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Boat owner blues!!!

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  • Boat owner blues!!!

    So it started like a normal day. I have a little pony tank and I thought I would run some fuel system cleaner through the carbs on the old mercury 200hp 2 stroke and then the rest of the day happened... As I started running the engine I noticed it wasn't pumping through the telltale the way it should. And then I noticed that it was leaking water out of the lower cowling, like it shouldn't. So I decided to pull it to do some investigating. Made it around from my slip to the boat ramp without issue and pulled the plug after I got the boat out, as always, and then I smelled gas coming out of the bilge. Now, I have smelled gas when I come off plane and down to low speed AND the engine has been running rough when I come from high speed down to low speed (which is why I was trying fuel treatment in the pony tank...). However prior to now I have never had fuel smell when I pulled the drain plug. So I started the day with a mild curiosity... aka the carburetor issue and ended the day with three concerns and the boat in the driveway. So if I can get insight from any of you folks I would greatly appreciate it. I have three questions:

    1) The water that was draining from the lower cowling... I couldn't see anything coming from the poppet valve (which was replace 2 years ago) so my plan was to pull the hood and lower cowling to see where the water is coming from. Any initial thought to look for? My intent is to look at lower poppet housing and the exhaust gaskets between powerhead and mid-section. Anything else??

    2) The gas issue... Didn't know I had an issue here, this is the first real sign of it. The boat is a 1994 Mako 201, I am at least the third owner, no idea if the fuel tank has been replaced or any other work done. Is there any convenient way to test the tank to see if there is an issue other than pulling the console and lifting the coffin lid (which sounds like an awful lot of work for mid-season...)? I have a 30 gallon fuel pump out tank at my disposal so I should be able to pump it close to dry without too much hassle. But I really don't want to wait around for a custom tank to be built while we are in mid-season. I am on Chesapeake Bay and we don't go very far on any given trip so I feel like I could get through season with a couple of external 10 gallon tanks if I pump the built in tank dry. Thoughts??

    3) And really the least of my concerns but the thing that I started my day with, does anyone have opinions about the best fuel additive to support good function in carburetors on a tired old 1994 2-stroke Mercury 200HP engine?

    Thanks in advance for any responses, I am happy to hear any opinions so I can weigh my options and figure out the best course for me both short term and long term. For what it's worth, I am an avid reader of the forum and have enjoyed reading many of your tales of the rebuilds of your boats. Mine is clearly not too far off, if I can get through the current season then hopefully I can plan for renovations over the winter.

    Appreciate any responses!


  • #2
    As far as the tank it can be pressure tested that will show a leak.
    for the carburetor seafoam is a good product can be found at any auto store
    seaford ny. 1973 17 mako. 1983 21 mako


    • #3
      Sounds like the 27 y/o tank finally let go. I like sea foam, or if your abler to get 110 octane racing fuel, run a gallon through it at idle to help clean it out. You should be fine on external tanks, just know your range.
      Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him had better take a closer look at the American Indian. -Henry Ford[br]1988 Mako 261 \"Stroken\" Project Thread:[br]1992 Mako221B project thread:[br]1992 Mako 261B \"Reel Impressive\" project thread:[br]


      • #4
        Thanks for the quick responses. Looks like I lucked out on the water issue, seems to have been a loose connection on the telltale hose. I have cleaned up the fuel in the bilge and will tackle pumping gas out of tank tomorrow. The gas in the bilge smells really weird. Would it have dissolved some of the foam in the coffin and picked up a chemical smell?

        Last 2 questions, anyone in the central Maryland area know where I can get a tank made? And I am thinking I would go with a smaller 60 gallon tank because I just don't go on long trips to where I would need it. How much modification would it take to go with a smaller tank?


        • #5
          +1 on the Seafoam.

          +1 on the pressure test. Just remember you don’t want to use a lot of pressure and cause a problem where there might not be one. Someone can check me on this, but I think a few pounds (3?) might be all it takes.
          My 1975 20’ had a small access hatch on the coffin cover to view the fill and vent fittings on the tank. The issue I had was a hole in the aluminum fill line just forward of the tank. If yours has the same hatch it might be worth checking out before you tear into the project.

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          Regarding downsizing the tank, it probably wouldn’t take much modification at all to downsize. But, for the amount of work it takes to R&R the tank I’d consider staying with the larger capacity for future needs and possible re-sale. I sure wish my 20 would hold 100 gallons instead of 42.

          I’m glad the tell-tale issue was quick and easy to fix.
          Attached Files
          “On the days where I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days.”

          M20 project-Finally Splashed!



          • #6
            I agree with kgfisher on pressure. In most cases non fuel injection pumps are 3-10 psi.(just for reference)
            Gas will crawl, seep or weep through the smallest crack or pin hole with 0 pressure, however it's not hard to contain gas if things are right.
            something as simple as a fuel hose cracked, selector valve wore out, filter housing or fittings. could be things to check. you could have 1 leak or several scattered in different places.
            Access and actually being able to find or see it could be the largest hurtle.
            best to you.


            • #7
              Thanks much for the responses. I checked fill and vent lines via the inspection hatch under the console. No apparent problems, I even added a gallon of gas with the inspection hatch open and didn't see or smell any fuel. I checked the fuel line from the tank to the filter, again no apparent problems. Also no evidence of leakage around the fuel sending unit. Next step will be to remove the coffin lid to inspect further in places I can't see. Don't really want to do this until the off-season if I can help it. So, I borrowed a fuel pump out tank from a friend and drained the tank. Then I purchased two 12 gallon external tanks and strapped them in directly behind the leaning post and ran a line to my fuel filter (because I want to be sure that if there is condensation in the tanks it will be captured by the filter. Splashed the boat this evening and it seems to be working. I will have a limited range but that is better than being out of commission in the middle of the summer. There is good fishing within 10 minutes of where I keep the boat so I can manage this way for a while.

              For informational purposes I did reach out to a local company that makes tanks and got a very high quote. Then I tried Speedy Tanks in NJ and they came back with a much lower number. At least I know the ballpark I am working in. I don't mind putting the work in pulling the old tank and installing the new one to save some bucks. And I suppose if it does come to that I will have to enter the debate "to foam or not to foam". I will start a thread under projects if I get started pulling the coffin lid.


              • #8
                Closing the loop on this. I ran a tank of Chevron Techron and things are running better now so the original problem of bad running engine is solved, for now. Click image for larger version

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                This simple configuration with just a Tee connector looked lovely but did not work out, it only pulled fuel from the forward tank. Maybe I could have engineered something to make it work if I put in enough time but I really didn't want to pursue it.

                So I tried again with a Y connector with two shutoffs.
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                This works much better. Not thrilled with the "loop" in the fuel line but that is how things wanted to lay with the fittings I had available so I just went with it. Y valve was $11 on Amazon and the tanks were $75/each so I was back on the water for under $200 all in with hose and what not. All in all, not bad to get back on the water.

                We have been using the boat for two weeks in this configuration. 24 total gallons of fuel so we can't really go too far but at least we can finish out the season, as long as no other issues pop up. I will start a thread in the projects section in the Fall if/when I start dealing with the actual tank. Meanwhile I am collecting viewpoints on poly tanks which are significantly cheaper (like 1/3 of the price) of an aluminum tank. Very attractive for a 27 year old boat and engine... Feel free to provide any thoughts on the topic.