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Thread: Small Four-stroke Outboards

  1. #1
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    Default Small Four-stroke Outboards

    I am shopping for a ~2.5hp outboard to power my little sailboat, a John Welsford SCAMP.
    Having watched a video from Motor Boating & Yachting Magazine, I began by looking for motors from Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Tohatsu.
    I prefer to buy from a local dealer in person, rather than buy online.
    Availability issues quickly reduced the range to 2 brands, the Honda and the Yamaha.
    I realize the Honda is smaller, 2.3hp, vs the 2.5hp Yamaha, but it is also lighter by 7lbs, which is a fair fraction of the total weight of either motor.
    The Honda is also air-cooled, which means no issues with rinsing the cooling system after use in salt water, but it is also louder.
    The Yamaha, while heavier, is also quieter due to being water-cooled, and has neutral and forward gears rather than the Honda's centrifugal clutch, so the Yamaha should be better at slow speed close maneuvering in crowded spaces.
    Both brands are well regarded.
    My motor will live on the boat all season and be garaged between outings. (I won't be hand-carrying it much.)
    I'd be buying a long-shaft motor in either case.

    I guess my question is: Does anyone out there have any particular experiences or issues with either motor in long-time service that should influence my choice?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    I have the Honda and it performs well but, as you say, it is loud. If you don't think you'll use it often then the Honda is OK. But for a lot of running time or if you want to converse with the crew, get a quieter motor.

    Jeff

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    I've had a 2.5 Suzuki for a few months. For me it came down to parts availability, noise level and weight.
    Even without cooling fins and the fan it is still obnoxious. The sound comes off of the engine itself, very little from the exhaust on these tiny motors.
    Also in the mix was the Honda is made in China and the Suzuki is made in Thailand.
    Last edited by Autonomous; 08-06-2022 at 08:06 PM.
    ​​♦ During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act
    ♦ The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Do you need a gas motor? I'd be tempted to go electric. The EP Carry might do the job with a Scamp depending on how you plan to use it.

    https://www.electricpaddle.com/

    I'm very happy with ours. It's dead quiet and weighs nothing. Downsides are range and power compared to a gas motor of course. It wouldn't buck the tide for hours to get you home if the wind dies. But it would be perfect for getting in and out of harbor, picking up a mooring or loading onto a trailer. And you can easily charge it using a small solar panel.
    - Chris

    Any single boat project will always expand to encompass the set of all possible boat projects.

    Life is short. Go boating now!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    I think I may need the range and power of a gas motor, and the ability to refuel quickly, rather than waiting for a battery to recharge.
    I do have another question, though: Are 4-stroke outboards harmed by 15% ethanol gas? Do I need to buy non-ethanol gas?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    I have had a Yamaha 2.5 for 4 years, for use on my open 18 ft sail and oar boat when I don't want to row all day.

    Can't answer the question about gasoline with ethanol - I just use regular without ethanol which is in most of the gas stations around here.

    I would caution not to drain the tank completely over the non-boating season. The jets in the carburetor are so small that the residue will clog them as the remaining gas dries out. Don't ask me how I know this. Spend the money to buy the fancy enzyme stuff that you add to the gas to keep it from going bad and leave the gas in the tank. Other than that, the motor has been rock solid.
    Alex

    “It's only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.”
    - Joseph Conrad, An Outcast of the Islands

    http://www.alexzimmerman.ca

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    I have had the Yamaha 2.5 for about 15 years and it is still going strong. I use the non-ethanol gas that is now available locally and believe it makes the motors much more reliable in the marine environment. Mine starts up easily in the spring and all season long and runs smoothly.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    I’m on my second Honda 2.3, (first one was stolen). I like that it’s light enough that I can load my 10’ Zodiac on top of the cabin by hand with the motor attached. Very dependable and very thief desirable. Keep it locked on.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Hazard View Post
    I think I may need the range and power of a gas motor, and the ability to refuel quickly, rather than waiting for a battery to recharge.
    I do have another question, though: Are 4-stroke outboards harmed by 15% ethanol gas? Do I need to buy non-ethanol gas?
    I read not to long ago that Mercury announced that using 15% ethanol gas would void the warranty. Probably best to contact the manufacturer or at least check their websites to find out. I use only non-ethanol in a 17 year old motor.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Quote Originally Posted by ron ll View Post
    I’m on my second Honda 2.3, (first one was stolen). I like that it’s light enough that I can load my 10’ Zodiac on top of the cabin by hand with the motor attached. Very dependable and very thief desirable. Keep it locked on.
    What lock(s) do you use?
    ​​♦ During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act
    ♦ The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it
    ♦ If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear
    ♦ George Orwell

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    I used to have a Honda 2.3 on different small boats. The Honda 2.3 an excellent little motor, but I finally decided to change it for an 5 hp Mercury (four stroke) and this was a good decision for the following reasons:

    - Noise (Honda 2.3 air cooled).
    - Honda 2.3 (and others in this power range?) has no reverse gear: In one has to go backwards or if one needs to stop the boat fast one has to turn around tiller. One has to hang-out at the transom and this takes some time and is not nice if you are in sea-conditions with waves.
    - No external tank at the Honda 2.3. I prefer to have an external tank as filling up the small-volume-tank integrated in the motor while one is off shore and struggling with waves and balance is a problem and a mess.
    - Sometimes sailing home with currents, wind and waves the power of 2,3 hp is on the low side to get out reasonable speed, even on a small boat.

    - The difference of weight could be an issue if one wants to take out the motor daily. But if You keep the motor hanging on the transom, the advantages of a 5 hp as written above will pay off fast! There are several excellent light-weight 4-strokes in the 4 to 6 hp range available from different brands. (Honda, Suzuki, Tohatsu, Mercury, Selva, Yamaha...)
    Hay mas tiempo que vida!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    The Honda 2.3 for me, because I put it in the trunk of the car and take it home, or hang it on the rail on the boat, without worrying about flushing it with fresh water, and it is light and easy to carry.

    The fresh water flushing is important.

    But I still prefer my Seagull Forty.
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 08-07-2022 at 04:40 PM.
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    I have a Yamaha 2.5 outboard. I love this motor, it is very quiet, burns very little fuel and is well made. I recommend going water cooled and water exhaust for the quiet performance. My friend has a Honda air cooled and he regrets buying it after seeing mine.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Hazard View Post
    I think I may need the range and power of a gas motor, and the ability to refuel quickly, rather than waiting for a battery to recharge.
    I do have another question, though: Are 4-stroke outboards harmed by 15% ethanol gas? Do I need to buy non-ethanol gas?
    The small amount of fuel used by these motors is insignificant in the overall cost of ownership. I use non ethanol fuel in all my outboards and even my 1971 Volkswagen Beetle.
    If you don't know where you're going, you might not end up there.-Yogi Berra

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    I am getting the impression that the availability of non-ethanol gas varies widely from place to place. I do not find it generally in gas stations near me.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    The No-Spill brand gas cans have a unique nozzle that actually delivers fuel and stops overfills! Really!
    Perfect for a little engine's inboard tank. I have the 1.25 gallon can.

    https://nospill.com/
    ​​♦ During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act
    ♦ The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it
    ♦ If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear
    ♦ George Orwell

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Quote Originally Posted by Autonomous View Post
    What lock(s) do you use?
    Just a small brass padlock. The Honda transom bolts have eyes that line up for the padlock. It won’t stop a determined thief but it will slow them down a bit, or convince them to steal your unlocked neighbor’s motor instead.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Quote Originally Posted by Autonomous View Post
    The No-Spill brand gas cans have a unique nozzle that actually delivers fuel and stops overfills! Really!
    Perfect for a little engine's inboard tank. I have the 1.25 gallon can.

    https://nospill.com/
    ive had one of those cans for a year and didn’t realize it had an auto shutoff feature. Thanks.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    If I decide to replace the 2011 4HP Tohatsu on our sailboat this winter I’ll probably get one of the Mercury propane outboards. This one even has a alternator for charging the house batteries:


    MERCURY MARINE 5hp Propane Sail Power Outboard

    Mercury’s all-new 5hp FourStroke Propane outboard provides more convenience and less hassle. Sail Power model is designed for sailboats and features a 12 Volt 4 Amp charging system with a cable to charge a battery, allowing sailors to run lights or electronics. The Sail Power model also features a reverse-thrust exhaust relief hose and a high thrust propeller. Ideal for sailboats, but also a good fit for aluminum tiller, inflatable or jon/utility boats.
    With a safety-first approach, the outboard comes standard with a propane auto shut-off valve on the engine and in the fuel hose connector. The included standard 6-foot (1.8-meter) fuel hose threads quickly and easily to the outboard and comes with a standard US POL connector on the tank side.
    A 20-pound (5 gallon) tank of conventional propane provides approximately 10 hours of boating at full throttle.
    20-pound propane tank sold separately.
    Features:

    • Runs on conventional propane, a convenient alternative to gasoline
    • Eco-friendly and clean-burning with 30% lower exhaust emissions compared to gasoline
    • Auto propane-shutoff valve on the outboard for safety
    • Light and portable, just 63 lbs
    • No fuel priming required
    • Manual choke for fast, reliable starts
    • Easy-to-reach shift lever
    • 20" shaft length

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    The Honda 2.3 for me, because I put it in the trunk of the car and take it home, or hang it on the rail on the boat, without worrying about flushing it with fresh water, and it is light and easy to carry.

    The fresh water flushing is important.

    But I still prefer my Seagull Forty.
    I made the mistake to buy a Seagull Forty (approx 50 Years old) on ebay for about 120 Euros and repaired it (material-cost 50 Euro in additon). I did not believe the warnings given from some buys in this forum and thought it will be fun to run this motor. But I will sell it again. This motor is ok for museums, but it is a mess to use it on a small boat. My Seagull had run ok for some days, but the day I really needed it, it failed to start-up. And the motor is an environmental nightmare due to oil-spill (lots of oil mixed in fuel, dropping oil/gasoline for start-up procedure, spilling fuel if one has to refuel tank). The Seagull has a nice history and looks "really british" but I will never use it again on my boats.
    Hay mas tiempo que vida!

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Thank you to everyone who responded.
    I drove around and found 2 relatively local sources for ethanol-free gas. I also talked with the driver of the tank truck that supplies a local marina with gas. He says they take regular gas, but on the pump is a large plaque from a company called ValvTect, which adds a product that they claim eliminates ethanol problems in gas for marine use.
    So, bottom line, I'm going to buy the Yamaha and just be a bit choosy where I get my fuel. I figure if that's not good enough, there would already be a LOT of other guys out there having bigger gas troubles than me.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Quote Originally Posted by Pateplumaboat View Post
    I made the mistake to buy a Seagull Forty (approx 50 Years old) on ebay for about 120 Euros and repaired it (material-cost 50 Euro in additon). I did not believe the warnings given from some buys in this forum and thought it will be fun to run this motor. But I will sell it again. This motor is ok for museums, but it is a mess to use it on a small boat. My Seagull had run ok for some days, but the day I really needed it, it failed to start-up. And the motor is an environmental nightmare due to oil-spill (lots of oil mixed in fuel, dropping oil/gasoline for start-up procedure, spilling fuel if one has to refuel tank). The Seagull has a nice history and looks "really british" but I will never use it again on my boats.
    I'd love to see a government buy back program for two stroke outboard motors. It's time to get them off the water. They spill oil and fuel into the water, and the exhaust is horrible to breathe. I've also read that the exhaust and CO (and benzene) from a two stroke motor is particularly damaging to children. Affordable electric outboards of all sizes are long overdue.
    Last edited by Yeadon; 08-08-2022 at 02:22 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeadon View Post
    Affordable electric outboards of all sizes are long overdue.
    Agreed.
    The EP Carry is closest to my wants but is a bit too small and has been out of stock every time I've looked.
    ​​♦ During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act
    ♦ The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it
    ♦ If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear
    ♦ George Orwell

  24. #24
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Hazard View Post
    I am getting the impression that the availability of non-ethanol gas varies widely from place to place. I do not find it generally in gas stations near me.

    Pure-Gas is your friend. A field guide to stations pumping zero-ethanol,gas in the USA and Canada.

    https://www.pure-gas.org

    Download the app:

    https://apps.apple.com/us/app/pure-gas/id454559068

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...hl=en_US&gl=US
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. — P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Thanks, Nick, that's a handy guide.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    I had a small air-cooled OB. I sold it and got a water-cooled OB. I just got so tired of the noise. If you are only using the air-cooled for brief periods, okay, but for longer periods the noise really bothered me.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    It's a sad thing that the really small two strokes were swept up in the 4 stroke movement. Namely I had I think it was a Evinrude two stroke 4 hp that ran my catboat fine, had a remote fuel tank and could be easily lifted off the motor mount on my 18' catboat. Unless I go electric I can't duplicate and to get the same power I have to deal with 60lb batteries which is kind of a problem when the boat lives on a mooring, needs a cockpit cover and has limited space for solar. I don't think that one of these little old ones produced a significant amount of pollution, but they were treated the same as engines 10x the size.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
    "Bound fast is boatless man."

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Fuller View Post
    It's a sad thing that the really small two strokes were swept up in the 4 stroke movement.
    I'm about done buying any small tools/equipment with gas engines, but my 2 stroke 5 hp Nissan (Tohatsu) is a marvel. It can sit for a year or two with old gas in the tank and start on the second or third pull. Once warmed up there is very little exhaust smoke or smell. It isn't picky about the gas I put in it, unlike the small 4 strokes I have owned. Based on my positive experience, my former boat partner bought a 4 stroke 6 hp Tohatsu. It's a lot heavier and sometimes refuses to start; a completely different animal.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Small Four-stroke Outboards

    If you are not carrying it but twice a year, get the Yam. The noise of air-cooled and the clumsy reverse are not worth it unless you need the lower weight, IMO.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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