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2nd opinion on what mechanic is telling me about fuel issues, please?

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2nd opinion on what mechanic is telling me about fuel issues, please?

Old 05-29-2019, 12:32 PM
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Default 2nd opinion on what mechanic is telling me about fuel issues, please?

I took my 1999 Mercury 4 stroke 50 hp motor to a local marina, as I was stumped with a fuel problem. It didn't seem like dirty carbs to me because we'd taken it out the end of March and it ran great, took it out in April and at 2000 rpms under load it just falls on its face. It seemed more like a fuel delivery problem. But after replacing the fuel pump and all of the fuel lines, it still was acting up.

Mechanic charged $100 for a diagnosis. They checked it over, and they said:
  • Spark system is working, but spark plugs need replaced (the ones I have in there have MAYBE 45 minutes of run time on them).
  • They checked all fluids and everything and everything looks good.
  • They drained the carb bowls and found debris and some water.
I had previously tried to open the drains on the carb bowls, but I was afraid I was going to break them, as the screws didn't want to budge at all. At that point I figured it was worth $100 to have someone else take a look before I really started tearing stuff apart.

They want to rebuild the carbs at a cost of $800 for parts and 6 hours of labor.

Personally, I feel this is a bit steep and I think the guy is pricing himself high because its the beginning of boating season and he's hoping I'll bite at that price.

My last boat had a 50hp Johnson, and I was able to take the 2 carbs off of it, completely disassemble, clean and blow everything out, and put it back together and back on the motor in about 2 hours. And I'm by no means a trained mechanic.
However, if I'm wrong here, please tell me.

I would also think that if there was water and crap in the carb bowls, it would make sense to try it again since they've been drained out, before taking everything apart, as that could have likely fixed it.

My feeling here is, I should take it home and try taking it out to see if draining the crap out worked. If that doesn't work, rebuild the carbs myself.
I've rebuilt carbs on older honda motorcycles (1975 CB750 and a 1976 CB360) without any issues, and these didn't look much different.

Is there something here I am unaware of that makes this job a lot more difficult?

Thanks!
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:38 PM
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I cant imagine paying that much to rebuild carbs. I know that dirty carbs can restrict fuel flow and give drivability issues.

Best case I would pay the $100 and take my boat home and call around to other shop and see what they want.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:40 PM
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How old is the gas?
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by simeoncoleman View Post
I cant imagine paying that much to rebuild carbs. I know that dirty carbs can restrict fuel flow and give drivability issues.

Best case I would pay the $100 and take my boat home and call around to other shop and see what they want.
Ok, glad I'm not crazy! $800 just felt really high. Especially when its something I can do without a lot of difficulty. Its a crappy job, but we are in a really low cost of living area. Just to give you a frame of reference, my 3 bed, 2 bath house on 1/3rd acre with a 2 car garage was $75,000.

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Old 05-29-2019, 12:44 PM
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Pull them off and clean them. I would have done that prior to doing anything else.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Jkcam View Post
How old is the gas?
Fresh this season.

However, I have 2 tanks. The first time I took it out and it ran great was on tank 1. Took it out and it ran like crap on tank 2. I've since tried both with the same results, but if tank 2 had some water or something in it that got sucked up, well I could see that causing this.

If it ran good in April, and I mean it ran fantastic, I was super happy because I just bought it last fall and hadn't gotten to take it out yet, but I can't see in a few weeks it so completely gummed up that it needs a full rebuild. Which again, makes me believe that draining the bowls with whatever junk was in there, should alleviate the problem.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by ondarvr1 View Post
Pull them off and clean them. I would have done that prior to doing anything else.
Well like I said, it ran good in April, then a few weeks later when I went to take the whole family out, it ran like crap.

This sudden change from good to bad made me think it wasn't dirty carbs, but something else wrong. Which is why I felt that $100 to have a mechanic look at it was worthwhile.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:49 PM
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$800 is the "I don;t have time for this but I will do it if you make it worthwhile". I have a friend who is an electrition who does this all of the time. He is slammed and if you want time in his busy schedule you have to pay for it, honestly it seems that ever since he started giving out FU pricing people want him more and more.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Lorne Greene View Post
$800 is the "I don;t have time for this but I will do it if you make it worthwhile". I have a friend who is an electrition who does this all of the time. He is slammed and if you want time in his busy schedule you have to pay for it, honestly it seems that ever since he started giving out FU pricing people want him more and more.
Ok, thats REALLY what I was thinking. It just seemed really high dollar, when he's probably just going to have a helper making $15 an hour do the rebuild.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:51 PM
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Once you suck up crap into a carb you need to rebuild it (forget draining it, its stuck in a jet), best to learn to do it yourself, youtube is your friend. Also put on better filtration/fuel water separator, you rather clog a filter then f up your carbs.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:52 PM
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The water could have definitely been the issue. A while back I was dealing with water in the fuel. Engines would idle all day, but I'd get surging before one of them would die when running at a good clip. The primer bulb would be flat at that time. The float in the Racor was shutting down the flow past the filter as it was designed to do.

Do you recall if the bulb was flat? If it was, then your problem wasn't carbs. It was a restriction somewhere between the bulb and the tank. Could have been the water, could have been something else.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by marlinmike View Post
Once you suck up crap into a carb you need to rebuild it (forget draining it, its stuck in a jet), best to learn to do it yourself, youtube is your friend. Also put on better filtration/fuel water separator, you rather clog a filter then f up your carbs.
I bought a Racor for it :-)
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Old 05-29-2019, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Belzelbub View Post
The water could have definitely been the issue. A while back I was dealing with water in the fuel. Engines would idle all day, but I'd get surging before one of them would die when running at a good clip. The primer bulb would be flat at that time. The float in the Racor was shutting down the flow past the filter as it was designed to do.

Do you recall if the bulb was flat? If it was, then your problem wasn't carbs. It was a restriction somewhere between the bulb and the tank. Could have been the water, could have been something else.
Nope, bulb was stiff. But the engine acted like it wasn't getting any gas. First thing I did was replace the fuel pump, as I'd gone through the exact same thing with a previous motor.
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Old 05-29-2019, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by marlinmike View Post
Once you suck up crap into a carb you need to rebuild it (forget draining it, its stuck in a jet), best to learn to do it yourself, youtube is your friend. Also put on better filtration/fuel water separator, you rather clog a filter then f up your carbs.
2nd that YouTube saves me hundreds if not thousands a year, avoiding that FU bids I get to fix things
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Old 05-29-2019, 01:42 PM
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Why could you do the carbs on your 50 Johnson but not your Mercury? just because it worked OK before, but not now matters little, most things were working before they broke!
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:02 PM
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Bringing $800 motor to have $800 carb job done? Hmm... Dollar count doesn't surprise me, simple calculation gives us $130 per flat hour, which is average down here.
Now question ; was 6 flat hours to rebuild bunch of old crummy carbs with frozen bolts inflated? Three carbs, 2 flat hours each. I approve this message.
Remove, strip, dunk overnight,, new jets, assembly, install, tune, ballance. I don't have much carbs these days, but classic Kawasaki. Took me whole weekend last time I did it.
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:09 PM
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run sea foam in the gas too sometimes that cleans out the jets
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:14 PM
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Rebuild them yourself, don’t just pull them and blow air thru jets , get a carb kit for each with new pintle and seats, gaskets etc. floats and such .
Do it right the first time and you shouldn’t have to go back in there for awhile. If a float valve pintle is worn, it may stick and flood . Get the kit is my 2 cents and rebuild it. Adjust the float level etc. you can do this.
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by noelm View Post
Why could you do the carbs on your 50 Johnson but not your Mercury? just because it worked OK before, but not now matters little, most things were working before they broke!
50 Johnson was a 2 cylinder and only had 2 carbs which were mounted to the front of the engine.

New Merc has 4 carbs which are mounted to the side. Its not that I can't do them, but I felt it worth $100 to get a second opinion. I've got big hands and working on tight motors sucks.
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Kaper View Post
Bringing $800 motor to have $800 carb job done? Hmm... Dollar count doesn't surprise me, simple calculation gives us $130 per flat hour, which is average down here.
Now question ; was 6 flat hours to rebuild bunch of old crummy carbs with frozen bolts inflated? Three carbs, 2 flat hours each. I approve this message.
Remove, strip, dunk overnight,, new jets, assembly, install, tune, ballance. I don't have much carbs these days, but classic Kawasaki. Took me whole weekend last time I did it.
While I appreciate your input, I'd suggest you learn how to form basic sentences, use proper grammar and not be condescending before continuing to post here.
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