Moderated Discussion Areas
  ContinuousWave: Post-Classic Whalers
  90 HP Veradito on Montauk 170 Strands Me

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

Author Topic:   90 HP Veradito on Montauk 170 Strands Me
ktm3ten posted 09-03-2009 09:57 PM ET (US)   Profile for ktm3ten   Send Email to ktm3ten  
I was out today running my '08 Montauk 170 with a 90HP "Veradito". Motor was reluctant to start as has been well covered by this thread:

I was the one who mentioned that I could "jiggle" the steering wheel and the motor would start right up. This has gone on, off and on for months now. A Mercury service center has said that they couldn't find the problem.

Well this morning I noticed the motor was particularly reluctant to start, but again a jiggle of the steering wheel fixed the problem. Running down the lake this afternoon, on absolute glass smooth water running 40 MPH at WOT, I saw my RPM and Volt gauges start to become twitchy and erratic. I slowed the boat down and it promptly died and wouldn't restart. My wife noticed an "electrical fire" smell. I removed the cowling, and the smell was more intense. The red cap that covers the high voltage wire to the starter and it was smoking and melted.

A photo of the engine for reference purposes

A photo of the melted cap.

The nut that holds this high voltage wire onto the starter was slightly loose. I tightened that up, and still the engine wouldn't start. I tried several times, turning the engine left and right and couldn't get it to engage the starter and turn over the engine.

I had to be towed back in.

Now, I was with my dad (who was in an '84 Outrage 18 with a Johnson 2 Stroke, yeah, I heard about it!) and he towed me back and I was also on an inland lake. I frequently hear of people going miles offshore with the Montauk and 90HP merc and more than a few people have had this non-starting problem. It's bigger than just not starting, this problem caused the boat not to run which could strand someone dangerously far offshore.

Again, this is all on a boat that is 6 months old and has never been in saltwater.

Any ideas that people have would be greatly appreciated. Off course if there is any quick fix, I'd love to hear it so I can get back out on the water for the rest of my holiday weekend. I'm going to take the boat to a Merc mechanic tomorrow.

Tom W Clark posted 09-03-2009 10:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
The nut that holds the wire to the starter was loose. Giggling the steering wheel would move the motor enough to cause the wire to make enough contact to power the starter. OK, that makes sense.

But how does a loose starter motor wire affect the motor once it is running? My suspicion is that something (apart from the red boot itself) got fried, a fuse perhaps.

Phil T posted 09-03-2009 11:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Phil T  Send Email to Phil T     
In addition to Tom's comment, does the post have a washer and a lock washer under the bolt?

Have you solved the problem with the loose rigging grommet on the motor?

If it is still loose, I think you have a wire binding or something rigging related and should focus your energy there.

I would hold off on the mechanic until I had looked at all the wiring going from the engine to the console. There is a symptom that is overcome by turning the wheel. What does turning the wheel do in the console (to the wiring) and the tunnel and inside the motor cover. Get a helper to turn the wheel and get your head inside the console and watch each wire and what happens.

Does every wire have slack, can it move? Is it binding? Where and why?
Do the wires move with the engine or bind?
Are the crimps on the ends of all the wires?
Any nicks on the wires?

TheWhalerStore posted 09-04-2009 01:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for TheWhalerStore    
Look for a 20 amp fuse. The + was causing the problem by grounding out and not grounding out when the motor was turned and the cable set moved. When you lost it entirely the constant ground blew the fuse. I am not sure if it is a 20 amp or not,but that size is most commonly used. If you have to dig deeper I would suggest simply taking it in under warranty.
Robert V posted 09-04-2009 06:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for Robert V  Send Email to Robert V     
Did you check the electrical re-set under the console? I agree that the fuse either popped or blew. Seems like the loose connection makes the most sense, as stated in the other poster's comments.


ktm3ten posted 09-04-2009 06:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for ktm3ten  Send Email to ktm3ten     
There was no lock washer or any washer really, just a nut holding a ring terminal onto the post. (I'm new at this boat thing, so bear with me) There seems to be a black film that is sprayed over the terminal, ring, and nut after it was assembled. The red plastic is all melted into that now.

So I agree, the loose terminal could have caused the starting condition, what would've caused the massive generation of heat to melt that boot while under power running down the lake? Also, I should note, when the key is switched the on position (normal running position) heat is still being generated as evidenced by the smell of burning plastic returning.

What causes such a generation of heat in an electrical terminal to melt the plastic boot?

BlueMax posted 09-04-2009 07:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for BlueMax    
Awww Great! The wife and daughter just launched for a 2 hr jaunt RDU-ORD to see her family; I've got three friends; four days; a mixed case of water, vitamin water, gatorade/powerade (if you want beer - you bring it, I get ONE - okay maybe another ONE two hours later - and done), and a 2007 170 Montauk with 90HP ELPT I've only gotten to go out on twice this year (I live on the southern NC coast - so you know I'm ready to go now that I finally can (pout), and now I can wonder about this... especially if no one can else can get loose when I wanna go out.

But, here again lays the absolute beauty of this site:

Thank you for the heads up on potential problems and potential solutions.

I have complete confidence in my motor, but it aint like I can just ruck-up and walk home and simply curse the distance (and silently the wife and daughter for having fun in Chicago while I was needing a ride... But I digress :-)... now at least I have some awareness and confidence in at least knowing where to start looking should I need to (even if it is just in the drive when I go to warm it up).

Have a SAFE and very Enjoyable weekend everyone - I hope that if you can't be with family, that you are at least with friends (I guess if you are reading this, then you already are - with both)

Once a Whaler Owner, Always a Whaler Owner - no matter what you have in the water after. Thanks again for a Great site Jim H.

Happy Boating - I'm outta here. OohRah!!

tedious posted 09-04-2009 07:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for tedious  Send Email to tedious     
Your whole situation is completely ridiculous and unacceptable - not just the recent incident, but the fact that Mercury can't find and fix a recurring starting problem. Does your state have a lemon law? You may wish to contact an attorney and start working on the selling dealer to get your money back.

About the only thing that's going to cause that melting is a short.


Phil T posted 09-04-2009 09:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for Phil T  Send Email to Phil T     

The starter positive and negative wires are a very large size (compared to the other engine wires) due to the high amperage/voltage required to power the starter.

While not the electrical guru like Jim and others, a loose connection lessens the contact area and causes more resistance and heat.

I would take the nut with you to a hardware store and buy the correct size stainless lock washer and flat washer.

A dealer or full service marine supply house will carry the wire boot. Normally it is installed before the ring terminal and then heat shrunk. If you get one in a slightly larger size, you can slip it through the ring terminal.

Can you confirm you do or don't have a loose engine grommet.

SC Joe posted 09-04-2009 09:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for SC Joe  Send Email to SC Joe     
All of these motors have a loose wiring grommet.
Jefecinco posted 09-04-2009 10:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Suggest you remove the melted plastic from the stud and the wire end before restoring the connection. A self locking nut may serve better than the original. I would use a lock washer below the nut for insurance.


ktm3ten posted 09-04-2009 11:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for ktm3ten  Send Email to ktm3ten     
My boat does have the loose grommet issue.

I dropped the boat off just a few minutes ago with a mercury authorized service center, I'll keep updating as I move forward.

One thought that had been suggested to me is that the loose terminal caused arcing and heat which initially melted the rubber boot, the melted plastic in it's softened state acted as a conductor causing the short. Let me know what you all think of this?

number9 posted 09-04-2009 11:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
Good idea on the lock washer, don't think nylon type lock nuts are recommended on electrical connections.
ktm3ten posted 09-04-2009 11:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for ktm3ten  Send Email to ktm3ten     
One other question, why would this high diameter wire that's connected to the starter have had current to cause the heating of the boot while running down the lake. I understand this wire has current when the starter motor is engaged, but why under way would this be the case?
Tohsgib posted 09-04-2009 11:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
A faulty solenoid, keyswitch, or wiring harness could cause it to give current 24/7.
BlueMax posted 09-04-2009 12:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for BlueMax    
Yep - shorts and floating grounds will wreak havoc on an electrical system and its components - especially when dealing with higher amperage.
BlueMax posted 09-04-2009 12:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for BlueMax    
Just wondering - you apparently didn't hear anything out of the ordinary in the engine while running down the lake, but when you think back on it do you hear anything out of norm (i.e. There was no "snap" before the system failed? or anything, the starter running or trying to turn or anything along those lines)?
ktm3ten posted 09-04-2009 12:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for ktm3ten  Send Email to ktm3ten     
I heard nothing out of the ordinary. We were running down the lake on glass smooth water and the first indication something was wrong was the flickering gauges.
BlueMax posted 09-04-2009 02:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for BlueMax    
Scary stuff - thanfully it wasn't a catostrophic loss at full power.

Thanks also for the oictures - Very Helpful!

Good luck when getting it repaired - hopefully whatever they find or do fixes it for good.


ktm3ten posted 09-04-2009 10:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for ktm3ten  Send Email to ktm3ten     
So I got the boat back today after a couple hours with a mechanic. Here's what we came up with: The starter was fried, the negative terminal on the battery was fried. The culprit after lots of testing was the loose terminal. Our best guess is that the terminal being loose (which is why turning the steering wheel helps correct the problem of intermittent starting, for a while) caused some arcing and that generated a lot of heat. The 'liquid neoprene' (that's what the mechanic called it, it's the black sprayed on stuff that merc uses to prevent corrosion after parts are assembled) may have gotten heated up and interfered further with the connection. Then the red boot melted causing more interference in the connection, some plastics when in a heated, liquid state, are actually conductors. Not sure if that's the case here, but something caused a major short. Eventually the short got bad enough that it sapped the entire system of power and affected the negative terminal of the battery.

Things to check to prevent this: Check the tightness of the nut on the positive terminal of the starter, this must be very tight and this is what ultimately started the cascade of problems that led to the failure. Check your battery terminals, again, these should be very tight. It's easy to miss the connection under the red boot because you can't see it, just pull back the boot and inspect.

Another item that was brought up: why is that high volt wire hot all the time, it's supposed to be. It's a direct line from the battery, it's the ignition switch that fires the solenoid that is the 'switch' in the line. The big cord is always hot and not switched, which is also why a short here is fatal.

I can't say enough about the shop that worked on my boat today, many dealers couldn't help me which is understandable on the morning before labor day weekend. SportBoatsUSA in Ozark, MO a Mercury Premier Service Center saw me, a mechanic, Larry, who was very sharp and knew his stuff had the problem diagnosed. They proceeded to take a starter off a new boat with a similar motor and install it on mine to get me out for the weekend. This kind of customer service is why I will bring my boat back here again and again for service. I had the boat back in 3 hours and my weekend is not interrupted much at all. Kudos to them.

Thanks to everyone here who helped with ideas!

number9 posted 09-05-2009 01:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
Glad to hear your trip to the shop went so well, it's good to know places as that still exist. Enjoy you weekend.
Phil T posted 09-05-2009 07:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for Phil T  Send Email to Phil T     
Glad to hear you are back in business.

If you still have the loose grommet issue, I would move that item to the top of your to-do-list and get that sorted. I think it is related to your loose starter connection.

number9 posted 09-05-2009 07:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
Did Mercury ever come up with a fix for the loose grommet issue? Remember reading within the last year it's a common problem, looks it's like due to bad design and relatively easy for them to redesign a inexpensive fix.
johnhenry posted 09-05-2009 08:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for johnhenry  Send Email to johnhenry     
Great news that the problem was not more serious. I will be checking that positive connection before I go out tomorrow. Did the Mercury shop warranty the repair? Have you check all your electronics to make sure nothing else was fried?
I think that my Whaler dealer has corrected the grommet issue on my 90. The repair has held for at least 30 hours of running this summer. Besides the grommet repair, it appears that the tech also tucked more of the bundled harness back into the hull tube so that when I raise the motor all the way the harness slides all the way into the transom well instead of catching on the lip. We'll see if the repair holds.
Jefecinco posted 09-05-2009 10:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     

Good point on the unsuitability of self locking nuts on electrical connections. Obviously my head was in a dark space when I offered the suggestion.

Thanks for debunking the idea.


SC Joe posted 09-05-2009 12:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for SC Joe  Send Email to SC Joe     
No fix on the grommet issue yet. After speaking to Mercury, they have no intent to make that a redesign issue, at least on the current engine.
swist posted 09-05-2009 01:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
Never thought much about the use of self-locking nuts on electrical connections, probably never used one. But when you think about it, there is no electrical path from the metal part of the nut to the screw threads. So while such a nut may serve the purpose of pushing the connector tight to its mating surface, you have lost the redundancy of the electrical path from the connector through the nut to the screw.
One of those things that will work most of the time, but you need to do better than that in a marine environment.
number9 posted 09-05-2009 04:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
Actually it is the locking device, in this case nylon that may heat up, soften and not keep things tight. As any other nut metal thread to thread contact provides some of the contact when still tight. May be hard to find and more expensive are fiber and all metal lock nuts. Just a reminder what ever locking method is used there should be some exposed threads after tight/torque.

number9 posted 09-05-2009 04:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
SC Joe,
Appreciate your input on Mercury grommet issue. Difficult to believe they consider it a non-issue when it's a product liability case waiting to happen and they're supposed to be so concerned about the corporation's bottom line.
Guess it's time to provide an after market solution and make some bucks.
chuck21401 posted 09-06-2009 09:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for chuck21401  Send Email to chuck21401     
I contacted Merc about the grommet issue as well, the tech provided info from the installation manual and pictures. I'm not entirely convinced that this is solely a MERC issue but rather an installation issue with Whaler.
chuck21401 posted 09-06-2009 09:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for chuck21401  Send Email to chuck21401     
See this thread for the info I mentioned in the post above.

sapple posted 09-06-2009 11:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for sapple  Send Email to sapple     
ktm3ten, thanks for taking the time and effort for posting this message.
jimh posted 09-07-2009 04:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Whenever electrical current flows there is the potential for heat to be generated across any connection. To generate heat some resistance is needed. With high current flow, even a small resistance can generate heat. When the heat is added to the ambient heat, such as occurs near the surface of an engine block, a little extra heat can cause a lot of temperature rise.

When a connection has a little resistance and generates heat, the heat tends to warm up everything in the connection, which can result in the connection becoming looser due to expansion. Also, as some metals are heated their conductivity decreases, so there is more resistance. More resistance gives more heat. More heat give more resistance. You can see where this leads. Soon there is a lot of heat, and the connection begins to melt things around it.

In marine electrical practice it is common that certain connecting posts will have a black spray-on or paint-on insulating rubber-like material applied to them after all connections have been assembled under the terminal post. If you have to disassemble a connection that has been painted like this, be careful when reassembling it that you don't get the painted insulation into the electrical connections. It is better to scrape off the painted-on insulation or to discard the small washers and use new ones.

It is also quite common in low-voltage and high-current connections that there be a star washer used between the connectors. The star washer has small points that will tend to indent themselves into the connector metals. This helps to insure that there will be a good electrical connection. It is common that a flat terminal surface will have some insulating film on it, perhaps only a few molecules thick, which can inhibit current flow at low voltage. These star washers are usually made of copper, usually a hardened copper, and they will also help to act as a lock washer.

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.