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Engine turns over but doesn't stay running


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I have a 96 echelon with a 350 mercuriser black scorpion engine.

On 3 separate weekends we have had the boat die on us.

Day 1: Pretty sure we just plain ran out of gas :rant:    buuuuuuut I had just put 5 gallons in it a few days before and hadn't ran it much. The fuel gauge always bounces all over so it's not the most reliable when we are out on the water.

Day 2: We went out in the morning and skied for a while with no problems. Then we parked at the sandbar for an hour or so and couldn't leave. The boat idled out just fine but when I went to speed up I got a chugging sensation the boat died. One attempt to start it had a couple loud clunks so I checked the prop which was clear. After that it would not turn over. We got towed up to a friend's dock and looked everything over but couldn't see anything obvious: battery ran the blower and radio, 1/8 tank of gas, oil is full, etc.... We ended up putting 5 gallons of gas in the boat and it popped off just fine and we drove the 5 or so minutes home to our dock.

Day 3 (today): I put another 10 gallons of gas in and hopped in the boat which started up just fine. We pulled a couple little little kids on the trainer ski and praised the hell out of them. We again parked at the sandbar and floated around for a while. We again idled out from the other boats and before we could hit the throttle to take off the boat sputtered and died. At that point we let it sit for a while (because what else could we do). I turned the ignition to the first position a few times to make sure the fuel injector had everything primed and I did hear something running/whining when I did. Now it turns over but only runs for 5-10 seconds before dying again. 

I am by no means a mechanic but this feels like a fuel deliver problem. Any help y'all might have before find a mechanic that travels to me would be great.

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3 hours ago, auj130 said:

I have a 96 echelon with a 350 mercuriser black scorpion engine.

On 3 separate weekends we have had the boat die on us.

Day 1: Pretty sure we just plain ran out of gas :rant:    buuuuuuut I had just put 5 gallons in it a few days before and hadn't ran it much. The fuel gauge always bounces all over so it's not the most reliable when we are out on the water.

Day 2: We went out in the morning and skied for a while with no problems. Then we parked at the sandbar for an hour or so and couldn't leave. The boat idled out just fine but when I went to speed up I got a chugging sensation the boat died. One attempt to start it had a couple loud clunks so I checked the prop which was clear. After that it would not turn over. We got towed up to a friend's dock and looked everything over but couldn't see anything obvious: battery ran the blower and radio, 1/8 tank of gas, oil is full, etc.... We ended up putting 5 gallons of gas in the boat and it popped off just fine and we drove the 5 or so minutes home to our dock.

Day 3 (today): I put another 10 gallons of gas in and hopped in the boat which started up just fine. We pulled a couple little little kids on the trainer ski and praised the hell out of them. We again parked at the sandbar and floated around for a while. We again idled out from the other boats and before we could hit the throttle to take off the boat sputtered and died. At that point we let it sit for a while (because what else could we do). I turned the ignition to the first position a few times to make sure the fuel injector had everything primed and I did hear something running/whining when I did. Now it turns over but only runs for 5-10 seconds before dying again. 

I am by no means a mechanic but this feels like a fuel deliver problem. Any help y'all might have before find a mechanic that travels to me would be great.

You indicate that it is an injected engine.  You'll need to beg, borrow, or buy a fuel pressure gauge to test the pressure on the fuel rail.  It could be spark, but if the fuel pressure is not constant you will have issues.

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based on your accounts of day 1 and day 2, i think my first step would be to visually triple check the fuel level in the tank after day 3.

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I have been chasing a fuel issue for months on my black scorpion. Check injectors, fuel filters and the screen on the fuel pump for a clog. If you have two fuel pumps check both. Also with the motor running see if you can hear the pump running. I have had a pump that surges and whines right before it went out. 

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6 hours ago, Lester said:

I have been chasing a fuel issue for months on my black scorpion. Check injectors, fuel filters and the screen on the fuel pump for a clog. If you have two fuel pumps check both. Also with the motor running see if you can hear the pump running. I have had a pump that surges and whines right before it went out. 

Thanks, I'll have to go to the manual and learn where all these things are.......
The fact that I was able to run the boat fine in the morning and then it cuts out after sitting off for an hour is weird to me.
I can hear something whining, almost sounds like air rushing as it cranks but don't have any idea if it is normal or not. I don't usually start the boat with the dog house up.

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4 hours ago, auj130 said:

Thanks, I'll have to go to the manual and learn where all these things are.......
The fact that I was able to run the boat fine in the morning and then it cuts out after sitting off for an hour is weird to me.
I can hear something whining, almost sounds like air rushing as it cranks but don't have any idea if it is normal or not. I don't usually start the boat with the dog house up.

My scorpion sucks air thur the iac pretty loud sometimes. I actually called merc about the fuel pumps because i only have the one. They said that the secondary low pressure pump is to help with vapor lock. Which could very well be an issue if it ran and then wouldnt stay running after sitting. Check ur pumps. The black scorpion seems to be a great motor with a ton of fuel related issues. Currently sitting in mine dealing with a bogging issue same one ive had for months haha😂

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4 hours ago, auj130 said:

Thanks, I'll have to go to the manual and learn where all these things are.......
The fact that I was able to run the boat fine in the morning and then it cuts out after sitting off for an hour is weird to me.
I can hear something whining, almost sounds like air rushing as it cranks but don't have any idea if it is normal or not. I don't usually start the boat with the dog house up.

Also get your injectors cleaned and go thru the system the best you can. Lots of gremlins have bit me with this motor

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16 hours ago, Lester said:

My scorpion sucks air thur the iac pretty loud sometimes. I actually called merc about the fuel pumps because i only have the one. They said that the secondary low pressure pump is to help with vapor lock. Which could very well be an issue if it ran and then wouldnt stay running after sitting. Check ur pumps. The black scorpion seems to be a great motor with a ton of fuel related issues. Currently sitting in mine dealing with a bogging issue same one ive had for months haha😂

Once it stops raining I'll get down to the boat and look at the fuel pump(s). When I do, what am I looking for or able to do? I've never pulled one out before. Are they easy to take apart and clean or maintenance?

I also wondered about the thermostat. I opened up the housing in the fall to winterize the boat and add antifreeze straight to the engine. Could I have damaged something there that is throwing off some sort of signal to stop running?

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