15HP Evinrude Cranking but Not Running - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 05-16-2016 Thread Starter
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15HP Evinrude Cranking but Not Running

I just did a two day 145 mile trip (all under power) on my Catalina 27 down the Tennessee River and at mile 125 of the trip my outboard sputtered down and died. I couldn't get it to start at all after that - I came back today (it died yesterday) and tried to start it up again and no luck.

So I have a 1980 15HP Evinrude that has been really well maintained but I know it is an old motor. The fuel mixture has been the proper 50/1 gas/oil, the fuel line from the external tank to the motor isn't clogged, that line seems to run properly when I hand pump it. So when I try to crank it (it is an electric start) it cranks normally but just never kicks into action. Any thoughts on what to try or look into? I called the previous owner of the boat and he said they'd never had this issue but they thought that the fuel must not be getting to the engine somehow. I have extra spark plugs and am not afraid to dig into the carb but I wanted to get some insight first.

I've attached a couple photos.
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post #2 of 22 Old 05-16-2016
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Re: 15HP Evinrude Cranking but Not Running

Fuel, Air, Fire

Sounds like I would check the spark plugs. Either change them outright or do a spark test. The carb bowl may have a drain **** to let water off. Screw on the bottom. If you loosen that and gas flows then it is at least getting into the bowl. Both of those are pretty quick things to check. Best to do an overall "tune-up" including cleaning the carb etc.

120 Miles a lot of motor.
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post #3 of 22 Old 05-16-2016
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Re: 15HP Evinrude Cranking but Not Running

See if you're getting spark first, pull a spark plug, put the wire back on, ground it against the block and crank the engine.
Look on youtube for a video showing a good spark, easier to understand if you see it.
If you have a GOOD spark it's the fuel system, no spark or weak spark = electrical.
Always start here, easiest thing to check off the list with no disassembly.
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post #4 of 22 Old 05-16-2016
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Re: 15HP Evinrude Cranking but Not Running

If it was working fine (up to temperature) and then sputtered down and died, I'd think it was a fuel blockage of some kind. If the fuel supply is fine, then that leaves the carburettor. Assuming the carb has never been cleaned or generally overhauled, take the top off and look for a blocked jet. If the spark plug is a dry, light grey colour when you pull it to test, it's even more likely a fuel blockage somewhere.

One other less likely possibility is engine overheat. Do you check the tell-tale regularly? Are you getting water flow (even when the engine is cranking)?

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post #5 of 22 Old 05-16-2016
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Re: 15HP Evinrude Cranking but Not Running

As others have stated plus a couple things....

New plugs first. Even a weak spark in a two stroke might give you issues. I can't remember how many times I've put in new plugs and the damn things start.

If you have spark and new plugs, drain the bowl. If you drain the bowl, the engine starts, then dies a while later, disassemble and clean the carb, careful attention to the jets. There could very well be water or crap floating around in the bowl that does not all come out with a drain. Eventually, it will make it back to the jets.

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post #6 of 22 Old 05-16-2016
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Had my 8hp Mercury running great with no issues and it just died. Nothing would get it to start as I went through all the solutions for possible issues. Turns out I wasn't getting spark. Hauled it off using my halyard at the slip and did a proper test on it with a meter and turns out that both coils failed.
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post #7 of 22 Old 05-16-2016
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Re: 15HP Evinrude Cranking but Not Running

As others have said, fuel, spark, air. Crank it, pull the plug and smell it. Does it smell of gas? No? Maybe the jets are blocked with grit or water. I don't know if the engine has one of those keys with a lanyard so if you go over board the key is pulled shutting off the engine. If this was my engine, I'd change the plugs out first. 15 hp, dual cylinders,mmmmm...wait....mmmmmm........... both plugs going at the same time???? don't think so, either ignition module ($$$$$$) or bad fuel. Alex, I'll take bad fuel (water infested) for 200 dollars. Drain the carburetor bowl and watch for water.

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post #8 of 22 Old 05-16-2016
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Re: 15HP Evinrude Cranking but Not Running

Might want to do a compression test. I find most small two strokes won't run if it's under 90 psi.
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post #9 of 22 Old 05-16-2016
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I have plenty of compression in mine. I'm honestly about ready to let the damn boat sink or put a for sale sign on it. The past 3 years I've had rigging failures and engine issues that were supposedly "solved" by the last place that worked on it. I called them up and they said I can bring it in, but they're back logged and won't get to me till mid June. Either way, I'm not getting spark so I'm having a friend look at it. All I know is the VA doesn't pay me much and if it can't be fixed reasonably priced the boat isn't gonna move till she's hauled for the winter.
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post #10 of 22 Old 05-17-2016
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Re: 15HP Evinrude Cranking but Not Running

Obviously you should check for 'spark'; if 'spark', then consider to clean out/rebuild the carburetor.

If the engine 'died' when operating (and there is no spark), such would suggest the following:
1. loose or broken ground 'pigtail' wire from the magneto base to the engine frame. This pigtail 'grounds' the magneto to the engine, can become quite brittle and break inside the insulation; or, the connections can become loosened or corroded .... if corroded, when the corrosion drys out from engine heat the corrosion will become an insulator.
2. High tension spark plug wire cracked .... If original, immediately replace ... same as #1 above.
3, Broken or worn 'points'. The cam follower that operates the 'points' is 'bakelite' and unless constantly 'greased' can easily wear down causing the points to not correctly open.

If spark, then obviously check for compression:
1. blown head gasket. These old engine should have their cylinder heads re-torqued down on a routine basis to prevent blowing a head gasket
2. Broken 'reed'
3. Leaking seals on the crankshaft .... permits excess air (as a leak) to enter the combustion chamber which can significantly 'lean out' the air/fuel mixture. The worst scenario for a leaking crankshaft seal is a burned through piston top.

4. Carburetor:
First check for water in the tank, If no water then open and remove the main jet screw (counting the exact number and fractional number of turns it takes to remove and to correctly re-install later) and drain the fuel (and or water) from the carb bowl. If water, this is probably 'phase separation' of ethanolated gasoline. A very common ailment for 2 stroke engines that will cause immediate shutdown, even while running. Some Evinrude carburetor bowls have drain plugs.
NEVER EVER use ethanolated gasoline that is more than 45-60 days old, unless you also use the 'correct' stabilizer.

Evinrude/Johnson Parts: still available online from many 'online' sources. Bombardier Ltd. is the current owner of Evinrude/Johnson and has a very large parts distribution network. For obsolete parts, try eBay.

Last edited by RichH; 05-17-2016 at 08:22 AM.
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