Systems+Engines

Outboard rebuild

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Checklist

Tools

  • Basic tool kit
  • Wrenches and sockets (metric if you’re working on a European or Japanese engine)
  • Screwdrivers
  • Propane blowtorch
  • Rubber mallet
  • Hammer
  • Razor blade
  • Pliers
  • Vise-Grips
  • Vise
  • 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper
  • Brush for applying grease and lubricating oil
  • Torque wrench
  • Outboard-engine manual
  • Materials

  • At minimum, a new set of gaskets, but other spare parts may be required
  • Waterproof grease (make sure it’s graphite-free; graphite can corrode engine components)
  • Oil-gasoline mixture
  • Kerosene
  • Penetrating oil
  • Who knows how long it had been sitting in the garage. When we took possession of the 1989 Yamaha 2-stroke, 2-horsepower outboard motor, it was unused, unloved, had seized up, and was collecting dust. We had no idea what we’d find under the proverbial hood and weren’t certain it could be repaired. While our expectations were low, our assignment was simple: Take the engine apart, diagnose its problem, and get it running again—and hopefully have a little fun in the process.

    In the end, the project took two full days and cost around $70 for a complete set of replacement gaskets, O-rings, oil seals, impeller, and new water-pump housing. Other parts also might have benefited from replacing, but we took a wait-and-see approach with these. We could always swap them out later if the motor actually worked. We used just basic tools—wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, and pliers—with a few extra items like lubricant, a hammer, Vise-Grips, and some sandpaper. We also bought an illustrated shop manual—many of these are available from Internet book sellers—that proved invaluable. Finally, the photos we took to document this story came in handy when we put the engine back together. If you have a digital camera, take some snaps along the way; you’ll be happy you did.

    Upper-unit disassembly

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