Project Log – Rebuilding a Johnson 200 Outboard

Several years ago, I picked up an ’84 Wellcraft for next to nothing. It had a solid hull, a strong running Johnson 200 outboard, and several other nifty features. The trailer was not great, but that wasn’t a problem because my plan was to drop the boat in the water and leave it at a marina.

Flash forward to now, it’s been almost a year since I did any work on the boat. I haven’t even taken it out on the water since August of last year. Between joining Automattic and moving the family to PSL, I simply haven’t had the time.

So over the past week, I’ve spent some time getting intimate with the boat again – cleaning it up, fixing some wiring, and addressing some engine issues. During the time I’ve owned it, the engine has always run strong and it hasn’t had any issues. But I have noticed the performance has decreased slightly with use. So I ran a compression test. I almost didn’t believe the results. 65-70 PSI on every cylinder! So I bought another compression gauge. The new one reads 55-60 PSI on every cylinder!

Now that’s incredibly low for any internal combustion engine, so it’s definitely cause for worry. As low as it is, the engine still runs very very well, and seems relatively strong on the water. Nonetheless, I’m going to take some action here. It’s time for a rebuild. Given the state of the steel trailer, which is slowly degrading as the weeks slip by, I must act now.

I’ve done some preliminary investigation by purchasing the service manual and repair guides for the engine. I’ve spent some time just looking at the powerhead and familiarizing myself with it. I’ve gotten my garage in order for a project such as this. It’s time to start gearing up to dig in get dirty.

I’ll be posting updates here with some companion videos on YouTube as I go forward in the process.

Kid’s Rooms

Before our kids moved into our new house, +tina and I spent some time painting and setting up for their arrival.

Roman’s new room. Blue on blue walls and the standard setup for a toddler room.
For Rylan’s room, we decided to go with blue and green, and decorate with planes, trains, and automobiles.

Both of the kids loved their new spaces. Sorry for the terrible images, but hopefully you get the picture.

+rylan +roman

CSV to GPX Converter

I have often had a difficult time trying to import a large number of GPS waypoints into my Garmin chart plotter. To make the task a little easier, I just completed a quick and dirty CSV to GPX converter. Once you have converted your data, you can import the file into Garmin HomePort and finally upload it to your chart plotter unit.

I hope the following can save you the time that I have wasted over the years trying to input waypoints one-at-a-time.

Check out the code on GitHub

My New Boat

Specs:

  • 1984 25′ Wellcraft cabin cruiser, solid glass all around
  • 1997 Johnson 250 2-stroke (A little smokey but a truly reliable beast)
  • Garmin GPSMap 546s Sonar/GPS/Chartplotter
  • Hummingbird depth
  • King AP 2000 Autopilot
  • Onboard electric sink, stove, refrigerator
  • Supposedly sleeps 6, but I would say 4 comfortably
  • Upgraded aluminum 125 gallon fuel tank
  • One manual downrigger with 4 pound ball
  • Aluminum half-tower with rod holders
  • Panasonic stereo with two deck speakers

Plans:

  • Aluminum outriggers
  • 12 volt deck power and electric reels for deep dropping
  • Live well
  • Rear cooler seating
  • Overhead deck lighting
  • Onboard charging and inverter to run 120v accessories at sea
  • Add two more stereo speakers on the deck

Like any 30 year old boat, she’s a little rough around the edges but she’s solid where it matters. I wouldn’t hesitate to buzz over to Bimini or Grand Bahama right now! I’m planning to put some serious fish on the deck this summer and next, and maybe do a couple overnight trips with the family.

More Goodies For The Boat

I wanted to write an update to my last post about fixing up my boat.

I re-installed the starter, tightened up all the other small issues, and cranked the engine for about ten minutes. Nothing.

BUT … I think I flooded it … because the next day she fired up on the first try, nice and strong, just like she should!

Before it was running, I bought this tool to [attempt to] test the ignition system:

AutoCraft AC664 Ignition TesterTo be fair, the boat has a points ignition system which may somehow differ from other similar systems, but this thing DID NOT do the job. A spark is a spark, and nothing was happening with this tool installed as it should be. My guess? The shaft is pretty loose and difficult to adjust, and coated with some sort of anodized material. They should have made the shaft uncoated copper, aluminum, or nickel. NOT anodized steel.

I know the tool wasn’t working as it should, because the engine actually fired up while it was connected, but this thing still wasn’t sparkin’!

Yesterday, I decided I was sick of wrenching the batteries on and off every time I got on the boat. So, I ordered this:

SAMSUNGThis is a fantastic piece, which allows me to select a single battery, both batteries, or completely disconnect them. It’s rated for 230A continuous and 345A momentary, which should be ample (no pun intended). It also includes a field disconnect, so the switch can be moved with the engine running – which is a great feature. Installation was quick and easy.

So the boat starts, runs, shifts, and (hopefully) floats well. Time to go play! We’re leaving for the Keys tomorrow evening … Cheers!

Rebuilding the Boat, One Piece at a Time

With the birth of our baby boy, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to spend working on my favorite project, a 1989 Raven 2100cc cruiser. But next week, our wedding is coming up. We’ve rented a nice house in Key Largo for the wedding week which is on the water. My plan all along was to have our boat parked behind the house ready to go at a moment’s notice.

That means spending a bunch of time getting the boat ready to go. As I said, I haven’t had a chance to fuss with the boat in a few months, much less maintain or take it out for a spin. The poor thing needs some love…

Over the last month, I toured the hardware stores of Palm Beach county and rounded up the pieces needed to convert the trailer to a bunk-type trailer. I’ll wait until the boat is in the water to make this modification, though.

I'm not a huge fan of the rollers
I’m not a huge fan of the rollers. Just look what they’re doing to the bottom of the boat!

A bunch of time was also spent purchasing “manly” tools like a circular saw and angle grinder, and assembling new seat bases and an new engine cover. Next, I carpeted the pieces and got them re-installed in the boat. The old ones were pretty rotten!

New seat bases and engine cover
New seat bases and engine cover

I towed her home, hooked up the hose, and turned the key. -click- NOTHING. SMH. Check the battery. Not dead. NOT GOOD.

I pulled the cover off the engine.

Getting this beast ready for the summer
Getting this beast ready for the summer

After a close inspection of the electric system, I decided that everything was so corroded that there couldn’t be much current getting to the starter. I pull out the tools and go to work. The first stop was the starter wiring. I went to remove the big wires to the starter, and because it was rusted solid, I broke off part of the starter solenoid.

While removing power cables, I broke the terminal right off the solenoid
While removing power cables, I broke the terminal right off the solenoid

Nice. Removed the whole starter from the engine and took it upstairs. Bench tested the starter motor – works great even though about a half-gallon of water came streaming out when I inverted it. Removed the covers, cleaned the motor well, and reassembled. Working even better now! Next, I ordered a new solenoid from Amazon. Thanks to Tina’s wonderful Amazon Prime membership, it arrived the next day. After reassembly, we have this beautiful piece:

Brand new solenoid and reconditioned (internals) for the starter motor
Brand new solenoid and reconditioned (internals) for the starter motor

Okay, bench tested it once more, and it’s working exactly as it should. Cool beans! Maybe I should grab a can of Rustoleum to get it looking nice again? Nahh, too much effort and that probably won’t really help for long.

After I invest in a gallon of dielectric grease, I’ll re-install it, clean up the terminals on the trim system wiring, and start over! Only seven days to go before the wedding week begins, so I gotta have her running solid before then! Wish me luck!

UPDATE 6/19: Got the starter re-installed and she cranks right over. Now, to hook back up fuel and fire and see what happens! I feel confident that things are going to work just fine.

Outdrive Trim is Fixed

I got the outdrive trim all fixed up and ready to go. It wasn’t all that difficult, and I suggest you dive right in and do the job yourself if you have a socket set and screwdrivers.

Both solenoids (up and down) are brand new and the wiring is all cleaned up. The outdrive now goes up and down right on command as it should. I’m ready to take her out for a test run but we’re heading to Daytona Beach again this weekend, so the test will have to wait until next weekend. Bummed, but excited for Daytona. Catfish dinner here we come!

Oh ya, by the way – HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Alpha One Outdrive Trim Solenoids

I spent the weekend running down issues with the boat. I purchased a new double-size marine battery just to be sure we had full electrical power and she fired right up! I still couldn’t get the outdrive to raise though. After diagnosing the problem, I found the up-solenoid was dead. It’s funny how two issues came up at exactly the same time last week.

With a little bit of hot-wiring I was able to raise the outdrive. I purchased new up and down solenoids and I’ll install them this week sometime. The Raven will once again be sea-worthy…test run in two weeks!