I had an interesting experience this past weekend. Several times recently I have had the problem of my small Mercury outboard engine quitting as I get about half way from where I keep my dinghy to my boat on its mooring. Always seemed like it was just running out of gas. So, I would unscrew the fill cap and peer inside my tank to see plenty of fuel. The valve was turned on that controls the flow of fuel from the tank to the carburetor and the vent was wide open. The fuel was relatively fresh so I really didn’t think the problem was bad fuel, but frankly couldn’t come up with much else as a logical cause for this condition. Well, I found the problem and it shown in all it’s glory in the photo above. I had been stopped by a tree, specifically the maple tree in my yard. I love the shade the tree offers in the Summer months, but hate the profuse amount of things that drop out of the tree onto my cars, and now into the fuel tank on my outboard engine. Seems this flying seed found it’s way into my tank somehow when I was servicing my engine this Spring. I theorize that the small amount of suction in the fuel system that is generated as the engine runs and uses fuel drew this semi-floating maple seed into a position where it blocked the outlet from my gravity feed fuel tank on top of my engine, causing a fuel starvation situation to occur. The engine’s running great now after removing the culprit shown here. So, the lesson? Be luckier than me and maybe cut out a small piece of metal screen to make a course filter for the fill point on your fuel tank. Or, perhaps a bit simpler, never work on a small engine in the shade of a maple tree. We’ve all heard the phrase “shade tree mechanic”. The phrase has new meaning to me this week.
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