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Old    Nicolas Kohler (monkey_butt)      Join Date: Sep 2011       06-28-2012, 8:47 PM Reply   
kinda lost - except probably trying to find a Mercury dealer before July 4th who can fix my engine ...

Epic 23V with the 8.1l Mercury. Got boat and first time out - engine just stopped while driving but started right away again. happened twice ... didn't think much of it for a while until 2 weeks ago when we were out boarding and switched riders. Next thing - boat is no longer starting - cranks but just stops short before firing up. Guessing a bit - fuel filter etc. but didn't make a lot of sense - after 10 minutes of waiting - boat starts and all is fine. Have been out since w/o issues - tonight going out - few sets etc. turning engine on/off - no issues. Picking after about an hour a person up at the dock - idling back to riding spot and shut engine off.

That was the end of the night - boat didn't go anywhere after that and needed a pull. Waiting didn't help - tried one more time in the driveway hours later - not firing up. It always seems like the starter stops just a second to early before all cylinders are firing up - the DTS just interferes too early to actually get the engine going.

Now there are 2 kinda obvious possiblitlies: fuel filter and fuel pump (and yes there was gas in the tank - filled up 30 gallons before going out tonight). Not sure about either though - boat has 48 hrs. on it. Anybody any ideas or shall I just tow it to a dealer? 4th is coming up - I already see myself pulling my hair out :-(
Old    Frank Berg (Iceberg)      Join Date: Dec 2011       06-28-2012, 10:07 PM Reply   
Did you try to reset the dead-man's clip? It might be just slightly off.
Old    Pete Mann (juiced4ever)      Join Date: Oct 2005       06-28-2012, 10:09 PM Reply   
Sounds like the fuel pump to me. My nautique was doing something very similar to that a few years back. Ended up being the low pressure fuel pump. I would start there.
Old    Ron Norris (LightningRon)      Join Date: Apr 2011       06-29-2012, 3:43 AM Reply   
Maybe IAC-Idle Air Control Valve. Try taking it out of gear and giving it a little gas while starting. If it cranks up, but dies as soon as you put it back to neutral I would look into the IAC. I had issues with this on my 5.7 Merc.
Old    Nicolas Kohler (monkey_butt)      Join Date: Sep 2011       06-29-2012, 6:03 AM Reply   
maybe a bit more info on it - read the mercury manual last night and found a section talking about gasoline vapor etc. if temperature gets too hot ... tried to remember if the last time when it happened I opened hatch or not ... but it was not as hot as it was yesterday and I didn't open hatch to let it cool off beyond of just looking into the engine compartment and pretend that I know what I'm doing ;-) ... was actually going to remove the spark plugs to vent out engine as at one point it also seemed to be flooded.

The odd part is that I can't override the cranking. Multiple times you could hear it fire up on but then the starter reset (engine takes over) - so I can't crank it on purpose for a second or 2 more - I understand that it helps protect my starter but :-(

I also took it out of gear and gave a little gas while starting but the same thing happened - it just didn't come to life. I'm waiting for the mercury dealerships to open but will try one more time this morning - left boat uncovered overnight and temperatures dropped into the 60s.

Keeping my fingers crossed ... was just a day from hell yesterday - first lost seat cushion on the freeway (but was INSANELY lucky - lady followed me all the way to the lake to tell me) - so went back and picked it up - only one car drove over it - so wasn't that bad and have extra vinyl etc. then boat gave out and then the cops started to harass me with my 3 dogs in the parking lot about leash rules while I was finally trying to take their life jackets off ... wtf
Old    Tuneman (tuneman)      Join Date: Mar 2002       06-29-2012, 6:25 AM Reply   
Bad fuel pump...
Old    William Burell (williamburell)      Join Date: Sep 2011       06-29-2012, 6:53 AM Reply   
Throw a fuel pressure gauge on.

I had a similar issue awhile back with a 5.7 mag. Turned out that I had a loose connection at the LP pump by the fuel filter. Think yours is set up the same way.

I always work power, spark, fuel

Doesn't seem like a power issue but I ALWAYS start there. Check connections at batteries, etc

Check for spark when it won't crank

If you have spark time for fuel.

Put a pressure gauge on for fuel. Leave it on and do your nomal runarounds and see if you get any unusual readings. Not sure of the standard pressure on the 8.1 but a quick search should bring up the answer.

Are you just straight dying or is it bogging or struggling then dying?

The dying and then starting makes sense for a fuel pump. Your pump doesn't take much to start once pressure is built. You are going to be pulling 40ish (don't hold me to that) under WOT. Thats traditionally when you are going to have problems.

The connectors to the LP pump are notorious for being bad. Mine would fire up fine in the driveway but would struggle under load and once it got warm. If the connections are fine inside/out and you have low pressure you are going to need a new pump. These are a pita and around here no one stocks them. I had the same thing happen last memorial day and got lucky to find a used one 80 miles away lol. I'd check today and if you need it get it overnighted to save the 4th.

Just an FYI your local advanced auto etc will loan you a pressure gauge. Give yourself an hour today and you should have an answer on whether its a pump or not

Last edited by williamburell; 06-29-2012 at 6:59 AM.
Old    Nicolas Kohler (monkey_butt)      Join Date: Sep 2011       06-29-2012, 7:57 AM Reply   
ok - I guess I'm stupid - after all. called around and obviously pointless to find any mechanic the week before, during and after the 4th who has an opening ... so then went out again a few minutes ago - turned main switch on, removed kill switch line, put kill switch line back on ... and ... tata ... so I'm an idiot ... which I can live with as long as I can get back on the lake ;-) ...

@Frank - thanks for reminding me of the obvious - last night I visibly checked it and everything SEEMED to be fine ... I should once sit in the cockpit with you while you go over the checklist to be reminded of the fact that 'looks ok' still requires verification

@William - I copied your instructions down and go over those regardless including the engine manual from Mercury - so I get an understanding where what is

So thank you all for saving the 4th ... Happy Independence Day!
Old    Patrick Castro (patrick232)      Join Date: Aug 2008       06-29-2012, 9:40 AM Reply   
Not sure of your temps, but you could be getting vapor lock. It might help to run your blowers to lower the heat level in the engine area.
Old    Frank Berg (Iceberg)      Join Date: Dec 2011       06-29-2012, 10:05 AM Reply   

Darn kill switch. I have had that happen before on other machinery. I was surprised it was catching for you once in a while. Usually it doesn't.

If it is ever an IAC issue or similar, some of these engines will go into manual start mode if you move the throttle into the full forward position. Check your manual, it might mention it. Vapour locking is not usually an issue for EFI engines, except after maintenance or running dry. Fuel pump issues could be intermittent or more noticeable at high RPM.

Your going to wear that boat out at the rate you are going!
Old    Nicolas Kohler (monkey_butt)      Join Date: Sep 2011       06-29-2012, 5:08 PM Reply   
update ... convinced wifey to go out tonight - she's like 'you have the paddle' etc. and I'm like sure - no problem (paddle is still in the garage so yes I'm still stupid) ... going out boat runs - shut it off in the middle of the lake - bimini goes up - cruising into the cove ... play with dogs ... have to move because of the wind a 2nd time and play some more with the dogs and that was it ... pushing the boat further out until somebody noticed and gave us a tow.

Finally back on shore and on trailer ... cleaning up ... trying another time ... vroom here it goes again ... I'm seriously annoyed ... so Patrick - yes vapor lock must be the issue - it must get too hot in there - just don't know yet how to cool it further down w/o cutting holes somewhere ... and running blower all the time is not a problem but I don't think it it makes a huge difference ... obviously while idling around the lake I'm making matters a lot worse - so I might have to just pay attention to this and instead of idling into a riding spot just gun it there ... and yes there might be a connection between the fact that we may still have winter fuel over here instead of the summer mix - it's just changing now ... so will pour fuel stabilizer in there - maybe also going back to higher octane fuel? Here's what recommends:

What can be done to combat this?

Shorten the hose.
Increase the diameter of the hose. <---inside.
Run the blower.
Install the hose in the lowest place in the engine compartment.
Do not use alcohol blended fuel.
Pressurize the fuel.

not sure what I can do in the short term beyond running the blower and fueling up different gas ... If there's one thing where I think my taxes aren't really going to a good purpose it's ethanol ... the only people laughing all the way are farmers and everyone else getting subsidies for producing/processing corn ... our bodies can't process it and neither can my boat
Old    Nicolas Kohler (monkey_butt)      Join Date: Sep 2011       06-29-2012, 5:15 PM Reply   
and found an interesting bulletin now too ...

So I guess I'm in for a fix - at least I can boat ... just need bigger keg of beer on the boat now to bridge the wait ...
Old    Frank Berg (Iceberg)      Join Date: Dec 2011       06-29-2012, 7:48 PM Reply   
I guess you might have to move further north I didn't realize you were running ethanol mix. Here is another article. I guess this could affect a lot of other boat owners in the heat. Can you even get 87 octane without ethanol in some states? Premium fuel might be the only way to go.


By Robert Van Brunt
Chief Petty Officer U.S.G.G. ret


Short description:
When the engine compartment becomes hot either by climate or idling, and you use ethanol-blend gasoline it can cause excessive vapors in your fuel line and starve the engine of fuel. The engine can run poorly or stop and will not run until the fuel condenses.


Vapor Lock

Fuel containing 10% ethanol is called E10. If you have ethanol in your gas, you run the risk of creating vapor lock because of excess vapors.

Ethanol “boils” at 87F (at normal atmospheric pressure) and turns from a liquid to a gaseous state. By comparison, most automobiles have their fuel pump in the gas tank, so the whole system remains under pressure unlike boats whose fuel tanks are vented. In a closed system, the higher pressure raises the flash point of the ethanol reducing the amount of vapor that is produced. In addition, most automobile fuel lines are outside of the vehicle allowing them to stay cooler.

Since most boat fuel lines are in the enclosed space (sometimes even insulated) of the engine compartment, normal ventilation will not cool the fuel significantly enough to avoid the potential problems of vapor lock. Furthermore, since the fuel pump in a boat is mounted on the engine (versus a car where the pump resides in the tank) the action of the pump can reduce pressure in the tank to below atmospheric pressure and further reduce the flash point.

Boat engineers are aware of this problem and are reducing the likelihood of this occurring by reducing the suction required by the fuel pump, minimizing hose fittings and bends, and including a quality anti-siphon valve. In existing boats, fuel lines and filters should be kept as low in the boat as possible and tank vents should be cleaned and open.

Heat Soak

Most boats have “forced” ventilation. Air moves through the engine compartment when the boat moves forward. Heat soak happens after you have been at high RPM and then stop or drift on idle for a while. Because of heat soak the engine compartment will rise to a point where the ethanol will boil


To prevent vapor lock (i.e. boiling ethanol):

1. Make sure the engine compartment has adequate ventilation.
2. Relocate fuel lines to be low in the bilge. (The bilge is cooler because it is in direct contact with the water.)
3. Monitor the engine compartment temperature.
4. Add (or turn on) engine room blowers.
5. Keep the tank vent clean and unobstructed.

Old    Nicolas Kohler (monkey_butt)      Join Date: Sep 2011       06-30-2012, 12:05 PM Reply   
wondering if a heat shield sleeve would help here as well - or would that make matters worse? I know I'm dealing with 2 things - one is the heat emitted from the engine directly and the 2nd one is with the heat build-up in the engine compartment?
Old    Frank Berg (Iceberg)      Join Date: Dec 2011       06-30-2012, 2:28 PM Reply   
The Author of the article used wrong temperature. It boils at 173F not 87F. I was thinking celcius not farenheit. I'm guessing the problem is the fuel lines run near enough to the exhaust to create the problem after you come to a stop and the lines heat up. The heat soak would last about 30 minutes! The other problem is the lower pressure due to the pump pulling the fuel to the engine when you want to start. The heat shield might work, but a higher velocity blower fan would be a better option. You could run your lines through a fuel cooler/heat exchanger, but Mercury and EPIC should already have a fix for this - outside of running no ethanol. I know it doesn't help you now, but call Epic next week. People are running these boats in Texas and other warm places; what are they doing different?

If you can find a gas station that uses no ethanol, your problem might be solved. As a test, run premium and see what happens - hope your car needs gas. If it still has problems, then you probably have a fuel pump or sensor problem.

Last edited by Iceberg; 06-30-2012 at 2:32 PM.
Old    Frank Berg (Iceberg)      Join Date: Dec 2011       06-30-2012, 3:30 PM Reply   
I had a few minutes... Seems like this is an ongoing issue for a number of people and manufacturers. There are threads going back 10 years. This latest post is from a Supra dealership.

Here are a few things to prevent vapor lock from happening:

Avoid winter blend gasoline.
Try to get gasoline from a station that does not have ethanol in their gas. DO NOT get gas from a marina on the water. (huh?)
Keep your fuel filter changed regularly. For an Indmar engine, that should be every 40-50 hours.
Run the Blue Stabil that fights against ethanol.
Run your blower continually.
If you are running your engine hard for a while and then decide to sit and swim or rest for a while, be sure to open your engine hatch to let your engine cool down.

If vapor lock were to happen, here are a few steps to take to get you running again:

Immediately open the engine hatch and turn on your blower so that your engine compartment can air out. After the engine cools down (approx 30 minutes), your boat should start again.
To speed up the process, you can pour a few cups of water directly on the fuel filter (see owners manual for location) and along the fuel lines. You can also dip a towel in the water and hold it against the fuel pump (see owners manual for location). The colder the water, the better. After around 2-5 minutes, the engine should start.
Old    Tim (dukeno1)      Join Date: May 2006       07-01-2012, 7:31 AM Reply   
Have had this issue each of the last three years , at least once or twice a season on the really hot days. I tried insulating my fuel lines all the way to the fuel pump but the best cure for me seems to be (aside from trying to find good gas ) : running my blower all the time while riding, letting it idle for a few minutes before shutting off after riding, and leaving the engine cover up while sitting. The only downside to leaving the engine cover up is explaining to all the nice people that stop by that all is ok and we don't need a tow. We were out yesterday and the air temps were 104 at the hottest and I never had a problem all day. We were running in 82 degree water which might have helped though. Felt awesome by the way!
The vapor lock issue definitely sux....first time it happened I didn't know what was going on. Had a boat full of people and it was very annoying for a boat that was only a few years old....
I had to be towed a long ways back to the dock. When I got there I tried one more time and it fired right up and ran like a top!%#% WTF Did some research and when it happened the next time I was prepared....pored an ice cold bottle of water on m fuel pump and it started and ran like nothing had ever happened. So always try to keep a couple of bottles of cold water just in case.
Old    Nicolas Kohler (monkey_butt)      Join Date: Sep 2011       07-03-2012, 8:43 PM Reply   
okay - so tonight it was the 3rd try and it didn't turn out to be a charm - the engine died while underway and pulling a rider and that was it (we drove about 15 minutes at 23mph). At least this time the smartcraft gauge told me that the fuel pump has an issue - except I wasn't really appreciating the 1st part of the solution ... 'get off the water as soon as possible' ... boat was dead ... duh ... and then see a Mercury dealer ... duh - they're booked 2 weeks out ...

So I did contact Epic but haven't heard back - I have to find the part # and start hunting a fuel pump down as this will be truly my next/last attempt to get somewhere (and I will pump out the tank and replace the fuel) but the heat wave right now is not helping for sure ... just gotta find the pump - hopefully local
Old    Eppie Martinez (Eppies07epic)      Join Date: Jun 2011       07-04-2012, 12:14 AM Reply   
Nick I can't figure out how to IM you, so your going to have to IM me, and hopefully I will be able to respond. I have the contact info for the Master Mechanic at the plant in Vivan, and briefly messaged him about your problem. He wants your contact info to help you out.
Old    Nicolas Kohler (monkey_butt)      Join Date: Sep 2011       07-04-2012, 9:02 AM Reply   
sent you a pm
Old    Nicolas Kohler (monkey_butt)      Join Date: Sep 2011       07-04-2012, 10:09 AM Reply   
Eppie, here is the thing I need him to confirm - the following website has the schematic diagram of the fuel filter/pump housing with all the parts:
my problem is that I don't know if I have item 11 (low pressure) or 15 (high pressure) - I could order them both but won't be able to return the one I don't need (and yes I could take the broken one out and check if I find a part number etc. on it but if I get the confirmation today that would make it a lot easier before taking things apart as I have to disconnect water hoses as well to get to everything). I do assume that I need the high pressure pump ...
The engine serial # is OW698149
if he could confirm which one I need that would be great
Old    Dave (knarbar)      Join Date: Nov 2006       07-04-2012, 6:28 PM Reply   
I really dont think vapor lock or heat are the problem. I mean, your telling me 100 degree weather is affecting your engine? mmmmm your engine normally runs at rought 160 degrees so why would some hot temps effect whether it starts or not and if it does than man you spent a lot of money on a boat that simply can't start because it's hot. You need to take it to a shop and have a tech hook a lap top up to the computer on the engine. It will tell you right there what went wrong. Ya you can trouble shoot on wakeworld and get a 1000 different opinions or you can just go to a shop and find out as soon as they run diagnostics. Just sayin, you bought a new boat, get it checked out. Happy 4th as well!
Old    Dave (knarbar)      Join Date: Nov 2006       07-04-2012, 6:29 PM Reply   
Old    Nicolas Kohler (monkey_butt)      Join Date: Sep 2011       07-05-2012, 4:21 AM Reply   
sure Dave - waiting at least 2 weeks before I can get the boat to any Mercury inboard shop as I called around immediately when it occured the first time sounds like a great idea ... I love to look at the boat sitting in the driveway ...

and to counter your engine temperature: The pump stalled at around 168 degrees - at least that was the reading after the boat died and we had opened the hatch and I checked the gauge the first time. During the next 20 minutes it continued climbing to 183 before it slowly came back down - so yes vapor lock does occur and fuel pumps do give out ...
Old    Nicolas Kohler (monkey_butt)      Join Date: Sep 2011       07-06-2012, 4:40 AM Reply   
have to throw a huge thank you to Brian @Epic - he called me yesterday and explained a few things I wasn't aware of ... after listening to the issues I ran into he also said that he would call the Mercury dealer to check if they would be going in the right direction ... so again - aweseome customer service!!! Thanks Eppie for putting me in touch!


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