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Would you store an outboard on its head?


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On a recent episode of Auction Hunters, between MLB innings, the heroes get all excited when they find a 25 hp Merc outboard stored on its head in a corner of the container they’ve bought. They go on to ‘discover’ a miniboat in the other corner, take boat and motor for a spin around some California bay, and wind up making a big sale.

I suspect, stored upside down in a storage locker long enough to be repossessed and put up for auction, that motor would need a complete overhaul before you fired it up.

AFAIK, you never turn an outboard motor upside down, so that the leg is above the engine. You want the grease in the gear box to stay down where it belongs, and you want the coolant water that’s left in the leg to drain out of the water jacket around the cylinders. This is especially true for outboards used in salt water that have not been properly flushed with fresh water. The salt crystals left behind can clog up the passages in the head and cause a lot of grief. Is this story faked for TV? Or am I wrong about outboards?

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Of course it's faked for TV. I'd never heard of the show until I watched part of an episode during breakfast about an hour ago. There were a number of bidders at an auction of storage locker contents. A camera was on each bidder the moment he raised his bid. That would be nearly impossible to achieve in real time.

I don't know about the motor. I guess if it was prepped properly, the orientation wouldn't matter. I can't imagine they're shipped from the factory upright.

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No, you're not wrong. What you described is exactly right, but if there's no freeze, the cooling water can sit there. Sure, it's bad for the motor, but everything an outboard experiences is bad for motors.

I can imagine it working, but not for very long and certainly not reliably.

I've taken all manner of nasty outboards and made them work. Smoky, nasty things I wouldn't give a dime for, but they can run forever.

It's an old 2 stroke, probably run rich like all the old 2 strokes. The thing was bathed in oil constantly.

And, the magneto pretty much guarantees a spark.

And, it's TV. I'd bet a dime someone dropped new plugs and a service job on it.

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Without a proper stand they are safer to stand on their head or side. As long as it is a 2 stroke and all the seals are good it would be fine. But all fluids should be serviced. I have seen numerous outboards stored this way at the boat shop my friend runs.

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The term seen one, seen em all sure does ring true with these shows.

They all have a pissed off old guy, a drama queen, a deadline, a huge blowout of an argument, and they always end up happily ever after.

That is, UNTIL THE NEXT EPISODE OF, Build me a bike / The pawn shop dudes / Pick my junk / Fix my old coke machine / Train my dog / and Let's all talk like Jack Webb on Dragnet.

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The little outboards are pretty simple small engines with lots of leeway in the 'yup it'll run" parameters.

Case in point: My boy tipped his mini bike over and left there over night. I pulled the plug and turned it over for what felt like about 20 minutes to pump all the oil out of the combustion chamber, then I sprayed carb cleaner on the plug to degrease it, spun it in hand tight and the thing fired right up. Smoked like hell but it fired. When that plug finally gave up the ghost I rummaged through the tool chest and found a brand new plug that was a bit short but had the right thread and seat. I opened up the gap by eye to offset the short reach and spun it in hand tight again. The damned thing has never run so good.

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Without a proper stand they are safer to stand on their head or side. As long as it is a 2 stroke and all the seals are good it would be fine. But all fluids should be serviced. I have seen numerous outboards stored this way at the boat shop my friend runs.

Thanks Angus. I suppose that's the key, good seals and serviced, flushed and drained. I've seen motors that had salt water left sitting in them too often, and that will eventually destroy them.
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I've got a 140 Suzuki 4 stroke on my 22' center console. You can barely hear it idle. Sips fuel and depending on what prop I run will do 40-45 WOT. Between our crappy winter (for us) and just being busy It didn't leave the marina dry storage rack for 5 months. Called the dock master and told him to splash me. Fired up like I had just ran it the day before.

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