Art’s Five Point Plan

Art’s 5 Point Revitalisation Plan



Some people are lucky and are able to put gas in, pull it over and it starts! Not me! No one wants to get stuck out on the water with an old engine that “seemed like it would keep going”. Here is what I advise

BEFORE putting fuel in and pulling the “Struggle String” as my friend Riggs Smith calls it.

  1. GAS TANK & FUEL LINES: Clean out the gas tank and fuel lines. I use a variety of solvents and methods depending on what I find. If the fuel cap is stuck DO NOT use open flame to heat it as the ensuing EXPLOSION will be the last thing you hear. A little heat from an electric hair dryer may be OK, but NO OPEN FLAMES!!! As to cleaning out the tank, I use a variety of solvents. Be sure to use appropriate safety and ventilation practices and do it out doors! First, I use gasoline since that is what was in the tank anyway. A couple of rinsings. Then gas line antifreeze- isopropyl alcohol. Then lacquer thinner. A few small nuts and washers added to the tank and shaken will help. Rusty steel tanks may be sealed with gas tank sealer. The fuel filter/valve should be removed and cleaned. Gentle brushing of the screen will open the holes. Be sure the valve passages are open. (Not checking that has lead me to some frustrating and embarrassing moments!)
  2. CARBURETOR: Remove, disassemble and clean the carburetor. Use the solvents mentioned above, as needed. Carb. cleaner in a spray can is also effective. If you really want a clean carb get a GUNK kit from the auto store. It is somewhat expensive but reusable. Blow out all small passages with a little compressed air to assure they are open. Reassemble. Almost always the old gaskets are useable. Be sure any filter or screen is clear and in place.
  3. MAGNETO: Remove the flywheel with the appropriate puller and remove the flywheel. Remove the mag. plate. Clean with a little gasoline. (I have heard of coils being somehow affected by the gasoline but so far I haven’t had that trouble. Just don’t douse the coil. Dry it off quickly.) Check and replace questionable spark wires. Cracked ones will leak to ground under clips etc. and will not spark! Condensers- check the condenser with a tester for open or short. An ohm meter will work, too. Modern “universal” condensers are available for most motors from auto stores. Points are almost always savable. Disassemble, clean and polish the points. I use wet and dry carbide paper, 220, 360, 400 grit in that order which I cut into 1/2 X 2 inch strips. These I place on the edge of a piece of steel, and polish the points against the paper. Check all the wires including the ground lead. Be sure what should be insulated is, and what should be grounded is. Assemble everything carefully. Check and clean spark plugs. I find used clean plugs work fine. There are modern equivalents if you need new ones. (I even wire brush and reblue old plugs to look like new with cold gun bluing available from sporting goods stores.) Before leaving the magneto, check the strength of the magnet with a screwdriver blade. It should take some force to pull the flat of the blade from the magnets. Compare with a known good flywheel till you get the feel. Some club members have magnet chargers and will recharge. (I have a recharger) Motors made after about 1952 almost never require recharging due to the improved magnets used. Weak magnets are way down on the list of suspects with a hard starting motor. Put things back together and see if you have spark. Brave souls can take hold of the spark wires and flip the flywheel over. The rest of us attach the spark plug and rope the motor over with the plugs grounded. A better test is with an IGNITION-CHEK unit. They are available from the Dixon Co. in Grand Junction, Colorado.
  4. LOWER UNIT & WATER PUMP: (I bet you didn’t think there was this much to getting an old clunker to run! All this stuff will take you about 5-6 hours, but is worth it.) Back to lower units. Open it up and check for rust and grease. The former you don’t want, the latter you do. Most lower units will be OK. Just close it up again. Some will be found full of water and rust. Those need to be disassembled and wire brushed. Check for excessive wear of bushings. If worn, with more than 1/32 play, using them is chancy. Replacement is a bigger job than we will tackle here. Use Lubriplate 105 grease in all pre 1952 lower units. Post 1952 units with seals use lower unit oil, or hypoid #90. Check the water pump to assure you have a good impeller if one was used. Since this is a generic discussion we won’t get specific on fixes. Some lucky Johnson owners don’t have to worry as they have the Pressure-Vacuum cooling pump. So, button up the lower unit knowing all is well and it turns freely.
  5. COMPRESSION: Check the compression either by feel or with a compression gauge. Each motor has different compression requirements, but it must be enough.

Now at last when all is reassembled, you are ready to try out your new Gem. Just think, if you have done all the above, now you KNOW that the fuel, electrical, water pump, and lower unit are all in working condition. That saves a whole lot of going back and correcting something that you find if you skip over it and just try and start it.

NOW, put your vintage motor in a test tank or on a boat and enjoy the PURRRRRRRR.