By Mark Fike
If you are an angler and have a boat, you also have a lot of freedom to venture around the bend and explore new fishing areas. That exploration can take you wherever you want provided you keep your outboard and electric motor in tip-top shape. Who wants to have their fishing trip curtailed by a preventable problem?
Electric motors are pretty simple. I use a transom mounted trolling motor for quiet or up close approaches to my fishing areas. The motor doubles for duck hunting too. Perhaps one of the biggest issues with electric motors is the propeller getting fouled or broken.
Always keep an extra prop and shear pin in your boat! Have a pair of pliers on hand to replace it. I did not the first time my pin snapped while duck hunting. I was so lucky though because I had a multitool with me and I found a nail lying in the duck blind. I filed it down to the proper size and got myself home. From then on I had an extra pin with me at all times!
A fouled prop can be quickly fixed by reversing the direction of the motor if the problem is weeds. In bad cases, raise the motor and use your hands (AFTER disconnecting the motor from the battery!) to clear the debris.
Perhaps the worst thing that can foul your prop is fishing line. So, please, please, please never discard fishing line in the water or where it can blow in the water. It wraps and sometimes stops your prop and worst yet, it cuts the seals in the lower unit of motors and water gets in and destroys the motor.
An electric motor with a lower unit full of water will sometimes run fine for a short distance and then noticeably bog down and stop. Sometimes raising it and running it in reverse will clear out the water but you will have the same issue once submerged again. This trick might allow you to limp home though!
Fixing the seals is not that hard if you have basic mechanical skills. For transom mount motors, a screwdriver, pliers and nut driver are all that is often needed. Seal kits are often $40 or less which is much cheaper than a new motor.
If your motor is not running at all, you should check the connection with your battery and make sure there is a very good connection. Corrosion is not a good thing and I have seen instances where even a little bit of corrosion or something as simple as the leads not tight enough to the terminal can cause the motor not to run. Wiggle those leads. They may look tight but not be tight.
When my motor is not running at all or it stops and starts, you know it is a broken wire or open wire. Start at one end with the motor on low (and tilted up is a good idea with everyone away from the prop!) and wiggle the wire slightly working your way to the other end. Do this a few times. If the motor does not start when the wire is obviously moved or held in a certain manner, then the problem is internal. It could be the tiller handle or something else.
You can often find YouTube videos on repairing your electric motor and there are online parts diagrams too. Fixing your own electric motor is a doable venture for some of the simplest things. Before you trash your motor or take it somewhere to be repaired, give the repair a shot yourself!