Rebuilt Outboard Motor for a Boat Paint Repair

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A good friend of mine bought a sailboat after a hurricane. It was a beautiful 42 foot fiberglass sailboat that had gone underwater in Florida, during Hurricane Andrew. He purchased it at an auction from the insurance company for a steal, according to it’s fixed value. To be fair, he also fixes boats for a living, so the project would be realized with a lot of sweat equity.

We were now both living in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. He on his 42 foot boat from Florida, me on my 36 foot boat that I picked up as a hurricane damaged boat in the Virgin Islands. He has already sailed all over the Caribbean with his wife and kids growing up on that boat.

One day, my 25 HP Mercury outboard motor started making funny noises and running very rough. When he heard it, he said I’d better stop running it before it freezes up and becomes unrepairable. I stopped that afternoon and ordered the parts I needed, which came to around $600, before the actual rebuilding. Ouch. My main transportation was down, as I lived on my boat and that’s how you get around. Like a car when you live in a house.

He’s an expert in mechanical diagnostics and rebuilding, me in structural and cosmetic repairs using fiberglass and polyurethane paints. So we made a deal where he would rebuild my outboard motor, and I would complete some filling and painting of some paint repairs that were left over from many years before, when he first bought the boat.

I started immediately, as paint supplies are available at any marine store there, due to the fact that there is a huge charter boat industry, and the charter companies are constantly repairing damage from charter guests and captains.

My repairs took about a week, during which time the motor parts came in. We would work on the motor in the evening, while having a beer or dinner, and we would disassemble the motor inside the boat, after getting all the gasoline out of it and cleaning it up.

I got to sit in and learn about the internal parts, and we rebuilt the motor in a couple of days of what seemed like tinkering around. Reassembling the motor was easy, and after changing the oil and a cleanup, it started on the first pull.

The paint repairs turned out great, considering I had to work on them from a rubber boat in the water. The motor ran great for years afterwards. All in all, the trade would have cost each of us approximately $1000, so we both made out pretty good in the end.

We are still great friends, over 30 years later.