DIY Fix For Drowned Outboard Engines


Many boaters would agree that one of the most character building situations in recreational angling is coping with an engine that has slipped its bracket and needs recovery in the deep.

The procedure for salvaging an engine as well as the efforts involved in getting it running again (also known as pickling an motor ) make enormous sea stories. It also provides several classes for those who have not yet had the expertise -- or endured the embarrassment -- instead of regaining and restarting a search engine.

The following tips will function as a general principle for fixing a drowned outboard engine.

Some Fundamentals:

  • The very first location boaters should seek advice regarding drowned engines is your owner's manual. Manuals supply specifications describing engine gas, weight, fluid forms, quantities, and more. The manuals may also recognize the location of motor growth points (for use during engine retrieval) and steps for cleanup and restarting underwater engines specific to the engine make and model.
  • A reasonable next step would be to review the ship insurance policy to determine if coverage for expenses involved in regaining and restoring a submerged engine might be available.
  • The challenges associated with raising an motor multiply exponentially since the water depth over the motor increases. Another crucial element is the engine weight itself, so consider both factors when planning recovery. Fortunately, dinghy or auxiliary sailboat engines are usually much lighter, in the 70-200 pound variety, based on horsepower.
  • Modern motors are packed with electronics to monitor and control fuel usage, temperature, and more, and also to present regular engine diagnostics. While this equipment can be sensitive and usually not waterproof, boaters can expect to replace the electronics within a submerged engine.
  • Though it might seem counter intuitive, the ideal approach to regaining an engine may be to leave it submerged until the suitable salvage equipment and individual help, in addition to an adequate work area, and the necessary tools/supplies are available.
  • Consequences are dependent upon if the motor is submerged in freshwater or saltwater. Engines and engine components submerged in saltwater will undergo much more corrosion and electrolysis when subjected to air than motors sitting in freshwater.
  • Starting the cleaning, draining, lubrication, drying, and testing procedures immediately after retrieval affords the best chance for a successful rescue and minimizes the corrosion that will occur when the motor becomes exposed to atmosphere.
  • Understanding whether the motor was running or not when it went under is crucial. If not running, the engine has essentially stayed sealed and will most likely live to operate again with a few cleaning and comparatively little upkeep. Conversely, a motor that has been running as it underwater has ingested water to the cylinder head and other interior parts, which will likely require extensive maintenance.
  • When the motor is out of the water, perform work in an open, airy place and correctly mount it in a vertical position. Also, remember that it will be necessary to trick the engine on its side to completely drain water from the inner engine components.
  • Have buckets, mops, rags, and absorbent material (sand or kitty litter) readily available to restrain fuel, water, and lube spills and leaks. A fire extinguisher in hand is also a good idea.
  • If do-it-yourself efforts to clean and restart the engine are ineffective, involving an expert outboard engine mechanic would be a prudent course to take, particularly a mechanic who is qualified to the make and type of the underwater engine. The mechanic may focus specific product knowledge and expertise on the problem and use tools and diagnostic equipment to offer a good, fact-based outlook about the odds of saving the motor. Similarly, a marina or outboard engine mechanic would probably have an evaluation tank or at least a 55-gallon drum to check an engine after recovery and cleaning.

Beginning an Engine that was Running After Submerged

  • As a first step, remove weeds, sand, silt, or sand out of the engine outside and thoroughly clean with a mild detergent, then rinse with freshwater along with a hose. Remove the motor cowling and exfoliate exposed interior pieces.
  • Drain any residual fuel to a bucket. Loosen and remove the gas, pull off the line the carburetor, and drain any remaining fuel to a bucket. Tilt the engine so the spark plug hole(s) face down.
  • Hand-crank the engine to purge water out of the cylinder. A grinding noise may signal sand is contained inside the cylinder head. If so, stop stirring instantly and solicit the help of a qualified professional to do an engine overhaul.
  • To absorb water from the cylinder head, pour methyl alcohol (common in gas line anti-freeze) into the cylinder head through the spark plug hole. After complete, flush out the water and fluid out of the cylinder head into a bucket.
  • Use a spray lube to liberally coat the cylinder interior and the carburetor air intake while hand-cranking.
  • Reassemble removed components and mount the motor onto a 55-gallon metal drum full of water or find a test tank.
  • Attach the motor fuel line into a tank of gas that is fresh and prime as normal.
  • Permit the engine to run for at least 30 minutes.
  • Starting an Engine That was Not Running When Submerged
  • As with engines that have been runningremove weeds, mud, silt, or sand out of the motor outside and thoroughly wash with a mild detergent, then rinse with freshwater.
  • Reassemble removed components and mount the engine on a 55-gallon metal drum full of water or locate a test tank.
  • Spray starting fluid to the air intake and start the motor; after running, let it operate for at least 30 minutes to purge water from the carburetor or cylinder head.
  • When the engine doesn't run after following these procedures, seek the advice and participation of an expert outboard mechanic.

Salvaging an engine and getting it running again happens more often than boaters might acknowledge. Knowing the fundamentals of underwater engine recovery and restarting, particularly with modern motors, can make the experience not as challenging and simpler.