Re-powering with an Outboard: Not as Tough as You Think!

Re-powering a boat with a new outboard might seem like a tough job, but with some advance planning and know-how, this is actually a job that any competent do-it-yourselfer can handle. Sure, that old engine weighs a lot. Yes, you’ll have to remove a lot of wires and cables. But don’t pay big bucks where you don’t have to – if you need to replace your powerplant, just follow these simple steps.

remove outboard

Once you have a lifting point, removing the outboard with a come-along is easy.

1. Create a gantry. You can either build one, or use the time-honored method of backing your boat under a tree with an exceptionally sturdy branch. In any case, you need to have a lifting point several feet up. Then, you can attach a come-along to the lifting point and the engine’s lifting eye.

2. Remove the motor mount bolts. This is just as simple as it sounds; spin the nuts off, jet some tension on the come-along so the engine’s weight is fully supported, then pull the boat forward a few inches. Rock the engine back and forth to work the bolts aft, and if necessary, pull the boat forward a bit more as you do so. When the engine’s swinging freely, pull the boat out of the way. Then, you can back in a pick-up or utility trailer, and lower the engine down onto it. 

3. Recover some funds. Again, this is a lot easier than it sounds – that old outboard is worth a few bucks, and even with a blown powerhead, you may be surprised at how much you can get for the parts on e-bay or Craigs List.

4. Reverse the process, to mount your new motor on the transom. Don’t forget to seal all of the bolt holes with globs of 3M 5200, to ensure water doesn’t work its way into your transom.

5. Rig the steering and throttle cables. Use a wire fish to get a guide-line through the rigging tube, then pull through the cables and wires. You may have to alter the helm a bit to accommodate the new gauges and throttle, but this is usually a fairly straightforward task.