Outboard Motor & Refueling System

I make no bones about my outboard motor.  I know many sailors feel it is somehow cheating a bit, or maybe beneath them to consider such a modern day device.  I totally get this thinking and sometimes I’m actually tempted to adopt such a creed.  But here’s the deal.  I have a multitude of hobbies, a large family and a demanding job.  Given these complications/blessings in my life, I’ve come to fully accept modern technology (in moderation).

With that as a backdrop, let’s discuss my outboard motor.

DSC00437First off, I love my outboard motor bracket.  It’s simple, beautiful, practical and rock solid.  When I motored with my West Wight Potter 15, the aluminum motor bracket vibrated and made quite a racket.  This outboard bracket, with not moving parts, is dead silent.  I also love my 2.5 Suzuki.  It’s liquid cooled, as light as the Honda, has a gear box (N and F) for warm up and can pull two additional Scamp with no problems.

DSC00569Towing Serenity and Jeff’s beautiful #284 on a no wind afternoon.  Hence, with the outboard you can serve as a rescue boat…which is fun and practical.

DSC00432I noticed the outboard was somewhat stiff to rotate within it’s steering bracket.  Upon further inspection, I notice the drag was coming from the lower rotation collar.  After applying a little bicycle grease (which tends to solve every problem in life), the noise and friction went completely away.  Yay, problem solved.

Did I mention I hit an oyster bed after towing a Northeastern Dory around Rat Island?  It banged up my aluminum prop a bit, creating a rough edge on the blades.  DSC00431I took a metal file and cleaned up the edges.  This took almost no time at all and made me feel better.  I also learned if you want to remove the prop, you’ll need both regular and needle nose pliers.  Note for tool box…Needle nose to straighten the cotter pin and regular pliers to remove the cotter pin. 

Next I wanted to simplify the refueling process.  It is fairly difficult to refuel out on the water.  With the boat movement and wave action, refueling can be quite an issue.  Additionally, I learned that 1 Liter of extra fuel is not quite enough for comfort, especially when towing others.  After giving it some thought, here’s my solution.

DSC00423I’ve already expounded on the merits of the venerable Nalgene bottle.  I love the quality and size.  With this in mind, I created (2) 1 Liter fuel bottles paired with a correctly sized fuel funnel to prevent spillage.

DSC00417I tethered the funnel to the fuel bottle so I can’t drop it overboard.  When one fuel bottle is empty, I’ll switch the tether to the remaining fuel bottle.  Finally, I wrapped duck tape (useful for a multitude of situations) around the fuel bottles for clear identification.  I plan to store the fuel bottles in a separate location than my drinking bottles to avoid any late night confusion. DSC00440The funnel fits perfectly inside the fuel tank opening and the large diameter allows for quick refueling.  I also like the shape of this funnel.  The high side allows for quick dumping of the fuel into the funnel. No spillage, no mess, with an environmentally friendly 4 stroke motor. 

The literature for my outboard says it holds 0.984 liters of fuel, but I’ve found that a full liter of fuel fits perfectly into an empty tank without any spillage.  This makes the 1 liter Nalgene bottle the perfect size fuel container.  

Outboard Motor Bracket with Motor

This was my day of reckoning.  Would the outboard motor bracket really work the way it was designed?  Well, in the shop, it appears that it will work out just as planned.  DSC00431 Notice the room for the tiller handle…with the handle at a 45 degree angle.  DSC00432 Plenty of clearance here to run the controls.DSC00433 This photo better shows the relationship between the outboard bracket and the rudder.  I didn’t want the motor to cavitate in wave action.  Looking at the depth of the prop, I don’t force it coming out of the water.  DSC00430 This photo shows the clearance of the tiller arm in the horizontal position.  I’m happy.DSC00427Notice how the rudder, fully deployed toward the port side, still misses the motor bracket.  This is at the end of it’s swing.


Love the bracket.  I’ll post an update once I have had the boat in the water under motor power, but this is exactly how I designed it to fit and function.  

Odds n Ends

Striving for daily progress, I had a goal to install the drain plugs, motor mount and attach CB uphaul lines by sun down.  I got it done.

DSC00412The first order of business was to remove the drain plug keepers.  I plan to screw in the drain plugs from inside of Shackleton, so the keepers would extend out the back of my boat.  I see two problems with this:  1- I don’t want to be dragging seaweed off the back of my boat and 2- I don’t want water inside my boat, trying to escape through the drain holes, to be forcing the plugs against the drain holes.  So, the keepers had to go.  I plan to simply unscrew and remove the plugs for faster draining.  But, might I now loose them?  Possibly, but I plan to have a few extras with me in my repair kit.

DSC00423Here’s how it looks from inside the boat. This is about as low as you can install them without getting in the way of the scupper fillet.

DSC00420(Looking at the outside of the transom)  I rounded over and epoxied all edges of the drain holes.  I then ran a bead of silicon around the outside edges to fill the slight gap.  This will allow for easy replacement down the road if needed.

DSC00427Next up was the CB uphaul lines.   The blocks allow remarkably easy uphauling of the center board.  I’m really impressed with this system.  I angled the cam cleat to better match the angle of the line.  The blocks and cleat are screwed into the solid stock of the CB case.

DSC00417Now for the outboard motor bracket.  DSC00419I mounted the bracket 2 1/2″ up from the bottom of the transom.  Holes in the bracket and transom were drilled oversized and then filled with thickened epoxy.  I drilled out the center areas of these holes and inserted  a 3 1/2″ x 1/4″ stainless bolt.  I used fender washers to better secure the bracket.  You could easily stand on this bracket.  I doesn’t budge.  DSC00418DSC00421This photo shows the bolts coming through the motor mount doubler (right side of photo).  I epoxied the doubler in place between the seat longitudinal and the transom doubler.  It was made from one of the soul hatch cut outs.  It consists of two layers of 3/8″ plywood epoxied together creating a 3/4″ plate.  The upper right fender washer needed to be cut in order to fit.  I also had to take a wood chisel to the under side of the seat extension to get the washer and nut to fit onto the bolt.  Notice the bolt pattern was moved off center (bolts were moved toward the starboard side of the motor bracket and toward the port side of the doubler to miss the seat longitudinal…it all worked out).

While I wait for my rigging to arrive, I will continue to get as many small tasks accomplished as possible.  Tomorrow morning I’m applying varnish to the spars and newly built mast crutch.  

Improved Outboard Bracket

DSC00006Anytime you fabricate your own parts, things happen.  Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right.  Well, the first outboard bracket came close.  It will work, but places the outboard cavitation plate 1 1/2″ below the estimated water line.  My concern is that in rolling waves, the motor will cavitate.  I was striving for a 3″ drop.  I knew I wouldn’t be happy with the original bracket so I went back to the drawing board.  DSC00005 Behold the second version.  You can see the difference in the mounting plate.  The first version (to the right) measures 10″ high.  The improved version (to the left) measures 7 1/2″ high.  This shorter version allows the cavitation plate to be 3-4″ below the designed water line.  DSC00006 Additionally, I was a little nervous about the V. G. Douglas Fir splitting when I bolt the bracket to the transom.  My father recommended glueing a 1/4″ plywood piece to the back for increased strength.  Hard to go against the wisdom of a father.  DSC00007To summarize the changes:

  1. Lower back plate height allowing for a lower mounting position.
  2. Circular holes in the sides to lighten up the weight.
  3. Solid back plate for more mounting options to transom (the original design had a center cut-out).
  4. Strengthened the mounting plate with 1/4″ plywood.
  5. Improve version weights 6.28 lb. (original weighted 6.25 lb.)
  6. All other measurements remained the same as original design (documented in earlier post).


This boat is all about getting things right.  Getting things the way you like them.  Otherwise, just go buy one.  To me, this is the fun of building your own…it is your own.  By taking a little extra time, you can make Scamp uniquely yours.

 It’s more about patience and consistency than proficiency.  


Designing Outboard Bracket

I’ve made a decision:  Shackleton will have a motor. Sailing in Idaho has taught me a few things.  At times, the wind will just suddenly disappear or die down significantly.  Other times, it will build to gale force with no warning.  I don’t want to drive 2 hours to a mountain lake, only to find no wind.  With a motor, I can still cruise around the lake and look things over.  I believe it makes Scamp a more versatile boat.

Motor Criteria: I was looking for the following things in an outboard:

  1. Very small Displacement (2.3 – 2.5 h.p.)
  2. Lightweight (30 lb. dry weight or less if I could find it)
  3. Quiet (this was a struck against the Honda…said to be noisier than liquid cooled outboards)
  4. Reliable (I wanted a new outboard for Shackleton)
  5. Smooth Running (I prefer liquid cooled engines)

(Drum roll please)

Which motor did I choose? I selected the Suzuki 2.5 hp outboard.  According to manufacture specs, this motor is as light as the Honda 2.3 hp outboard (Suzuki 29 lb. vs Honda 29.5 lb.).  All other outboards I researched were significantly heavier than the Honda and Suzuki.  The liquid cooled Suzuki is said to be quieter than the Honda, and offers more torque at similar RPM (according to an internet article I read).   The quiet factor is a big deal to me.  I wanted the quietest motor possible, without going to electric (I already maintain far too many batteries in my life).  The Suzuki has a gear box, allowing me to warm-up the engine in neutral (without the prop turning) before shifting into forward.  This may prove handy for Spring and Fall cold weather sailing.  Online dealers offer free shipping; $709 put the motor on my doorstep. DSC00001Here you see my beautiful Suzuki outboard mounted to an adjustable Trac Aluminum outboard bracket (model #T10050).  As I mounted this motor to a scrap piece of plywood, I became immediately aware of several problems.   DSC00002 First, notice the bracket handle strikes the mock transom, preventing the bracket from being raising to it’s top most position.   DSC00004Second, notice the minimal off-set of the motor in the up position.  The high transom found on Scamp, prevents the motor from being tilted completely forward.  So, I can’t raise the motor all the way up and I can’t tilt the motor forward to get the prop out of the water when sailing.

What now?  After some thought, I had the perfect answer.  Build a shim, moving the outboard away from the transom, solving my problems.  First, I tried a 3″ shim, then 4″, then 5″.  Here’s what I learned:  5″ does provide good access to the motor handle and allows the bracket to easily raise all the way up but the motor still won’t tilt forward far enough to engage the motor tilt catch.  Very disappointing.  It’s also overly complicated for the requirements at hand.  This is a small motor.  This is a light motor.  The outboard bracket is beyond the needs of this motor.  And, it doesn’t work in this application.  I wanted a more practical, simpler solution.

Hum…this just isn’t working for me or Shackleton (the boat’s spirit whispers to me occasionally).   After staring at things for a few hours, I noticed that the Suzuki motor (given enough room) will tilt almost a full 90 degrees forward.  With this amount of forward tilt, a stationary bracket would allow me to raise the motor entirely out of the water for sailing.  A stationary bracket would also be much simpler.  No moving parts, no springs, no lubrication points to maintain.  Nothing to raise or lower.  I liked where this was going.  

In looking at online fixed brackets, however, none of them offer enough off-set to allow the motor to tilt forward.  In the end, I decided to design and build my own outboard bracket.DSC00001With paper and pen, I started playing with design ideas. DSC00012 I wanted the bracket to be strong, simple and light, while allowing full forward tilting movement of the motor.DSC00016DSC00008I also wanted to recess the motor mounting screws into the wood for a migration free clamping surface.  DSC00010DSC00014I tried to lighten up all the parts without compromising strength.  My Ridgid sander smoothed out all my rough cuts.  I also ran a 1/4″ round-over bit over all exposed edges. DSC00018One coat of epoxy on all the parts.

My outboard motor bracket parts (from Left to Right).  

  1. Back block (V.G. Douglas Fir).  This will be mounted directly to the transom.  The bracket sides will screw and glue to this block.  It measures 6 1/2″ wide, 10″ tall and 1 1/4″ thick.   I cut out the center to lighten it up.
  2. Front block (V.G. Douglas Fir.)  The back side of this block has the recessed motor screw holes.  It measures 6 1/2″ wide, 5 1/2″ tall and 1 3/4″ thick.
  3. Bracket sides (3/4″ Baltic Birch).  Centers cut out to reduce weight.  The measurements can be seen in a photo above.DSC00039 DSC00037 DSC00034 DSC00032The notch-out on the starboard side is to allow clearance for the motor choke knob.

 In mounting up the motor, things look really good.  A few observations:

  1. With the rudder down, the rudder is in front of the prop and cannot swing into the prop (I remember the sounds of chopping wood on my West Wight Potter 15).
  2. With the rudder up, the rudder is above the prop and can only swing into the motor shaft.
  3. With the motor tilted up, the prop will be completely out of the water.
  4. With the motor tilted up (and rudder fully up or down), the rudder can move freely without any contact whatsoever.
  5. The purchased motor bracket (that I will be returning) weighs 8.8 lb.
  6. The wooden motor mount I built weighs 6.25 lb.

I am very happy with this simple, wooden design.  I reduced weight aft (this may be offset, however, by the movement of the motor further aft), gained full tilting movement of the outboard, and prevented contact with the rudder. 

One step at a time, baby.