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Terrible, inept,EXPENSIVE outboard service rant


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  My    motor is an  early 90's 28 HP Johnson.. Took it  in mid March to a very highly regarded repair shop that  I was directed to right here on these pages..

   Its a 2 1/2 hour drive -100 miles each way from me..



 Called  a few  times starting late April regarding status of the repair........ "we'll get to it, we'll get to it"...
 Fast forward to mid June..  Finally got a call.. Come get your boat, the motor is shot.. Not worth fixing... Furious ,I again drove the 100 miles each way,  The motor was never even looked at, I am certain...
 

 Brought it to highly qualified  OMC dealer, decades of experience, much closer to me... They  called 2 week later.. motors done come and get it.. $320...

 

   Here is what $320 bought me..
  2 new  spark plugs that it did not need, motor was running ok at low speed, and started fine.. NOT a bad plug problem

 

  Maintainance valve kit [$14 online],

 

2  fuel line  connector ends -one at  6 gal tank, one at motor..



  1 pint lower unit lube that i just changed   last year when I replaced water pump, had less than 5 hours..
 

 

 

   anyway,Took boat to lake,  same problem,,  dying at speed...


 When I called them, the "reputable dealer", said they could lake test the boat... for an additional $150, and then repair it correctly,  ... maybe...


 disgusted at the ineptitude and what I consider price gouging,  me, the  know nothing do it yourselfer, had it repaired properly in  5 minutes with a  $12  cheapo ebay fuel pump..

 

  Motor now runs   100%. with a $12 part installed by a guy with   only modest knowledge of 2 strokes... How these people can hold their heads up and consider themselves good business owners and technicians  is beyond me,,,
 This goes hand in hand with a Merc dealer a few years ago that charged me $325 to install  a water pump impeller in a merc 9.8..

 NEVER as long as i live will i EVER  again say, that I'm "getting too old,too tired  too busy" to deal with outboard repairs...  each time I have tried has been a disaster,  

   Next time, if  i can't find or fix the problem myself, I'll just buy a used outboard ...
 

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That sounds really frustrating. My marine mechanic has been great to me. But I know that sometimes with outboards it can be a mystery as to why they're failing. You've got to try to address obvious solutions first, before digging deeper. There's a few guys on here who have great reputations, and for good reason, but sometimes even the best of them can get it wrong. I'm glad that you have a working motor. However, there's always the possibility that you may have simply masked a larger issue that's going to reoccur given time. I'd wait a few months before rushing to judgement. Best of luck!

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If you want to prevent this robbery service, buy a dedicated manufacturer's service manual ( not a crap aftermarket like Seloc) a pressure gauge  and  some simple tools. A 28 horse 2 stroke is a simple motor.

Edited by rolmops
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3 hours ago, Gator said:

That sounds really frustrating. My marine mechanic has been great to me. But I know that sometimes with outboards it can be a mystery as to why they're failing. You've got to try to address obvious solutions first, before digging deeper. There's a few guys on here who have great reputations, and for good reason, but sometimes even the best of them can get it wrong. I'm glad that you have a working motor. However, there's always the possibility that you may have simply masked a larger issue that's going to reoccur given time. I'd wait a few months before rushing to judgement. Best of luck!

No, I masked nothing.. it was just a bad fuel pump... I am a retired auto technician and i was a damn good one, Computers, fuel injection, automotive electronics etc.  Not  a 2 stroke expert however, strictly  4 stoke kind of guy ., However at 65, and with 2 very active  grandkids that i watch sometimes 5-6 days a week, I have been tending to "leave it to the experts" more as i grow older. This last fiasco has taught me to NEVER under any circumstance trust the "experts", even those that are highly recommended..
 I'll  just do it myself..

It was a very simple repair that should have been found quickly by shop #1.. The fact that TWO  shops couldn't  fix such a simple  problem is shocking to me. Plus  changing lower unit oil hat was just changed, and  changing plugs that had nothing to do with the   high speed cutting out is telling me that someone was simply padding the bill.. On top of that, AFTER I paid  $320 for diagnostic time, AND "repairs", I am told "We can water test it for $150".. WHAT?... As stated,  I will never again trust  any place to fix anything.. I have always done so myself, and should have kept on doing what I always did.. Even buying  factory tools you only use once  is better than paying  that kind of money AND almost 4 months time,  for a repair that did not happen..

 FOUR damn months,  $320 to shop #2, and $75 gas  driving 400 miles total back and forth to shop#1,and these  2 reputable shops could not figure out a  weak fuel pump on an old Johnson 28?.. I simply took a day when the kids weren't here, got a few tools out, and had it fixed within an hour, for $12.. Never again..  Sorry for the rant, I am just pretty bitter, as I lost all of April/May and June with no boat, when I started   getting it taken care of in Mid march...  It is what it is.. Like I should have done in the first place, and always have done since i was a kid, I'll do it myself , and if I can't I'll just buy another... bob

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1 hour ago, rolmops said:

If you want to prevent this robbery service, buy a dedicated manufacturer's service manual ( not a crap aftermarket like Seloc) a pressure gauge  and  some simple tools. A 28 horse 2 stroke is a simple motor.

 Yes the Selocs do suck.. Lots of good info these days on youtube as well. i have all the tools needed pretty much. just not the time/energy, but I have  decided thats no longer an excuse. bob

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I wont disagree with your frustration but the reality is there is a lot more tech in newer motors. I imagine with lets say a 25yo motor shops are struggling to have people who handle both old tech and new. I had the same problem with a 2003 25hp but that was in 2008...fuel pump couldnt handle the ethanol that became more prevalent. Diaphragm got stiff. Diagnosed pretty quickly as that was a common problem at the time. Shops that cant handle the old should turn away the work or better frame the expectations.

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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1 hour ago, Fat Trout said:

I wont disagree with your frustration but the reality is there is a lot more tech in newer motors. I imagine with lets say a 25yo motor shops are struggling to have people who handle both old tech and new. I had the same problem with a 2003 25hp but that was in 2008...fuel pump couldnt handle the ethanol that became more prevalent. Diaphragm got stiff. Diagnosed pretty quickly as that was a common problem at the time. Shops that cant handle the old should turn away the work or better frame the expectations.

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Lake Ontario United mobile app
 

 Thats a well thought out answer, and I can  understand.. However it seems these  90's    OMC  2 stroke motors are still everywhere, I see a lot of them still  in use out there, and both shops in question had older very experienced  people there,, These are well established, well respected businesses.. Thats why i am so   disgusted.  Remember shop #1 told me  the motor was shot, come get it, its not worth fixing... Really?.. Doesn't  seem  like thats a very good evaluation,  when its running  strong  after a simple $12 fuel pump replacement. done in my driveway.. bob

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At least you got it fixed!  First boat I ever had apparently had a touchy emergency shut off "clip" and I paid a 100 bucks for a guy to lean over and push on it right in front of me...done before I got the jack down dropping it off...thief!  Shane at Otisco lake marina and campground does everything for me now because I'm just too busy, and I couldn't be happier.  He actually works 7 days a week and he will "get" to it immediately!  I've seen people staying there on vacation to fish blow a lower unit Saturday morning and fishing Sunday morning.  My midseason servicing I have the boat pulled, bottom washed, fuel tank drained, plugs, oil change, lower unit oil changed, fuel filter, and put back on the dock in a couple hours for hardly any more than the highway robbery you experienced.  BTW Shane tests every boat on the water.

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Sorry to hear your experience and glad you figured it out yourself.  I just had a similar issues with my 25ft trophy doggin at high rpms.  I’m a jack of all trades master of nothin.  I posted on here my issue and within a few hrs i had multiple angles to approch the problem. Fuel pump was weak. Put new one on and it ran much better. Also pickup had some restrictions.  Also did a complete tune up on distributor.  Boat running great now.  Some really great experienced guys on this site really help me and saved me from from getting robbed.  I spent $80total and 4 hrs of time.  

 

thanks

mike

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You should do a search from a couple of years ago and see my tribulation with Arney's in Sodus Point.  Speny over 6k on a rebuilt motor, 2 stroke Johnson Ocean Runner 225.  In the 2 years I had that motor I may have gotten 20 hrs. on the water out of it and i ain't kiddin.  Another fellow fisherman from our marina has taken his  Merc. 4 stroke to a well known service provider again in S.P. but not Arney's.  Dumped several hundred bucks into the motor and they couldn't even come close to fixing it, and finally took it to Sager Marine in Canadaguia .  They might have fixed it for him.  I haven't seen him this week yet to find out.  I would have to say off hand the fella that gets the most props and pos. f.b. here on LOU is Hank in Port Bay.  

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 I know how frustrating things can be at times, especially if you know in your mind you can do the job but the body or time won't!!! So sorry to hear of your rape and pillage that the so called "Technician" looked at your engine/motor. I especially like the comment that maybe the shop you took your motor to was to "High Tech" for your old school motor😁😁.. Or you just masked a problem that will come back to haunt you somewhere down the road since you fixed the fuel pressure issue. There's a code of relativity with and combustion engine from model air planes to top Fuel drag motors which we won't get into but with the knowledge you stored in your mind I'm thinking you knew what the issue was but to get at it and or time you knew it was a quick fix. Good Lord things just keep getting better!! Hats off to the quick repair and now you shouldn't need near the throttle to get to your hot spot as your wallet weighs considerably less😜😜 not funny for those of us who are mindful of our spending.🤙🤙

Edited by Xxx
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3 hours ago, Xxx said:

 I know how frustrating things can be at times, especially if you know in your mind you can do the job but the body or time won't!!! So sorry to hear of your rape and pillage that the so called "Technician" looked at your engine/motor. I especially like the comment that maybe the shop you took your motor to was to "High Tech" for your old school motor😁😁.. Or you just masked a problem that will come back to haunt you somewhere down the road since you fixed the fuel pressure issue. There's a code of relativity with and combustion engine from model air planes to top Fuel drag motors which we won't get into but with the knowledge you stored in your mind I'm thinking you knew what the issue was but to get at it and or time you knew it was a quick fix. Good Lord things just keep getting better!! Hats off to the quick repair and now you shouldn't need near the throttle to get to your hot spot as your wallet weighs considerably less😜😜 not funny for those of us who are mindful of our spending.🤙🤙

 I knew it was fuel related, but   as I stated, I am a 4 stroke tech, not 2 stroke so much.. I really have no idea what the proper pressure is on an older   2 stroke fuel pump, nor what to use to check it.. maybe ts a plain old vacuum gauge that i used 40 years ago on carbureted engines on cars, not sure.. I had already cleaned the carb and adjusted the floats etc.. Could have also been a  bad float or something.. I wanted it done correctly, and was willing to pay a fair price..

  I actually had NO problem with the $320 bill, IF I got good value, and a proper repair..  2  spark plugs, 2 fuel hose ends, 1 $15  fuel  valve  and an hours labor isn;t worth $320.. Not only that, I specifically told shop #2 to CALL if the bill was going to be over $200.. They did not...  My problem is that the  motor was not fixed for the $320, and not the price so much, and the fact that any decent marine mechanic should be ashamed if a customer could repair an engine  that they could not...  Lesson learned..  Next time, I'll just throw parts at  until its  fixed.. Cheaper by far that way...  Hell, a clean used powerhead  with good compression for my outboard can be had all day on ebay for $250, I checked...    Same thing happens to people with car repairs each and every day.. Techs need to show some pride in their craft, and make SURE  their repairs are done right... bob

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37 minutes ago, jimmac said:

I would be intetested to know why shop #1 felt the motor was not worth fixing?? Had to be something major wrong with the engine that they explained to you? Not making sense to me.

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 I don't think he wanted to work  on it to be honest... he had a lot of other work, big cruisers, total refits etc, and I simply think he never looked at my motor... After waiting from Mid March to mid June, and  calling him several times and him saying" we'll  look at  it soon", he called and said, "come get it, its not worth fixing"..  He wanted a bigger pay day than that little motor  was going to provide.. When he saw how disgusted I was , he said something about " well you only wanted to spend $200".. I  NEVER once said that.. I said to call with an estimate if its going to be over $200.. I told him more than once, I would even   have him replace the powerhead if it needed it..   All he had to do when I called  about taking the boat 100 miles to his shop was say he didn't want small jobs, or was too busy etc.. DON'T make me drive 2 1/2 hours each way, wait for 3 damn months, and never even look at the motor.. thats what he did.. I told him how disappointed I was, and that I expected so much better, based on all  the glowing recommendations i had gotten.. He didn't have much of an answer really, because that was the truth.. He simply should not have had me come all the  way up  there...  The motor looks   "well used" to be honest, lived a tough life, but still runs strong.. he probably is used to much cleaner newer, nicer stuff through his shop.... Maybe thats why he said it wasn't worth fixing, but in that case he should have refused the job in the first place, and not had me wait 3 months  and miss the entire spring/early summer...bob

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10 hours ago, jimmac said:

Well I don't understand why you would not even ask why it isn't worth it. Just because its weathered, I doubt it. Sounds like people gave you a recommendation so I assume its a reputable mechanic. He didn't perhaps say no compression? You didn't ask? Doesn't add up.

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  I told him the compression was ok...  He simply said, it would cost more to fix than its worth, and come get it.. As I wrote  I don't think he ever  really looked at it..  maybe for a minute or two, decided it wasn't worth his time to diagnose it.. I can't say why really.. You are right it doesn't add up
 When I brought it up to him, I explained everything in detail about what it was doing, told him to call with an estimate , unless it was something simple and was going to cost under $250 or so...   Its  just water under the bridge now, but he and the  other shops have lost a potential customer.. As I said, I am now in my mid 60's and was starting to do less of this sort of thing, pulling motors apart.. I will simply do it myself as I always have, or  just buy a decent used motor..  Really bad experiences at the last 3  marine engine shops, all reputable.. Could just be bad luck, but I will never again take the chance.. bob

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The simple truth is that 2 strokes are on the way out and technician training is aimed at 4 stroke outboards. Fewer and fewer shops take in 2 strokes. At the same time there are a few million old two strokes that are alive and well and will be so for the next 50 years. I have 2 1957 35 horse Johnsons that still work just fine and unless some anti pollution law will render them useless they will probably last another 50 years.This is very common for old two strokes ,mainly because they see relatively little use. But most of those old seahorses are maintained by their owners,rusting away somewhere or thrown out by the children of the original owners. Still, there are a few older technicians left who deal mostly with old 2 strokes and have all the spare parts you might need and then some. One of those is Mayers Marina in Webster,NY. Old Bill Mayer is one of those. By just listening to the motor he can tell you what it needs. He is very proud of his 1920s and 30s collection of 2 and 4 stroke outboards, which you probably will not get to see. If you need to have a 2 stroke fixed and get a warranty on the work,he is your address to go to. Don't bother bringing a 4stroke to him for service. He does not like them.  

Edited by rolmops
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28 minutes ago, rolmops said:

The simple truth is that 2 strokes are on the way out and technician training is aimed at 4 stroke outboards. Fewer and fewer shops take in 2 strokes. At the same time there are a few million old two strokes that are alive and well and will be so for the next 50 years. I have 2 1957 35 horse Johnsons that still work just fine and unless some anti pollution law will render them useless they will probably last another 50 years.This is very common for old two strokes ,mainly because they see relatively little use. But most of those old seahorses are maintained by their owners,rusting away somewhere or thrown out by the children of the original owners. Still, there are a few older technicians left who deal mostly with old 2 strokes and have all the spare parts you might need and then some. One of those is Mayers Marina in Webster,NY. Old Bill Mayer is one of those. By just listening to the motor he can tell you what it needs. He is very proud of his 1920s and 30s collection of 2 and 4 stroke outboards, which you probably will not get to see. If you need to have a 2 stroke fixed and get a warranty on the work,he is your address to go to. Don't bother bringing a 4stroke to him for service. He does not like them.  

 

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Well stated, and very good information.. problem is this.. A 20-25 horse 4 stroke is too heavy for this 14 foot Grumman.. not only that, but its remote steer...  So i am limited to 1 2 stroke for the 25 or HP I need.. Even a 2 stroke remote in 20-25 HP REMOTE is extremely hard to find.. I had to raise my transom a few years ago,because i needed a 20-25 HP remote steer short shaft and could NOT find one anywhere, and had to settle on a long shaft 28 HP.. Sad to say, some boats were not designed to accomodate 4 stokes.... bob

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4 hours ago, bulletbob said:

Well stated, and very good information.. problem is this.. A 20-25 horse 4 stroke is too heavy for this 14 foot Grumman.. not only that, but its remote steer...  So i am limited to 1 2 stroke for the 25 or HP I need.. Even a 2 stroke remote in 20-25 HP REMOTE is extremely hard to find.. I had to raise my transom a few years ago,because i needed a 20-25 HP remote steer short shaft and could NOT find one anywhere, and had to settle on a long shaft 28 HP.. Sad to say, some boats were not designed to accomodate 4 stokes.... bob

All the Johnson /Evinrude 2 strokes up to the 90s are set up to accommodate tiller and remote. The tiller handle is easily removed but does not even have to be removed to change it into a remote controlled(cables). A lot of the 80s Johnson /Evinrudes are only longshaft because there is an added extension in the gear housing that can be removed. that and cutting a piece of the copper tubing and a different driveshaft will give you the short shaft you need.

Edited by rolmops
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   The  tiller to remote conversion kit was crazy expensive a few years ago, and I recall having a ton of trouble locating a dealer that could get one.. It was $ 700 or something like that.. I looked recently and I couldn't even find one anywhere at any price .. If I can locate one  reasonably i will grab it, and then go and simply find a  long shaft tiller at around 25 HP as they are easy to find and far cheaper than a remote.. I have wanted  a newer cleaner motor for a while, but simply can never find one at that HP in remote steer..  Any thoughts on where the conversion kits  can be found??. bob

Edited by bulletbob
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Great topic with lot of useful information ; one problem is seasonal business and the vagaries that go with it . They probably did not see big $$s in your repair when they had other big $$ work to do [ which they should have told you rather than the brush off you got with your engine being " shot "  , how did they determine that ? ]

#1 compression , my lesson was do not use the automotive type with the hose ,it gives a false low reading use the type that screws directly into the block : An engine with good compression is not " shot "

#2 Fuel problems can be related to ethanol mixed gas ; I pay more with high test ethanol free but they Yamaha dealer told me to still add their fuel additive to my fuel ?

#3 I agree with DIY if you can but get a service manual ; a little late but the manual does show you how to test for a fuel pump !

#4 Not your problem ? yet but every older OMC engine with a problem try and run it in the dark if you can : did this and saw an intermittent spark near the power pack ; the bolt holding the power pack was starting to back off because of the shaking off a 2 cycle engine so I was loosing intermittent ground ; turning a wrench may have saved my a " $ 320 " repair !

#5 Not your problem ? yet but check for a partially blocked exhaust . A good mechanic could not diagnose my problem ; he called OMC nd they advised him he had done everything else that was the problem !

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