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Salvage Your Submerged Outboard, Part 1

Salvage Your Submerged Outboard, Part 1

Many people who live in the coastal areas of Southern USA have experienced hurricanes’ awesome power. Sadly, this year’s hurricanes have done extensive damage and caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage. Among these damages are boats, too.

So, what can you do if your outboard engine has been under water? Can you salvage it and make it run again? This process is called pickling, and here’s how it can be done. However, keep in mind that there’s a chance of an explosion, so it may be better to find a professional to help you. The best place to go for ship repair in San Diego is PCE.

Corrosion Protection

You may be tempted to remove your outboard from water immediately. However, if you don’t have the appropriate facilities to take care of it as soon as it is recovered, you may be doing yourself a disfavor. Salt water may be abrasive, but corrosion is very slow under water.

On the other hand, as soon as your engine touches air, the corrosion process kicks into fifth gear. It may be literal minutes before you start seeing those nasty orange spots forming and growing. It may not be as important if there’s a bit of rust on some parts, but even a speck of rust in your cylinders can completely wreck the powerhead.

In some cases, when the pickling facility is far away, it is better to transport the engine submerged in a large container, than to get it out of the water. If your ship repair experts have portable equipment, they can come to you, which makes everything simpler.


The first thing that needs to be done in this problem is hosing the engine down with fresh water. The conventional wisdom is that you shouldn’t saturate your engine with water. However, a submerged engine has already had plenty of water, salty water at that. You need to flush out all of the salt water out, so use the hose liberally.

Remove your starter and the alternator from the rest of the engine and submerge them in fresh water. After they’ve soaked for a while, hose them down to remove any lingering salt. Once again, make sure you get rid of all the salt, lest it destroys your engine sometime down the line.


Try to dry these parts as quickly as possible once you’ve washed them. Freshwater is much better than salt water, but it’s far from an ideal environment for an engine part. Any serious ship repair facility will have drying equipment. 

Once the alternator and the starter are finished with, it’s time to remove water from the rest of the engine. You’d best remove all the spark plugs and the breather and tilt your engine in all angles to ensure that the most of the water drains from the cavities.

This article is getting too long, and there are two very important steps to follow. Read on about it in part 2 of this text. These delicate and technically challenging tasks are best done by professionals. Your best choice for any kind of ship repair in San Diego is PCE. Over 40 years of experience in marine engineering and multiple contracts from the USA Navy speak volumes about the professionalism and dedication to the job.

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