Stale gas? Dirty filter?


Old 07-05-07, 09:41 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 4
Cool Stale gas? Dirty filter?

My 1990 Rinker open bow with a 4.3l Mercruiser in it was finally running good. I bought it on Ebay last year. I had to replace the starter after the first trip, a tire on the second, a prop on the third. Then we had a couple good trips. On the 4th of July, it ran fine all day, including pulling out two heavy high school boys on skis.

Toward evening, my wife was skiing behind the boat. She fell. When I gunned it to come around and pick her up, the boat stalled...then wouldn't start. We waited for a while, but it still wouldn't start. I opened the engine cover to make it look like I knew what I was doing...still nothing. We finally got towed in.

The next morning, I turned the key to see what would happen. It wanted to start, but I didn't have the muffs on and I had to get to work. When I got home, I got it all hooked up and it fired up without any hesitation. It sounds rough, but it started!

I'm suspecting:
-old gas, since some of the tank is doubtless left from the guy who sold it to me, and he left it sit for a year and a half. (If I drain it, can I just siphon it into my van and burn it off?)
-dirty fuel filter (same reason as above)

BTW, my throttle button does nothing, so it didn't help when I was suspecting that the engine was flooded.

Also, I keep a cover on the boat usually. When I pull the cover, I get a pretty strong gas smell. You can smell it also when the boat has been open. My wife even complained of a headache yesterday. The bilge by the engine is dry, but I suppose the gas would collect ahead of that.
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Old 07-06-07, 12:40 PM
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Red face update

Well, the engine started up again this afternoon. Right away. When I gunned it, then turned the throttle back, it died...and wouldn't start. So, I thought I should check if I'm even getting gas into the carb. Sure enough, there's gas pooled in the bottom. Perhaps that would explain the gas smell in the boat.
Old 07-06-07, 01:10 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: USA
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hey riponred, i'm no boat man but a fuel filter replacement and getting all that old gas out sure would help I think. Also, you say you gunned it this afternoon. From what I have read I don't think you are supposed to gun it on muffs, idle only. Where is this gas pooled in the bottom you speak of? I read about a product called SeaFoam I think but never have used it.
Wish I could help more than offering my $.02. I own a boat but pay to have it worked on (as bad as I hate to)
Old 07-06-07, 08:29 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 4
Smile Sea Foam?

I've heard of the SeaFoam. I'm going to check into that or some (other?) Gumout or carb cleaner.

I know I'm not supposed to run it above idle on muffs. I thought I would be OK if I gunned it for a second, then backed it off. As it turned out, I didn't even get that much time!
Old 07-07-07, 10:07 PM
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I was strongly advised by a mechanic today to stay away from SeaFoam. Said it was good in its day, but not with today's fuels. Sold me a different product (no, they didn't also have SeaFoam on the shelves). Take it for what it's worth.
Old 07-09-07, 02:53 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,268
Strong gas smell = fuel leak somewhere - and a dangerous situation. (If you've ever seen an engine cover blown 10ft into the air, you would agree with me). With the muffs on and the engine running - look thoroughly around the carb for leakage. Find the leak!!

For your starting issue. Yes, old gas can be a problem, especially when you get to the bottom of the tank where gunk has accumulated. This gunk can also clog up your fuel filter, which should be changed as a matter of course. Drain the tank if possible, and put in new gas along with a new filter. It's also possible/likely that the gunk has plugged some of the orifices in your carb, requiring a cleaning/rebuild (I know that's not what you want to hear). Your carb is 17 yrs old, and probably never been serviced properly - so a rebuild is due - and not expensive. If I had to guess based on what I've read, you've got fuel issues - both quality and supply to your engine.
Old 07-09-07, 07:41 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1

#1- find out why strong gas smell.
It is not normal or smart to send your wife home with a headache from boating. you will not be boating long (or other fun stuff).
check for leaks in gas lines, gas tank, carb
Use your nose, best detector there is for gas.
"might" solve your your stalling problem

#2, stalling after hard run, might be gas line vaporization

after that, clogged fuel filter etc.

If gas is over a year old, could be old gas is problem
If gas is ethanol, definite problem
Go to marine store, get Startron, add to gas tank

run engine, drain tank etc
Do whatever you can to get that gas gone
mix a few gal at a time in your car
Replace with fresh gas, change filters again, add more Startron

NEVER (repeat NEVER!) run the engine without muffs and water flowing
You probally have an Alpha 1 stern drive
water pump impeller is in outdrive, it's cooled by the water
Running ( even for a few sec) will toast the impellor.
After that is gone, no water to engine, engine overheats (bad !)

New impeller is routine change.
You (mechanic) should change it every 3 yrs (whatever usage)

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