Rob Melotti gets one-to-one tuition on caring for a 4-stroke at the Honda Institute

Wind, weather and the elements are the usual culprits when it comes to boat maintenance, however the 4-stroke outboard engine is best tended to from the inside out.

Changing the engine oil, lubricating the crank case, draining the cooling system and emptying the carburettor before storage will prolong the life of the engine, but the techniques involved in those processes are also those needed for basic recovery should the engine ever end up immersed in water at any time.

I went to the Honda Institute in Bracknell, Berkshire for a day-long maintenance masterclass with technical trainer Rob Day, who patiently guided me through the procedures as detailed in the manual of the Honda BF6.

Draining the carburettor

Petrol now contains up to 10% ethanol, which goes off in a surprisingly short period of time, gumming up the intricate innards of the all-important carburettor. The smaller the volume of fuel, the quicker it will go off, according to Rob Day. On the Honda 6hp we used in this demo, the small puddle of fuel left in the carburettor when you stop the engine could go off in as little as three weeks. The 1.5lt in the fuel tank will keep for only a little longer.

The simplest cure for carb problems is to let your engine run dry by cutting the fuel supply instead of stopping the motor using the killcord. Ethanol is also hygroscopic – it soaks up moisture leading to corrosion in your engine. The addition of fuel stabiliser will go some way towards helping this.

The following steps to drain your carburettor and fuel tank will guarantee extended life for your engine when storage for more than a week or two is even a remote possibility.

Honda BF6 fuel flow

1. Switch off the fuel flow – the valve lever is usually clearly marked.

Honda BF6 drain carburettor

2. Attach a tube (provided with engine) to the drain nozzle, putting the other end in a container.

Honda BF6 drain carburettor

3. Loosen the drain screw and let gravity do its job

Honda BF6 drain carburettor

4. Retighten the drain screw, remove tube and sleep easy. Job done!

Draining the fuel tank

The easiest way to drain the fuel tank is to let gravity do the job for you:

Honda BF6 drain fuel tank

1. With the fuel tap off, detach the clip holding the fuel line to the fuel pump.

Honda BF6 drain fuel tank

2. Feed the line into a suitable container and open the fuel line.

  1. 1. Draining the carburettor
  2. 2. Storage tips for small 4-stroke outboards
  3. 3. Changing engine oil on a Honda 4-stroke outboard
  4. 4. How to care for an engine that has been immersed in water
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