Outboards are tricky bastards at the best of times, so Stuart Buckingham from Outboard Spares reckons you’d best get smart about gearing up. They say a bad tradesman always blames his tools. However, you can only blame yourself if you don’t have the right tools. Here are a few I reckon are a must-have for any marine tech working on customer outboards — or even a DIY guy working on his own or a mate’s outboard. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but these are the most helpful and cost-effective.
1. COMPRESSION GAUGE: This simple and easy-to-use tool will give you a good health check of your engine bores. It’ll also save valuable time in diagnosing leaking head gaskets, scored engine bores, damaged piston rings and other mechanical nasties. GEARBOX
2. PRESSURE AND VACUUM GAUGE: Have you ever had water in your gearbox oil and wondered how it got there? A gearbox pressure and vacuum-testing pump/gauge will give you the answer. Once you’ve drained the oil from the gearbox, use this little gem to test the gearbox seals under pressure and vacuum to see which of them needs replacing. It’s worth doing this test annually, diagnosing potential leakages and maximising the performance and life of your motor.
3. OUTBOARD LIFTING TOOL OR RING: Whether it’s for lifting your outboard off or onto the boat, removing powerheads to rebuild them, or changing mounts, this tool is a no-brainer necessity for any DIY guy or marine tech
4. DIGITAL MULTIMETER WITH DVA ADAPTOR: Without one of these, you may as well be trying to diagnose ignition problems blindfolded. A DVA (direct voltage adaptor) allows you to measure peak AC voltage, which is essential when trying to diagnose tricky ignition problems such as a faulty stator, for example.
5. SPARK TESTER: One of the easiest tools to use, the spark tester allows you to see which cylinders have voltage to the coil leads, and which don’t. It’s as easy as unplugging the leads from your spark plugs, connecting the leads to your spark tester and turning the ignition.
6. GEAR OIL PUMP: Filling a gearbox with oil is done from the bottom plug, so it’s near impossible to fill properly without some form of gear oil pump. Many of us have probably experienced the pain and frustration of trying to squeeze tubes of gear oil into a gearbox, only to find gravity is working against you — with the upshot you’re left standing in a pool of gear oil with your gearbox only half-full. A pump makes the job of filling it that much easier, without wasting any precious oil.
For more tips on used boats and outboards, check out www.outboardspares.com.au