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Fishing reports: 12/21 and 12/26

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Got a little slack on posting fishing reports.

Friday, 12/21

Decided to troll the Monitor/Merrimac Bridge Tunnel for stripers.  Started at the small boat channel on the backside of the pylons on outgoing tide.  Ran one 3 way rig and a red/white Stretch 15.  Water temp was 49 degrees.  Very little life until about a quarter mile from the tunnel entrance, but no takers.  Headed over to the shipping channel and saw some decent marks.  Ran 2 3 way rigs at varying depths from 50 ft to 75 ft (yes, I found a deep section just in front of Newport News Shipbuilding that deep!).  Trolled all the way to the James River Bridge, then the wind started picking up, so called it a day and headed back to the ramp.  No fish were injured on this trip.

Wednesday, 12/26

Weather looked real good for a Bay trip.  Picked up some eels at Wallaces in Hampton, then set off for Cape Charles.  Just cleared the Back River inlet when the motor dropped 500 rpms.  Turned around and started heading back and it magically cleared up.  Ran about a mile in the river with no issues, figured it was a non-issue, and headed back out into the Bay.  15 miles later we set down just outside of Cape Charles harbor entrance in 70 ft of water and dropped the eels over...one on the bottom and the second one 20 ft off the bottom.  Drifted an hour and no nibbles.  Marks were scarce on the fish finder, so we decided to move a couple miles up the Bay to 38A buoy.  There were about 10 other boats there that were working an area in 40 ft of water.  Some marks, so we deployed the eels and wasted an hour there.  I then told Tyler pull the lines in and lets move over to the edge of the channel where it dropped off to 65 ft.  

As we moved over there, the darn motor started fluctuation on rpms again.  Told Tyler "OK, lets do one drift and start back.".  Tried for 30 minutes, and decided to call it quits and start heading back across the bay.  

Hit the throttle and engine only goes to 2,000 rpms with no warning lights.  What the heck???  Shut it down and re-start and rpms go to 3500 with throttle at idle.  Tyler asked of we should call SeaTow since we still were over 14 miles from the entrance to Back River.  I said no and let me try something.  Re-started the motor and as soon as the ignition caught, pushed it into forward gear with a clunk!  I know...that is hard on mechanical parts, but by now it was 3:30 and we still had a long way to go.  Pushed the throttle to 3/4 for 2,200 rpms, and started chugging home at a blistering 7.2 mph.  

While Tyler was driving, I checked the primer bulb and it was hard, not collapsed.  Pumped it a few times anyway for no particular reason at all.

Now things start getting weird.  After 20 or so minutes, the rpms increase to just over 3,000.  Tyler looked at me and I said leave it alone as our speed now increased to 11 mph and cut our return time by 1 hour.  A few minutes later, rpms increase enough to put us on plane and we are now running 27 mph.  This is great until about 5 minutes later when rpms drop back to 2,500 and we fall off plane.  I asked Tyler at this point to pull the throttle back to idle, and the motor starts running real rough and sounds like someone dropped a bag of rocks in the crankcase.  He asked me what to do, and I reached over and pushed the throttle forward.  Sound goes away and it is running smooth again.  I tell him leave it there and we will just take whatever speed we can get. 

I also switch places with him and start driving again.  I figured if it was going to blow, I would rather be the one driving than him.  

We are now half way across the bay when the rpms start climbing again and we are now running 4200 rpms!  It holds this for a few minutes then falls back to 3,000, then  starts climbing again to 4,600 and we are now running close to 40 mph.  We look at each other with a WTF expression but don't touch the throttle.  Also, during this run, we pass the Sea Tow boat towing another boat across the Bay, so if we had called him, we probably would have had a 2-3 hour wait before he got to us, then  a 2 hour tow back.  That would have put us back at the dock around 9:00 pm and it was already down to 41 degrees!

We make it back to the marina and slow down in the no wake zone.  Engine is running rough as he**  but we make it to the ramp at 5:30.  Return trip time was roughly 1 1/2 hours.  

So, tomorrow morning will clean up the boat and fishing gear, then start digging into the engine to see what is going on.  First thing will be to pull the plugs to see if there is any damage to them or the tops of the pistons from running lean.  Next, replace the on-board fuel filter and the Racor fuel/water seperator.  Will also pull the pick-up tube from the tank to see if there is any trash sucked into it.  Finally, check throttle and shift linkage, throttle position sensor, and ignition cutout switch.  After that, if there is no internal damage, it may be necessary to take the boat to a dealership.  

I hope it is nothing major and I can get back on the water in a few days.  Will post the progress as I figure this out.

 

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Sorry for the bad luck and hope the engine problem is minor.  My son-in-law was out striper fishing a few days ago and was bringing in 20-24 inchers out near the container ships anchored near Cape Charles. Oh, real near... He said about 15 feet from the ships he saw water breaking and went over and there were striper. They were not taking the stretches, but 4 inch Livewire Swim Shad (he bought me some for Christmas).

The large striper are few and far between and being caught off eels trolled on planers up near river entrances from the reports I've gotten.

Son-in-law said he knows they were catching striper in another area near Cape Charles, but he saw over 100 boats there and started looking for other places to fish. Sure hope we don't over fish the striper before they start a good recovery and I agree with him not going where 100 boats are. Tough to fish in those conditions.

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There were not a lot of boats where we were fishing.  Up the Bay about another 5-6 miles was a different story, though.  It looked like the boats were lined up from the Eastern Shore all the way over to the Wolf Trap light.  I don't think they were doing much better since we would see some of the bigger boats pull out and head our way.

My other son showed me a picture of his friends from yesterday.  They had 3 fish, smallest being 30".  When I first asked him where did they catch them, he said York Spit.  I kinda find that hard to believe as there is not much water depth or bottom contour.  I think they meant York Spit Channel, which is the channel those ships were anchored off of.

Waiting for the temps to get a little warmer this  morning so I can clean the boat and start looking into the engine.  I have a suspicion an injector or two may have had an issue and were failing intermittently.  My biggest fear is a lean condition and possible burnt pistons.  Looks like my fishing is done for awhile.

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What's the word on the motor?

Sounds like a fuel restriction.

Run on external tank with good fuel to rule out  boat side fuel delivery issues?

Hope it's minor..

Steve

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Started on the motor first to make sure everything was in good shape.  Pulled all 6 plugs and they looked normal.  Ran a borescope down each hole to check pistons for any indication of burns and also inspect cylinder walls.  Pistons all clean and cylinders looked real good....still can clearly see the factory hone marks after 700 hours run time.  Hooked the laptop up to the on-board computer using the Evinrude/BRP software and checked for any fault codes.  Only one code from yesterday and that was for coolant water being too low temperature.  Water temp we were running in was 45 degrees, but that fault code kinda has me scratching my head as to why the on board sensor saw a low temp unless the thermostat was stuck open.  Will do some more research on this.  Was able to do diagnostics testing on all 6 fuel injectors and they all came back saying they were functioning properly.  Next did diagnostics on all coils and that came back fine, too.

Next item was the primer bulb.  Removed it and pumped some fuel through it; worked fine.  I thought I had a new 3/8 factory primer bulb in the shop, but could not find it.  I have put it on the list of things to pick up from the local Evinrude dealer tomorrow.  Will be changing both the engine fuel filter and Racor filter.  Just ordered them today and hope to see them Saturday.  Will also be pulling the pickup tube from the tank tomorrow and see if any debris is in there obstructing fuel flow.

So here is the big puzzle for the day.  Remember how I ran into the issue yesterday where on start up in neutral, the motor would rev up to 3,500 rpms?  Today, I removed the air box and verified the butterflies in the air intakes were fully closed.  Hooked up the flush attachment to the lower unit, turn the water on, hit the ignition and same thing today.  What the heck is going on?  Hook the laptap back up to the motor, turn the ignition on, and monitor the throttle position sensor position and voltage.  Voltage should be around .65  volts at neutral and I was seeing 2.56 volts.  I then start re-reading the factory repair  manual to verify the voltage, look at the diagnostics screen and now see the voltage is slowly dropping.  It is now around 1.20.  I wait a few more minutes and it drops to .79.  I am a little impatient at this point since it has been close to 5 minutes, so I start the motor.  Darn thing works fine and goes to a fast idle of 850 rpms.  Ok, maybe this was a fluke, so I shutdown and re-start it a few more times and it works just like it is supposed to.  Also, no rough idle anymore. 

I suspect the throttle position sensor got out of sync with the computer due to the fuel issue yesterday and somehow it was advancing the timing as if it was at 3/4 throttle, ignoring where the throttle linkage was actually positioned.   By allowing it some time today to re-initialize itself, that issue seems to have fixed itself.  I will do a few more start tests tomorrow to be sure it is back to normal.

I have suspected the fuel restriction from the start, but wanted to first confirm there was not apparent damage to the motor.  From that point, I just started working forward and eliminating all possibilities.  As for the fuel pickup in the tank, I have had foreign material pulled into it once before.  That time it looked like part of a gasket from the fuel sender had fallen in the tank and eventually worked its way  to the tube.  I can honestly say that gasket had to have fallen in there prior to me purchasing the boat. I have replaced the sender twice since I owned it and both times the old gasket was tossed in the trash and a new one installed.

Hope to have some more updates tomorrow if the rain holds off long enough!

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Just finished some more research on that pesky throttle position sensor.  I think I will be doing some more testing on it tomorrow to see if it is possibly sticking or has any corrosion on the electrical pins to be causing the erratic idle issue.  Also, if it is giving faulty readings intermittently, the timing could be retarded at full throttle, holding the rpms down.  It just seems odd that it did not throw an error code.

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Definitely the throttle position sensor (TPS).  Ran diagnostics again this morning and captured data when ignition turned on (engine not running), in neutral, TPS position reading at 23.10, TPS voltage at 1.70, and oil frequency reading 1094.2.  Did not touch anything and the readings 3 minutes later were TPS position at 0.00, TPS voltage at 0.84, and oil frequency at 228.  These are more typical of the values expected in neutral except the voltage should be more like 0.65.  Last test was to advance the throttle to WOT  None of the values changed from the 3 minute test.  TPS position should have been 95.0-100.0, TPS voltage around 4.10, and oil frequency around 5500.

Carried these results to the local Evinrude dealer and he confirmed my suspicions....replace the TPS.  I was going to purchase it from him ($220) but he did not have one and could not get it for 10-14 days.  I ended up buying a new fuel filter, primer bulb, throttle cam follower and o ring, though ( a little over priced, but considered it the cost of him reviewing my findings).  Came home and orderd a new TPS for $165 plus shipping.

Having a copy of the diagnostics software and the shop manual for this motor saved me a chunk of change versus taking it to the dealer to be diagnosed.  I guess for having 700 hours on the motor, the only major expenses so far have been getting the EMM rebuilt and the TPS.  

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TPS...Well that's not too bad. Definitely could have been worse.

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Oh yes...I was even concerned I caused some problems from running it until I determined it was the TPS and even though I had the throttle 3/4 open some times, it was only advancing the spark enough to run the rpms displayed on the tach.

Waiting on the new TPS to be delivered.  I will definitely run the diagnostics on the new one once installed to confirm the voltage and position numbers are correct prior to starting the engine.

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I am really confused!  Received notification on 1/4 that the shipping label was created and delivered to USPS in Dania, FL at 1:57 pm.  Tracking history now shows the throttle position sensor just arrived in San Bernandino, CA Distribution Center on 1/7 @ 3:47 pm.  If I am going from Florida to Virginia, how the hell is the most direct route through California???

 

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Well, the throttle position sensor was delivered today.  Removed the flywheel, swapped out the old sensor for the new one, then ran the computer diagnostics before I re-installed the flywheel.  On initial power up with throttle at idle, sensor reading was 0.00.  Advanced throttle to WOT and sensor read 98.4.  As far as i care, that was good enough to re-install the flywheel.  I will go looking for that missing 1.6% another day!

Now if we can get a good weather window to put the boat in the water and do a real test!

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