A wrench that says Ask Dave
David M. DaRosa Portrait

David M. DaRosa (May 22, 1966 – February 27, 2015)

To Our “Ask Dave” Readers:

We regret to inform you that Dave DaRosa, our head mechanic, passed away unexpectedly on the morning of February 27, 2015 at the age of 48.

Consequently, we have suspended this column until further notice.

We are sorry for any convenience, but encourage you to contact our service department for an appointment for your boat, contact us…click here.

Dave started working for the Oxbow Marina in 1994. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of boats, including engines and all of the other mechanical parts that help make boats run. Diagnosing and solving a mechanical problem on a boat was second nature to him.
Dave was a colleague, a friend and a member of our Oxbow Marina family. He leaves in his wake, a family of friends at the Oxbow Marina who are the better for having known him. We will truly miss him.

Below is Ask Dave, a Q & A column about boat repair and maintenance by our head mechanic Dave DaRosa.

To find Dave’s answers to the following questions, just put your cursor on the question and click or just scroll down.

Q: Our boat motor is getting too much gas, we cleaned the carburetor and it has new gas line. What else can it be?
Q: My trolling motor skips in forward, any ideas?
Q: Any pointers in keeping the tube centered when I install a new tilt tube on my outboard motor?
Q: My engine won’t start…Any idea what could be causing this?
Q: My engine hiccups…Any help would be appreciated!
Q: Why won’t my engine engage in reverse?
Q: Are two zincs better than one?
Q: I forgot to pull the plug, how should I get the engine dried out?
Q: My generator keeps shutting off, what am I missing to do?
Q: What is causing my engine to run perfectly except for the top end around 6000 RPM?
Q: My boat’s floor is rotting, where shall I take it to be repaired?
Q: What is causing my outboard motor to have an inconstant pee stream?
Q: Why does my engine “THUMP” when I put it in gear?
Q: Can you service a Sport Jet?
Q: The 2-cycle oil & gas are not mixing, why?
Q: The owner of boat for sale says the boat needs a head gasket, what would that cost?
Q: Where can I get a 1972 Johnson 50 hp hydro electric shift switch?
Q: My motor is cutting out. Any direction would be helpful.
Q: My engine stops after about 3 minutes…Can you help?
Q: My motor has a misfire at high RPM, do you know why it does that?
Q: Stored for years, my outboard’s temperature rises at 2000rpm…Why?
Q: What is causing my engine to shut off within a few seconds?
Q: My engine will not stay running, any suggestions?
Q: How do I verify that the automatic bilge system is working? ?
Q: I slightly overfilled the oil…is this all right?
Q: Can you service a 40 year old Johnson outboard engine?
Q: We’re getting water in our gas tank…Why?
Q: Why is the oil in our boat looking milky and smelling of gasoline?
Q: My battery just clicks. Why?
Q: When I reverse the motor, it chatters…What’s wrong?
Q: What temperature should the motor run at and how much should it vary?
Q: I cannot get the engine to run out of the idle position. Any suggestions?
Q: My engine will start, run in the chock position but not idle. What is causing this?
Q: What could be causing the outboard oil to turn to gel?
Q: How hard would it be to put a Volvo 4cl in place of a OMC 4cl?
Q: My engine fires by pullcord but not key…Is problem the solenoid or starter motor?
Q: My prop bent a little and my speed dropped from 23mph to 18 could be the cause?
Q: What is the proper fuel-to-oil ratio for 2-stroke engines?
Q: My boat has scratches…How important is it to fix small gel coat scratches?
Q: How do you jump the spit?
Q: Why is my outboard shaking? Do you think that the wheel is bent?
Q: Does an engine out of a Chevy 4.3 fit in a 1988 Four Winns 180 Horizon?
Q: Is it considered bad luck if we change a boat name?
Q: What is the best outboard engine for a 20ft pontoon boat to be used for tubing?
Q: Is it necessary to remove the batteries from the boat during the winter?
Q: How often should the impeller be changed?
Q: How often should I have my boat’s engine oil changed?

Also, read our Tips to Better Fuel Mileage and Tips for Protecting Your Boat
in the Cool Stuff section.

Q: My husband and I have a 70 HP boat motor and it’s getting too much gas. We cleaned the carburetor and it has new gas line. What else can it be?— Elizabeth B.

A: I suspect that the fuel pump diaphragm is corroded. Bring it in and we can confirm this for you and fix it, too.

Q: I have a 06 8hp Yamaha trolling motor. Recently I have changed the impeller when I was in an incident and the motor had the prop bent a little so I straightened one blade just on the end. But the motor, when in forward, skips like gears. When it is on the trailer and I switch it to reverse, the prop engages both ways, but when I’m forward it catches backwards and skips forward. Any ideas?— Don W.

A: This could be either one or more problems. It suspect that it’s either needs a shift rod adjustment or that you misaligned the gear linkage when you changed the impeller. Bring it in.

Q: I am trying to install my new tilt tube on my 98 mariner 60 hp motor. I got it in place but I’m having a hard time tightening the nuts while keeping the tube centered. Any pointers?
— Daniel C.

A: I’m not surprised that you’re having trouble with this. This is a tricky operation for the uninitiated. Bring it in and we can fix this in about an hour.

Q: I have a 1996 Mercury Force and have never had any trouble from it. Over a weekend, I changed the plugs and water fuel separator. Now it won’t start. Finally I got it to start, but will only run on choke and as soon as it get to idle speed or take it off of choke it dies! I even tried to put the old plugs back in it and it does the same thing. Do you have any idea what could be causing this? It’s getting spark and fuel.
— Steven M.

A: You’ve got water in the system and your carburetor needs professional service. Bring it in and we’ll get your motor running smoothly again.

Q: I have a 1972 Evinrude 100 100293r and it runs well except for two problems: when its running on the lake, every so often, it’s like it hiccups, as though it has no fuel or spark. After about 1-2 seconds, it comes back. When it does this, the boat leaps forward violently. This brings me to my 2nd problem: the boat has electric shift and when I got it, I had to replace the lower unit which worked well, until when it started doing this hiccup or “cut out ” thing. One time when it did this, my elbow came down on both neutral and reverse buttons and now, at low rpm, it makes a strange noise. Reverse still works, but very slowly. Also, before this happened, when you changed gears, you could feel it kick in to gear, Now it doesn’t. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
— Brad A.

A: Your first problem, could take some serious diagnosing to find. It could be any number of problems, from the simple, a bad ground, to the more complex such as a bad pulse pack. Your second problems is most likely a spring in the gear case or solenoid. Bring it in and we can figure out what’s wrong and get you ready for the season.

Q: I have 1991 Johnson 50 hp 2 cyl 2 stroke that will not engage into reverse. It will try with a ratcheting sound. I unhooked the linkage and tried it manually…same thing. I just bought the boat and the guy who sold it to me said it worked fine before he put a new water pump in. Why won’t my engine engage in reverse? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
— James W.

A: Either your shift rod is not properly adjusted or it is worn out and needs to be replaced. Bring it in and we can check this out for you.

Q: Dave, I have a 55 Ocean Super Sport. My question is: Is it counterproductive to put multiple 2 inch shafts zincs on shafts. I have been told by my surveyor that putting one zinc on each shaft works better than 2 or maybe 3. What do you think? — Eddie B.

A: In my opinion, more is better. In fact, we are seeing some new boats that have multiple anodes on certain submerged parts. To learn more about anodes, see our tips section: https://oxbowmarina.net/cool-stuff/tips/

Q: I forgot to pull the plug when I parked the boat last time. We had a huge rain storm that left about 2 and 1/2 feet of standing water in the boat. The engine was submerged for a few days before I realized what had happened. I drained the water out of the engine but I am not sure how I should go about getting it dried out? — Ron B.

A: Ouch. As your story illustrates, Taking out the plug when you pull your boat can be as important as remembering to put it back in before you launch it. Unfortunately, you may have destroyed many of the boat’s electrical systems and components including the alternator, battery cables, and the starter to name a few. These will all need to be replaced if they were immersed. If that’s all that went under water, you’re getting off relatively cheap. If however, your carburetor was under water, you may have ruined the engine. Do not crank the engine until you are 100% sure that water didn’t get into the engine. Also, if the carbonator was submerged, it will also need to be replaced or rebuilt. Of course, we can fix all of this for you.

Also, you may want to check with your insurance company before doing any of this work. “Sinking” on the trailer may be covered. Bring it in for an estimate to send to your insurance company.

Also, you may want to check with your insurance company before doing any of this work. “Sinking” on the trailer may be covered. Bring it in for an estimate to send to your insurance company.

Q: Hi Dave, My Koehler generator 5eod will not stay running after startup. It keeps shutting off. Fuel injector flow is good, spark good. Code is OC. Antifreeze level full. Oil on stick. I reset the module after three times. CC1. Same thing over and over: Start and die. What am I missing? Oil pressure sensor? — James L.

A: Yes, I agree, I suspect that the oil pressure sensor or coolant temperature sensor is malfunctioning. You’ll have to change it out to prove us right.

Q: I have a 2000 Mercury 200 HP. It runs perfect except for the top end around 6000 RPM and then it starts missing. Any idea what can be causing this? — Dennis L.

A: Lucky for you, this motor has a rev limiter to protect it. Most likely, your prop is too small. Bring the engine into our shop and we can run it with a larger diameter test prop to see if that solves your problem.

Q: My 84 Ski Supreme floor is rotting through. Where should I take it to replace the floor and carpet? And is this a costly project? — Carl F.

A: Contact Dee or Dave Weakley at American Boat Restoration at 413-665-7424. They operate at boat restoration shop right here at Oxbow Marina.

Q: I have an 1991 Evinrude 70HP that has a weak pee stream. While idling I noticed it stopped and some steam started to come out. I replaced the water pump impeller and housing. With the muffs on, I restarted it and the pee stream was spitting instead of a steady flow. (Looked like a child’s squirt gun.) I checked the compression, all 3 cylinders between 105-110. Is what is causing this inconstant flow in the pee stream? — Jay G.

A: It is possible that your entire water pump needed replacing, not just the impeller and housing. It could also be a plugged outlet hose. Bring it in and we can check it out for you.

Q: My 2000 Mercury 200 HP just recently started to “THUMP” when I put it in gear. The only thing I did was check my oil level in my tilt and trim. Can you help? — Henry C.

A: Although many engines can “THUMP” when put into gear, it can indicate some need for an adjustment or repair. Many scenarios could cause this noise such as; have you increase the idle recently? Alternatively, have you changed a prop? Bring it in and we can check it out for you.

Q: Can you service a 1995 Mercury Sport Jet 90? I had a dealership close to me work on it but they are not on the water so each time they worked on it they told me to take it the water to test it. I had it there 6 times and it is still not right. I totally lost confidence and gave up on them. They rebuilt the carburetors, the fuel pump, and replaced the fuel enrichener for a total close to $3000. It runs, but it does not run right. It is difficult to get started, it is sluggish on take off and only pulls 4000 RPM’s where it should be running at 5000 RPM’s. Thanks! — William G.

A: Sorry, we don’t work on these. I suggest you contact Mark’s Motorsports at 70 Enfield St, Enfield, CT. (860) 741-5115.

Q: Hi, can you tell me why the 2-cycle oil & gas are not automatically mixing in a 2 stroke 2001 40 hp Mercury? We did not realize this until we were winterizing & went to do an oil change; the pontoon has been running fine. Thank you. — Linda D.

A: I suspect that the oil pump needs to be replaced. Bring it in and we can fix it for you. Incidentally, this is a prime example of why you should check your engine oil, as well as the other fluids, regularly during the season.

Q: Am looking at a 1994 Four Winns boat with Volvo Penta 5 liter motor. Boat is in great condition, but the owner says it needs a head gasket. The motor runs. Could you “guesstimate” a price for this repair? — Steve C.

A: If this is all that is wrong with the engine, you are looking at approximately $500. However, have you ever the heard the phrase “Caveat emptor”? It means, “buyer beware.” While this could be all that is wrong, you could have other issues related to the head repair. How long has the gasket been blown? Has the head been damaged? I would recommend that you insist that the seller fix the head, prior to the purchase and then have a competent marine surveyor and technician check out the boat before buying it. Even if the price is increased by the cost of the repair, this will give you some measure of protection against an unknown problem.

Q: I need to replace a 1972 Johnson 50 hp hydro electric shift switch and can’t find one anywhere. Can you help me find one or how to replace it with something else?
— Colin L.

A: A company, Seaway Marine in Seattle, Washington specializes in NOS (New Old Stock) for out of production Johnsons (and many other marine engine manufacturers ). Their contact info is: www.seawaymarine.com or (206) 937-7373. Good luck!

Q: Hi, Dave, I need some help with my Yamaha VX200TLRB 2003. The motor is cutting out. Here are the problems found so far. Six months ago, I found a problem with the wiring harness at motor. The 12 volt supply was giving intermittent 12 volts to ECM (Electronic Control Module). Fixed it. Next, the high-pressure fuel pump was replaced and VST (Vapor Separation Tank) was cleaned. Engine ran good for a month, but then would not start. I replaced the ECM and ran it better than ever. However, now it’s cutting out and it dies at 4000 RPMs and over. Once it dies, if I turn the ignition key off and then back on, motor won’t start and fuel pump doesn’t come on. If I slap the VST with my hand, and then turn the ignition key to on again, I can hear the VST pump come on and the engine starts right up. I suspect the wiring harness because I already had issues with the 12 volt supply to the VST before. But the fact that it dies at the 4000 RPMs or higher is confusing. Good clean fuel. Any direction you could give would be helpful. — David H.

A: Sounds like the high-pressure pump inside the VST (Vapor Separation Tank) needs to be replaced. Call for an appointment or bring it in.

Q: I have a 60 hp Evinrude…it ran great…then it started idling rough and when I would take off — at say full throttle — it will run for about 3 minutes and then stop completely. It will fire right back up and idle along but when I give it gas and it will shut right off again. Can you help? — Jeff B.

A: I suspect you need a new VRO (Variable Ratio Oiling) pump. Bring it in and we can take care of that for you.

Q: I have a 60 hp Evinrude…it ran great…then it started idling rough and when I would take off — at say full throttle — it will run for about 3 minutes and then stop completely. It will fire right back up and idle along but when I give it gas and it will shut right off again. Can you help? — Jeremy M.

A: I suspect you need a new VRO (Variable Ratio Oiling) pump. Bring it in and we can take care of that for you.

Q: I have a 1997 60 hp Johnson that has a misfire at high RPM, do you know why it does that?. It idles perfect but at about half throttle starts to miss and shake. I changed the stator, same misfire. It seems to be intermittent. Cooler days seem to run great, hot days it will do it every time. — Jeremy M.

A: I suspect the powerpack or coil are the problem. Bring it in and we can run some tests to determine the problem.

Q: I have a 1996 Mercury 200hp outboard with 108 hrs on it { it was stored for years}. I used for one season and started to see the temperature gauge start to rise at around 2000rpm and at one time caused the overheat horn to sound. At any other speed, it was normal and performed well. I took it to the shop and they replaced the water pump, thermostats and poppet diaphragm It seemed ok after that but the temp would still rise at around 2000rpm. The old parts looked good to me. What could cause this? Could a crack in the heads or block or head gasket be the problem even though it runs very well? I checked the spark plugs and they looked normal. Could a problem with the poppet valve be the problem? Thank you — Richard L.

A: The base below the water pump in the lower unit may be cracked. Bring it in and we can check it out for you.

Q: I Have a 1986 260HP V8 Mercruiser. It starts up after being primed with fuel it shuts off within a few second. This probably first occurred after filling the gas tank full. Previously, it was only kept at maximum one quarter full. When manually pouring gas in the carb it stays running although I can see the jets are spraying. Also, a friend was able to keep it going by manually adjusting the choke. What is causing this? — Chris K.

A: I suspect you need a new fuel pump. Bring it in and we can fix it for you.

Q: I have a 1991 Force 70 on my 1991 Maxum 1700. My engine will start but will not stay running. Starts and runs easier when choke is engaged. Any suggestions? — Peter C.

A: This could be a problem with your carburetor or a compression issue. I would start with a compression check to eliminate that first. Then check out the carburetor. If you need help, bring it in and we can fix it for you.

Q: How do I verify that the automatic bilge system is working? It works fine when I turn on bilge pump manually but I am not sure how to check the auto feature. Thanks. — Elliott.

A: Good question. Almost 2/3 of boats that sink, sink at the dock or at a mooring. Testing and maintaining your bilge pumps should be a regular part of your boat maintenance. Bilges are notorious for building up crud and debris, which can clog a bilge pump. You should regularly check your bilge to make sure that it is clear of debris such as lost screws and fasteners.
Bilge pumps have variety of automatic switches. Some pumps have a separate float switch mounted next to the pump and other pumps have an internal float switch. There is another type of bilge pump that has an automatic test mode that turns on for a few seconds every couple of minutes. (f your pump has the external float switch, there should be a small knob protruding from the housing Rotate the knob, which will activate the pump, to make sure that the switch has free movement).
To test your bilge pump(s) automatic switch (no matter which type your boat has) take a hose and put it into the bottom of your bilge near the pumps. DO NOT LEAVE THE AREA or get DISTRACTED while doing this. Start to fill the boat with water and see if the pump(s) activate. If you fill more than 2 inches in the bilge around the pump and it does NOT turn on, you may have a clogged pump or defective float switch. We sell a bilge cleaner that can help clean out the scum and crud, which can cause this problem. If that does not work, you should replace the pump or the switch (if you have a bilge pump with a separate float switch). We sell bilge pumps and switches in our marine store or call me and I can schedule your boat for service.
Take care of your bilge pumps and test them regularly!

Q: I was on vacation this past week and was using the boat a lot. I noticed the oil level was low. I added oil and noticed I slightly overfilled (where it says “OK range” on dipstick) the level is right at the “O” in OK. Dave, is this all right? I have a 2012 Crownline 195SS.— Elliott.

A: The risk with over filling your oil is that it will lead to air bubbles in the oil and can result in destruction of the engine. I would recheck the dipstick carefully and then ask yourself: “Do I feel lucky?” Most likely, if you are only slightly over the fill line, as you describe, you may be okay, but remember, oil is cheap, but engines are expensive! I suggest you be on the safe side and purchase a dipstick pump, available in our marine store, and remove the excess oil.

Q: Can you service a 40 year old Johnson outboard engine? I have a 6 HP Johnson engine that needs service. The Model #is CD-25A & the serial # is J2884124. This is an approximately 40 yr old engine that is in great condition. Thank you. — Anthony K.

A: Yes, I can fix your engine. I hate to admit it, but I started my career, working on those motors– and that’s when they were new! Bring it in.

Q: We’re getting water in our gas tank, why? This is our second time. Do you have any suggestions as to why? Almost 1 litre of water? We have a Crownline 260. — Brent M.

A: This could be a couple of things. First, I would examine your filler cap and check the condition “O” ring as well as the filler flange. If these parts are worn or corroded, water may be getting into your fuel through leakage during rain events. Next, I would check your fuel. Today’s gasoline, called E10, has a 10% ethanol component. Unfortunately for boaters, ethanol attracts water from the air that then leads to a situation called phase separation, in which the water, which is heavier than the gas, separates and sinks to the bottom of your tank. Read more about this topic in my “Tips for Protecting Your Boat” section. I strongly recommend that you use a fuel additive that prevents this problem. We sell Star Brite’s Star Tron Fuel Treatment. Stop in and get some today and use it EVERY time you add fuel to the boat.
One other issue could be water accumulation in the tank during winter storage. Over the winter, condensation can occur in your fuel tank causing water to accumulate in the tank. There has been much debate as to whether you should store a boat with only a small amount of fuel in it or an almost full tank. We recommend storing the boat with a minimal amount of fuel in it and treating the fuel with an additive such Star Brite’s Star Tron Fuel Treatment. This way when you can fill the tank in the spring with fresh gas, it will dilute any impurities, such as water.

Q: The oil in our boat looks milky and it smells like gasoline. It seems to run fine but we don’t want to put it in the lake and have the engine quit. Siphoned all of the oil out to change it and that’s how we discovered the color and smell. Wondering what the problem could be. I winterize it every winter so I’m sure nothing froze. — Jeff.

A: I suspect that your winterization job was not complete. Every year we get 4-5 boat owners who’s DIY winterization was incomplete and has resulted in a cracked block. To test this theory on your boat, check the oil in the dipstick and note the exact level. Then run the engine for a while and recheck the oil. If the oil level has increased, you have a cracked block. Feel free to bring your boat in for a diagnosis or repair.

Q: Hi Dave. I have a Yamaha 90. I was checking to see if my battery was charged, so I trimmed up and down a few times and all of a sudden, it just clicks…why?. — Kent.

A: The clicking sound may indicate a low or defective battery, a bad electrical connection (such as bad ground), or a defective switch, relay or solenoid. I would test the battery first, and then double-check all of the relevant electrical connections. You can use a 12-volt tester to determine the problem, or feel free to bring to us to diagnose and repair.

Q: Hi Dave. I have an early 1990’s Yamaha 20hp. Canadian outboard. Maybe 2 issues or related. When moving control to reverse the motor chatters. There is a very specific spot that it will engage with no chatter. Too much and there is no power and chatters. Second issue is when in forward and going down the river, when the boat banks into a curve (usually right turns) it feels as though it is slipping. Reduced power but regains after turn. Could it be cables/adjustment/replacement, a hub issue or worse is it something wrong in the lower unit? Performs well in forward from troll to full power. — Shawn.

A: This symptom could be caused by more than one problem and more than on problem at a time. I would check the following (in order): First, check that your propeller is installed properly on and that the nuts that hold it in position are tightened. Next, I would check the linkage is adjusted properly. Finally, I would re-adjust the trim tab for the steering. We can do any and all of these procedure for you, so feel free to make an appointment for service. You can always bring it in to us if you cannot fix it. Good luck.

Q: On my 2012 Crownline with 4.3 MPI, what should my motor temperature run at and how much should it vary when driving the boat?

A: Your boat should run at a temperature of 175°-180°. If your boat is not running in this range, you most likely have a thermostat problem. You could have the wrong thermostat installed; a defective thermostat; or a thermostat that is jammed by debris. We have also encountered many used boats boats with DIY installed thermostats where the gaskets are missing, or the gaskets were installed the wrong side of the thermostat, or they used the wrong gaskets. We’ve even seen boats where the thermostat has been installed upside down.

When your thermostat is jammed by debris, it can will be stuck in the open position and therefore your boat’s engine will run cold. This is usually caused by some type of debris, such as a grain of sand. If occurs, try to dislodge the debris by running the engine at a high RPM for just a minute or two. If this does not work, you need take out the thermostat and cleaning out the debris. If the thermostat is old or showing any signs of corrosion, I suggest you replace it. Also, any time you take out a thermostat, make sure that you replace the gaskets! We stock a wide range (temperature) of thermostats for most boats and can install a new one for you. Stop in any time.

Q: Just bought a used 24’ Pontoon boat that has an older (1980 something) Evinrude 70HP which had been sitting for a couple of years. We ran it in the yard with an earmuff and new gas, it ran fine, not overheating but when we put it in the water, we cannot get it to run out of the idle position. When we try to throttle the engine, it stalls. It ran just fine at an idle for the afternoon but would like some ’get up and go’. Any suggestions? — Pam H.

A: With an engine this old, I would suggest that you first have compression test done on the engine. If that checks out okay, I would have the carburetor rebuilt. The diagnostic work should take about an hour. Bring it in anytime to our shop.
One more thing, here is the trick to find out the actual year of manufacture of the engine. The year of manufacture is a two-letter code in the model number. Johnson/Evinrude model year formula is a based on a code using the word “INTRODUCES” that matches a letter in the word to a number. Here is the key to the code:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

Each of the letters in the word has a corresponding code number below it (I= 1, N=2, T=3, etc…) So, copy down the engine model number from your motor and compare it to the code. Next, locate the letter C towards the end of the model number and apply the formula to the next letter in the sequence. You wrote that your engine was a “1980 something.” Using the formula, you now know that the letter “C” stands for “8”. For example if the letter U follows the C, your engine was made in 1987.

Q: I have a 1985 Webbcraft with a 260 HP Mercruiser. It will start but only run in the chock position and will not idle. What is causing this and can it be repaired? — Janice.

A: Most likely, your idle circuit is clogged. You need to rebuild or replace your carburetor.

Q: Hi Dave I have a 225 Suzuki motor over December the buzzer went off I found that the outboard oil had turned to gel I cleaned the oil tank and pipes the problem went away until last week what could be causing the oil to turn to gel? — Roger.

A:Sounds like you are using inferior oil. Always buy a premium oil or brand recommended by your engine’s manufacturer.

Q: How hard would it be to put a Volvo 4cl in place of a OMC 4cl? — Wayne S.

A:In 1995 Volvo and OMC Cobra formed a joint venture. If your boat was made after 1995, it will work because it’s a 3 lt. GM engine. If your boat was made before 1995, it will not fit. Good luck.

Q: I have a 1972 Evinrude 50hp electric hydro shift; it will fire by pull cord but not by the key. Could it be the solenoid or the starter motor? — Chad

A: I suspect that you have either a bad starter motor or that the neutral safety switch.

Q: My prop bent a little and my speed dropped from 23mph to 18 could be the cause? — Rob R.

A: Even a small ding on a prop will reduce efficiency (performance). A bent prop is not only inefficient; it can cause damage to your shaft, your drive and your engine. Always repair or replace damaged props as soon as possible.

Q: What is the proper fuel-to-oil ratio for 2-stroke engines? Hi, Dave! My name is Dave, too. My question is about adding oil to an outboard 2-stroke Evinrude 20 h.p. 50:1 ratio. I have been adding only 6-1/2 oz. to a 5-gallon can. The label on the oil bottle says that for 50:1 I should be adding 16 oz. This seems like a lot. The boat has a 6-gallon tank, but I pre-mix gas and oil in a 5-gallon plastic gas can and pour the mixed oil & gas into the boat’s 6-gallon tank as a top off. Plus, I pour 1/2 oz. of Star Tron enzyme gas treatment into each 5-gallon can before topping off into the 6-gallon. Am I doing this wrong? I don’t want to damage this motor? — Dave B.

A: Dave, first off, for your safety, I suggest you DO NOT PREMIX YOUR FUEL AND OIL in one fuel container and then pour it into your boat’s gas tank as you have described. This puts you at a very high risk of having an explosion from sparks or static electricity igniting the fumes.

Instead, I recommend that you fill your boat’s tank at a marina fuel dock. The less you handle gasoline, the safer you will be. Also, always remember to leave some room in your tank for expansion.

As to the question of how much oil to add to the gas, you should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. In your case use a 50:1 fuel to oil mix ratio. Most of the oil additive bottles have charts that tell you how much to add depending on the required ratio.

Here’s how to calculate the amount:

One gallon of gas is 128 fluid ounces. 128 divided 50 (50:1 ratio) = 2.56 ounces. Therefore, for a 50:1 ratio mix, you need to add 2.56 oz. of oil for each gallon of gas.

For a 6 gallon tank, 128 oz. X 6 = 768 oz. Then take 768 oz. divided by 50 (50:1 ratio) = 15.36 oz. then round up and use 16 oz.

I suggest in the future that you add the gasoline to your boat’s fuel tank first since you will know from the gauge on the gas pump at the marina fuel dock exactly how many gallons you added to the tank. Then add the correct amount of oil to the gas mixture. Close the cap on the tank and slosh around the tank a little to help the oil mix with the gas.

Also, I agree with you about adding the Star Tron gas treatment. This is a great way to protect your fuel from experiencing phase separation due to the presence of ethanol in the gas. Read more about fuel additives in our Tips For Protecting Your Boat in the Cool Stuff section.

Remember handle gasoline as little and carefully as possible…be safe!

Q: My boat has some scratches on it. How important is it to fix small gel coat scratches? — Paul B.

A: In addition to making your boat look new, the gel coat plays a much more important function: It’s the thin layer of protection against UV and water damage for your boat’s fiberglass, which is just below the gel coat layer. Now here is the important (and surprising) part: gel coat is a porous material, so, to protect it from water, you need a layer of sealer glaze plus wax (carnauba) on top of the gel coat to fill and seal the pores.

If the gel coat (and the fiberglass underneath) are unprotected by a sealer coat and wax, over time, they will also degrade as UV from the sun sets off a chemical process called oxidation. If the surface of your boat looks chalky or dull, you have oxidation! In addition, when you get scrapes, scratches, or abrasions to the gel coat (no matter how small or slight) you have not only damaged the gel coat, you have also scraped off the protective layers of sealer glaze and wax. Left unrepaired, these damaged areas will start to oxidize and are also unprotected against water infiltration. This includes any type of damage to your gel coat such as holes, cracks, chips, airpockets, scrapes, gashes, spidering or “crazing”, osmotic blistering a.k.a. “boat pox”, and “dock rash”. (I’ll skip the explanation about dock rash in case there are any children reading this). The long-term damage that results from untreated gel coat is a loss of integrity of the fiberglass resulting in blisters, rot, cracks, and ultimately delamination.

Gel coat maintenance should include keeping your boat cleaned and waxed and repairing any scratched, cracked or damaged areas of your boat’s gel coat, as soon as possible. You should always take the time to inspect the underside of your boat when it is out of the water. After all, even small pieces of debris can scratch or chip the bottom and that is where the fastest damage will occur.

One more point: We recommend that you always have your boat waxed after cleaning it with any harsh chemicals or cleaners. That is because in addition to removing the marine growth and slime, those cleaners also strip off the wax and sealer leaving your gel coat unprotected.

Now for the commercial: We offer complete gel coat service including cleaning, waxing, and repairs (from minor to scratches to major fiberglass) and gel coat repairs. Stop in anytime and we can evaluate the condition of your boat’s gel coat and give you an estimate. In addition, for all of the Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYs), our marine store carries a full line of waxes, hull cleaners, buffing materials, and gel coat repair kits. We can also special order any custom colors you need. (Who knew there were so many shades of white!)

Q: How do you “jump”the spit? — Jerry C.

A: The answer is you should not. For those who have never heard this term, “jump the spit” is a colloquialism for “crossing a sand bar.” I have to confess here that in my youth, (in the last millennium) I tried this stunt a few times. Today, however, speaking as a mechanic who, on numerous occasions, has billed customers for the repairs to damage caused by crossing over shallow sand bars, I highly advise against this. Sand bars are dangerous to boats and hitting one at high speed cannot only damage your boat it can lead to injury to you or your passengers. Also, on the river sandbars can snag and conceal debris such as logs. So always slow down in shallow water and always stay in the channel whenever possible.

Q: Why is my outboard shaking? Do you think that the wheel is bent? — Steve P.

A: I think that either the shaft or prop(s) is damaged. Either way, I would not operate the motor until you have them repaired to prevent damage to the gear case.

Q: Does an engine out of a Chevy 4.3 fit in a 1988 Four Winns 180 Horizon? — James R.

A: Never use a non-marine engine in a boat. It does not matter whether it fits or not, car engines are not engineered to take the punishment (vibration, etc.) that marine engines endure. More importantly, a car engine will not have a spark arrestor and that means you could cause an explosion.

Marine parts, from bulbs to fasteners, are certified for use on boats. While I realize that it can be tempting to use cheaper auto parts, it is a bad idea. Resist the urge and avoid repenting later especially on electrical, fuel lines, hoses, etc. If you have a catastrophic fire caused by the use of non-marine parts, you could be held liable and have difficulties with your insurance company on the claim. Insurance reps companies will reject claims when non-marine parts are used.

Q: We are wondering if it would be potentially considered bad luck if we change a boat name? — Jeff M.

A: Sailors are notoriously superstitious — especially when it comes to naming and renaming their boats. Many of the most famous shipwrecks involve ships that had been renamed including the “Central America,” which sank in 1857 in a gale off the coast of the Carolinas with a loss of more than 400 lives and 21 tons of gold. In 1853, it was christened the “George Law.” Nevertheless, renaming a boat or ship can be done, but there are a few steps that should be followed. We contacted John Vigor, a marine expert on this topic. Mr. Vigor is the author of thousands articles and several books including “The Practical Mariner’s Book of Knowledge.” He is also an experience sailor and has logged many long distance voyages, including in 1987 sailing a 30-foot sloop from South Africa to the United States with his then 17 year-old son.

In his book, “The Practical Mariner’s Book of Knowledge,” he offers the following advice on a renaming ceremony for boats. I’d take his advice before changing the name of a boat.

Here, reprinted by permission, is

A Simple De-Naming Ceremony
by John Vigor:


“I once met a man in Florida who told me he’d owned 24 different yachts and renamed every single one of them.

“Did it bring you bad luck?” I asked. “Not that I’m aware of,” he said. “You don’t believe in those old superstitions, do you?”

Well, yes. As a matter of fact I do. And so do a lot of other sailors who wouldn’t consciously do anything to annoy the ancient gods of the wind and the sea. Out at sea, you need all the help you can get.

Actually, it’s not so much being superstitious as being careful. It is part of good seamanship. That is why I had to invent a “de-naming” ceremony some years ago to ward off bad luck when I wanted to change the name of my newly purchased 31-foot sloop from “Our Way” to “Freelance.” I needed a formal ceremony to wipe the slate clean in preparation for the renaming.

I searched in vain for one. But research showed that such a ceremony should consist of five parts: an invocation, an expression of gratitude, a supplication, a rededication and a libation.

So I sat down and wrote my own ceremony. It worked perfectly. “Freelance” carried us many thousands of deep sea miles and we enjoyed good luck all the way.

You can read this ceremony on the foredeck before a gathering of distinguished guests, or you can mumble it down below on your own if you find these things embarrassing. The main thing is that you MUST say the words.

The libation should be carried out at the bow, just as it is in a christening ceremony. Don’t use any but the finest champagne (compatible with your budget) –and pour it all on the boat. One of the things the gods of the sea despise most is meanness, so don’t try to do this bit on the cheap.

Before the ceremony, remove all physical traces of the boat’s old name. If the old name is carved into timber somewhere, it’s not enough just to paint over it. Fill, sand, and repaint. Don’t neglect to wipe the name out in the obvious places–bows, stern, dinghy, oars, logbook, charts, horseshoe buoys, and so on. There may be official papers with the old name on them, of course, and those should be temporarily removed from the boat for the ceremony.

Finally, don’t place the new name anywhere on the boat before the De-naming Ceremony is carried out. That would be tempting fate.

Here’s the actual ceremonial recitation:


“In the name of all who have sailed aboard this ship in the past, and in the name of all who may sail aboard her in the future, we invoke the ancient gods of the wind and the sea to favor us with their blessing today.
“Mighty Neptune, king of all that moves in or on the waves; “And mighty Aeolus, (Aeolus, as I’m sure you know, is pronounced EE-oh-lus, with the accent on the first syllable.) guardian of the winds and all that blows before them:

“We offer you our thanks for the protection you have afforded this vessel in the past. We voice our gratitude that she has always found shelter from tempest and storm and enjoyed safe passage to port.
“Now, wherefore, we submit this supplication, that the name whereby this vessel has hitherto been known, ( ), be struck and removed from your records.
“Further, we ask that when this vessel is again presented for blessing with another name, she shall be recognized and shall be accorded once again the selfsame privileges she previously enjoyed.
“In return for which, we rededicate this vessel to thy domain in full knowledge that she shall be subject to the immutable laws of the gods of the wind and the sea.
“In consequence whereof, and in good faith, we seal this pact with a libation offered according to the hallowed ritual of the sea.”

Now you can pop the cork, shake the bottle and spray the whole of the contents on the bow. When that’s done, you can open another bottle for yourself.
How long should you wait before the new naming ceremony? There’s no fixed time. You can do the renaming right after the de-naming, if you want. But most of us would prefer to wait at least 24 hours to give those sneaky sea demons time to clear out.

The traditional ceremony calls for a bottle of champagne to be broken across the vessel’s bow. On small boats, the bottle is usually enclosed in a fine-mesh net so that dangerous splinters of glass do not escape. Alternatively, you may open the bottle and spray the contents on the bow and forward topsides.
If you have serious objections to the use of alcohol, use any sparkling non-alcoholic drink instead. The gods will not despise you nor punish you in any way for acting according to your true conscience.
The christening is very short and simple. The essential parts are the new name, and wishes for fair winds, safe passages, and good fortune. You can make up your own ceremony if you like, but here is one example. It is to be spoken immediately before the breaking of the bottle or the spraying of its contents:
“I name this ship (________). May she bring fair winds, safe passages, and good fortune to all who sail on her.”

Q: What is the best outboard engine for a 20ft pontoon boat? We plan to use it for tubing. — Cheryl C.

A: The first thing to do is to determine the maximum size motor that is allowed to power your boat. (You should be able to find that number on the U.S. COAST GUARD Capacity Information Plate that is mounted on your boat, On boats with outboard motors, the plate tells you what the maximum engine size should be for the specific boat. Note: different models of boats, which are the same length, or boats built by different manufactures can have different maximum engine size restrictions.)

It’s important to check your own boat.
Maximum engine size example with more information about boat

Select a motor that is rated for your boat and best fits your boating needs. For example, there is no sense over-powering your boat if you prefer to cruise at slower speeds. However, since you are going to use your boat for tubing, you will want a motor that can propel the boat with the load you are hauling (that’s the weight of the people and gear both on and behind the boat).

So, you are probably looking for a motor that is close to, or at, the maximum rated motor size for your boat. We sell all sizes of both Mercury and Yamaha outboard motors here at the Oxbow Marina. Just stop in and we can give you a quote on new motor.


Q: Is it necessary to remove the batteries from the boat during the winter? —Jeff R.

A: Good question. Taking care of your batteries is essential to safe and reliable boating. We recommend leaving them in place on your boat during winter storage. This is a safe, simple and reliable way to protect your batteries over the winter, but first, make sure that the batteries are fully charged and then disconnect them. Also, clean the surface of the batteries to remove any acid or grime that may be present and apply 24C marine grease to the terminals to protect them from corrosion.

If you are insistent on removing the batteries, despite the obvious risks of accidentally dropping them, or pulling a muscle while getting them out of the boat, here are some pointers to follow. First, make sure that they are fully charged before removing them. Then you should clean the top of the battery to remove any acid or grime that may be present and apply 24C marine grease to the terminals to protect them from corrosion. Next, select a safe place to store them. This means somewhere cooland where they cannot tip over or have anything fall in top of them. In addition, beware of trickle-charging batteries throughout the winter. This can lead can lead to over-charging and damage to the batteries. Also, remember, batteries can emit gasses that can be dangerous: so storing them in your basement is a definite no-no.

Q: How often should the impeller be changed? — Paul B.

A: Good question. For those who do not know what an impeller is, an impeller is part of a raw water pump on your boat that pumps the water that cools your engine. The impeller is made of rubber and has vanes or fins that rotate and pump the water. When your impeller fails, your engine will overheat. If you don’t react fast enough to the engine temperature alarm (if it sounds) or notice the temperature gauge suddenly rising, you can do serious, even catastrophic, damage to your engine. Think somewhere from burned-out water pump to seized-up engine.

Two main factors can cause impeller failure:

  1. Age: An impeller is made of rubber and it can simply wear out or become cracked and then fail. In addition, sand and grit present in the water will score the vanes of the impeller degrading the surface of the impeller. Sand can chew up an impeller in no time.
  2. Memory: Although an impeller is round, the pump housing it operates in is not and he impeller is also mounted slightly off center. This causes the impeller’s vanes to flatten slightly then spread open again as it rotates which creates a good seal and subsequently maximum pumping action. The down side is that when the engine is turned off for prolonged periods, such as on boats that are infrequently used or during winter storage, the impeller vanes that are in the “flattened” or bent position in the pump housing can become permanently bent or deformed. This is called “memory” and this is one type of memory that is not a good thing to have because it decreases the efficiency of the impeller and will lead to a failure of the pump.

So back to the question, we recommend changing your impeller at least every other season or every two hundred engine-hours (more often if your boat is frequent in sandy water). Depending on your boat, replacing the impeller runs about $100 to $150. That’s an inexpensive act of preventative maintenance that can save your motor, give you peace of mind, and keep you from losing time on the water.

Q: How often should I have my boat’s engine oil changed? — Marian C.

A: The rule of thumb is at least, and I really mean at the very least, every 100 hours on the engine or every season. You should also strictly adhere to your boat and engine manufacturer’s recommended (or required) maintenance schedule. A boat engine operates in a much harsher environment than an automobile engine. Motor oil breaks down into a heavy varnish that can foul the inside of the engine and in addition, as gasoline burns in your engine, it leaves an acid residue that builds up in the oil. Over the winter, that acid can damage the engine by etching the interior surfaces. This is why we always change the engine oil as part of our winterization program.