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Primer Bulb on Outboards

Old 07-16-2008, 05:02 AM
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Default Primer Bulb on Outboards

Just a reminder - if this is not a part of your maintenance plan it should be. The sun kills rubber. In 30 years of boating the only failures I have had on the water with carbureted outboards were bad primer bulbs. It happened again yesterday. Was able to get back with lots of squeezing but the rubber was melting in my hands. I suggest change every 4 years - more if your rig is in the sun a lot. Also, change it whenever it doesn't pump up super hard, or you hand gets black after touching it. If your motor runs for a few minutes and then dies (you suspect fuel or filter issues) check the bulb also. A small leak here can sound the OMC low fuel supply alarm - once it did for me, once it didn't.

Although I am not a brand name shopper, I have also found the original equipment manufacturers to be best. Its only a 15 dollar item.

Happy Boating - learn from my mistake. I submit this "helpful hint" as partial payment for all the computer and home repair advice I get on Dockside Chat.
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Old 07-16-2008, 05:35 AM
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Default Re: Primer Bulb on Outboards

I'll stay away from name bashing too, but I had bad luck with an aftermarket bulb bought from a big box store. Didn't even last one season.
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Old 07-16-2008, 06:22 AM
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Default Re: Primer Bulb on Outboards

I have had the best luck with the Yamaha bulbs, the worst has been with Sierra.
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Old 07-16-2008, 10:39 AM
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Default Re: Primer Bulb on Outboards

I had a Tempo bulb that, out of the packaging, wouldn't even pump air. Squeeze it, and it remained collapsed. Pretty poor fittings on the hose as well.

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Old 07-16-2008, 05:59 PM
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Default Re: Primer Bulb on Outboards

I have never quite understand the need for a primer bulb on fuel injected outboards.

Although my setup did come with one on each motor. I think I will bypass it whenever it dies. Can't see why I need to spend $15 to replace it.
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Old 07-16-2008, 06:09 PM
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Default Re: Primer Bulb on Outboards

UaVaj - 7/16/2008 8:59 PM I have never quite understand the need for a primer bulb on fuel injected outboards. Although my setup did come with one on each motor. I think I will bypass it whenever it dies. Can't see why I need to spend $15 to replace it.
I was told the same thing untill I read you could damage the fuel pump(s) by not using the bulb. I still forget to do so sometimes though...
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Old 07-16-2008, 06:15 PM
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Default Re: Primer Bulb on Outboards

UaVaj - 7/16/2008 8:59 PM
I have never quite understand the need for a primer bulb on fuel injected outboards.

I think I will bypass it whenever it dies.
But ... can your fuel pump and injectors 'pull'' the fuel from the tank in an EMPTY line? I think not ...

Using the Bomb/OMC bulb (THE best made one out there [at least they got something right] as even my local Merc dealer and racing crew uses them) ... I can pull fuel from a TOTALLY empty fuel line (16' run) from the tank, through the Racor f/w separator and into the motor in a handful of squeezes.

The trick to ANY primer bulb is to have the outlet end towards the OB in the UP position, or higher than the inlet end, to allow the check valve to work better. I knoe for a fact on 2-strokes that pumping the bulb 'til firm and a few more squeezes pressurizes the fuel priming system.

Not sure if 4-strokes have an added 'priming' feature, but if they do, what pressurizes it?
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Old 07-16-2008, 06:28 PM
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Default Re: Primer Bulb on Outboards

Ethanol has played hell on the bulbs too...
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Old 07-16-2008, 06:38 PM
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Default Re: Primer Bulb on Outboards

UaVaj.
When you squeze the primer bulb in a old carb engine you may refill the carb float chambers if low.
ie set awhile.

When you squeze the primer ball in a fuel injection engine you may be refilling the VST tank.
It has a float, needle valve ,like a toilet bowl and a carb.
It seems to take longer to lower the level in the VST tank.

If it is a Yamaha F-200 -350 , Suzuki DF-200 -300 when you turn the key on; the low pressure electric fuel pump runs for about 2-3 seconds.It is safety feature . The ECM sees that the engine is NOT running .It doesn't want the pump to run in case of fuel line rupture,thus engine quits. Same thing happens in your car in case you are in an accident and the engine stops' so does the pump.

If your low pressure pump fails or has low discharge ,then if the primer bulb can fill or assist filling the VST tank.

I have seen a 1988 Dusky 256 that did not have primer bulbs. It had a spring loaded toggle switch that you held on for the electric primer pump. It was not designed for continous use.

You can remove the bulb and save $15-20 . It will probably run fine without it ..99% of the time.
I have seen some boaters put TWO on the same engine. One near the tank and one near the engine.

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Old 07-17-2008, 06:02 AM
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Default Re: Primer Bulb on Outboards

It is there for a reason. OMC did not decide to just thrown in a $15 item on each outboard for reasons of looks, goodwill or tradition. I would leave it there and use it as instructed. Someday you may be in a low fuel light situation or some other more serious situation and you may wish you had it.

Yes afishanado, I also think the ethanol degrades them too.
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Old 07-10-2016, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Reel-Rascals View Post
But ... can your fuel pump and injectors 'pull'' the fuel from the tank in an EMPTY line? I think not ...

Using the Bomb/OMC bulb (THE best made one out there [at least they got something right] as even my local Merc dealer and racing crew uses them) ... I can pull fuel from a TOTALLY empty fuel line (16' run) from the tank, through the Racor f/w separator and into the motor in a handful of squeezes.

The trick to ANY primer bulb is to have the outlet end towards the OB in the UP position, or higher than the inlet end, to allow the check valve to work better. I knoe for a fact on 2-strokes that pumping the bulb 'til firm and a few more squeezes pressurizes the fuel priming system.

Not sure if 4-strokes have an added 'priming' feature, but if they do, what pressurizes it?
Thanks Reel - I searched the archives and found this thread as well as another thread. I ordered the OMC primer ball and it's head and tails better than the Supex stuff I was being sold at a big box store.

I was so peeved about being sold nearly $70 worth of primer balls and fuel line that was absolute garbage, and that didn't even make it past the initial testing runs (six in total now, most of the failures - partly, or perhaps the majority, due to the Supex brand of crap) that I made a video just to warn others of my experience.



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Old 07-11-2016, 01:10 AM
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A little hard to tell from the video but it looks like teflon tape was used on rhe thread fittings on the fule filter. If so it is not gas resistant. I had been doing the same for years until reading some where. I now use leak lock. Agree on the OEM primer bulbs and I carry a spare at all times.
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Old 07-11-2016, 01:31 AM
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If you can easily relocate the primer bulb to a compartment so its not in the sun, it will add some years
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by natecert View Post
A little hard to tell from the video but it looks like teflon tape was used on rhe thread fittings on the fule filter. If so it is not gas resistant. I had been doing the same for years until reading some where. I now use leak lock. Agree on the OEM primer bulbs and I carry a spare at all times.
If there was, it was from the previous owner and done over 10 years ago. I'm gonna call it good whatever is there, lol.

Originally Posted by joshs View Post
If you can easily relocate the primer bulb to a compartment so its not in the sun, it will add some years
You know, I've been seeing this done and contemplated doing it to mine. Is there any functional or effeciency change in using it before the main filter vs. afterward?

A consideration, though, is that our bilge area is tight, so being able to point the ball upright for use - or just reaching do to below floor level - could be a pain in the rear. Moreover, I don't trust having the slack in the fuel line below deck to be able to turn the ball upright - just another wear area I can't see what with the fuel line flopping around. I could, instead, just cover the ball with a piece of white plastic each year, lol.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:54 PM
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Pretty sure Ball should be after an external fuel filter (racor) and before engine.
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Old 07-12-2016, 01:47 AM
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Originally Posted by mobjack22 View Post
Pretty sure Ball should be after an external fuel filter (racor) and before engine.
I've had a boat with it before and one with it after - made not the slightest bit of difference.

As to the needing, not needing a bulb on an injected engine, if you don't already have one fitted, for the sake of $15 why not carry one in your spares kit, then it can be fitted wherever it might be required should the need arise. There is one on my current boat - in a pretty stupid location and I've not touched it in three years - I also carry a spare and a spare length of hose as well as spare portable tank - just one of those things that might be useful should a jury rig ever be required in the face of a fuel pick up problem or similar.
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Old 07-12-2016, 11:56 AM
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I've had primer bulbs before and after water separator fuel filters, either setup will work fine.

Much prefer before filter for many reasons:

1. Changing filter is much easier when a few squeezes easily and positively fills the dry new filter cartridge. No 'spillage' of fuel from pre-filling a new cartridge.

2. With an "after filter" orientation, I would need to have two bulbs installed. I do recommend keeping spare bulb, clamps and small portable 'alternate' tank aboard to prevent most tows. I run two lines from filter to two engines through filter mounted check-valves so neither 'kicker/trolling motor' nor main engine can drain non operating engine's line dry. Alternative to this would be a selector valve or two shutoff valves, but I prefer to keep operation (not installation) as simple as possible.

3. Ability to pressurize filter and all related lines and connections provides a 'leak check' prior to leaving dock. This is a safety issue even more so than 'trouble prevention'.

4. Makes for a cleaner splash well with less showing and even allows fuel lines to be easily retracted out of sight and sun for longer storage periods without the otherwise exposed clamps and bulbs that won't retract through rigging port.

5. Easier to keep my single bulb in correct vertical orientation for proper check valve operation. It should be an 'up-hill' run for line from fuel tank to filter. Grady White (as any boat builder would) installed the WSF in the highest point inside the stern. I have a 3/8" fuel line from tank to filter and 5/16" to main engine and 1/4" to kicker.

6. Keeping bulb out of sun greatly increases lifetime. The ones (would be two for dual motors) exposed to sunshine would fairly quickly become stiff and hard to use long before their complete failure.

I suppose if 'kicker' would have had the same connection fitting as main engine, I could get by with just a single fuel line, but much prefer current setup for operational simplicity
Art
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Old 07-12-2016, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mobjack22 View Post
Pretty sure Ball should be after an external fuel filter (racor) and before engine.
For what purpose do you think?
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