Engine sputtering
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Engine sputtering

  1. #1
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    Default Engine sputtering

    Just got back from havasu and had some issues with the boat. It ran great the first day, but after a run from Windsor to pirate cove(about 45 minutes)the motor started sputtering. Thankfully she got us back to Windsor safely. I thought it could have been some bad gas or my fuel filter. So I changed that out and took the boat out for a test run and it was still sputtering.

    What do you guys think I should do next? Spark plugs, wires, distributor?

    Thanks.

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    Senior Member 74glencoe's Avatar
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    If boat was running great before and you believe your gas was good and the same octane as you usually run, I would approach it in this order:
    1. Plugs, check each for proper gap, oil fowl, lean condition, or obvious richness. If anything is found wrong find out why (rich could likely be a bad plug wire or cap and rotor, oil=rings, lean = gummed or clogged carb or inlet filter)

    2. Plug wires. Inspect for over heated or cracking wires, bad connection on either end, depending on age they likely need replaced anyway.

    3. Cap and rotor, are they on correctly, any cracks, worn contacts on cap or rotor, check to make sure mechanical advance is not stuck or rusted in place, whatever pickup mechanism you have is it in good condition? If running optical pickup throw it away (that last part is just my opinion)

    4. What coil are you running? Hei, msd, canister? Is it in good condition? How old? If canister or hei Check for good connections everywhere in ignition system including at key switch. If running a ballast resistor check it for proper resistance. I know zip about capacitive discharge.

    5. Check timing, initial and all in. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-18 initial and 30-40 all in. This is for pump gas, if running higher octane get better numbers elsewhere.

    6. If you haven't found the culprit by now you likely need some help from someone who turns wrenches for a living. Maybe break open the carb and give it a good cleaning especially if lean conditions were found on plugs.

    These are my opinions and there are a lot of people on here way more experienced and more knowledgable than me, but it is how I would approach it.

  4. #3
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    Default How is your fuel pressure?

    Another idea would be to make sure you're maintaining fuel pressure. On a neighbors boat we were thinking electrical and looking that direction. His boat would run good for about 3-5 minutes and then start sputtering. Turned out to be his fuel pump. Not saying that's what you have going on, just a thought as a possibility.
    Good luck
    Margaret Thatcher once said The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money.

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    Senior Member 74Bonneville's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 89 ultra custom 454 View Post
    Just got back from havasu and had some issues with the boat. It ran great the first day, but after a run from Windsor to pirate cove(about 45 minutes)the motor started sputtering. Thankfully she got us back to Windsor safely. I thought it could have been some bad gas or my fuel filter. So I changed that out and took the boat out for a test run and it was still sputtering.

    What do you guys think I should do next? Spark plugs, wires, distributor?

    Thanks.
    Start with the simple and obvious first. It was running good. Fuel filter was a very good start, follow through with checking fuel system first like darin_s mentioned. Then move to ignition, but be cautious of over thinking. It's unlikely anything would need adjustment like timing. Those things don't change unless you're messing with them. More details on the sputtering would help, bottom end, cruising speed, high end, was it a steady sputter or random?? Taking video with your phone when it happens can be very helpful if you thought of it at the time.


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    Sorry no video this time.
    The sputtering was random. The boat would idle for 10 minutes without anything and then a quick loss of power then right back to idle. Seemed to get worse at cruising.

    The more I think about it the more it makes me think (or hope) it's just the plugs and maybe some new wires.

    Thanks guys!
    I gotta get this thing fixed before the ultra regatta may 15th in havasu.

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    I might head back out this weekend to work on it. I'll take a video then.

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    What kind of plugs and wires would you recommend?

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    Senior Member 74Bonneville's Avatar
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    Still sounds like fuel problem to me. Did you look for more than 1 fuel filter, seen that before. Electric or mechanical fuel pump?

    Plugs depend on engine set up and wires depend on ignition.


  11. #9
    Custom User Title 4runnin's Avatar
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    I had similar issues and ended up being two things. First, how are your tanks vented? in rough conditions I was getting a bunch of water in my tanks. New fuel and new filters always fixed it for a bit, but water came back in. If you have a water separator, dump it into a clear jar or bottle and see how much water vs. fuel you have.

    Second, my mechanical fuel pump had a small tear in the diaphragm that would cause intermittent issues. Replaced the pump, changed the vented caps, and problem solved for me.

  12. #10
    Senior Member bp298's Avatar
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    generally speaking, electrical/ignition issues won't be random like you're experiencing. i.e., come and go. unless they are loose connections like the battery terminal, or some other loose connection that moves around when the boat's moving. electrical/ignition related issues tend to repeat the same way every time the boat is run. random come and go intermittent stuff is usually fuel or fuel system related. that's where I'd focus attention. it really does sound like water in fuel, tank vent blockage, fuel line or pump issue, and lastly something with the carb.

  13. #11
    Senior Member PE 340's Avatar
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    I have had intermittent issues with my MSD ignition boxes in the past.
    Starts and runs great on the trailer but is hard to start and sputters when boat is in the water.
    Had to send it back to MSD for fixin.
    That is why I have 3 MSD boxes.One in the boat,one in the trailer and one on the UPS truck on its way to MSD for fixin.
    Last edited by PE 340; 05-05-2015 at 11:57 AM.

  14. #12
    Senior Member namba860's Avatar
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    Check the spark plugs for water after idling the engine for a while. The exhaust riser gaskets maybe leaking water into a couple cylinders.

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    Senior Member bp298's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PE 340 View Post
    I have had intermittent issues with my MSD ignition boxes in the past.
    Starts and runs great on the trailer but is hard to start and sputters when boat is in the water.
    Had to send it back to MSD for fixin.
    That is why I have 3 MSD boxes.One in the boat,one in the trailer and one on the UPS truck on its way to MSD for fixin.
    like I said. self induced.

    if ya got rid of those fossilized boxes that are full of vacuum tubes and rheostats, and upgraded to digital like the rest of humanity, and then wired the thing decent, you wouldn't have any issues... I know you're still tryin to hang on to the '60s, but dayum...

  16. #14
    Senior Member PE 340's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bp298 View Post
    like I said. self induced.

    if ya got rid of those fossilized boxes that are full of vacuum tubes and rheostats, and upgraded to digital like the rest of humanity, and then wired the thing decent, you wouldn't have any issues... I know you're still tryin to hang on to the '60s, but dayum...
    That is why I still love my Don Zig (RIP) Mag.

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