Finished Project: Eaton’s Viking

Above: The Eaton’s Viking, restored.

Unfortunately, this outboard never worked properly. I had some help from an experienced mechanic, and after he did a compression test and I learned that the Viking didn’t have enough compression. A compression tester looks like a gauge on a hose and reminds me of a bike pump with a psi (pounds per square inch) meter.

I found this great video on how it works:


Compression is essential with outboards: the outboard must be able to push the exhaust fumes out of the underwater exhaust port and into the ocean around it. The water adds a lot of extra pressure against the flow of exhaust, especially when compared to say, a lawnmower. With smaller, older outboards, if there is not enough compression they won’t start in water, simply because they won’t have enough power. It is for this reason that an outboard must have good compression.

On top of all this, the cooling system didn’t work. Many outboards are water cooled; there’s a good supply of cold water available.  With some outboard motors, the water is pumped in by a rubber impeller. On the old British Seagull motors, the impeller was a rubber square shape with 4 blades, however rare Seagull impellers were made of aluminum! With the Viking, there was a water cooling system, but not by rubber impeller. Instead, there is a rotary pump; a slightly off centered cylinder shaped piece which rotates with the propeller. It is situated directly behind the propeller on the shaft. The seal around the rotor was broken and new ones are extremely hard to come by.

Above: This arrow points to the rotary pump. The cylindrical rotor is the silver colored piece in the center.

The Viking will work if I start it up OUT of water, because there is no extra pressure from the water to block the exhaust. Since the cooling system isn’t working it can only run for a minute or so before seizing up becomes a risk. The Viking is the outboard that works in air, but not water!
A project that doesn’t work after you have tried to fix it is discouraging. This is how I felt with the Viking. Back then I didn’t know much about small engines so I was at a loss as to where to go next. However, when I look back on it I can see that this project was a valuable learning experience. For instance, I was slightly hasty with dismantling and reassembling. I thought that by speeding things up I might finish sooner, but instead I ended up taking way longer because I made so many mistakes! And in my haste I broke some very delicate pieces (like the piston ring) which are essential for the engine to work properly (if at all) and had to be repaired or replaced. If I had taken a little more time and care with restoring the Viking, I would have noticed small details and learned much more about how the engine worked. So don’t let your mistakes prevent you from moving on to new projects – consider them learning experiences and move on.


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