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Every year as part of the annual maintenance for my outboard engines, I change the oil in their crankcases. The drainplug for the crankcase on most outboard four-strokes is usually located on the side of the engine’s mid section. Historically when I’ve performed this task I’ve made sure the engine is in it’s vertical orientation to ensure that all of the oil drained down and out of the engine.

The problem is that it has always made a bit of a mess as the oil sort of drools down the side of the engine, over the anti-ventilation plate and ultimately into my drain pan. Once all the oil is drained out I’ve had to wipe down the oily engine and lower unit with rags or paper towels to clean up the mess.

So I had a dream one night about how to dodge this slimy bullet. This all came about after studying the really cool engine cut-aways you see at boat shows, paying particular attention to the oil sumps and the way they are shaped, and most importantly, where the drain plug is located in relation to everything.  My thinking was that by tilting the engine all the way up, the drain plug would still be located at the lowest point in the sump as long as I also turned the engine all the way over to the side that corresponds with keeping that drain plug on the low side of things.

Well today I tried this technique on one of my engines and I’m delighted to say that the oil drained out, hit the drain pan and didn’t get a drop of oil on anything else. A joy to deal with and no slimy mess to clean up either.

The photo of this technique, and my dream come true, (well one of them anyhow) was taken by my friend Gretchen Thor who was on the scene capturing this big moment in my outboard engine life, as well as documenting the complete winterizing process for an up coming article on the topic in Cruising World magazine. I highly recommend this as the cleanest method of draining the oil out of your four-stroke outboard engine!


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