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Outboard Motors and Motor Mounts.

Sandpiper Motor Bracket:

The original retractable outboard motor mount bracket for the Sandpiper was designed to carry up to, the maximum weight load of up to 7.5 hp, two stroke long shaft motor. In later years the bracket was upgraded to include a second lift spring, making it a little easier to lift up the motor. One must remember that motors can vary in weight greatly between manufactures and will be heavier if it is a four stroke.

Motor Size:

It's basically up to the owner's personal preference as to the cost, size, horse power needed, and in what areas or conditions warranted. In very small inland lakes, a 4 hp is adequate. In larger waters, a 5 hp (minimum) or larger is needed to deal with higher winds, waves, currents, or even a combination of all three. But remember, for each increase in motor size that provides more power with a larger propeller size, has the disadvantage of a heaver weight load especially when racing. A heavier motor also requires a lot more effort to raise it up when close to shore, beaching, or when loading onto a trailer.

Motor Shaft Length:

Overall a long shaft length motor works the best. On some motors, the water pump intake is not always located at the bottom and overheating can cause the motor quickly to seize and stop functioning.  With a short shaft if you are heavy in weight when you go forward to use the anchor or to work on the forestay, the stern has a tendency to lift up a bit due to the roundness design of the hull, lifting the short shaft motor out of the water. When motoring in heavy waves short shaft motors can expose the water intake to air. There are some height adjustments on the motor bracket when mounting against the hull that can help a bit.

Motor Gearshift:

Some smaller motors do not always have a gear shift selector (Forward-Neutral-Reverse) and must be turned 180 degrees to be able to reverse. Then one must also remember that the speed selector is now backwards and can make for some interesting embarrassing landings or can result in some damage, as all effort is spent on the motor and not watching the fast approaching dock.click on to enlarge

Motor Speeds: Idle

The speed of the lowest idle is another factor, especially when approaching docks. 2 stroke motors often will stall when trying to idle low and depending on the motor, tweaking may need to be applied to the low idle gas/air set points screws/settings to allow it to continuously idle slowly. Many 4 stoke motors seem to shine in this area, without missing a heartbeat. When choosing a motor remember the lowest and middle speed is the most important. Always test run the motor for idling before purchasing it even if you have to test it in a garbage can filled with water.

Another point to considerer for motor speeds is the size of the propeller and pitch or angle of the blades, which varies between manufactures on each model. This can greatly affect the speed of the sailboat when at idle and when approaching docks. It will also effect overall fuel consumption, but remember that sailboat owners rarely operate their motors at full speed. 

Motor Cooling:

Water cooling is very important, some motors show a lot of water being pumped out whiles others seem just to spit it out. In no wind periods or too much wind plus heavy waves, will place great demands on the motor. Operating at lower speeds and for long time periods, or full out with a heavy load (pushing not planning) will create conditions for the motor to heat up rapidly. A good water pump is important. Air cooling is actually restricted, as look in the above photo, note that the the motor sit low and behind the boat. 

Motor Types: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke

There is a ongoing debate of power and cost of a 2 stroke motor compared to a 4 stroke motor and which is best to use. It is well known that 2 stroke can output more power and are cheaper, whereas a 4 stroke consumes far less fuel, but are heavier in weight, and more expensive to purchase. 2 stroke motors require Oil to be mixed with the gas to lubricate the motor, creating an additional cost. But remember, 90% of the time you are operating at the lower speeds or rpm. If you need to motor for long periods of time then fuel consumption is far more important. If you are racing, then weight is important.

Motor Fuel Consumption:

Most sailboats generally don't ride or plane on top of the water so they tend to displace or push water. Once you obtain maximum hull speed its rare that you go any faster, any extra speed will most likely only result in high fuel consumption and be simply wasted.  Once you obtain hull speed, it can be surprising how long you can coast before coming to a full stop. Depending on the circumstances, you may simply need to get the boat up to speed in a hurry or to stop it quickly, but normally the motor will only need to operate at slower speeds thus saving on fuel consumption. If you have a very smaller motor, it may have to rev up a bit higher, due to the smaller propeller size.

Motor Fuel Tanks:

Some of smaller motors only have internal fuel tanks which need to be refilled often on long motor trips. There is also the high danger of spilling fuel into the boat and water when refilling, which will result in a fine. There is also the concerns of the motor not possibly restarting when run dry.

Outboard fuel tank sizes vary from the 1/2 gallon internal tanks to the external tanks of most common sizes of 2/3/5 gallons. When racing, a small tank may be best for less weight but when cruising larger is better. Some owners have asked the question "is it better to have one large tank or two smaller ones"? Overall, basically it is a personal one and involves costs. On long motoring trips, two identical tanks can be an advantage as when you empty or burn one, it indicates if you immediately turn around, you will have enough fuel in the second tank to return back to port. If space is limited, one large on may be better. But regardless, you should always have some spare fuel in a small portable container for refilling, or for assisting another boater.

Motor Battery Charging Units:

One extra option to consider is to select an outboard motor that has a built in 12 volt dc charger that can be used to charge your sailboat's battery. They generally charge at low rates like a trickle charger with just a few amps and will charge more when the motor is operated at higher speeds. Before connecting the motor's charging wires to your battery include an inline fuse for your protection, and for the charging circuit. This also prevents unlimited current feeding back when shorted. Ensure all exposed wiring and plugs are weather proofed, for rain and splashing. Consult your owners manual for more information. 

Motor Security:

Do ensure that a anti theft locking device is installed on your motor, either on the mounting screws or a cable through the motor bracket and make copies of the keys. Security locks help ensure that the motor doesn't walk away but then no lock is 100% guaranteed. Do take camera pictures of the motor on the bracket while it being locked for insurance replacement reasons. If the bracket is old, you may even want to attach a safety line from the motor to the hull, incase the bracket were ever to fail dropping the  motor, gone forever.

Motor Maintenance Tips: 

Everyone wants a motor that is dependable and reliable, especially at the beginning of each season. The next section lists some winter storage tips suggested by various Sandpiper Owners that you can develop into your own winter maintenance storage plan to ensure a trouble free motor.

Motor Winter Storage Checklist:

Gasoline if left to sit in an engine for a long period of time can turn into gum and varnish. There is also the danger of condensation forming in the engine or the fuel tank, which can oxidize some of the gasoline and spoil it. The two main options for preventing this is to either drain the entire fuel system of fuel, or treating the fuel with a conditioner.

Before the last haul out, add the correct amount of a fuel conditioner like the "2 plus 4 fuel conditioner" to the fuel tank, and shake the fuel tank well to mix it. Then while the motor is still on the boat, run your motor for 10 minutes, to ensure the fuel conditioner gets into the fuel lines and into the motor.
To remove all fuel from the motor while running, unplug the fuel line at the motor, and allow the motor to run, until all gas is burnt off within the carburetor. 
Later at home, Remove the spark plugs, pour a "little amount" of 2-stroke oil in each cylinder, pull the motor over a few times then replace the plugs or fog the cylinders.
Before storing the motor, shake it in many positions, to help drain any water collected or left in the motor, if possible, store it in a semi-heated building to prevent freezing.
Store the motor in the correct position as in indicated in the owners manual.
Change the oil, gear oil, and perform a gear lube. Check to see if the old lube has water in it, if it does will look kind of milky.
Optional, once a month when the motor is not being used just pull the motor's starting cord slowly.
Read the owners manual to follow any additional instructions. If you have none, then contact your local dealer and or do a search on the internet to locate one.
Have regular tune ups and inspections performed by your local boat dealers.
Check the conditions of spark plugs, change them if needed. Ensure that the spark plugs wires are tight on the plugs making a good connection. Note: Some of the older plugs have adapters screwed onto the tips of the spark plugs and with vibration and  time, become loose making a hidden bad electrical connection.
If you haven't already, purchase a spare set of spark plugs for your motor and a spark plug changer tool. Leave them in your boat's toolbox. Sometimes its surprising, when you motor doesn't start the next time while on the water, try quickly changing them.
Check the fuel filter in the motor and if there isn't one, add an inline fuel filter to the fuel line onto of the fuel tank, to trap sediment and debris before it gets into the motor.
Check all of the connections on the fuel tank and lines. Ensure that tank connector or plug, and the ones on each end of the fuel line hose are tight and in good working order. Insure the ball bearing that moves inside when connected to the motor or fuel tank is free to move and that the "O ring seals" are in good shape, (prevents gas from leaking out and air from getting in).
Also inspect the fuel line primer bulb (the one you squeeze) for any cracks.
Write down or paint on the fuel tank, if the tank only uses regular gas, or if it only contains mixed gas. If is mixed then also write down the exact amount of oil premix needed when filling the tank full, (as the wrong amount of oil mix or ratio can cause spark plug plugging or cause the motor to overheat and or seize).
If you have a charging circuit in your motor don't forget to remove the battery from the boat and store it indoors. Check the fluid levels and top up if needed. Also top up the battery by charging it for a few hours, then one a day each month while in storage. 

A good motor and fuel system ensures lot's of fun time Sailing, but a bad motor when stranded on a trip is always remember by far more, especially by the guests or crew on board. After all, it only takes about an hour of your time in the fall before putting your motor away for winter storage, to ensure all of the above steps have been done in the checklist. 


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