honda-50Late last season I damaged the gears in the lower unit. The how and why is for another article. But it meant that this year I had to choose between repairing the engine (a 1995 Johnson) or replacing it. I opted for replacement, figuring then I could repair the Johnson at my leisure and either sell it or keep it as a backup.

The next question was new or used? I’m slow draw when it comes to spending money but after mulling it over, I decided to repower with a new engine. It wasn’t an easy decision. New outboards are pricey. The frugal guy in me had a hard time with the idea of putting an expensive engine on a hull (1987 Striper 16.2) that’s  worth a lot less.

On the other hand was this:

  • After three seasons of recurring engine problems, I kind of felt like I deserved a few years of trouble-free motoring.
  • Boating on the ocean especially, the safety factor of a reliable engine is paramount.
  • Having kids makes #1 and 2 doubly true.
  • Replacing my current 2 stroke with a new 4 stroke I hoped would give a nice boost to the cruising range of my boat’s 12 gallon built-in tank.

So I started researching. For size I decided to stick with the 50 hp I currently have on the boat–50 moves it plenty fast for me and I want to keep the cost and weight down. Also important to determine with any engine you buy, new or used, is who is going to service it. You need someone who is knowledgeable, affordable, and won’t string you along. Which doesn’t sound like rocket science, but can be a lot harder to find than you’d think–especially in the middle of the boating season. You need to know this BEFORE trouble strikes. (As I learned the hard way with past engines.)

I compared features of Evinrude, Honda, Mercury, Suzuki, Tohatsu, and Yamaha. All seemed reliable. In the end I narrowed the choice to Honda and Tohatsu. These offered the best combination of weight and price. Also both were available from dealers close by with good reputations for service after the sale.  Both priced out about $7800. That’s for the motor, wiring harness, controls and cables, fuel/water separator, prop, and installation. (For the same money the Tohatsu also included a tach and trim gauge.) Based on proximity and reputation, I decided to go with the Honda guy.

So that’s where I’m at. Installation is scheduled for the week after next. Can’t wait but in the meantime I have bottom-painting to do. I’ll fill in more of this article as it happen. Be interested to hear any advice/experience  others have learned from repowering their Wahoo!s.


P.S. Regarding Tohatsu, a lot of interesting and seemingly contradictory information about them around. I’ve read and been told that Tohatsu manufactures Nissan outboards–that Nissans are just Tohatsus with a Nissan sticker. They also make a lot of smaller Mercury and Evinrudes (this from a Mercury dealer).  On the other hand, this is the first year Tohatsu 4 strokes are available over 30 hp, and the Honda guy told me that it’s Honda that’s making the new, larger 4 stroke Tohatsus. The marine engine industry is a complicated business.