Hi Doc. I have a 1990 22 Angler that I bought from the original owner. It’s powered by a 200 hp Mercury Black Max outboard. The engine has good compression in all cylinders, about 135 psi. My problem is that, for the last two years, the engine has had a hard-starting problem. I prime the bulb until it’s hard and push in the key to choke while the engine is cranking, and it will not start. The enrichment solenoid is new, and the carbs have all been rebuilt. I have good spark, and the plugs are new. After a shot of ether, the engine fires right up. I use the boat all day fishing, and when it’s time to head home, it starts easily. After it sits for the night, I have the same hard-starting problem. When I first bought the boat, it started easily. I only use marine-treated fuel. I’m an auto mechanic and have no problem with four-strokes, but have no experience with two-stroke engines.
James Fitzsimmons Yonkers, New York
If it starts up easily after a day of fishing but is tough after sitting, I’ll ask how do you have the engine trimmed when trying to start it? Fuel does not flow uphill easily. Trim the motor down to a typical running position, and I bet that it turns over easily. If not, have the carbs’ float settings checked. Also, inspect the enrichment valve that comes off the top of the carburetors. There’s a small line running from the float bowl on the top carburetor down to the top of the middle one. It supplies fuel to the middle carburetor’s throttle shuttle. Disconnect it at the middle carb and make sure there is fuel coming out of it. Also, if it doesn’t start after sitting all night, after cranking it a few times without it starting, pull the top spark plugs. If they’re dry, there’s no fuel getting to the top cylinders.
If you have a tandem torsion-axle trailer, you don’t need a trailer jack to lift a bad tire from the roadway. Just put a 12-inch piece of two-by-four against the good tire, then back it with the four-by-four and pull your good tire onto the four-by-four. It will lift the flat tire high enough to replace it. On soft ground, it can be helpful to have an extra one-by-six to set the four-by-four on to prevent it from sinking down. — Randy Vance
Pulling a spark plug can provide clues to starting woes.