How Ya'll Doin'?
The Honey Bun Kid
Just about every outboard engine that you'll see has a tell tale indicator, also known as the 'pisser'. It's the stream of water that shoots out just beneath the cowling in the rear of the motor. What this stream tells you is that your water pump - impeller - is functioning. The stream should be a pretty solid stream of water, even at idle. If you don't have good pressure or it's sputtering on exit, then it's time to do some troubleshooting to see where the problem might be. No water, or a very weak stream can indicate your impeller is going (or has gone) bad. And that can lead to excessive heat build-up in your power head, and subsequently blow your engine. It's one of those things where a $15 part going bad can cause thousand's of dollars worth of damage.
Case in point --- this weekend, I decided to run some Seafoam through the motor on the little bass boat -- it's an old, vintage Johnson 70hp with 3 carb's. It had been running a little rough, and I thought maybe some carbon had built-up in the cylinders, etc. so a little TLC was in order. I hooked up the earmuffs on the lower unit water intake and cranked the motor (while on the trailer). Motor fired the first time, but I noticed the tell tale stream was just barely putting out water. Immediately shut down the engine and pulled the cowling. I looked for obvious things, like a pinched hose, etc. Then I noticed the hose that feeds the tell tale outlet had a nice sized tear in it, and water had been blowing down into the lower part of the engine compartment. Now this motor is a 1979 vintage engine. It has been well taken care of, but rubber hoses that are 25+ years old do experience some aging. So, I went to the auto parts store, got a 14" long piece of hose (85 cents), replaced it, and cranked the engine again. Water was now coming out at a strong rate...so problem solved.
One thing I will add...as I was running the Seafoam through the engine, the procedure involves running it for a couple minutes, then letting the engine sit to allow the Seafoam to 'work', then cranking back up again to blow out the crud that it removes. This can take 4 or 5 times to get all the bad stuff out. About the third time I did the routine, I noticed again that the pisser wasn't putting out much water, and the water coming out was quite hot. Uh-Oh.....maybe my impeller was going bad. #$@%#!!!#@
Again, looking for obvious stuff, like the new connections I had just made on the hose, etc.
Then I discovered that the earmuffs had slid just a little bit, which meant the engine wasn't getting a good supply of cooling water from the muffs. I re-adjusted the position of the muffs, and viola, had a good stream once again. Lesson learned, always keep an eye on the position of the earmuffs.
Another problem many people will experience with the telltales is there is actually a very small wasp that will build a nest up in the tube. Also, if you happen to run in very shallow water and pick up some sand or debris, you might get a clogged pisser tube. So if you aren't getting a good stream, that's a place to check. Some people will take a short length of stiff wire and poke up in the telltale hole to see if they can remove the clog. I'd recommend removing the tube and blowing in it or pushing some wire through it while it's STRAIGHT. Pushing wire through the bends in the tube could cause the tube to be punctured, and now you've got an even bigger problem -- especially if you're miles from an auto parts store.