boat parts

Outboard boat motor ignition parts for Johnson Evinrude Mercury Mariner Force Chrysler Yamaha


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What is a power pack/switchbox?

You may have heard both of these terms used when it comes to outboard boat motor ignition systems. Although they can look a little different, they are essentially the same thing. The term "switchbox" originated from Mercury Marine, the term "power pack" originated from Outboard Marine Corp.(Johnson/Evinrude), among others such as Chrysler, Force, and Yamaha Marine. The job of this component is basically to obtain, store, and release energy by way of capacitive discharge, hence the term "CD ignition system". The power pack/switchbox is more or less the brain of the outboard boat motor ignition system. The stator provides energy to the power pack/switchbox which stores that energy until such time the trigger/timerbase sends a signal for it to release that energy to the appropriate cylinder via an ignition coil and ending up at the spark plug. Of all ignition components on an outboard boat motor, this is usually the one that fails most often as it is a VERY hard worker in the system. You may well known when your human brain gets a little overloaded and can cause confusion. Well, this component can become much the same way. There are a couple of scenarios that can happen at failure. A power pack/switchbox can drop discharge to one cylinder, multiple cylinders, or even all cylinders when completely dead. It can also go into a state of whats called "double firing". This is when energy is discharged more than once on any given stroke of a cylinder. Unfortunately when this issue happens, serious internal damage can occur to pistons, rings and cylinder walls via detonation (firing the spark plug at the wrong time). How can you tell this if is happening with your motor? Unfortunately, you normally cannot. When a power pack/switchbox is in a double fire state on only one cylinder, there may be a VERY slight miss sensation to detect, but in most cases the miss is ever so slight that the average person would never be able to detect it was happening until its too late and the damage done. So how can this be prevented? Other than making sure all ignition components have a good solid ground circuit connection, the words "unfortunately" nothing, has to be used again, because a power pack/switchbox can operate perfectly as designed for an eternity, or they can go bad right after installing them. Sometimes failure is caused by other ignition components, sometimes the power pack/switchbox fails just because. Bottom line, any electrical component is prone to failure at any given moment and there really isn't much anything you can do to prevent it from happening. In the boating world (and probably others), this just has to be accepted as "stuff happens".