Trials and Tribulations with our Tohatsu Outboard

We have tried our best to keep Tohatsu 9.8hp 4 stroke outboard running smoothly, when we would be gone more than a week or two we always flushed with fresh water and ran the gas out of the carburetor bowl. At the end of each season came an oil change. This gave us three years of trouble free operation but this past season brought a bit of drama. Backing up to 2016, I had wanted to change the water pump impeller, but stuck bolts and other projects pushed this project low on the punch list before leaving San Diego. At the end of last year I was again committed to replacing the impeller but those pesky bolts on the lower unit foiled me again and no professionals could be found in Gabriel’s yard (Guaymas). It wasn’t until we had a problem coming back from San Blas that it was priority #1.

In Mantachen I spent a few unsuccessful hours trying to get the lower unit bolts free. Thankfully we have kayaks which made the lack of a dinghy a non-event. In Nuevo Vallarta, Ralph on Moon Drifter gave me the contact for Jack (information below), the local outboard expert, who was quick to schedule a time to swing over and grab our outboard. I had also asked him to adjust the shifting as it occasionally had some odd behaviors. A few days later Jack dropped off our outboard all tuned up and ready to go. It seems the last owner (or whoever did repairs) decided to use red Loc-tite on the lower unit bolts, WTF?!?! It was a bitch to get remove them; requiring cutting the heads of the bolts off, a shit ton of heat, and a special tool. At least it made me feel better for not having success earlier. Back in the water everything seemed to perfect, whew!

Jajaja, not so fast. Heading south we made it to Chamela where we headed to shore for a beer and food. Bellies full we hauled the dinghy to the water where the waves were breaking but were reasonably spaced. Engine started, hit the power to beat the next wave and not much push from the propeller. Ugh, “Harrison you are fucked!” was muttered as he jumped out to hold us as a wave broke over the bow. Rushing to get past the break I found we had limp mode power, which proved barely enough to beat the next wave. Never had there been a prop strike, the rubber just was old and caused the prop to spin.

A few weeks later my crew brought a replacement prop in their luggage. Problem solved! That was until we went a shore in Tenacatita. Bouncing over rocks the engine stand popped out and down came the chipping the new prop. Really?!?! Not once but twice this happened!!! Engine ran fine as we went up the estuary but when we went to get out past this shore break shifting into gear resulted in nada. Here we go again… Thankfully with a smaller break and three of us paddling there was no drama, beyond another outboard issue.

Back in Nuevo Vallarta, Jack was off on round two of repairs. The next day he called with the bad news, something he had never seen before, a cracked prop shaft which was restricting the dog clutch from moving. Worse news he could not find a replacement in Puerto Vallarta. So I would need to bring one with me after my next trip home. Fast forward a month and I arrange to meet Jack on my way from the airport with the parts and his promise to finish the repair the next day. That was the plan. Until he called explaining that I brought the wrong prop shaft?!?!? I screwed up and bought a 9.9hp prop shaft for my 9.8hp outboard. Ugh.

A month and 800 nautical miles later, I flew to the United States for a couple days and brought back the correct propeller shaft. I went about trying to figure out how to install the bucket of parts Jack gave me but I came up short – a missing the clutch spring holder (1cm cylinder). I hoped it wasn’t critical and continued the reassembly. Sad to say but without that piece the outboard is always in forward. So it continues as this became a project for the fall…

Jack in Nuevo Vallarta is a great guy, who charges a reasonable price for his work (unlike most of the vendors in PV). You can reach him at 322-103-8317.

No Comments

Leave a Comment