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Old 08-04-2015, 01:20 AM   #1
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Default My boat failure resume: Lessons I've learned

My family has had boats since I could walk. I've owned 3 boats and 3 jet skis. That doesn't count family boats growing up.



Through all of that, you'd think I would have learned it all. That's wrong. To this very day, I'm learning valuable (translation, expensive) lessons about boats; more particularly engines and drives.



I'm going to start listing off stupid mistakes I've made, and the lessons learned. I hope that someone else may stumble upon these lessons, and avoid making them for themselves.



Please feel free to add your mistake/lesson story. It only ads to the value of this thread.



Mine will be stream of consciousness, not chronological order.





- 1972 Mercruiser 115hp outboard. Ran great for 20 years (still one of my all time favorite engines) then one day seized and blew a hole through the side of the block. Bought a whole replacement outboard. Blew after 5 hours. Lesson... Didn't check or change the fuel. I had mis-mixed the 2stroke oil, halving it.



- Dad's failure... Okay, I contributed. 1984 bayliner, mercruiser 350..I assume alpha drive. At 6 years old, I stepped on a clam on the beach and sliced my foot wide open (Warm Creek Bay, Lake Powell). Quick first aid to stem the blood flow, and dad starts up and punches the throttle to get us back to town for stitches.... With the outdrive full up. Ujoint snaps. Called for a tow. Ended up being 8 hours to get me to the ER for stitches, and unknown repair costs. Lesson: Do not operate with drive up.



- Figured out I could submarine my 1986 Kawasaki JS 300. Dove too deep one time. Came up without my ski. Saw bubbles coming to the surface, stuck my head under and could hear it running. Turns out you can't dive 18 feet down with your life vest on. Ditched it, and got down there, and tried to lift the sunk but still running ski off the bottom... Rather than hitting the off switch. Summary, recovered the ski eventually, with a hydrolocked and blown motor.
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:37 AM   #2
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- 1972 Merc mentioned before. All of a sudden, would idle no problem, but would only run for a few moments above idle. Chased everything I could think of. Turns out, there was a pin hole leak in the fuel line. Could flow fuel at idle, but the higher suction above idle drew air in through the leak and starved the engine.



- 1987 Mercruiser 350, Alpha drive. She leaked. Bilge pump kept up, running ever 5 min or so. I'd always had outboards, so just figured there was a crack or a leak somewhere. Didn't think much of it. In my youthful bravado, I had batteries and a bilge pump. Turns out, it was a drive bellows leak. I decided to address the leak when my drive started clunking and there was a sparkly oil film on the water when I stopped. That film was drive lube and metal shavings. New drive plus bellows job. Le sigh.
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:55 AM   #3
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- 1987 merc 350. Running nicely at full throttle, 5000 rpm, 52 mph, grin ear to ear. Engine suddenly stops. Cranks fine, no spark. Finally lift engine cover and discover distributor cap split in two. Tow home, get a new cap. 2 weeks later, 53 mph (hehe). Engine stops suddenly. Cap is split in 2 again. Tow home... Again (thank you Tow Boat US... Best money I've ever spent). While installing a 3rd new cap, I notice the inside of the distributor is filled with oil. Finally figured out that the distributor bushings had worn, and the shaft was wobbling, letting the rotor hit the cap, and wrecking the seal. Solution: New distributor. Hit 54 mph. :-)
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Old 08-04-2015, 02:20 AM   #4
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- Ex brother-in-law was mounting a fire extinguisher in my boat. He went ahead and screwed it to the side of the cockpit area with nice stainless screws. Climbs out of the boat and realized that the side of the cockpit was also the hull... Never properly fixed that one, just cut off the protruding screws and globbed some marine-Tex over the nubs. Gotta love old crappy boats!
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Old 08-04-2015, 02:42 AM   #5
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1999 3000 scr, twin Merc 5.0L. Could barely hold it on a plane, even at full throttle. I knew I had bottom growth. My dumb ass decided that I could push through it and scrape it off with speed. Blown head gasket.

Lesson: When your temp gauge drops suddenly to zero, and the motor dies, DO NOT TRY to restart. Check your oil. If the level has raised even slightly, pull plugs, drain oil, refill and do compression check.



Actually, deeper lesson, if your motor makes and funny noises and won't crank right, or runs funny, stop and check your oil. Pay very close attention to oil level rises. That is generally a clear indication of water in there, even if you can't see water or muck on the dipstick.
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Old 08-04-2015, 03:00 AM   #6
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- Mercruiser 350. The year isn't relevant, but it was my 1987. Was making milkshake much through the breathers. No water in the oil, no leaks, couldn't figure it out. My 70 year old grease monkey neighbor asks, over plenty of adult beverages.... What's your running engine temp? Hits me, I'd never seen the temp gauge move. He suggest I check my thermostat. It was so stuck and rusted in I had to hammer it out.



Lesson, the engine was running too cold to boil off water and combustion components, which were collecting with oil blow by in the breather making milkshake.



If your engine is running cold, check your thermostat.
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Old 08-04-2015, 03:05 AM   #7
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I bet your learning days are far from over.
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Old 08-04-2015, 03:21 AM   #8
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I just accidentally deleted a very interesting discussion on valve springs.. Come on Mike, tell so.e lessons!!!
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Old 08-04-2015, 03:27 PM   #9
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Lesson learned - Do not let Kevlar7r on my boat
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Old 08-04-2015, 03:32 PM   #10
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Lol, I figure I am going to know everything there is to know about boats one day... Probably drop dead the next day....
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