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.

Reassembling the Viking

Now that the Viking has been dismantled, cleaned, and painted it is time to put it back together. For me this step often takes the least time because I am by this time familiar with how the engine works and know how it should fit back together. It isn’t my favorite step towards restoring a motor: I am always worried that I’ll find out I am missing a part or two during reassembly! This happened to me once when I discovered that the float bowl for the Shrimp’s carburetor was missing. It’s made of glass so it would be extra hard to replace. I did find it, but I lost it because it wasn’t together with all the other pieces of the Shrimp which I kept in a box. I could have saved myself the trouble of searching by simply keeping this glass bowl in the same place as the other engine pieces.

Above: The float bowl.

I started with the lower leg. This means fitting the propeller axle and gears into the gear housing, fitting in the drive shaft, and then attaching the whole contraption to the block. Don’t forget the gear oil! This lubricates the gears and is very important. Also down by the gear box is the rotary water pump – it relies on seal and spins with the motion of the propeller axle. It’s kind of like an impeller, but not as reliable! The seal on this Viking was bust, and the pump wasn’t doing its job. Fortunately I had some help with a experienced engine enthusiast on this one.

Top: The rotary pump. The black circular piece directly around the silver circle is the rubber seal.

Next, I put the cams and piston back inside the block and I didn’t put the head on until last. To cap it off (quite literally) I screwed on the crankcase bearing assembly, which appears on the top of the block. It is kind of like a little hatch and makes it a lot easier to get the cams out.

Top: The partially disassembled block.In the center is the bearing assembly, you can see it where the black oil is in the middle.

Next I rebuilt the carburetor and bolted it onto the block. There isn’t a lot of space to move a wrench where the carburetor bolts on, as a result this step takes a long time.

Tools: Mainly, I used a socket set. This is comprised of three ratchets, and a multitude of different size bits. their purpose is to remove nuts and bolts. I also used a hammer to take off the flywheel. Usually to remove a flywheel you loosen the flywheel nut, and then hit it squarely with the hammer. This loosens it from the tapered end of the crankshaft.

Above: The Head

Now I am almost finished rebuilding the Viking, and I am just about to put the head on over the piston and screw it on. The combustion chamber has a tapered end so that I don’t need a ring compressor – all I have to do is slide the piston into the head. However, the piston has two rings for compression sealing. Each ring has a notch which help keep it from moving about, and the rings must be aligned with the notches or the piston won’t fit in the combustion chamber.

At this point I didn’t know the two notches for the piston rings were even there. Everything has gone smoothly so far… until I attempted to put the head over the piston. Of course, the piston rings weren’t aligned with the notches so the piston was not going to fit into the head. In the end, I broke one of the two rings. Now I had a problem! How was I going to get a new ring? It had to be a perfect fit on the piston, or it wouldn’t seal. In the next post this will be discussed.

Above: Broken piston ring.

I could have been a little more careful when putting this motor back together. A good idea is to examine the pieces of an engine carefully, check for small notches or anything else that might otherwise go unnoticed. Go so far as to use a magnifying glass! This can come in handy with tiny engines  such as those found on model airplanes (like the one below).

How to Make a Gasket – The Viking

Now that I have taken apart, cleaned, and painted the Viking, one of the the final steps I made was to cut new gaskets.

A gasket seals the space between two metal pieces, keeping oil from getting out and preventing dust from getting in. Dust-contaminated fuel will clog up the carburetor and prevent smooth fuel flow. Gaskets also give a motor compression by sealing off air.

When I took apart the viking I broke some gaskets. This is okay because it is often a good idea to replace old ones even if they aren’t broken.  Usually you can buy gasket sets for motors but in this case the Viking was too old; no gaskets are made for it anymore so I had to make some for it. I bought a roll of gasket material and traced an outline of the old gasket onto a portion of this material. Then I used a box knife to cut out the new gasket. Double check to make sure that your newly cut gasket doesn’t block and hole on the motor! If it does it may affect the performance of the engine.

That’s it! Making gaskets isn’t hard provided you do it correctly.

Removing Flywheel Keys: The Viking

If you look on the top of the crankshaft (the part in the middle that’s pointing up) you can see that there are two small flywheel keys on the left. I needed to take out these keys in order to finish taking apart the rest of the motor,  but I couldn’t figure out how! They seemed to be locked in place and wouldn’t budge no matter what I tried. WD-40 and 3-in-one oil didn’t work and I even went so far as to give them a knock with a hammer and chisel (this last option wasn’t such a great idea, as you will risked damaging the keys). I finally solved this problem by getting some help from an experienced engine ‘wizard’ who was a leader for the Saanich Small Engines at one time. He simply pulled some pliers out of his pocket and – hey presto! – the flywheel keys were out.

And that’s how to get your flywheel keys out of an old outboard motor. Just be sure you don’t squeeze to hard on the key or you could risk damaging them. Be sure that they are in a safe place where they won’t go missing. With some old motors you can never be sure where that replacement part will be found.








Pliers are useful for removing flywheel keys.

Getting the Grease Off : The Viking

If you are going to paint an engine you need to clean it first otherwise the paint will not stick. This involves removing grease dirt and rust with a foam spry, or other chemical solution. The foam spray substance is compressed into an aerosol can and you can buy this at any automotive store. It is applied to the engine pieces, left a few minutes, and then washed off with water. Sandblasting helps to remove old paint an smooth out the pieces. At the time I didn’t know about sandblasting, so I neglected this step.

Your basic engine foam spray.

Now that I have cleaned all the dirt of the Viking, I needed to paint it.



Steps With The Viking

This what the Viking looked like before I took it apart. Ignore the rust and dents and dirty appearance for a moment and look carefully. Just about every modern outboard motor is completely covered up with protective cowling (aka: the engine cover). Next time you’re around an outboard motor, take a look: you don’t see much other than the cowling these days.

Now look at this outboard. See how exposed all the parts are? That’s an old engine for you!

Here’s another view from underneath. There isn’t much protective cowling, is there? On the top of this outboard the flywheel, spinning at 4000 rpm, is quite exposed. What’s good about this set up is that it’s easy to get at, like those old Volkswagon car engines. You can take it apart pretty easily if you get stuck out on the water (which I hope doesn’t ever happen to you, but be prepared).

Taking An Engine Apart


1. Before you take any engine apart, it’s always a good idea to find some plastic containers (with lids) in which to sort the bolts and screws from your engine. Labeling them also helps. Keep these in a safe place. Why do you want to be so meticulous? Let’s just say that if you don’t keep track of these bits and pieces when you take them OFF the engine, imagine what might happen when it comes to put them back ON the engine, and they’ve mysteriously disappeared into the junk of your garage. And yes, I might have learned this from experience…

2. The next thing you want to do is take some ‘before’ pictures of your engine, to help you remember how all the pieces fitted together. When I first started doing this I took a lot of pictures of how the parts looked assembled, taken apart, and reassembled. It’s pretty useful if there is a long interval between taking the engine apart and rebuilding it.

3. You also want to have a saw horse of some kind, so the outboard is in the position it would be on the boat. I used this sawhorse when I went to fairs for showing, so if you intend to do this, make sure it can disassemble easily. When building the saw horse make sure that when the outboard is attached the propeller will rest easily in a bucket of water so you can test it periodically without having to adjust your saw horse.

4. Have your project sitting over a tarp or newspaper, especially if you’re working in a carport like I was. It’s no fun cleaning oil stains off a concrete floor!

Next Steps:

The first thing I did with this project was to take the gas tank off; that’s the large metal cover on the top of the engine (see top photo). Once the gas tank is off it is  a lot easier to get at the other parts.  There was a lot of dirt (and spider webs) covering this motor because it had been sitting for a long time outside. I used WD40 to loosen a lot of the stuck bolts and screws. A few times I had to leave parts soaking they were so jammed in.

Next, I removed the head (look under that large silver cylinder in the photo to the right and then down to the right – that’s the head). Usually when you remove the head, you need a torque wrench. Not here! The head bolts are screwed on, so all I needed was a ratchet with a flat head bit.

After the head, the next thing to remove will be the flywheel. On the Viking, the flywheel is tapered to the end of the crankshaft. All you need to do is put the flywheel bolt on the crank shaft and give it a knock with a hammer. Be sure to hit the flywheel bolt squarely so as not to damage the threads.

Underneath the flywheel is the magneto. Remove this piece as well.

With the magneto removed, I can now access the head. But that’s another post!

In the next post I will be talking about the other steps I took, as well as discussing some of the problems I encountered.

First Project: The Viking

My first project was a Viking outboard. I got it from the grandfather of one of the club members. This guy has lots of old machines in his yard and the Viking happened to be one of them. When I got it it was in terrible condition, and no one even knew if it worked because it had been sitting in his yard for 30 years. When I look back now I wonder what made me choose this engine, because it looked so battered and broken, but I’m glad I did, because it was a great learning experience.

Here it is after I built a sawhorse for it to sit on. This is one of the first things you should do when you get an old outboard, because it doesn’t naturally stand on its own.

Here’s the general outline of what I did when I restored the Viking:

1. Took pictures of the engine before dismantling, cleaning, and painting.

2. Took the engine apart. Sorted parts in labeled containers.

3. Cleaned the parts of the motor (removing the grease, old paint, rust, dirt).

4.  Painted the cowling, covers and other pieces (my first project, a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower, was new enough that it didn’t need paining. A spray bottle of pink solution and a cloth was enough to make it look shiny and new).

5. Finally, I put it all together.

I’m going to be discussing what I did in more detail in separate posts, so for now I’ll just introduce the project.