth of boating.
posted 09-19-2006 03:15 PM ET (US)
Hello, I live near Corpus Christi, TX. I just got back from an overnight trip to the lake and give it the best flushing possible after getting it out of the shop. I probably put close to 3 hours on the engine.(between fishing of course) No alarms and ran great. One thing I noticed while stopping occasionally and checking the water temperature coming out the water indicator hole was that the exhaust just under the pee-hole was extrememly hot, too hot to touch for more than a second, in fact. I have never checked this before so it may always be that hot. I wonder if the 25 HP Big Foot 4Stroke runs cooler that the 40 because it has a carburetor while the 40 4Stroke is an EFI model. I am still curious why the the 2004 40HP was salted up while the 2000 25HP has never had a problem with alot more hours on the bay. I will check both thermostats every 6 months or so just the make sure this does not happen again. It's always to windy to try to paddle here in this South Texas wind! Thanks
posted 09-19-2006 03:33 PM ET (US)
Hello, I have never tried or even seen saltaway. Where would you get it and how does it work? Thanks
posted 09-20-2006 02:16 AM ET (US)
I buy mine at westmarine.com. It essentially breaks down and dissolves the salt. Get the little mixing attachment as well, I believe it is sold by West as a kit. Good luck.
posted 09-20-2006 07:50 AM ET (US)
The water tube that runs up from the water pump to the engine block isn't all that big either and it supplies water all the way up to WOT. It certainly seems logical to me that sending water back up the telltale hose would be plenty sufficient for idle speed, which is what the manual says to limit the use of the flushing attachment to.
I would suspect the major difference between using the flushing attachment and earmuffs is that the latter will do the job more quickly. A lot of people are more comfortable using the muffs perhaps because that's always the way it's been done. But the owner's manual doesn't even mention them and that's what I tend to believe.
posted 09-20-2006 07:54 AM ET (US)
[Jimh, if you have time and inclination to do one and only one more thing to the forum software, it should be to add an "edit post" function].
The end of my peviously reply is unclear. I meant that I would go with the owner's manual where there was a difference of opinion.
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