Wednesday, August 27, 2014

British Seagull--A post for the Motor Heads in the audience.

Along with building and restoring racing dinghies, Martin Scott is also fond of mechanical projects.  Over the years he has owned Austin Healey Sprites, various MGs, etc. but his latest "motoring" project is an outboard motor:  A British Seagull Model 40 Plus.  Martin restored this one for his dinghy rather than buy a new Honda or Mariner. Its re-machined with new rings - re-chromed and with all new gaskets and decals. Martin says she goes first pull.

Martin, did you really restore this?  She looks brand new!

Seems simple enough.  Just wrap a bit of old clothesline around the top pulley and give her a yank, right?  Well actually it's a bit more than that.  Here's the simplified starting procedure (taken from "SOS" Saving Old Seagulls): 

Motor cold.
Release the air bleed screw on the filler cap a half turn.
Pull open fuel tap.
Close choke. (restricting air supply)
Press 'tickler' on carb till fuel just spills out.
Open throttle to full. (frequent usage may allow you to determine that you can use less throttle to start.)
Ensure motor in neutral, if clutch or gears fitted.
Wrap pull cord 3 times round rope pull, clockwise.
(Move crew away from just behind you!)
Steady tank with left hand and give steady but sharp pull on rope. (turning flywheel clockwise).
Motor should start on 2nd pull.
If not started after 4 pulls look to see what you forgot!
If nothing seems amiss, check plug to ensure you have spark, see if plug wet...
Make sure fuel is less than 3 months old and correctly mixed, either 10:1 or 25:1. depending on age of British Seagull.  Never less than 25:1 though!!
If motor has not been started in many a month, try 'super flooding' by simply placing cloth in your hand, over the carb intake, thus injecting copious amounts of fuel, and lubricating/sealing dry bearing surfaces.
Whip rag away when it fires!
As soon as motor fires up, shut throttle down to avoid racing and open choke as soon as you can, normally within seconds....
Check for coolant flow. (should be the thickness of pencil, dropping back to the water.)

(If motor hot, do not flood to start.)

Lovely restoration.  Almost too pretty to use.  I confess that every now and then I look at Seagull motors on fleabay.  But I then I wake up, smell the Castrol and after reminding myself of all the other projects I have which are unfinished, I go lay down in a dimly lit room and take a few deep breaths until the temptation passes.

The iconic sailor with a sail bag over one shoulder and a light weight Seagull motor in the other hand was featured in every advertisement I saw as a teenager reading random copies of Yachts and Yachting which were laying about at Brigantine YC, courtesy of one of the senior members. 


  1. Pocketa-Pocketa-Pocketa...

    My dad had a Seagull engine for his dingy on his 49 foot Cross Trimaran. Worked well for the few minutes of its life bringing crew ashore on Maui. At the last moment, the helmsman erred and the dingy flipped over in the shore break. Sigh. I don't recall the details of the instruction book as this was some decades ago, but they were typically British, and full of irony. ;) It took a while to clean up the engine and get it to run once again.

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