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Author Topic:   SmartCraft Alarm
scviking posted 06-01-2008 10:04 PM ET (US)   Profile for scviking   Send Email to scviking  
Good day everyone, three weeks ago I got very bogged down in pluff mud [a lowcountry term for the dark soil of the marsh] and thick, very coarse sand. Last weekend I was traveling in the bay pulling my children tubing, and the SmartCraft alarm came on with the bells and a quick engine picture. This happen when I increased the throttle. I backed off and [the motor] ran great all day. This weekend I was heading in a shallow creek at low tide. I idled for 30 minutes, and the alarm came on again when I increased [engine speed] to try and plane. I pulled back on the throttle, waited a few seconds, and took off; [the motor] ran great for hours.

Today, I was in the waterway. The same thing happened but the alarm came on again. I cut the motor off. It re-fired and ran great. I have flushed the motor out twice very thoroughly. I did flush a lot of granular sand last time.

[The alarm] seems to happen at acceleration. Then runs great. I put a small wire in the [nozzle of the cooling system aspirator or confidence stream] to see if anything is blocking [the flow]. There doesn't seem to be [an obstruction].

Any suggestions?

glen e posted 06-01-2008 10:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
If it's happening when you advance the throttle [there is] a good chance [the cause of the alarm] could be a throttle position sensor (TPS).
jimh posted 06-03-2008 08:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
What engine do you have?

What SmartCraft instrument do you have?

Is there any information provided by the SmartCraft system other than "with the bells" (an aural alert) and "a quick engine picture" (illumination of an engine icon)?

scviking posted 06-03-2008 02:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for scviking  Send Email to scviking     
Jim, I have a 2002 Mercury 135hp Optimax.The system is just the small 4x4 dash mount. You are right on with the bells and quick engine light. When I throttle back it stops then I throttle up and the bells(alarm) with the engine comes on. After it clears then I can full throttle and it works great.

Only one time did the temperature light come on after a 30 minute idle speed run. I shut down the engine restarted and it ran great.

scviking posted 06-03-2008 02:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for scviking  Send Email to scviking     
Jim, thanks for correcting my poor grammer. People like me need people like you.
jimh posted 06-03-2008 08:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Viking--Thank you for the new word, "pluff mud," which I never heard before.
jimh posted 06-04-2008 08:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am interpreting "4x4 dash mount" to mean you have the Mercury SmartCraft System Monitor instrument shown here: smartcraftataglance/components/information_display.php

Mercury's SmartCraft website has provided the technical literature for that device for download: smartcraft_manuals/System_Monitor_Manual.pdf

Beginning on page 12 of that publication you will find a series of illustrations which show the four warning display screens. If you can identify the warning display screen you have been seeing from those shown, you will be able to learn the meaning of the alarm indication. The one that looks most like your description is

Engine Malfunction
The Bell and Engine Icon will
appear to inform the driver that
an engine problem occurred.

The manual also informs us of the proper action to take in the event of an alarm like this:

IMPORTANT: Refer to the Engine Operation, Maintenance and
Warranty Manual for further explanation of the problem and the
correct action to take.

I do not have access to the Engine Operation or Maintenance and Warranty Manuals from Mercury. If you do, I suggest you refer to them, and please let us know what advice they offer. Or, perhaps someone who has those manuals will inform us both.

While this alert does not isolate the problem, because none of other three warning screens are applicable, you may be able to rule out those conditions as the source of the alarm.

It appears that no further information is available from the SmartCraft System Monitor. My guess is that in order to obtain more information about the condition that caused the alarm you will have to have a Mercury Certified technician connect a Mercury Digital Diagnostic Tool/Terminal (DDT) to your Mercury OptiMax engine. If the cause of the error condition has been recorded into the engine controller's programmable memory, you may be able to discover the actual problem that set the alarm and take action to remedy it.

bluewaterpirate posted 06-04-2008 01:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
The sand could have damaged the impeller and if that is true then there could be some debris from the impeller lodged in your cooling system. Have you noticed any fluction in the stream coming from the engine cooling system?
jimh posted 06-04-2008 01:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
According to the technical literature from Mercury Marine about there SmartCraft System Monitor instrument (see link above), there are two distinct alarm indicators related to the cooling system:

--low water pressure
--engine overheat

but according to the manual they both mean the same thing:

"There is insufficient
water pressure in the cooling

My feeling is they really don't mean the same thing and there is an error in the manual.

Due to the sequence of events presented in the narrative of the problem, we expect that the alarm ought to be associated with the cooling system, and on that basis you would also expect it might trigger one of those two alarms mentioned above.

scviking posted 06-04-2008 07:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for scviking  Send Email to scviking     
Thanks for your time and help. I looked in both Mercury manuals. There was very little information offered and ultimately the manuals resorted to refer to a Local Authorized Dealer.

Bluewater you asked about the flow consistency. It seems to be normal. I was giving the engine a thorough flushing and everything was working great. After about five minutes, the engine did have an interruption in the water pressure from the water hose or there may have been a interruption with the water pump in the motor. Suddenly the confidence stream stopped(I now believe it was the engine)and the alarm with the Temperature icon appeared on the Smartcraft Monitor. I shut down the engine stopped everything then restarted the hose and engine and it flowed and evacuated nicely for the next couple of minutes.

It really seems like there may be a little obstruction (maybe a shell or sand)that is inhibiting flow or output.

I am boggled how great the engine has been performing. Maybe it wiil be simple. I will try again this weekend. Then I will haul it to my dealer.

jimh posted 06-04-2008 09:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Is this a fair summary: we have "Smart" Craft, digital data networks, fancy icons, web sites, three different publications, LCD displays, and it comes down to this:

When alarm sounds take boat to your dealer?

I cannot believe that in 2008 that is the best in class engineering.

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