Boat won’t start. Help!!!
July 20, 2006 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Help save my vacation. Boat won’t start. More inside.

Here is what I have: 91 Searay 5.0 Mercruiser Alpha 1 outdrive.
Symptoms: Small “click” when I turn the ignition key. Solenoid? Small draw on the voltage indicator. Plenty of power to the outdrive hydraulics. Everything normal last time out, a month ago. Seems to be no power to the starter motor.
I had the battery checked and it’s good. I’ve cleaned the terminals etc. Swapped the ignition fuse with one known to be good. Checked the connections to the key switch.
I have limited tools with me. The usual boat kit. A few wrenches sockets, pliers, etc.
The boat is in the water so I can at least fish and swim but there is no shop available before I must return to work.

After lunch I plan to reinstall the battery (took it to town to have it checked) and tap on the solenoid thinking that maybe it’s stuck. Any other ideas?
posted by mrleec to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
While you're tapping, give the starter itself a few smacks. Sometimes failed or failing starters can be made to work if you whack them a few times.

If you have a set of booster cables, you could try jumping the positive terminal of the battery to the positive lug on the starter - that will at least tell you if the starter is functioning or not.

I don't know that I'd head out in a boat that might not start again once I get wherever I'm going though - that's your call.
posted by davey_darling at 1:21 PM on July 20, 2006

Just a click? Solenoid would be a good place to start.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:24 PM on July 20, 2006

maybe check that the throttle is really in the neutral position. I had the same issue a few months back, and it was a crappy throttle cable that wasn't getting the motor into neutral.
posted by cosmicbandito at 2:20 PM on July 20, 2006

Response by poster: Tapping did not help. Maybe I need a bigger hammer. I thought the cable may be the culprit (had trouble there before) but then the solenoid would not click? So... making the best of a bad situation, I've got a call into the local boat doctor who makes house calls and am now reacquainting myself with Margaretville
posted by mrleec at 3:17 PM on July 20, 2006

I'd vote solenoid too, or starter motor.

When I used to get similar symptoms in my old honda (car), and they were always fixed with a solid bash of the starter with a hammer/steering lock/etc.

Good luck.
posted by pompomtom at 6:43 PM on July 20, 2006

Response by poster: Up and running. It was a solenoid. There are 2 on most boats, so I learned.
posted by mrleec at 9:29 AM on July 21, 2006

Better your vacation needs saving before you left the dock.
posted by JamesMessick at 9:49 PM on July 21, 2006

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