Merwin: Motor Testing Made Easy

John Merwin

I've been meaning to get some boating things into this blog once in a while, so here's the first. I spent part of the weekend finally getting my boat ready for the new season--lots of cleaning, scrubbing, charging the batteries, checking the electronics, and so on. I also ran the motor for a while to make sure everything was okay. Far better to find a problem in my backyard than to get stuck in the middle of a lake somewhere because I didn't bother to check the engine before launching.

I once made the big mistake of running a motor dry--out of the water-- for a few seconds just to see if it would start. As some doubtless already know, this will immediately overheat and cook the water-pump impeller. That's the little rubber-vaned pump in the motor's lower unit that drives cooling water through the engine while it's running. If it burns out, you're done for--just as I was by being so stupid back then.

So now I use a plastic garbage pail full of water. It's easy enough to set up behind the boat trailer so the motor's lower unit is fully submerged. The photo shows my trusty Honda outboard (4 years so far with zero problems) burbling happily away in a garbage pail yesterday while I checked for starting as well as smoothness at various throttle settings. And no, I don't put the motor in gear this way, in which case the propeller would probably shred the container. It does mean that now I can launch and fish without worrying about whether or not the engine will run. I've got power, and I'm ready to go....