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Thread: 200HP Optimax starting problem

  1. #1

    Default 200HP Optimax starting problem

    I sold my '04 Predator that never had an issue with the motor and picked up an '08 Predator earlier this year. Right off the bat they tried firing up the boat to take it for a quick spin before I drove it off the lot and it had a hard time firing up. They got it started and I hitched up the boat and headed for Chitina. About 2 out of 3 times it would not start right away, but would just keep cranking without firing up. At times it would take 2-3 minutes to finally fire up. After the second time it didn't start right away, we heard hissing on the fuel cap. It took a bit of work to get the cap up, and when it did there was a huge amount of pressure in there. When we got back to town I had the dealership take a look at it, and they replaced the fuel cap. I took the boat on another outing, and it started okay the first couple times, then started having the same problem again. So, I took it back in.

    This time they replaced the lower fuel pump, and cleaned a few things out finding some gel type material in the fuel system. It started up fine after that, but then on the caribou hunt, it started having the same problems. This time we were pretty remote and it got me thinking that I'm getting to a position where I can't trust this boat. The battery started giving up the ghost because of all the long starts.

    When we got back to town, I took it back in and they installed a primer bulb a deep cycle battery and replaced the upper fuel pump. It started okay when we left to go on our moose hunt, but the next morning the boat had the same starting problems again. I didn't get back until the landing at the dealership was iced up, so they wrote down that they would look at it in the spring when I took it in for winterization.

    The boat runs great with exception of after a difficult start. It sounds like it is missing for the first 30 seconds or so, then runs perfectly fine. When it starts right away, it doesn't miss at all.

    Any ideas on what this could be? I know the guys at the dealership are frustrated with it, and haven't been able to tell exactly what it is. I paid a nice chunk of change for this boat and it's unfortunate that I can't trust it for long trips. I didn't put in for Koyukuk moose this year because of it.

    One last questions, do lemon laws apply to boat motors?

  2. #2
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    Back to basics first. Mercury states this motor must have a battery with at least 1,000 Marine Cranking amps to power the electronics before the motor will start. Do you have the proper battery? Maybe there is a drain on your battery reducing the cranking amps causing the starting problems. I do know of cases where people reported a miss in there motor while running a battery that was to small. I would try charging the battery (making sure it has the required 1,000 MCA's) and then starting the motor. If the motor starts then let the battery sit for awhile and see if it loses any voltage. Other than that I can not be of much help. But it sounds like you also may have a fuel delivery problem of some sorts.
    Tennessee

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    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerod View Post
    I sold my '04 Predator that never had an issue with the motor and picked up an '08 Predator earlier this year. Right off the bat they tried firing up the boat to take it for a quick spin before I drove it off the lot and it had a hard time firing up. They got it started and I hitched up the boat and headed for Chitina. About 2 out of 3 times it would not start right away, but would just keep cranking without firing up. At times it would take 2-3 minutes to finally fire up. After the second time it didn't start right away, we heard hissing on the fuel cap. It took a bit of work to get the cap up, and when it did there was a huge amount of pressure in there. When we got back to town I had the dealership take a look at it, and they replaced the fuel cap. I took the boat on another outing, and it started okay the first couple times, then started having the same problem again. So, I took it back in.

    This time they replaced the lower fuel pump, and cleaned a few things out finding some gel type material in the fuel system. It started up fine after that, but then on the caribou hunt, it started having the same problems. This time we were pretty remote and it got me thinking that I'm getting to a position where I can't trust this boat. The battery started giving up the ghost because of all the long starts.

    When we got back to town, I took it back in and they installed a primer bulb a deep cycle battery and replaced the upper fuel pump. It started okay when we left to go on our moose hunt, but the next morning the boat had the same starting problems again. I didn't get back until the landing at the dealership was iced up, so they wrote down that they would look at it in the spring when I took it in for winterization.

    The boat runs great with exception of after a difficult start. It sounds like it is missing for the first 30 seconds or so, then runs perfectly fine. When it starts right away, it doesn't miss at all.

    Any ideas on what this could be? I know the guys at the dealership are frustrated with it, and haven't been able to tell exactly what it is. I paid a nice chunk of change for this boat and it's unfortunate that I can't trust it for long trips. I didn't put in for Koyukuk moose this year because of it.

    One last questions, do lemon laws apply to boat motors?
    Does it have an in hull tank???? If the answer is yes I am betting this is where the problem starts. What raises my brow and point in this direction is you said that you heard a hissing and when you removed the cap you said you released a lot of pressure was it actually a vacum because you couldn't get the cap up???? Your vent line is either plugged or kinked. You should never build up any pressure or suction with an inboard tank unless the vent line is not functioning properly. Also the in tank pickup is also something I would suspect. Where in the world did the gel like stuff come from ??? Do you have an external fuel filter??? May want to consider one to catch that gel like stuff. Gel like stuff could be a bacterial growth or fungus, also could be sugar. If you are close to Anchorage I would be willing to give it a lookysee......

  4. #4

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    Snowwolfe, I'm fairly certain it isn't the battery. I'm not sure what the stock battery was, but they replaced it with a deep cycle interstate 1000 marine cranking amp battery and the symptom didn't change. I haven't noticed any other signs of losing power, only after it has been trying to turn over for several minutes.

    Dupont, yes, it has a 40 gallon bow tank. The tank was trying to suck the cap in, and when we finally got it open, it sucked in a bunch of air and spit out some gas on us. I should have clarified that it didn't push out air, it was sucking it in. It is supposed to be a ventless system according to the dealership.

    I'm not sure where the gel stuff came from. I've only got a handful of hours on the boat, and I've been filling it with pump gas. I'm using the same 5 and 15 gallon jugs that I used with the old boat. I do have a Rycor Fuel Separator and I believe that is where they found the gel, but it might have been somewhere else in the fuel system.

    I had thought that one of the next steps would be to change the fuel system. Start small with fuel lines then move up to the tank if need be. The pumps have been changed, and right after they were replaced, it worked fine for a little while then started happening more often. I think they are being overworked by the main issue and wearing them down. The primer bulb did nothing. I tried using it when it was having difficulty starting and it made no difference.

    It's almost like the fuel is in the line, but it won't get into the motor. After cranking the motor for several minutes, it will sputter for a couple seconds then fire up and purr like it should.

    I'm up in Fairbanks, but I appreciate the offer to take a look at it.

    Thanks for the reply's guys. I'd like to hear any other ideas if you have them.

  5. #5

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    First off, the fuel system must have a vent! If not, you create a vaccuum. When you shut the motor off it will suck the fuel out of your lines unless it has a check valve in it. Thus , a starting problem, no fuel in the line! If you displace gas out of a tank it needs air or the tank will implode, never heard of a ventless system. Ventless cap, yes. Depends on location, for keeping water out. If your tank is under a vaccuum and it's plastic, it will crack in short order. Look for a plugged vent line, usually on the fill hose.

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    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    A marine fuel system should vent seperately from your fill hose. I even google'd a ventless fuel tank and came up with a blank. You should have something that looks like one of these somewhere on the side of the boat.

    http://www.discountmarinesupplies.co...ank_Vents.html

    If you had a ventless system you would have to have a return line from the motor.

    Filling a boat on a warm day and then placing it in cold water will do exactly what you said.....giving you the hard start and the sucking fill cap without a good vent. What I am not sure is why it will run sometimes.

    So when you removed the cap and the air rushed in you got fuel back out the fill port????

    Was the boat at the shop in early August?? I was up there then and seen some guys scratching their heads and saying "I Dunno". I did see some guys working on a boat with a "fuel" issue. Just not sure what.......guess I should have asked.

    All kidding aside 1st thing is look for and find the vent the hose all the way to the tank. The tank should have a fill port and and vent port. Go look at other boats not having an issue and see if they setup the same. The next thing is look at the fuel line running from the tank to the motor. It could have gotten kinked during setup. (I still believe most of the problem lies with the tank and vent, but with 6 months to boating season I want this thing to hit the water running) Also look at how the fuel filter unit is plumbed. It does have an in/out ports. Look at where the fuel line goes into the motor. Did it get pinched?

    Last email/call SeaArk not to B*^%$ but to see if they have had similiar issues. A teaspoon of sugar will beat a pound of salt.

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    Dont forget to check the one way valve thats between the tank and where the vent line exits the boat, usually its right up by the thru hull fitting. The valve lets air into the tank, but will not let fuel dump into the water. It could be installed in reverse or just faulty all together. Good luck

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    That 200 Opti also requires 3/8 ID fuel line and fittings for every fuel connection. Might double check everything to make sure it was rigged correctly.
    Next time you try to start it and can't open the gas cap. If it still fails to start, connect a portable gas can to the racor and try it again.
    Tennessee

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    Jerod, this year was my 1st issue with my Phantom,but it turned out that it was something totally stupid on my part,but I called someone at Compeaus and we talked about the boats and newer ones etc... to see where my problem was and he was giving me insights on the boat as I was way out in the middle of nowhere basically and he came out and said witht he 200hp Optimax If you get a good motor you'll have a great boat and If you start having problems you'll continue to have problems....I'll leave it at that. Daniel

  10. #10

    Default Diddo on checking...

    ALL the fuel lines; maybe there's a small crack/pinhole and air is getting into the system; making starting difficult, but once the motor's running; flow is improved???
    I know it's minor, but is that fuel bulb pretty hard or "squishy" when pumping it initially to get fuel to the motor? Should be pretty firm. My buddy had "squishy" fuel bulbs when we switched from one tank to another; took quite a bit of time to get the bulb hard and enough fuel to the motors to keep them running; once running, all good. He installed an electric low pressure pump in the fuel line prior to the bulb; makes all the difference when switching tanks. Good luck!
    Jim

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    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjbowhunter View Post
    Dont forget to check the one way valve thats between the tank and where the vent line exits the boat, usually its right up by the thru hull fitting. The valve lets air into the tank, but will not let fuel dump into the water. It could be installed in reverse or just faulty all together. Good luck
    Actually most just run a loop in the hose and there is no valve. The loop is higher then the outlet to the vent preventing water from entering the tank. Also another reason why you should stop filling after the pump handle turns off. Unless you have one of these http://www.greenmarineproducts.com/ these or a fuel air seperator( http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...tial/0/0?N=377 710&Ne=0&Ntt=air fuel seperator&Ntk=Primary Search&Ntx=mode matchallpartial&Nao=0&Ns=0&keyword=air fuel seperator&isLTokenURL=true&storeNum=6&subdeptNum=6 8&classNum=219) then there is nothing installed to the hull vent to prevent fuel from going overboard.

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    Default Racor Filter

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    That 200 Opti also requires 3/8 ID fuel line and fittings for every fuel connection. Might double check everything to make sure it was rigged correctly.
    Next time you try to start it and can't open the gas cap. If it still fails to start, connect a portable gas can to the racor and try it again.
    If your racor has 2 inlet ports I would put cutoff valves on each and a quick connect on one, the other is for the fuel line from your bow tank. Run a portable tank to the quick connect and turn off the valve to the bow tank. If you have no problems this would lead you to the problem being between the tank and the filter, probably the vent. If you still have a problem it means the issue is between the filter and the motor, if it is fuel related.

    I use this setup on my boat. I also carry a 6 gallon portable tank as a back up to bad fuel in my tank or being stupid and running out of fuel. I have had to use it once when my fuel pickup became blocked with a spider web. It is quick and easy to switch tanks. Keep the valve not in use closed.
    Last edited by Tolman24; 11-20-2008 at 12:10. Reason: typing

  13. #13

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    Thanks for all your reply's!

    pineridge, I'll try and find the type of venting that these tanks have and see if I can't locate a plug. The fill hose is only a few inches tall, so I'm fairly certain it is not there.

    Dupont, the boat was in during parts of July and parts of August, so it very well could have been mine. They told me they called SeaArk, but I'm not sure what they got from that. When we got fuel back out of the fill port, it basically splashed up from the amount of air that was quickly sucked in. When it did this we had a pretty full tank. I'll have to take off the metal housing for the fuel tank to see if there is a vent on the tank and if it is plugged or not. On the Predators, the fuel tanks are enclosed in a metal surround. They did upgrade the boat to a 40 gallon tank, so I wonder if something got missed when they swapped the tanks out.

    snowwolfe, when I fire it up in the spring, I'll get something rigged up to have the fuel get pumped from a 15 gallon portable. It looks like everything is hooked up correctly. Also, when I took the boat down to Chitina, the Racor was not hooked up yet and I had the same problems that occured after it was hooked up.

    Daniel, I'm not sure it is a problem with the motor, just fuel delivery. I've heard the same things about the 200 Opti's, and so far it looks like everything is running just fine with the motor. When it is finally up and running, she goes smooth. Fuel mileage is consiberably better than the 175, so I don't think I'm burning extra gas due to a problem. I'm really hoping this is just something simple and can be fixed with a little more digging.

    Big Jim, I've looked for leaks in the fuel lines and haven't seen any, the only place I haven't looked is directly on the tank. There could very well be a slight air leak at the connection to the fuel tank. The only time I had worked the fuel bulb was after we had been running a while and parked the boat to head off the river and do some calling for about an hour. When we got back to the boat, it wasn't starting right up, so I checked the bulb and it was pretty hard so it didn't need to be pumped. I remember thinking that having the dealership install that on a fuel injected motor was a waste of time, and that confirmed it. It at least let me know that fuel was in there, so it wasn't a complete waste. I really don't want to install any more pumps to get around the problem, I want them to fix it so I don't have to live with something that is Jimmy-Rigged.

    Tolman, the Racor does have an unused port on it, so I believe it has double inlets. I'll have to make sure that's what it is for though. I will hook up a quick disconnect so I can run a line into other fuel tanks.

    Another bit of information that I didn't post earlier is there has been nothing consistant about when this happens. Sometimes on cold starts in the morning after it has been sitting, it fires right up, other times it does not. It does it when it is warm out and cold out, after running for several hours and even after a quick shut down and restart. Probably 3-4 starts out of 10 were giving me issues and it progressively got worse until they cleaned out the fuel line and replace a pump, then it started up fine for a little while and went downhill again. By the last run of the year I was back to 3-4 starts out of 10 being difficult. I have always managed to get it started, so it hasn't been a terminal issue on a trip yet.

    Thanks again everybody, I appreciate it.

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    I have the same motor (2008 model) on my Wooldridge. Been very happy with it except it is noisy. Memory is fuzzy but I think I put about 80 hours on it running full bore up and down the Yukon and Koyukuk in Sept and zero problems with it so far.
    Tennessee

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    Default Mercury

    I once had an 2000 225HP Optimax and it sounds like fuel problems as the others stated, but why would it run good after you finally get it started? I also agree, it could be your battery, they explained to me (Mercury)it took so many amps to turn the starter and get the engine turning over, it could create a low voltage not sufficient enough for the "brain" to function properly during start mode and the low voltage would effect engine function, once it finally started the brain would have plenty of voltage to operate the system correctly..

  16. #16

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    That sounds a bit strange that there is no consistancy. Wonder if there is some electronical instrument or some other item you run on the boat that may be draining your battery if left on prior to shutting the motor off? May be just enough to cause a problem with first attemp to start after shutting engine off.

  17. #17

    Default Couple more things to check...

    Some good points so far. A few more to consider (among many others)
    When you first turn the key on, does...
    1) The warning horn beep once?
    2) Does both the lift pump and high pressure pump, run for three seconds, then turn off? (You may hafta unplug the lift pump to hear the high pressure pump)

    Before I start a 200 Opti for the first time, I cycle the key on & off to "prime" the fuel system. I can hear the lift pump change tone when the system primes. Once the sytem is primed, it should "hit" or start, on the second or third revolution.

  18. #18

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    Thank you all very much for your input. I'll pull up this thread in the spring when I get the boat back in the water and go over each detail.

    Bowstud, do you think there would be any audible indications of low voltage on the hard starts? The cranking noise isn't any quieter or louder either way.

    21' Grayling, everything on the boat is stock. I haven't added any electronics.

    Kevin, yes the beep happens each time the key is turned on. I know the dealership has paid close attention to listening to the pumps to make sure they are working, but I haven't done that myself. I will try cycling the key when I start running again in the spring and see if that makes a difference. The dealership has told me it should start every time on the second or third revolution as well, but even they have tried starting it where it didn't do that.

    I don't want to have to take the course of pushing for the lemon law, but if the dealership can't figure it out early next year, I might have to go that course. I didn't pay that much for a boat that I can't trust, and the dealership can't fix.

    Thanks again!

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    I've got the 200 opti in a Harbercraft boat. My motor has always run well but always had a starting problem. It seemed the longer the motor sat without running the harder it was to start it. After many replaced parts I finally installed a bulb in the pickup line. If the motor has been sitting for a while, I pump up the bulb and the motor starts within seconds everytime. Sometimes I just cycle the fuel pump on and off a couple times before trying to start the motor and this works well if the motor hasn't been sitting for days.

    Now I don't think this is right but it works great for me! My conclusion is that there is a tiny leak somewhere in the fuel line that is letting in air and as a result the fuel slowly leaks from the fuel lines back into the tank. By either pumpng the bulb or cycling the pump several times it gets the fuel back into the system.

    Good luck with yours.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerod View Post
    Kevin, yes the beep happens each time the key is turned on. I know the dealership has paid close attention to listening to the pumps to make sure they are working, but I haven't done that myself. I will try cycling the key when I start running again in the spring and see if that makes a difference. The dealership has told me it should start every time on the second or third revolution as well, but even they have tried starting it where it didn't do that.
    If it no starts/slow starts at the dealer, air and fuel pressure tests will go a long way in finding the problem.

    As noted above, a strong crank batt, good batt cables, & secure batt/starter connections are a must. Optis must have a strong crank batt so the engine not only overcomes cylinder compression, but spins the air compressor fast enough to build 80 psi before it'll fire the injectors. (But, I'm sure your dealer has checked these )

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