Saturday, June 29, 2013


This might be our favorite part of boating, sunsets in the summer.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Redneck Roundy Round

My wife drug me out of bed at 8:00 AM. She said if the boat was in the garage I would have already been out there working on it. So we gathered our stuff and headed down to the boat. We have a thing here in SoCal called June Gloom. Its a "marine layer" that usually burns off between 10:00 and 12:00. But we committed to the restaurant manager that we would be back at 9:00 AM, so we were on time. Where we docked the boat is next to dock for the Catalina Flyer a commercial transport that runs from Newport Beach to Avalon on Catalina Island on daily schedule. The flyer leaves at 9:00 AM, so there we were with 500 people staring at our 53 year old 15' boat from this multimillion dollar 100 foot 3 level catamaran. The little Scott fired right up and we were off for another day of cruising.

We had been out for about an hour and when we were crossing the Yacht Basin. I opened up throttle a little to keep up with traffic and the motor started to die! I was wondering what was happening everything was running so nicely. I considered heading back to the Dunes to load up the boat. My wife asked "do we have fuel?" I responded "Yes, we put gas in last night!". We took the boat to the public pier at the end of our street and I was perplexed. I pulled the hood and fiddled around with the idle adjustment. I started the motor a couple times and it choked out. Then the batteries started getting a little tired and the boat wouldn't start.

I finally agreed that maybe the 1" of fuel in the bottom of the tank might not be enough. I figured at the very least I'd walk down the 4 blocks to get more fuel and that would give the batteries time to recover. I saw the kid who helped us last night and bought another 4 gallons of gas. A gallon of gas (or less) doesn't weigh much, 5 gallons does. When I got back my wife asked where I went and asked why I didn't get gas from the fuel dock that was 2 blocks closer. (Yes I actually walked past a fuel dock. She is a great 1st mate but I have authority issues.) With more fuel and a few minutes to rest the batteries, the Scott started right up. Maybe she was right. The Scott likes fuel, we are burning about 2 gallons an hour at 2000 RPM speeds.

We proceeded to cruise the harbor around and around for next 4 hours. We fueled twice, got take-out pizza for lunch on the boat and waved a many passers-by who would give us the thumbs-up. We even saw a '68 Dorsett who we waved at and shouted greetings as we passed by. Basically we spent five hours driving in circles. Since we named her Whisky Tango I decided that we were going to rename the Harbor Cruise the Redneck Roundy Round.

We have plans to keep the Dorsett at a friends dock on the weekends but still he had another friends boat tied up, so At about 2 PM I suggested we take her over to the Dunes and pull her out of the water to give her a fresh-water bath inside and out. So my 1st Mate reluctantly agreed. Later she figured out that I was sun-burnt and was ready to get out of the sun (and yes my neck is red). So I dropped her off and she met me at the Dunes with the trailer. We loaded up the Dorsett and chatted with a car-collector who was at the Dunes for the Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auctions. He was a boat mechanic when he was a young man and fondly remembers working on the old Scott motors. You meet the nicest people when you have a cool old boat.

We brought her home and gave her a full wash and ran her in fresh water for 15 minutes to flush the motor. My wife looked at me and said... "I've had more fun that last two days, why did we wait so long (25 years) to get a boat?" I guess that's what its all about.

Maiden Voyage, Sunset Harbor Cruise

 Friday night at 5:00 P.M we hitched the Dorsett to the truck and took it over to the Newport Dunes for an evening cruise. It was only a month ago I was over here but the cruise only lasted 100 yards out and 100 yards back. Tonight I was confident we would be cruising in style.

The Dorsett fired right up and I motored away from the dock at idle. Then hammer down to... 5 MPH (Newport Harbor speed limit). She cruised right along and I took the 4 mile ride to the public dock at the end of our street. My son drove the trailer the 12 mile drive home. (This is one of the few occasions when a 5 MPH boat ride is faster to than the car.) Welcome to the beach in Southern California.

We stopped at Hills Boat Service and fueled up our 6 gallon fuel tank that holds 4-5 useable gallons. The young attendant noticed the boat was idling a little high at 2000 RPM at idle. He offer to adjust the idle and when I pulled the hood he looked at the three carbs and was a little surprised. I turned the screws down a 1/4 turn (to 2-3/4) and we were off.

My wife and I took a nice 3 hour harbor cruise. The boat ran great and just purred along. Old two stokes are loud and smelly. With that said, Harbor crusing in the front seats was great. We could talk normally and there was very little fume. Passengers in the back seat will get a totally different experience.

We ended the night at the Habor Side restaurant and we got in our order just before the Kitchen closed at 9 PM. We had a classic Sunset Cruise on the Harbor.

We were fortunate to be able to leave our boat at the restaurant over night with the promise that we would pick it up by 9:00 AM.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Compound, Finish, Wax On, Wax Off

This boat is so close to getting back in the water I can taste it! But what would a maiden voyage be without a wax and polish? Whisky Tango looks great wet, but when its dry the gelcoat has a slightly cloudy appearance.

Gelcoat is the coating sprayed up against a highly polished mold at the beginning of the fiberglass layup process. On new boats, this surface is very smooth, mirror-like and pleasing to the eye. As gelcoat ages, it becomes porous. The more porous it becomes, the more easily it stains, the worse it looks and the harder it is to clean. Since our boat had at least 5 years of oxidation, I decided to have the whole boat polished and waxed to make Whisky Tango shine like new!

Although this is a potential do it yourself project, polishing gel-coat is part art and a part hard labor. While I'm not afraid of labor, I decided to bring in the professionals on this one. I called Perutti Boat Works in Costa Mesa, CA. They have a mobile service and are very easy to work with. They completed a 3-part Compound, Finishing and Wax of the boat. Here's what they did:

Step 1 Compounding
Since the whole boat and especially the topsides were really faded, this was done to bring back the original color and knock out the ugly, faded look. The compound was applied with an electric polisher and a pad.

Step 2 Finishing
The next step they did was to follow the Compounding with a Finishing Material boat polish in order to get a glossy, bright finish. The finishing was also done with a polisher and a pad.

Step 3 Waxing
After the boat polish was applied, the final step was to protect the finish with a wax. It's important to seal and protect the finish with a good wax to maintain the gloss from the finishing step.

This was an all day process but was well worth it as the results were amazing.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Getting the Timing Right, I'm Fully Retarded

Getting the old Scott back up and running has been a journey. With everything that went on with Advanced Marine last summer I originally approached this project with a little concern. More than once I have found myself shopping online for 60 HP outboard motors. Wondering if this Scott will ever come back to life.

Tonight I had a defining "moment" in my quest. Last weekend I replaced the batteries and the Scott really liked the extra juice, but just about every other time I went to start it the motor would turn 1/2 - 3/4's of a turn and then just stop. The starter would disengage and spin out. If I'd hit the key again and hold it on the motor would usually turn over and fire up. But it would take everything the two batteries had to give just to get it started. This made me wonder how many starts I could get in a day of harbor cruising before my batteries would be dead.

Putting a timing light on it revealed that the motor was running at about 10-12° of advance at idle. When the throttle was at the start position the mechanical advance pushed this to 18-20° of advance. At WOT it was at something like 40°!

Basic combustion motor troubleshooting says hard starting is a symptom of too much advance. The idea is if the spark ignites the fuel when the piston is on the way up it may stop the piston dead in its tracks not allowing the motor to turn over. So it was time to see how it got so far advanced and if I could dial it back.

The problem is that the timing setting on this motor allows only a small amount of advance adjustment. You advance or retard the timing by loosening the two screws on the Spark Advance Cam. These two screws sit in slots that allow for about 3/8" of movement which is maybe 5°. So fully retarded I was able to pull the advance back to 18° in the starting position. It was still way too advanced.

This got me to thinking about the the timing belt that drives the distributor. This motor uses a notched belt that rides in teeth on the distributor pulley and in teeth on the crank shaft under the flywheel. The notches prevent the timing belt from slipping.

When I bought the boat I was given a brand new timing belt but it hadn't been installed. I hypothesized that if someone had removed the distributor trying to install the new timing belt but realized they needed a gear puller to remove the fly wheel... so they gave up. Maybe they could have re-installed the distributor one or two notches advanced.

I figured if I removed the distributor and rotated the pulley one or two notches counter-clockwise on the belt. This would retard the timing back to a more normal position.

So I removed the four machine screws on the distributor and slid the belt off the pulley. I rotated the pulley one notch counter-clockwise and slid the timing belt back on to the pulley. I re-tightened the screws and hoped for the best.

Much to my surprise and amazement, when I put the controls in the start position and turned the key, the motor fired right up! No stopping, no pausing, no struggling, it just started. I turned off the key and tried it again and she fired just like it was 1960. So I put the controls in the idle position and put my timing light on the fly wheel. At idle I was running at 5° retarded, at the start position I was at 10° and at WOT I was at maybe 25°. So I fine-tuned the timing with the Spark Advance Adjustment and tested the starting several more times. Now the motor starts effortlessly!

When I bought the boat the former owner said "the starter was not strong enough". One notch on the timing belt, is this why the former owner gave up on it? One notch on the timing belt, is this why Advanced Marine destroyed two starters and had it all last summer?

Granted there was a metering rod in one of the carbs that was jammed (so the fuel delivery would have been questionable), the carbon brush on the distributor cap was not making contact with the rotor (so the spark would have been weak) and the timing belt was one notch off (so it was too advanced and would be hard to start). If you add that up you have a motor that won't run. A really good mechanic would have found all three of these things in one afternoon of tuning. For me it has been a journey.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Extra juice always helps

Originally I had a pair of O'Reilly's 500CA (1ST-MATEJ) marine batteries. These were only a couple of months old, but I've been using (abusing) the heavily during my motor tinkering. For most of the time I had these connected to a charger because I was constantly turning the motor without firing.

I became suspect of their condition as they were taking longer and longer to recover after starting attempts. Also I saw online that there were better batteries that O'Reilly's sells that are only $20 more.

I took them back to O'Reilly's to see what they could do so I could upgrade and they said one had a bad cell and the other was about shot. They credited me towards a pair of 1000CA (24MSJ) marine batteries. Extra juice always helps when starting the boat.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Giving the Plug Wires a Solid

When I posted my motor pictures at "Ponyboy" (who runs several McCulloch 75's) pointed out that I should not be using "Suppression Core" plug wires.

Here's why:
Most wire sets you will purchase today are the newer HEI (High Energy Ignition) type. These wires are designed for use on ignition systems with outputs of 35,000 to 45,000 volts. Your original classic point-type ignition system operates in the 20,000 volt range. Putting modern HEI wires on your 20,000 volt classic ignition system causes low voltage to the spark plugs, resulting in hard starting, poor gas mileage, decreased performance, rough running, fouled plugs, and other symptoms that seem carburetor-related, when, in fact, they are being caused by incorrect plug wires.
So it was off to the parts store for some old school solid core plug wires. Here is the OE Plus solid core 6 cylinder kit I bought. (aka 2 sets of plug wires for $40). The center wire is not actually solid, it is strands of solid wires. Strands of small wires have less resistance than one large wire.

The drama was the OE Plus wire set has a "universal" plug ends that can be put on straight or at a 90 degree angle. The issue is even when bent to the 90 degree angle the plug end is too long to clear the cowling. I couldn't even install the #3 plug with the cowl off.

So I took the plug ends from the Accel kit which are as short as you can get and so I used them on the OE Plus kit.

Here are the new 7MM solid core black wires with the Accel plug ends and red boots.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cool It - Reassembly

Today I put the water pump back in with the new impellers. Before I reinstalled the pump I wanted to make sure there was nothing blocking the cooling system. At Home Deport they have a high pressure hose nozzle  that fits perfectly in the water line. I inserted the nozzle into the water line and turned on the hose. The water filled the cooling system and flowed out the tell-tale hole as expected. With that test complete I reassembled the water pump.
The biggest challenge was how to keep the roll pin in place as I slipped the impeller onto the shaft. A dab of silicon did the trick. After it setup it kept the pin in place and I fit the impeller back on. I reassembled the layers of the pump in reverse order and replaced the insulators with some homemade insulators made from electrical tape. 

Next up was replacing the lower oil. It is recommended to do this at the end of each season. My oil was quite dirty so this was a well deserved service. I drained most of the oil before pulling the water pump but more came out when I removed the drail hole and vent hole screws. The McCulloch uses the standard Mercury fitting that came on the pump from West Marine. Also the Mercury Lower Unit plug gaskets fit perfectly.

The lower requires 15 oz of gear lube. After it started "weeping" from the vent hole I kept pumping (about another 10oz of fluid) until the gear oil started running clean.The old oil was black and dirty!

With the new impellers I've got great circulation and a strong tell-tale stream. (You can't really see the tell-tale in this photo but it is there.)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cool It - Disassembly

I remember specifically seeing the tell-tale stream coming out of the port-side of the motor when I first got the motor running. (I even pointed out to my wife. Like a cat dragging a bird into the house, I was so proud.) But then I just kind-of didn't pay attention to it any more. So now I'm wondering what happened? The former owner told me he had replaced the impeller so I figured I was OK.

"They" say, when bring an old motor back to life, never trust what the old owner says about when or even if the impeller was ever replaced. Also good outboard maintenance protocol is to replace the lower gear lube once a season. So given the fact that my cooling system has stopped functioning I need to do both.

Here is the disassembly:
  1. Drain the lower
  2. Shift into Neutral, remove Inspection plate, remove LOWER screw, shift into reverse. I put a paper towel in there in case I dropped the screw into the lower.
  3. Unbolt the five allen head screws holding the lower. Mine released easily, the manual says to slightly rotate the lower to break the seal between the two pumps and water bailer lines.
  4. Pull the entire assembly down and out of the lower motor casing.
  5. Slide the rubber boot off the end of the drive shaft by working it loose with your thumbs.
  6. Remove the rubber water inlet cup.
  7. Remove the four pump assembly screws
  8. Lift the bailer pump off the drive shaft.
There are two roll pins that sit in the keys on the drive shaft. So I disassembled the pump one piece at a time to remove it from the drive shaft.

Here's the parts in disassembly order you can see the bailer impeller (second from left) has no fins my water pump impeller (second from right) is actually very nice. So the impeller was replaced and I'm a little concerned about why my water wasn't circulating.

 Here's the replacement parts:
The one on the left is the water pump impeller the one on the right is the bailer impeller.

Next weekend I will test the circulation with a water hose to see if anything is blocking the cooling system and then reassemble the pump and add new lower oil.