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TLC for OBMs

Date Published: August 2, 2000

TLC for OBMs

Rob McCarter

District VI Fisheries Aide
Enterprise, Alabama

Winter is over and spring is here. Fishing and boating fever is epidemic. However, before hitching up the boat and heading out to the lake, you should follow a spring maintenance schedule. Routine maintenance can save you the frustration and embarrassment of being towed back to shore. Let’s face it, nobody want to be stranded on the lake, miles from their vehicle, or sitting at the ramp with a motor that will not crank. Spending a little time on preventive maintenance may eliminate most of these problems.

Four necessities are required for an internal combustion engine to operate. The requirements are fuel, air, oil and spark. The fuel is the combustible portion that mixes with the air. The spark ignites the fuel, and the oil lubricates the moving parts to reduce friction. If one of these components is missing, your outboard will not run.

Boats that have been stored all winter might have fuel left in the tank. If fuel is present and was not treated with fuel stabilizer, the old gasoline needs to be drained and disposed of properly. Old gasoline may be disposed of through an auto dealership, fast oil change service, Safety Kleen (1-888-669-7584) or Alabama Oil and Gas Recovery (1-800-723-0213). If the fuel was not treated, the tank needs to be cleaned and refilled with fresh gasoline with the proper oil mixture if required. If the fuel had stabilizer added, the carburetors should have been treated as well. The stabilizer will keep the fuel fresh and help prevent gum and varnish buildup in gasoline and corrosion in the carburetors. If the outboard is equipped with an external oil tank, make sure it is full of factory specified outboard oil. Clean or replace the fuel filter, and check all fuel hoses for cracks or leaks. Replace hoses if necessary.

As fresh fuel and oil is sent to the spark plug, adequate fire is needed to ignite it. First, make sure the battery is fully charged. Check all electrical connections for tightness and remove corrosion, if necessary. Pull each spark plug and check for carbon buildup from unburned fuel and oil. Check the electrodes for any burns. Regap the plugs to manufacturer’s specifications. Also check for burned plug wires and white spots on the wires where fire has been arcing. If the plugs or the plug wires are burned, replace them.

The final step in getting the outboard ready is changing the gear oil in the lower unit. The lower unit has two oil plugs, one at the top of the unit and the other at the bottom. With the motor in the upright vertical position, remove both plugs. Drain the gear oil into a container and dispose of it properly. Lubricant may be disposed through the same method as for gasoline. After all the gear oil is drained, use lower unit gear oil to refill. Gear oil is added into the bottom hole until it begins to run out the upper hole. Replace the drain plugs in both holes and tighten, starting with the top plug, then the lower.

With the maintenance completed, use a motor flusher attached to a garden hose and water supply to test run the motor. Make sure the motor is running well and make adjustments where needed. Now the outboard is ready for use.

All that is needed is to hitch the boat, load the gear, and head to the lake. These measures may not prevent all problems from occurring, but they will reduce the likelihood of a breakdown ruining a good day of fishing or boating.


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