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Submerged Outboard Motor Recovery Tips

Blog | 21 November 2018

Dunked underwater, a submerged outboard boat motor is drowning in several meters of water. Tip number one, then, is to know where that motor has made its unexpected dive. Without knowing the exact location, you’re going to be searching for your missing motor when you should be recovering it and carrying out your troubleshooting duties. Just like you read it, tip number one is to drop a marker. An anchoring float should do the trick.

Salvaging the Engine 

Time is of the essence. If the engine is stuck on a slope, if it’s caught in a strong current, undertow or tide, then it might move away from the marker. A diver is needed, and the wetsuit master needs to move fast. On finding the outboard, it can be salvaged.

Before Doing Anything Else 

Before the motor can be flushed, remove the seabed or lake materials that came up with its housing. Bits of seaweed, silt and sand, mud and unlucky aquatic lifeforms, they all need to be washed away. Next, with the muck gone, the engine cowling is removed.

Fluid Line Measures 

The fuel can’t be left in the motor. Drain the tank, unplug the carburetter, and clear any trace fluids. Next, the spark plugs are going to have to come out, too. If one bucket is full of mud and debris, call in another one, a bucket that’ll hold the drained fuel.

Feeling Lucky? 

Handcrank the engine, just a few times, to get the water out of the inner engine workings. Important: If the motor cylinders issue a grating, scraping sound when they’re cranked, stop immediately. Odds are, there’s sand in the cylinder head. If you don’t have experienced in engine overhauls, call in an expert to overhaul the cylinders.

Spray Lube Water Protection 

There are still trace quantities of water in the outboard motor. As a recovery tip here, you can open any electronic modules and let them dry. As a more active solution, use spray lube on the cylinders and the cylinder manifold. Crank while applying the lube. This action will purge concealed pools of water.

It’s a disaster in the waiting, the moment when an outboard boat motor is on the verge of toppling into the water. Somehow the transom and motor clamp loosened, and the rest is history. All is not lost, however, not if you know where the outboard motor lays submerged. Get a diving expert to help with the salvage operation, then follow the above steps. On reassembling the dried and lubed outboard engine, fill her up, spray starting fluid into its air intake, and see it kick back into life.

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