Cheap Outboards: The Beginner's Guide to Making an Old Outboard Run Forever

Breakaway Books
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* Outboard motor repair for the average guy *


Fix up an old outboard and SAVE $1000 or more compared to buying a new motor!

With a little know-how and a few common tools, you can fix an old motor—bring it back from the dead.  Sometimes all it takes is a squirt of WD-40 into the cylinder and a new spark plug. Or a new set of points and condensers—which do not require expert knowledge or black magic to install. Maybe the carburetor needs cleaning and adjusting. You can do it!

Max E. Wawrzyniak III is an outboard motor guru. He advises you to find an old motor at a yard sale for $100 or so (and he tells you exactly which ones to look for), and fix it up—rather than spending $1500 or more on a new motor. He is a big fan of “cheap power.” Get on the water with money left in your pocket.

With a basic understanding of how these motors work, a little logical thinking, and a few hours’ work, you can go boating for a fraction of what everyone else has to pay. Also—for the boater who already owns an outboard motor of any age—this book demystifies these internal-combustion marvels that can bring such frustration if they malfunction. You’ll learn how they work, and the simple things you can do to keep them running forever.

What Max teaches are not only money-saving skills, but can also be life-saving, as you will no longer be helpless in the face of engine trouble on the water. His clear instructions and over one hundred color photographs will make anyone into a capable outboard mechanic.

INCLUDES: What to Buy, Where to Find It, Tools Needed and Where to Begin, The Ignition System, Carburetors, Water Pump Repairs, Recoil Starters, Fuel Tanks, Propellors, Lower Units, Emergency Shut-Down, Fuel Pump Conversion, Remote Controls: Shift and Throttle, Remote Control: Steering, Tiller Conversion, Trouble-Shooting, and Onboard Spares and Tools.     

This book has always been very popular and well-used in its print edition. Now it's available as an e-book so you can load it into your phone or tablet and always have this wealth of repair / maintenance information at your fingertips, even when out on your boat.

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About the author

Introduced to the Mississippi River and to boats at a young age by his parents, Max E. Wawrzyniak III has never strayed far from the water. After high school graduation, he took a job as a deckhand aboard Mississippi River towboats for a year and a half before attending college (and earning a totally useless B.A. in  English.) Post-college found him back on the Mississippi River where he eventually moved from the deck to the pilothouse, spending several years as a pilot of commercial towing vessels and passenger vessels. Additional college courses in accounting and successful completion of the examination for Certified Public Accountant preceded a career move to “land-side,” where for the last sixteen years he has “crunched numbers” in the riverside office of a major Mississippi River barge line with only an occasional wistful gaze at the Mississippi flowing endlessly by outside of the windows.

A life-long pleasure boater, a “bean-counter” instinct for economical boating lead him to old outboard motors more than a decade ago and he is currently the owner of about 150 outboard motors, dating from 1918 to 1979. A graduate of the School of Hard Knocks, Old Outboard Motor curriculum (with an advanced degree in knuckle-busting from the University of Adversity) Max is a self-taught old-outboard-motor mechanic, if you don’t include the multitudes of friends and outboard collectors who have helped him along the way.

The search for inexpensive boats to run his old outboards on lead Max to small craft designer Jim Michalak, author of "Boatbuilding  for Beginners (and Beyond)", and Jim’s easy-to-build boat plans. To date Max has completed four of Jim’s designs.

In 2003 however, at 250 pounds and gaining, it became obvious to Max that he might not have enough time left in order to “mess” with all of those old outboards if changes weren’t made, so he got his eating under control and began walking 5 to 6 miles each day which eventually evolved into runnning 6 to 8 miles each day. Now weighing 147 pounds, Max has run a 5K and a 10-mile race and also a half-marathon. He would like to eventually run a full marathon if he can find the time between working on old outboards, building wooden boats, and making a living.

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Additional Information

Breakaway Books
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Published on
Jun 1, 2006
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Sports & Recreation / Boating
Transportation / Ships & Shipbuilding / Repair & Maintenance
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

We regret to announce that we at Sheridan Programmers Guild will not produce a 2016 adaptation of the ERG ebook, but we will direct our users to the official NIH ERG 2016 app, which should work as well as or better than an ebook on many mobile devices.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the ERG 2012: Quick Lookup!


This ebook takes the Department of Transportation data published in the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG 2012) and presents it in a familiar form reflecting the print ERG.

As an ebook, this ERG is searchable. It also includes internal links for quick access to information. For example, if an entry in the yellow section (substances by ID) references the green (isolation distances) tables, you can tap/click to jump right to the table.

The color-coding of the official ERG is preserved for a familiar experience and ease of use. The ebook table of contents can be used to jump immediately to any section.

This edition is up-to-date, based upon the ERG 2012 and includes all the corrections released by the DOT through April 10, 2013, which are not found in physical copies or other digital versions of the ERG. We strive to be not only the most convenient version available, but also the most accurate.

The ERG 2012: Quick Lookup offers a speedy and easy platform for accessing the official DOT data. The technical implementation and presentation are unique to our edition.

Now available in Spanish and French! The GRE 2012 and GMU 2012 are both available on Play. See "more from author" below, or click "The team at Sheridan Programmers Guild" at the top of this page to see the Spanish and French editions.

Nigel Calder
The boatowner's foremost troubleshooting guide, now better than ever

If it's on a boat and it has screws, wires, or moving parts, it's covered in Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual. When you leave the dock with this book aboard, you have at your fingertips the best and most comprehensive advice on:

Battery technologies 12- and 24-volt DC systems Corrosion, bonding, and lightning protection Generators, inverters, and battery chargers Electric motors and electric lights Marine electronics, antennas, and RFI Diesel engines Transmissions, shaft brakes, and propellers Refrigeration and air-conditioning Tanks, plumbing, and through-hulls Pumps and watermakers Steering, autopilots, and wind vanes Stoves and heaters Winches, windlasses, and bow thrusters Spars, rigging, and roller reefing

"If you had to choose a single book to help you assess and maintain your boat gear, this would be it."—Practical Sailor

"A truly remarkable bible. . . . This book is the best of its kind."—WoodenBoat

"A major achievement. . . . It would be hard to imagine anything going wrong on a boat that couldn't be figured out with this book."—Sailing World

"The world's best technical reference and troubleshooting book."—Sailing Inland and Offshore

"This manual will be of lasting interest to anyone who wants to know how their boat works, what has gone wrong when it doesn't, and how it could be fixed."—Classic Boat

"Without becoming too complex, the book covers almost every imaginable mechanical or electrical matter in the marine environment."—Work Boat World

"Calder lives what he writes, . . . [and] what he offers . . . is practical solutions to problems associated with increasingly complex marine systems. . . . [A] bargain for anyone in the construction and repair side of the boat business."—Professional Boatbuilder

Barry Rabotnick
The Ford FE (Ford Edsel) engine is one of the most popular engines Ford ever produced, and it powered most Ford and Mercury cars and trucks from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s. For many of the later years, FE engines were used primarily in truck applications. However, the FE engine is experiencing a renaissance; it is now popular in high-performance street, strip, muscle cars, and even high-performance trucks. While high-performance build-up principles and techniques are discussed for all engines, author Barry Rabotnick focuses on the max-performance build-up for the most popular engines: the 390 and 428.

With the high-performance revival for FE engines, a variety of builds are being performed from stock blocks with mild head and cam work to complete aftermarket engines with aluminum blocks, high-flow heads, and aggressive roller cams. How to Build Max-Performance Ford FE Enginesshows you how to select the ideal pistons, connecting rods, and crankshafts to achieve horsepower requirements for all applications. The chapter on blocks discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each particular block considered. The book also examines head, valvetrain, and cam options that are best suited for individual performance goals. Also covered are the best-flowing heads, rocker-arm options, lifters, and pushrods. In addition, this volume covers port sizing, cam lift, and the best rocker-arm geometry.

The FE engines are an excellent platform for stroking, and this book provides an insightful, easy-to-follow approach for selecting the right crank, connecting rods, pistons, and making the necessary block modifications. This is the book that Ford FE fans have been looking for.

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