Boating - - BOAT DOCTOR -

I have a 2000 Four Winns 180 Hori­zon pow­ered by a 130 hp John­son out­board. About three years ago, I no­ticed that when I would pur­chase fuel, the fuel bulb would be col­lapsed. It would do this shortly after get­ting un­der­way and re­main so. If I stopped to pur­chase fuel, it would not in­flate but re­main col­lapsed. This in no way af­fected per­for­mance. After dock­ing for the day, it takes about an hour for the fuel bulb to re­cover. My me­chanic has re­placed the bulb; he has re­placed the fuel line; he has re­placed the anti-siphon part; he has re­placed the vent … or checked it any­way. It does have a fuel/water sep­a­ra­tor in­stalled. Fi­nally, I asked him what he thought, and he is un­sure. I told him that I would write to you. He thought that was great! Thank you. John Burns Cape May Court­house, New Jersey

A col­lapsed primer bulb is in­dica­tive of not enough vent­ing and/or a fuel-line re­stric­tion. It could also be a bad bulb, but you re­placed that. Check the screen on the bot­tom of the fuel-tank pickup. It may be clogged. There is likely a deck plate in your cock­pit sole that pro­vides ac­cess to the top of the tank and that fit­ting. Also check these items: Open the fuel-fill cap and run the boat. If the bulb doesn’t col­lapse, you have nar­rowed it down to your vent. Be care­ful not to do this on a rough or windy day where spray will get into the tank.

You can also con­nect the en­gine to a por­ta­ble fuel tank and run it. If the bulb col­lapses on the por­ta­ble tank’s fuel line, you know it’s a prob­lem with the en­gine (maybe a lift pump). If all is well on the por­ta­ble, you know the prob­lem is some­where in your boat’s fuel sys­tem.

Likely, the prob­lem is re­lated to ethanol, which de­grades hoses. Fuel hoses are lam­i­nated, and the ethanol can cause the liner to col­lapse un­der suc­tion. This makes it hard to trou­bleshoot. Change the vent hose and then the sup­ply hose, if chang­ing the vent hose does not work.

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