It’s the Little Things

BONEHEAD BLUNDER: Loss of lanyard connectivity
THE BONEHEAD: A weekender
BONEHEAD RATING: 2 (because he thinks)
WHAT HAPPENED: Rather than narrate this one, I’m going to let our emails do it. His are in italics. This all started early last summer when John bought a boat online. The fuel was old and the carbs fouled, so The Nurse and I attacked it and resolved the problems. It took two weekends before he got some watery fuel, had to be towed in and had a “kicker” engine installed. At least he runs that engine on a separate tank! Anyway…

You see, it ran well going out that day, we left the marina and cruised into the Urbanna Inlet/River and came out and went east and came west and fished for awhile and anchored with the engine off for an hour plus, and when I went to come in, it wouldn’t start.

First, where’s the engine key? First-and-a-half, you’ve done a wonderful job diagnosing the fuel system. Proud on ya!

Second, an internal combustion engine needs three things to run: fuel, compression and spark, all at the proper time. It would be rare that your fuel components would be clean yet the engine wouldn’t run because of a fuel-related problem. It is possible the carbs have junk in them from before, but other things deserve checking first.

Second-and-one-third: Did the sound it makes cranking have a variation in it? Ruh-ruh-ruh-ungh-ruh, or was it a steady cranking noise as always? An erratic sound might indicate a cylinder with low compression. Last check I made, all was well.

Second-and-one-half: Did you try seeing if it would start with a little starting fluid? That would confirm a fuel problem if it started.

Second-and-two-thirds: Did you check the spark? Some Mercs manage to destroy stators, requiring a special kit.

Three: Let me know later in the week when you will be there Saturday.

The easy thing that gets everybody, including me: make sure your safety lanyard is in the ON/RUN position before you try anything else

Now it’s certainly possible that one of us, Judy or (Heaven forbid) me, butted into the shutoff switch and sent it into the OFF position. I had not thought of this until you brought it up.

Now I will answer some of your earlier questions. The ignition key is in the ignition switch in the dashboard.

When cranking,the engine makes a consistent sound, steady cranking. I did not try using starting fluid and did not check for spark. I can be at the marina all day on Saturday after about 9 am.

Tomorrow, Thursday, I have a small window of free time and will come out to Urbanna to visit my “sick dream” and ascertain whether the “shutoff/lanyard kill switch” is in the ON or OFF position. This has been bugging me every night since you fi rst mentioned it as a possible reason for not running. It remains a long shot in my estimation but defi nitely something that bears checking out.

Anyway, I’m tired of tossing and turning at night, not knowing this simple truth. I’ll be at the Sunset Point Marina about 9:30 a.m.ish tomorrow morning but I have to be back by 1 pm. I will call you in the morning even if it’s just to say hello, if that’s alright with you. Always enjoy hearing from one of my “students!” If it was the kill switch, it was a cheap fi x. If not, we know what we’re looking for, and at.

LESSON LEARNED: One can age many years in a few short days ignoring the simple stuff. This morning’s call was from John, on his way back to the city. Apparently the engine runs nicely with the safety lanyard attached.

Bonehead Blunders


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