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Tools and Products for Working on Outboard Motors

In this video I go through all the common tools and shop products I use for working on outboard motors.

Dangar Marine

About Dangar Marine

MarineEngine.com proudly sponsors the Dangar Marine YouTube Channel. Our friend Dangar Stu draws on his experience as a commercial boat skipper and mechanic to make some great how-to videos. Dangar Marine videos cover a range of relevant topics in outboard repair, boat repair/upgrades and seamanship. Subscribe on YouTube to be notified when new videos are released.

Tools and Products for Working on Outboard Motors – Video Transcript

Hey there Dangar Stu here! Today's video is about the tools you need for working on outboards and is proudly sponsored by MarineEngine.com.

I've got some videos planned for the coming weeks on ignition systems, that kind of stuff so, particularly to do with spark plugs and HT leads. For today though, I thought I'd just keep it a bit of fun. It's late, it's Friday, it's beer o'clock. Obviously there's a bit of a base level of tools you're gonna need to work on just about anything. You know, your spanners, your screwdrivers, that kind of thing. I'll go through and roughly show you what I keep in each toolbox anyway, but I'll try to focus on things that are specifically for outboards. If you're predominately working just on your own outboard then you're pretty lucky. You can kind of get just one service manual and one type of each specialist tool you need and you're kind of good to go. Unfortunately, if you're working on lots of different types of outboards, it gets pretty hard to have everything you need because there's just so many brands, so many tools, tools that only work for a particular range of horsepower and it blows out of proportion pretty fast. So, I'll show you the essentials I use regular though.

I don't have one of everything from all the different manufacturers. They're a little bit pricey, they're actually quite hard to get, a lot of dealers won't even sell you tools that are specific unless you are a dealer of that brand. It all gets a bit sort of political. Anyway, that's enough yakking. I'll go through each of the boxes and I'll just show you the main things I think are important in those boxes if you are working on outboards. So, more or less I give them all a bit of a theme. The one on the right is tools that have something to do with motors. So, they're specifically tools that you only need if you're working on a motor. So, they're not general things like spanners or whatever. So, first one is timing light, obviously timing is really important with any motor you're working on. Not all outboards are set with a timing light but plenty are so they're well worth having. Pretty quickly though that also brings me to one of the most important tools you can ever have and that's the service manual. Straightaway you can't do your timing unless you know what the specs are for the timing.

So, whether it's telling you how many degrees before and after top dead center or whether it's giving you the lengths for linkages, you're gonna need that manual to get the specs you need to set it right. This is a dwell meter which we tend to use more with old cars, probably are some, old outboards out there that have points but not something I deal with. Mechanics stethoscopes are really handy for locating noises. So, highly recommend these. They're not very expensive if at all is particularly expensive I'll point out that look, it's maybe not realistic going on privately. But tools like this are like $20 and they can really help you locate a weird noise. Whether it's coming from a particular part of the powerhead, gearbox, whatever. So, very handy thing to. This style of ring compressor is just like what a lot of people they're very sharp, they sort of bit razor bladeish, but the great thing is they work for quite a range of ring sizes.

You can get fancier ones where you need to have specific sizes but as a bit of a cheap, work on most motors, this styles pretty cost-effective. This is my little remote starter that I did a video on a while ago. It's really, really handy when you're working by yourself at the back of the boat checking spark and all that kind of thing. I'm actually thinking of doing a video one day of making an upgraded panel with a bit of an ignition switch and a whole lot of stuff. But for now I find this does the trick for starting or at least cranking the motor from the back of the boat. Various styles of oil filter removal tool are pretty cool to. I have got this one sort of applier type thing. This is specific to a Toyota, various types and band types as well. Another thing I use commonly in conjunction with that remote starter is a little spark tester like this. I find these really good for testing the coils, essentially testing the whole ignition system right to the where the plug would be. Then naturally flying on from there is spark plug sockets. I've actually got some thinner walled ones that I use for outboards because a lot of outboards particularly 4-strokes have really tightly recessed spark plugs. So, having thin wall one's really helps you get those out.

Paste and suction caps for lapping valves out and in, here I'll show you. In here I've got some old spark plugs I've been saving that have all sort of failed in some curious way. I'll be using to that spark plug video down the track.In here is the feeler gauges for setting valve clearances and that kind of thing, really, really handy things to have. This is actually a really handy tool too, this is a little gauge for checking what pitch the thread is on a bolt. This is another style of oil filter remover that I really like. I found this one to work really well. It's a snap on one made in the US but I've actually found this to be a really, really good one. These I really like too which are for cutting hose square. It's a little bit of a luxury thing but they've actually been really good. I think I use those in the video on doing the hydraulic steering installation. Compression testing is a really good thing to have. Really good for both just diagnosing a fault with a motor and just monitoring its health at your service. This is a set of one punches for tiny holes being a gasket.

I've got that video on that type of gasket so that's really handy for making your own. So, that box is all the stuff sort of for working specific on motors. This particular box is welding and metal work kind of stuff. So, I keep in this you know tungstens, Kaulitz, all that kind of stuff, tigging and plasma cutting and some braising rods and things and some stick welding pegs and that kind of stuff. In this box I also keep a little set of these sort of files for unblocking the nozzle on an oxy torch that kind of thing. So, anything particularly related to metalwork I keep in this box but, it's not particularly outboard stuff. The one thing I do keep in here that I use a lot generally is a little set of digital vernier calipers. They're really handy too for just taking all sorts of measurements really accurate, really easy to use and once again not ridiculously expensive. No there's not much else that's interesting in there. Next one is Electrical. One of my favorite things from the electrical box is this auto probe style thing. I think auto probe is actually a brand name so this is a multi-function, auto tester, a cheaper version of the same thing. You hook it up to the battery, you can then touch the single probe to any point, see whether it's got voltage there or whether it's got a ground and then you can use this button to supply a voltage or supply a ground. So, it's really good for doing quick diagnosis.

Essentially the same as a multimeter although a multimeter can't supply current. So, I think it's better for testing because it can supply current as well and I find they bit easier to use. Doesn't do everything a multimeter does but it's certainly my first go-to tool if I'm diagnosing an electrical fault. Then going simpler again is just a standard test light. Give an earth if you got current the light comes on. So, the other thing is just a traditional digital multimeter. They're great in that you can do every test, your resistance tests, all that kind of stuff. They're a little bit more fiddly I'd go to the auto probe first but the auto probe has its limits and that's why you kind of need to have an altimeter too. Box is a heat shrink tubing really handy and then I've also just got some liquid electrical tape that I quite like in certain circumstances. Normal electrical tape in this one. Various scraps of smaller rolls of wire I keep in the middle drawer and some various types of solder, a little guest soul ring on, flux pins, a little bit of stuff for removing solder. This stuff's actually really cool.

This is a little sort of paste that you put your soldering on through for reconditioning the tip of the soldering iron and it works really well, I like this stuff. This one's kind of electrical tools, like hand tools to do with electrical work. The ones I use by far the most are a set a wire strippers like this, which are great, they just grab the wire and strip it. It doesn't matter the size it sort of auto-detects it all somehow and then a set of these crimpers. So, these two I'd definitely say the two common, sort of, wire stripping, crimping hand tools that I use for electrical work. Then obviously there's a range of screwdrivers and whatever that are more specific to electrical work as well. Yeah, the rest of that's pretty boring. That one's camera stuff for filming, don't know why it's there.In here I'll show you it's going to be easier. Essentially just crimp connectors, some heat-shrink ones, some spade connectors, ring terminals, heat shrink connectors, spare relays and stuff. Full of connectors, all that kind of stuff and soldering on obviously to go with the other soldering stuff. Another bit of a mess but I'll have a sticky beak and see if there's any highlights. Leak down tester yep, kind of handy from time to time. Similarly, is a compression tester but you don't need the motor to be turning to do it. So, it can be good for just blocks that aren't actually, currently, you know serviceable state. There's a few uses for it but to be honest with you I use the compression test too much, more than the leak down tester. Here's some tubs of just leftover bolts.

These are all the metric ones, these are new ones. So, the hole saws they're for doing some dash work and that kind of thing, putting in stern lights. So, they're pretty handy for those jobs. This is something I actually use quite a lot which is a heat gun. I use it pretty much all the time when I'm doing heat shrink tape or low temperature solder, that kind of stuff. Because it shrinks it without burning it at all. So, heat guns are really handy for that sort of stuff. Actually, now we've gone down, I'll quickly show you up. Up here is the carb sync tool which there's another video on that now actually pretty handy when you're doing multi-carburetor outboards. Here's a bit of an array of things I pulled off outboards and thought worth keeping. You know old carburetors, trim tilts, some pull-start stuff, more pull-start. Up on top here I've just got some boxes. It's small part so you know Yamaha, Mercury, Honda, Tohatsu, whatever and it just gives me some way to throw bits that I might need one day. Little outboard stands are great, ones you can wheel around. I've got that bigger one I think was my very first video was making the timber outboard stand so, they're really handy.

Well a recent video I did was on making the lower unit stand. So, those are things I use heaps now. A crane like this is really handy if you need to take outboards on and off a boat. That could be if you're changing the tilt tube, you're swapping it out, you're doing work to the transom, whatever. Once again not particularly cheap. Not something you'll need that often, but when you need to do the job maybe hiring is the option, because they really do make it easy and much safer. On the side of this toolbox I've just got a standard set of sprays. I use a lot so, I guess you can see those really. Few lubricants, a can of start ya bastard, you always need that. Another grease, this grease I actually use. There's lots of them around. This particular one it's white lithium grease that I use on steering cables. So, that's a common one. A carb cleaner obviously need that quite a lot. Yeah, bright claims the other one I use a fair bit of. So, the brake cleaner, a couple of good lubricants and carb cleaner and that kind of covers the sprays. On the top of the bench where I can just get to it easily all day I keep the really common things. So, some bull nose pliers, needle nose pliers and diagonal cutters or side cutters. So, that's really common one.

A set of reasonably mid-sized flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers. These just set of t-bars that are pretty handy so I think it's an 8, 10, 12 and 14 millimeter t-bar. So, they end up in the go- to as well so, you're rigging up a ratchet or anything. This I find handy because it's a little bit flexible and this is the socket size. It's just a little hex socket, I think it's a 7 mil or something which is the size that all our hose clamps are. So, it essentially just sits with the hose clamps and it's great for getting those on and off. After that just a variety of different ratchets, some you know swivel head, some straight. So, this is a 3/8 and quarter inch one and then just a larger 3/8 one. Also, then just have a couple of extensions so 3/8 extension and a quarter inch extension. So, they're things that I saw and just use so often I don't bother putting them away they just live on the top of the box. These don't have a place but there's always heaps um lying around with just little brass brushes or stainless steel brushes, really handy. An enormous part of doing mechanical work is actually just cleaning something, to stop working because it's got dirty, it's got corrode or whatever. So, cleaning tools are a surprising part of the whole kind of ensemble. Top drawer after that is just spanners and sockets. I tend to use a lot of deep sockets. I also keep just smaller spanners in here, these only go up to about 20 mil but for doing a lot of outboard stuff like collars on trim tilts or tilt tubes. You need up to about 32 mill for those. Second drawer starts to get a little bit random. A set of chisels and punches.

This kind of thing, really handy. Then I've got some torque bits, which you'll need for various motors. These are just a set of Allen keys which go on to the wretches. So, it's a 3/8 through a quarter inch depending on the size of the anchor. I have no idea what's in there. But there's a bit of a bore brush as well that you can use for cleaning out tool tubes. See I can use making this video as an opportunity to go and get everything more organized. This is just got some half-inch sockets which obviously are pretty handy. Although I find most half-inch stuff I use is usually with the impact guns. So, these actually don't get a lot of use. If I'm using a hand tool attend use a 3/8 and if I'm using half-inch it tends to either be sort of a breaker bar with a impact socket or an impact socket on the gun. Little set of ratchet spanners, I don't use anywhere near as much as you might think. I just, I don't know I find them more trouble than they're worth most of the time. Another drawer, this is like that drawer everyone has in their kitchen, which is everything that doesn't have a place.

It's also stuff I don't use very often, it's really the stuff that's too good to throw away, might need it one day, but not really. A few things to note in it though, I think this is actually from a MIG gun. I think, not sure but it's flexible and it's quite strong and it's really good for feeding through, attaching a wire to and pulling a wire through. So, it's kind of an electrical thing if you just want to start running wires and you need some way of getting a wire through a long tight space. So, I'll keep that for that. Yeah, this thing's handy too which is just a little you know come out and grab something. Magnets are good but aluminium parts. all that kind of stuff. stainless parts are magnetic. So, one of these is kind of handy as well if you need to get something you've dropped. There's a few more sort of, you know, allen key sets and things in there but I tend to use those ratchet ones wherever I can.

So, the next drawer is actually the outboard specific stuff. This is the drawer really I probably should've made this video about. But given I'm always sitting at the workbench and you know you may have been wondering what's in those boxes and now you know it's not interesting. So, in no particular order this is the gear box pressure testing tool that we put in last video or video before, whatever. So, really, really handy. Pretty much every service I'd be using this tool once I'd train the gearbox oil to check whether there's a problem with the seals. This is just a little packet of the fiber washers to put onto the drain plugs and the fuel plugs of the gearbox. Some outboards have o-rings, some have fiber washers. Once again if you're just working on your own outboard great, you can find out what size you need, what type it is and that's all you need to stock. This is a really good thing to have regardless of the brand of your outboard. If you've had some trouble with the magnets under the flywheel. It's basically an epoxy, for attaching the magnets, to the inside the flywheel. I had an outboard recent where it came off.

So, I bought this kit and here's a number for you. If you're interested, there we go, that's the Evinrude number and it came with a couple of sachets. I use one sachet to fix that outboard and I'll just keep this for next time. First custom tool, so this tool in all its glory nothing much to it but what I use this for is some starter motors have four brushes and springs pointing straight up. So, I use this to hold those brushes down. It gives me the gap in the middle, so the spindle of the starter motor can come down, you get it all together and then you can sort of slide it out and bolt it up. So, I use this for reassembling that particular style of starter motor. For corroded tilt tubes I use this sort of break home Dingell wall home style for cleaning those out, really effective it's got heavy corrosion. Then once again depending on your style of outboard, locking tabs for putting prop nuts on. So, I've got some of that size and then some of these at this size.

So, worth having those if your outboard doesn't use a split pin. I think it's also worth having at least one small sort of easy-to-use tube of marine grease from pretty much any manufacturer. This is the sort of one I use for the splines and driveshafts, prop shafts, that sort of stuff. Then obviously I've got other grease in a grease gun for doing the you know the zerk fittings or whatever. But one good tube of sort of grease you can just get on your finger and dab is worth having. OH, as I was saying before, sort of at the beginning, these are some spark plug tools they're just a very thin walled ones and these are actually a variety of ones. I'm trying to think who made them. This one's got MP on it. I can't recall to be honest with you. They're both our MPs motion probe that's where I got these. I think it's actually from a motorcycle store. I've got a few pullers and things in the bigger drawers below but, one of things you need with a puller is a hook to grab whatever it is you're trying to pull out. These particular ones were Yamaha ones.

This is actually just a gal bolt that I heated, bent and then shaved the side so it can fit in. So, you can kind of make your own of those. This other ones actually, it's like I used in the video on putting the white fish in. It's a little anti-foul just designed for transducers. This as far as I can tell is Vaseline, it's just used for putting the needles in the con rods that we did for rebuilding the Evinrude. Dialectic grease kinda either goes here or in the electrical stuff but it's greases sort of non-conductive. So, you can put it in your electrical fittings and it won't sort of arc between it. But it keeps the water out of electrical fittings so, it's kind of handy stuff too. Then I got a variety of the sort of face spanners. They're just two points like this or this or this style.

So, doing things like taking their caps off the trim tilt units that sort of thing. Doesn't matter how many of these things I have I still can't get them to fit most of them. Often you do need the one that the manufacturer sells. Be careful with these too because those caps can get really stuck. This particular bit on me pretty badly once when that pin broke on it. It's actually the thinner side of it and of course you're putting on a force when it breaks and then ended up tearing your shoulder sort of things. So, they're a little bit of a fiddly tool and often I find you have limited success with them. With the one that I got a little bit injured using we ended up actually edge sizzling it like drifting it round and replacing it. The new caps were like 30 bucks or something and they were so stuck that there was just no other way. They were damaged by the time we got them out, chuck them away, put new caps in. If your outboard is quite new you might have luck with a tool like that but by the time it's 20-30 years old mm-hmm, it's a bit hit and miss. These kind of things can be handy. There splined like this and like this and then they've got a hex on it. So, you can use it to hold a driveshaft, put it on a driveshaft and hold it and rotate it once again. Unfortunately, I've never seen anyone that sells a full set of these and it doesn't matter how many you've got you've never got the one you need.

Some outboards don't have lifting points on them. I can't remember what it is it was a Johnson, Mercury something like that and you screw in electronics. So, this was actually just a tool that goes into the thread there and then lets you lift the outboard power off. Now I think about it I think this bit actually threads into the top of the outboard and then this eye went into that as a lifting point. Circular pliers are pretty handy. You know similar vein to the tool I was talking about for taking the caps off trim tilt units but just for doing the little circle clips, these are pretty handy. On a lot of outboards you'll see they've got those sort of wire particularly Yamaha I think has some those wire hose clamps on the fuel lines. It's basically just a bit of wire that goes and turns and if you use a standard set of pliers instead of coming together they just sort of come and they spread apart and they drive your spare. These pliers have just got a little opening in the very tip of them and same on the side and they're essentially just for undoing those clamps. So, this is the style of hose clamp I'm talking about that I use those pliers for. This is just a gearbox seal, like a prop shaft seal, that kind of thing. That sort of thing I think it's well worth having in the spares for your outboard and if you've got old driveshafts, old gear selector rods that kind of stuff, they will worth keeping - because you can make little tools out of them.

Drive shafts make excellent punches so I always keep them just as big strong punches. But in this case I made this one which was the drive shaft from Yamaha. So, it goes up into the crankshaft and then I just filed the ends flat and it gave me a way to put it up into the crankshaft. Holding still when I was on during a flywheel nut or rotate the mate or whatever I need to do. So, it's worth making like that doesn't take a lot of space and if you've already got the drive shaft, you know, cost you nothing to make. Here's just a selection of stainless steel nylocks for on the end of drag links for steering and some stainless steel split pins for putting your prop nuts back on as well. This is one of the few actual sort of OEM tools that I've got and this is one for just getting in and holding the nut on the end of the pinion gear, for the drive shaft and it comes with a few different size sockets and it's spring-loaded.

So, it just pushes up against it or removing drive shafts. This little loom I made up because a lot of trim tilt units have a round plug you pull it apart and it's just two female spade connectors inside the plug that goes down to the trim tool motor. So, I just made up a little wire just, I should put some alligator clips, for the moment its just bare wire and then just a couple of cut back spade connectors. So, I can put it into the connector and just supply power straight to the trim tool motor so it's really good for testing. This is just a little set of vice grips that I've just put some fuel line on the end of so you can crimp off fuel lines, stop fuel from running out but you don't damage it.As they're in the car guy once said nothing ever goes wrong when you have hose on hose. I've also got a variety of o-rings I keep which thinner ones for like the backs of carburetors and that kind of thing. But once again it's really hard to keep all the types you need. Sometimes you are better off just ordering it when you need it. This is just a little hand drill. So, drill bits just go in your little hand collet. That's really good for clearing out the little PO tube on the front of the gearbox that your speedo drives from. So, that's worth doing each service to.

This is just a little bit of aluminum anti-seize. I don't use a lot but it's nice to have an agency's like this that you know is compatible with aluminum, unlike a copper base one or something. Now the custom tool I made was quite a large socket here. I can't know what size it was now probably can't read because I painted it. But essentially it was a large socket and then I cut it in half, you can see the cuts are here and here and then welded in a bit of steel tube here. The reason I did that is because this has to then go down over the top of a crankshaft to get the nut at the bottom of it. So, it's the nut at the top of the Crankshaft, under the flywheel but because you've got the crankshaft coming up you need quite a long socket and it's also quite large. Not saying you could really buy. I think you can buy it as a custom tool from Yamaha or whatever but it was cheaper just to get a generic socket cut and extend it. Because the outboards always have lots of corrosion and impact screwdrivers really handy. I'm gonna do a video on corrosion down the track soon and I'll go through how you use those during that video. Bigger vice grips are really handy too, cease the bolts million in one uses.

A relatively small ratchet strap I use to support the gearbox while you're reinstalling it. There's a little video on that but well worth keeping a little one of these. Long angled pliers I find really, useful too, they're in the wrong drawer but they're great. They actually live on the top, that's how often I use them, they're one of those things that's a real go-to tool for me. Large multi-grips too, good for just undoing things like larger things, caps, even just stuck oil caps that kind of stuff, very handy. I set a different length pry bars are really, handy too. The number of things you have to pry off is huge so well worth having a set of pry bar. There's also just whole set of pullers. Various sort of pulley pullers then there's ones for pulling flywheels off, spigot bearing pullers, all sorts of things. So, a good set of pullers for altering situations is yeah, pretty much essential. This is actually sold as a propeller puller. So, it's for getting propellers that are stuck onto the prop shaft. This is actually another style of bearing carrier puller that I actually, really like.

The prop shaft sort of captivated inside here so can't go flopping around and the idea is it goes in and you can see their teeth there. So, you go in and you rotate it till it locks in and then you crank it. I'd actually really like to look at making some of these but for smaller outboards. I think it's a really good design but I've only ever seen it for much larger outboards. So, I began to weld something up that works on smaller outboards. So, if I do that I'll do a video of making that as well. It looks straightforward really, it's a bit of pipe, these pieces welded on and that's welded on there, then a large bolt. So, it shouldn't be too hard to copy it. This is the style of puller that I use with those hooks I showed earlier, for pulling bearing carriers out. This is the little custom-made up tool I use for oiling the control cables, there's a video on that. Then this one here's a larger one, this actually goes onto this end and then this is for doing steering cables. You also must, must, must have lots of big hammers for hitting things. Well that's kind of the highlights for the hand tools.

Certainly, the things that I commonly use when I'm working on boats. The more you look around, the more you think you know, there's a million and one things you do need. Heats really important, like some sort of torch to put heat under things and things like the wire wheel. There things like a drill presses as well. I guess it depends also how much fabrication and things like that you're gonna be doing as well. But it goes on and on so I won't bore you too much. I think if you're just doing your own basic servicing then you're obviously gonna need a bit of a subset of these things. If you really want to just stop building a bit of a collection and really working on your own cars, bikes, boats, whatever then these are the things I find I commonly use.

Alright, we'll wrap this one up here thanks for watching. I hope it's sort of interesting, just to see the sorts of things particularly, if you've been watching for a while and wondering what's inside all these different boxes. I know it probably seems like a bit of a filler video, in some ways, but I did want to show you this stuff and I do have some other videos planned coming up soon. I'm getting into those ignition ones, the HT leads, the spark plugs, also going to do some more work to the green machine. I've gotta find a leak, which I think is an interesting job to do. I'm also going to put some dual batteries and a solar cell that kind of stuff. So, that'll be the next videos coming up. I also ordered a hydrofoil for the green machine. So, we'll do some before and after testing with that as well when I do that install. Alright, well take care and I'll catch you soon!