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Frequently asked questions:
Q. The part on your website looks different than the one on my motor. Will it still work?
A. Yes, many parts you will see on our website may look different than what you are replacing. This is due to the fact that they have been intentionally redesigned to provide much better quality and service over their OEM counterparts. Most all items come with complete installation instructions, so be sure you read them thoroughly before installing the part.
Q. I've heard that I should replace both switch boxes on my 6 cylinder Merc rather than just one. Is this true?
A. Yes it is strongly recommended. The reason being, the bias circuit (prevents ignition system feedback) between packs must be maintained or the old switch box could possibly damage the new one or vise versa.
Q. My water cooled regulator got so hot, it caught on fire and burned up a lot of things on the motor. What could have caused this?
A. One of two things are usually to blame. Either the regulator simply shorted out internally (or from a serious external short), or adequate water supply was not present to keep the regulator cool. This is another reason of many why you should make sure your water pump is always in good working condition. The regulators we offer contain an internal fusible link to help prevent fires and other dangerous conditions from occurring.
Q. What kind of battery should I use in my boat.
A. There are a couple of things to consider when choosing batteries. Firstly, never use a maintenance free battery on a boat motor equipped with only a rectifier. Over-voltage will occur and damage to the charging system will be the result. Otherwise, you should always use a good quality cranking battery for starting the motor. The larger the motor, the more cold cranking amps you need. Deep cycle batteries are designed to be deeply discharged and do not provide the "short burst" of power that cranking batteries do. Use deep cycle batteries on trolling motors only unless as an emergency. Also remember that most boat motors do not have full charging amp output unless they are running at wide open throttle. For this reason, any motor with a stator less than about 10 amps charging output may not keep your battery fully charged and the battery will require manual charging periodically. Install and keep plugged in, an onboard automatic charger to keep your battery in best condition. Most batteries should last 3 to 4 years with proper care and maintenance. Last but not least, never cross the battery or jumper cables backwards. That fairly common mistake will "pop" the rectifier EVERY time.
Q. I just installed a new stator, rectifier, or voltage regulator on my boat motor and the tach doesnt seem to work now.
A. This can be a fairly common happening. In this case, simply swap the two yellow wires from the stator to the regulator/rectifier and you should see the tach start working normally again.
Q. When I turn the key to start my boat motor, nothing happens. Whats wrong?
A. 1.)Your battery may be dead, or have a loose battery cable. Make sure cables are "CLEAN AND TIGHT" at all times. If you have more than just the battery cables connected to the battery, make sure the battery cables are installed first before any other wires. 2.)Most all electric start boat motors have a fuse on the engine harness under the motor cover. Make sure the fuse hasn't popped. 3.)All boat motors are equipped with a safety device called a "neutral safety switch". It can be located on the motor itself, or in the control box. If the shift assembly is not placed in the neutral position, nothing happens when you turn the key and it acts like the battery is dead.
How stuff works:
Q. What is a stator and what is its purpose?
A. The stator on outboard motors is located underneath the flywheel. The stator plays two roles. The flywheel contains magnets mounted in a 360 degree configuration. As the flywheel rotates, these magnets pass over the stator coils, which in turn, generates an electrical current. One set of the coils on the stator feeds the ignition system. Another set of coils provide electrical current to charge the starting battery.
Q. What is a voltage regulator?
A. The regulator is basically what the name says. It regulates voltage output from the stator to the starting battery. Without it, the stator would output too much voltage to the battery resulting in overcharging and damage to the battery. Most regulators also contain a rectifier circuit which is used to sense electrical pulse and provide a signal to the tachometer to read the motor's rpm. There is one thing that many people do not understand pertaining the the charging systems on outboard motors, especially the smaller ones. Your stator will only output it's rated charging amps at wide open throttle. Anything less than wide open, and you are only getting a small portion of those amps. Therefore, if you do a lot of low or at idle rpm operation, the stator will not output enough amps to keep your battery fully charged and requires manual charging from time to time.
Q. What is a trigger/timerbase?
A. The trigger or timerbase (term varies by manufacturer) is similar to a distributor on an automotive application. This component is also mounted under the flywheel and also uses the flywheel for it's operation. The center hub on the flywheel also contains magnets mounted in a 360 degree configuration. Instead of generating electrical current though, these magnets simply tell the trigger/timerbase what position the crankshaft is at. As the magnets pass by the pickup sensors, the trigger/timerbase sends a signal to the power pack, telling it the precise moment to release its stored energy to the specific cylinder. The spark timing is controlled exclusively by the trigger/timerbase. As the component rotates with increase or decrease of the throttle, so does the spark timing. Smooth and accurate movement of this device is critical to a good running motor. If it seems to get stickey, remove it, thoroughly clean off the sticky gunk, and apply a small amount of white lithium grease to the contact surface for "like new" operation.
Q. What is a power pack (aka switch box) and what does it do?
A. The function of a power pack is two fold. First, it stores energy created from the stator generating electrical current directly to it (ignitor coils). Secondly, it releases that stored energy per instructions from the trigger/timerbase. Hense the term "capacitive discharge ignition". Where does that released energy go? To the ignition coils of course.
Q. What is an ignition coil?
A. This is the most simplistic component in the ignition system. The coil's function is to simply boost the energy output from the power pack. Basically it is a transformer. For example, the output from the power pack might be something like 300 volts or so. The ignition coil boosts that current to very high voltage (sometimes as high as 10,000 to 15,000 volts depending on the application) which is required to fire the spark plugs and burn the fuel in the cylinder. The coil output can have a direct impact on how well the fuel mixture burns. There's not really any worries for high output (actually the higher the better), but with low output, the fuel mixture burns poorly, carbon buildup increases drastically, and performance obviously suffers.
Q. Ok, then there's the spark plugs?
A. The spark plugs simply supply spark to the cylinder. While most spark plugs are spark plugs, keep in mind that each motor is designed to use specific types of plugs. The range from cold to hot in heat range and have different type electrodes for specific applications. Keep in mind that if you experiment with different plugs, you could be taking a risk in you don't closely monitor what's going on. Too cold of plug or the wrong electrode type can cause too cool of combustion temperature. This results in excessive carbon buildup and poor performance. Todays fuels require hotter combustion temperatures to burn the fuel properly than in the old days. Watch out though, because too high of combustion temperatures can cause severe damage.
Q. How do I read spark plugs to tell if everything is good inside the cylinders?
A. This is where many people make a mistake. If you remove a spark plug after many hours of running time and determine that since its black, its fouled or too cold of plug, you could be mistaken. Reading outboard motor spark plugs is very different than automotive applications because you are running a fuel/oil mix instead of straight gas. Black or highly carboned spark plugs can mean several things, including problems with other ignition components, timing issues, or even fuel system problems. Sticking to just the spark plugs though, and assuming there are no other issues with timing or other components, there is only one way to accurately read a spark plug. After installing brand new properly gapped spark plugs, take your boat out to the boat ramp and while still strapped down to the trailer, start the motor and run it up to wide open throttle for about 3 to 4 minutes or what would be equivalent to about a mile or so run, then turn the key switch off cold without throttling down. Remove each spark plug and closely inspect each electrode (with a magnifying glass if possible). If you look very closely, you should be able to see a very slight arch marking on the electrode strap. This will tell you where the timing is firing. Right about the middle of the strap or slightly toward the tip is preferred. At the same time, you should notice a very faint brownish or tan colored tint starting to form on the porcelain. If the porcelain is more of a grayish color or hot burnt white condition, your plugs are too hot and damage could result.