Saturday, July 18, 2009

Honda 5hp

I will start by saying that I love my Honda 5hp four stroke outboard motor.

With one growing exception. The starter cord gear keeps breaking. I have owned two Honda 5hp's so far, a long shaft and a short shaft, and both have broken the starter cord gear within the first 20 hours of operation. I have spoken with friends that own small Hondas and been told that they have all experienced the exact same problem.

I was at the store buying a new gear today and was told by the technician that I need to be gentle with the cord. I must pull gently until the gear engages the flywheel and only then pull vigorously. He blamed my bad technique. I will admit that I don't baby the motor. I also stick to my story that Honda has a design flaw to work out. I should not be breaking a motor by using the normal starting system every 10-20 hours no matter how hard I choose to pull the starter cord. My lawnmower takes much more abuse from me it has worked flawlessly for years and years.

Here is a picture of my 20 hour Honda 5hp short shaft that I broke last week. The white plastic gear is the one in question. When the starter cord is pulled, the gear rides up the spiral teeth and engages the flywheel which makes the flywheel turn and the engine to start. When the engine starts, the plastic gear is pushed / drops down and out of the way and when I release the cord a spring re-winds the mechanism. Simple.

Except the plastic gear and spiral teeth has such a loose fit that the gear can tip


...and up...

With normal engine vibration the gear hums up and down constantly. Over time the teeth get worn...

... and when the teeth get worn enough, a strong pull will allow the plastic gear to ride up and beyond the teeth on the flywheel, jamming the plastic gear against the flywheel. When that happes the result is very often...

... a broken gear.

The immediate fix is to cut the cord off the starter gear assembly and wrap it around the fitting on the top of the flywheel and start the old fashion way. Wind it on, pull. If it doesn't start on the first pull... wind it on... pull.

Like I said, overall I love the motor; quiet, smooth, low fuel consumption, low(ish) pollution, maybe a bit heavy but I can live with it. I am just getting tired of replacing these gears. Rewinding those darned recoil springs is a P.I.T.A. too.

This morning I got coralled into working for Mom. By the time I got out of that the only decent supplier of stainless hardware in the area had closed (1:00pm) so I wasn't able to get what I needed to fix the skiff motor mount. At present I have no way of getting to Jenny. I might try timing the tide/current and rowing but the Merrimack river is known for its 3+ knots of current and stiff chop which can be a challenge in a 8 foot rowing pram; even a Nutshell pram of excellent character and superior action. Maybe. More than likely I likely I am out of the running until next week. A friend took his kayak across at an opportune time and checked out the boat and pronounced it 'good' so I might have to take it on faith. From a quarter mile away while driving over the highway bridge at 60mph it looked okay to me.

Complicating matters is that the tools and epoxy I would like to use, to make up a new motor mount on the skiff, are currently on Jenny.

Working on boats on moorings really sucks...

I can only keep putting one foot in front of the other and hope I will get there eventually. That has to work. Right?...


How about a vote. Should I just whip out the credit card and buy a new 10' inflatable and end my dinghy woes once and for all? Warning: if you say 'Yes' you need to tell me which one and why ;-)

I should add that buying an inflatable will probably impact buying any more sailing hardware this season...


Ariel, CD 36 said...

Sorry to hear about your troubles.

Back in '03 I picked up a West Marine 8'6" roll up inflatable and a 4hp Evinrude for $300 - both in excellent condition. Although the roll up design with its soft bottom and wooden slats pretty much sucks for moving fast, the dinghy has served us well for the past six years.

So, rather than slap down the credit card for a brand new 10' rigid bottom inflatable, thus blowing the real-boat budget, I vote for finding a deal on a serviceable inflatable that will haul you and your gear and stow compactly. It ain't pretty and it certainly isn't ideal, but it's functional and (if you find the right one) inexpensive. And when you're done with it, maybe you can get some of your investment back.

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

It is sad to have your boat in the water but not being able to sail her. My vote will be to get the Triton in sailing condition, the inflatable can wait.

Good luck, thanks for posting your story.

Britton said...

After thinking about it, I agree that your common senses should prevail. I have been frustrated by the lack of good used inflatables and the leaky ones I find are all asking pretty big money. After working on the skiff today I feel pretty confident that I will be back to normal soon.

I am still aiming for sailing this season but installing the hardware on the mooring/dock is proving to be agonizingly slow. Rather than push it hard I am going to enjoy the process and hope it goes smoothly.

After all, if a finished boat was the only goal I could have bought a boat for a fraction of what I have spent so far and avoided the thousands of hours of labor I have into the project as well.

But yes, sailing would be nice. Not as nice as a real 3 month or more cruise but very nice all the same :-)

Thanks for your thoughts.