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Hi Folks,

 

What do you guys think about buying and using older outboard motors?  I get the impression that a lot of guys like the prices of the older motors.  Still see a lot of 1960's and 70's vintage motors still being used.  The local boat dealership tried to discourage me from buying a 1978 9.9 Johnson today.  They said the parts are getting hard to find and they break down too easily.  A few years ago I bought a 1968 9.5 Johnson for $275.  It ran like a new one and I never had any problems with it. 

 

Would like to know the opinions of others and your experiences. 

 

Thank you,

 

Lonnie

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You could get lucky, or not. No way of knowing. New motors are more complicated but much more efficient and have a warranty. Old motors are simpler, if you like getting busy with the spanners, and if you can get parts will be easier to maintain, but you will probably have to. 

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There are plenty of parts available for older motors especially the parts used for maintenance. Find a good motor no matter what the age and take care of it. 2 strokes will take a licking and keep on ticking. Ive got both old and new. A 1960s Evinrude and a 2013 Mercury. The mercury goes to the shop to get worked on. The Evinrude does not.

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3 years (Spring of 2014) ago I bought a 15'-8" 1978 Glastron with an 1978 85HP Johnson Javelin outboard (with Trim & Tilt) and a Shorelander trailer. The whole thing was cheap ($700) but appeared to be in good shape. The motor started right up, the floor was solid and the trailer had forever plates. I took the time to change the oil in the lower unit and I bought a Minn Kota trolling motor and spare deep cycle battery as a backup to prevent me from getting stranded in the middle of the lake. For 3 seasons I have used it 2-5 times a week and it has never failed. I did replace the main battery (575 cca) with a new Duel Purpose 700cca battery, and the solenoid on the lift motor. After the first year I took the time to replace the impeller on the water pump and bought $10 dollars worth of Walmart black and white paint for the trailer. I have been boating for 3 years for less than $1000.00. I don't impress the rich people around the lake but I get many comments about the great shape my classic boat is in.

 

Cropped 85hp javelin my boat.jpg

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Nothing is bulletproof!  I like the simplicity of the old motors.

 

In the case of Merc (which is what my last 7 engines have been) any part I have needed has been available.  

Technically, there could be a problem getting parts for an old Johnson/Evinrude outboard some day, since the original company has gone out of business. In reality there seems to be plenty of " new old stock" parts out there, and there are some aftermarket companies selling parts that fit them, so it should not become a problem for a while.  Now if something weird happens like you crack a top cowl or something than you will forced to look on used parts sites for a replacement. No big deal there are plenty of those type parts out there as well.

 

I think in many cases it boils down to the boat situation,  Some of my old engines were working fine, but I chose to upgrade horsepower to fit a different need.  I was not interested in spending BIG money to repower an older boat.  My current boat was purchased with no engine and I had a T&H trim/tilt plate installed along with my 2002 25 HP Merc.  This was set up special to boat on a horsepower restricted lake.  Later I moved from there to the Chesapeake Bay and found a used 2000 Merc 2 stroke 75hP outboard.  That has been the setup on my Lowe bass boat since.  it would have been nice to repower with a modern outboard. It certainly would have been nice from a fuel economy standpoint.  However I spent around $4000 for the motor, having it shipped to my local dealer, having it installed and correcting some minor issues and now have a reliable outboard that runs the boat well enough.  To purchase a new 75 hp outboard would have cost at least a couple thousand more and I am not a fan of Mercury Opti Max engines.  My preference would have been to go with a Yamaha FL70 but it cost more, and would have cost more to change controls and possibly gauges.

 

Personally going with an older engine has worked out for me several times.

 

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 A lot depends on your personal engine knowledge.  Being able to check out and recognize the good from the bad makes a huge difference in being able to get a good used motor. 

I have and regularly use an early 70's 9.9 Johnsons.  I have as much faith in that motor as I would a new one.  Same with my 86, 25hp Merc.

Matter of fact, the newest motor I have is a 1999 225, and I have a bunch of motors.  I actually prefer the somewhat older motors over the newer high tech motors.  They are much easier and usually cheaper to repair.

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The outboard motors of the 60s and 70s do not hold a candle to the outboard engines of today.

Not surprisingly, the cost of vintage motors is commensurately lower than the price of today's engines.

It's no different than comparing the cars from the 60s and 70s to the cars and prices of today.

During the 60s & 70s I loved every outboard motor I owned, but today I wouldn't touch them with a 10-ft pole.

 

Roger

 

 

 

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Hypothetical; it's 2017 and you find a new 40 year old 1977 15hp Enivrude outboard engine that was stored in a garage. This engine isn't made anymore and Evinrude is out of business, would you buy it? If you are looking for a small OB and the price is right the only issue is how many hours is on the engine, was it used in salt water and how was it maintained. The fact it's old and no longer made, after market parts are readily available.

I don't recall when small outboard engines stopped being made in the USA, maybe around the mid 90's? The older domestic small outboards are very simple to work on, cargurator, reeds, magneto under the fly wheel, filter, spark plug, starter cord, water pump and lower unit part. Most newer small OB's haven't changed much, they don't have fuel injectors, computized ignition, power packs, oil injection etc that big OB's have. Find an older or newer small OB in excellent condition and buy it if the price is right. Look up who manufacturers the engine for domestic name brands, no reason to buy a name.

Tom

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On 4/7/2017 at 10:01 PM, WRB said:

Hypothetical; it's 2017 and you find a new 40 year old 1977 15hp Enivrude outboard engine that was stored in a garage. This engine isn't made anymore and Evinrude is out of business, would you buy it? If you are looking for a small OB and the price is right the only issue is how many hours is on the engine, was used in salt water and how was it maintained. The fact it's old and no longer made, after market parts are readily available.

I don't recall when small outboard engines stopped being made in the USA, maybe around the mid 90's? The older domestic small outboards are very simple to work on, cargurator, reeds, magneto under the fly wheel, filter, spark plug, starter cord, water pump and lower unit part. Most newer small OB's haven't changed much, they don't have fuel injectors, computized ignition, power packs, oil injection etc that big OB's have. Find an older or newer small OB in excellent condition and buy it if the price is right. Look up who manufacturers the engine for domestic name brands, no reason to buy a name.

Tom

 

I didn't get into specifics, but Tom filled in most of the blanks.

I'd say the major difference in old & new motors is 'carburetion' versus 'injection' (both fuel & lubrication)

Back in the day, I used a Gas-to-Oil mixture of 20:1 and that's a LOT of oil. Today of course,

the ratio is variable depending on need (might only be 1000 to 1). Then there's the difference

between breaker points vs. electronic ignition, and generators vs. alternators and so on ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Roger

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I'm sure we'd all love a brand new 4 stroke (insert brand here) but short of a nice bonus or buying a scratch lottery ticket that hits, many have to buy used.  Simple economics. 

 

If I could afford the new or very lightly used I would not buy an old motor.  Some are peaches but you don't know which ones usually. 

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The biggest difference in my opinion is the fuel consumption and noise.  I have some basic small engine knowledge but I'm no mechanic.  New 4-stroke outboards are ridiculously good on fuel efficiency and incredibly quiet.  I only went through 3 tanks (16 gallon tank) during the entire season last year (May - October).  The noise that the outboard makes is so quiet on idle that I actually had several people ask me if it was running because they couldn't hear it.

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This is how I would look at it if it was me buying the motor for my boat.

 

1. Is the company still in buisness, if the answer is no then pass on the motor.

 

2. Is the motor the max legel limit horsepower for my boat, always buy motors that are at the top of your boats motor rating.

 

3. Do I want to sup up the motor if so then it needs to be a two stroke and have three cylinders.

 

4. If the owner wont let you start and run the motor in both gears wide open and at idle and wont let you put it on a boat to run it under load to make sure the dogs arent slipping dont buy it.

 

5. Is resale value important to me if so then I would be looking in the mid to late 90's model's of merc's and yammy's.

 

I have never owned a new motor and have only owned merc's and yammy's ranging from 25 to 60 horse motors and have put the cash into them to sup them up and have them turning the most power they can and when it came time to maintenance the motor's it was simple to do myself and if they broke there are lots of books and vid's to walk you throw a repair.

 

I have always made my money or more back on my motor's when it came time to sale and increase the size of my motor or boat.

 

It's a lot to take in but hope this info helps you sir.

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It boils down to common since.

If you are not well versed on the mechanics and workings of outboard motors, make life simple and buy new from one of the major name brands if you have the funds.

If the price is out of your comfort zone, buy as new as you can get that's within your budget.  Just be sure anytime you are buying used you have a very knowledgeable person with you to inspect and check it out.  More than one person has bought junk thinking they were saving money.

Without a good knowledge of motors, buying any used motor is going to be a crap shoot.  One good guide to go by, believe half of what you see, and nothing about what you hear from the seller is pitching it to you.

 

 

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The higher the HP rating the more complex any combustion engine becomes. Comparing  small 9.9 hp 2 cycle, 2 cylinder outboards to larger 50hp- 200+ hp 2 orc4 cycle engines doesn't help the OP answer his questions. Gasoline mileage isn't an issue between older or newer small OB engines for example. Working on a small outboard is easy, they don't weigh much and anyone with a degree of mechanical knowledge should be able work on the basic parts.

Agree with buying anything that cost a few $1,000 should be looked at closely by a knowledgible mechanic, buying a small engine for few $100 as the OP was asking the risks are lower. Junk is junk and it's easy to see and deterime that by starting the engine and inspecting it. 

Tom

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Just my personal statement but I have a 1975 Mercury 700 (70hp) and I think the ThunderBolt ignition is great and it can still get up and move for me.  As long as you take care of them I believe they are great. 

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On 4/7/2017 at 8:11 AM, slonezp said:

There are plenty of parts available for older motors especially the parts used for maintenance. Find a good motor no matter what the age and take care of it. 2 strokes will take a licking and keep on ticking. Ive got both old and new. A 1960s Evinrude and a 2013 Mercury. The mercury goes to the shop to get worked on. The Evinrude does not.

 

John Cameron Swayzee, is that you?

 

 

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Major issues with old engines are 1.  they have carburetors which are very finicky, especially if they've been sitting a long time with fuel in them.  They can work fine, or they can be a horror case.  Fuel contamination by dirt or alcohol could really screw an engine up, too.  2.  water pump impellers - most don't change them often enough.  Make sure you know the situation with a prospective engine.  They wear out, chunks go missing, and they simply get too stiff if very old.  3.  Oil injection- If talking some of the bigger engines, Johnson/Evinrude had an oil injection system that took oil from a separate container and used a diaphragm pump in the engine to inject oil.  Very unreliable, and your first indication of trouble was a scored cylinder wall.  Happened to me.  I would not recommend buying one of these.  Merc had, if I'm not mistaken, a gear pump and integral oil reservoir- much more reliable. 

 

One thing for sure, you don't buy an engine until you've seen it run at all throttle positions, and have seen it start from cold.

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Had a 1997 Stratos 201 PE with a '96 Evinrude 225 Vindicator. Sold that boat last year with around 900-950hrs on the motor. The ONLY thing I've ever had to do to that motor was put a new fuel pump in (and regular maintenance obviously.)

 

Now have a boat with a 225 Optimax Pro XS. Bought it 172hrs, now have just over 300hrs.

 

My main thing I like about the new motor vs my old one is the fuel injection. I get MUCH MUCH better fuel economy with the fuel injection. It's also a lot quieter, and it starts up first turn of the key no matter what (the ole Evinrude was a little cranky on a cold start.) It also has a better hole shot most likely because of the fuel injection instead of carburetor. 

 

What do I miss about the Rude? I don't get that early morning, cold start smell off of that Merc like I did the Evinrude. I loved the smell of that old 2 stroke. lol

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 I have a 1992 Yamaha tiller motor that works great.  I was concerend because I hadn't used it since last July and it sat on the back of my boat all winter through single digit temps at some points. In my old house I would bring it indoors in the winter. That is not an option where I live now.

Though specs say it should be a 1:100 mix, I had two gallons of last years leftover gas with a 1:40 mix from my lawnmower and used it.  The motor started with one pull and ran great.

As long as these motors were regularly used and treated  properly, they can last a long time.  I regularly see motors being sold on Craiglist that date to the 70's, where the selller says they run great. I have no reason to doubt them.

Beware when someone says  "It ran great 5 years ago" but hasn't been used since. My dad gave me an old Force  motor with literally no more than 3 hours on it, but it sat in his garage for 15 years.   It cost me almost $400 to get it running again.

When looking at older motors, nevermid the hours. Was it used regularly, treated well and if used in salt water was it thorougly flushed after each use? 

Considering how much new motors cost, a well cared for and regularly used old motor can be a bargain.  But always test any used motor before buying. Not by watching it run in a barrel of water, but on a boat.



 

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If you go with a 2-stroke, make sure you use it a lot.  If they sit for long periods of time without proper maintenance and precautions, you start getting trouble real quick.  I have a '99 Tohatsu 115 2-stroke that's on it's last leg and it's difficult to get parts or figure out what's wrong...very finicky motor.  I don't get to use it as much as I'd like and it gets worse the longer it sits.  When it does work, if I'm going duck hunting on a cold morning it can take a long time to get started and warm.  I have a 2014 Merc 150 4-stroke on my party barge and it starts like a dream every time.  I'm looking for a lightly used 4-stroke for my older hunting/fishing boat now.  If you have an old 2-stroke that's working well, make sure to run it a lot and keep it maintained.  Mine sat for several years unfortunately when I couldn't use it and even though I cleaned it up from top to bottom and had the mechanics replace a lot of parts, it's just not the same and I don't think it ever will be. 

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Because I want to spend my time fishing and not screwing around with my boat's motor, I prefer newer motors (mine is an '05, same as the boat).

 

My motor is a four stroke, fuel injected motor that starts like a car motor and runs like a car motor...you can have a conversation on the boat running 30 MPH across a lake without shouting.  I don't have to mix oil and gas, and I don't have to worry about cold weather starts (lotta those up here)

 

That said, I get why people like older motors...and I think that's cool too.  Like classic shotguns, old cars and wooden boats...I am fascinated by them and really enjoy them...when other people own them.

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Im all about the old used motors because im a cheap son of a b.  I have a 1978 25 hp johnson.  It has had its issues but all have been fixable by me (with a little help).  I was lucky enough to have a "mentor" that helped me tear the foot down and replace/regrind some parts.  After helping with that I have a pretty good idea of how it all works.  I had no issues finding "new old" parts for the motor.  The thing runs like a top and pushes my 14 ft john boat about 23 mph with one person.  I get comments all the time at the boat ramp about that motor outlasting me if I keep up with maintenance.  Fuel is absolutely not an issue with such a small motor either.  I have a 6 gallon tank and I'll burn 1/2 to 3/4 in a day of fishing/burning around the lake. And to me if I can pay for 4 gallons of gas and fish all day...well thats just fine by me. 

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