Tuesday, September 13, 2011

my quirky Merc

My Mercury outboard (5 HP, single-stroke, long-shaft, insert other impolite outboard terms here, etc.) has always had her idiosyncrasies, but this season has been the worst.  This past weekend, though, she and I had a breakthrough.  I now know how to most predictably get her to start, but her behavior is very strange and I will not be satisfied until I can get her to start "normally."

Here is what I do:  I open the fuel line, pull out the choke (fully engaged, and then partially after a few pulls), and then pull-pull-pull on the starter.  I pull many times, somewhat compulsively, because I just know she will start up if I pull just one more time.  At this point, she is clearly flooded, and there has been nary a spark nor a sputter -- absolutely no encouraging signs of life at all.   Sadly, she is so flooded by this time that there are a droplets of fuel falling into the lake.  (Sorry, environment.)  After about 30 seconds of some combination of silent reflection, beverage-freshening, and the use of somewhat coarse language, I close the fuel line, close down the choke, open up the throttle all the way, and start to pull some more with results as follows:

First pull:  nuttin'.
Second pull:  spark, sputter.
Third pull:  she starts up and begins to purr like a happy little kitten.

After about 10 seconds or so, I open the fuel line once again and shortly thereafter, away we go.  What is just as remarkable is that she starts on the very first pull later on when it's time to motor back into the slip.

So, my primary question is What da?  My secondary question is 'Should I not open up the choke when I first attempt to start her in order to effectively bypass the whole ridiculous 'flood, then starve' routine?'  I am so clueless about outboards.  My general strategy is simply 'treat her like a lady, and she will return the favor,'  but I think she is becoming a little too highmay at this point.


Anonymous said...

I'd try a couple of pulls with no choke, a couple with 1/2 choke and then a cople with full choke.

See if it starts any better with less choke. That way you sneak up to 'flood' and in theory, it should start somewhere on the way to flood right?

O Docker said...

Some random thoughts:

You don't mention the little bulb. You do have a little bulb, don't you? Before you do anything else, pump the little bulb in the fuel line until it gets hard.

(Sorry, this IS sounding dirty again.)

Then apply some choke and try starting (maybe only half choke at first if full choke is flooding it).

And when's the last time you cleaned and gapped (or maybe replaced altogether) the spark plug?

Like you found out in your last post, a little spark goes a long, long way.

Christy ~ Central Air said...

Anonymous, you are brilliant! I tried it tonight with no choke, and it started on the second pull. What you suggested makes perfect sense, but in my little pea-sized brain (at least where outboards are concerned) the notion of starting a cold outboard with no choke was a completely foreign concept. Thank you!!

Christy ~ Central Air said...

O, thank you for mentioning "the little bulb," as no discussion of outboards should exclude the little bulb. Sadly, I have no little bulb. I use the integrated fuel tank on my Merc, simply because 'fewer parts' should equal fewer things to break and replace.

I'm definitely going to clean/gap or just replace the spark plug during the off season, which unfortunately starts 10/15 here at my lake this year. Thanks for the suggestion! A long way indeed.

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