Briggs & Stratton Outboard Motor Review:


John's Tool Crib
by John Cupp

Press Release

Briggs & Stratton Outboard Motor Review:

Let me explain it is mostly aluminum! The premiere small engine manufacturer of America and the world, Briggs & Stratton has made a brilliant move building a 5 hp four-cycle outboard motor. No, it isn’t the same engine as on your lawn mower. It is a brand new design strictly for marine use.

A long anticipated motor from a USA citizen’s perspective. I was weaned on small Briggs & Stratton motors for go-carts, mini bikes, and yes, the faithful lawn mower. I learned the sound that they would make when you milled the head down to raise the compression. I also know the sound of a head gasket leak when that same over-milled head would blow the gasket out the side. Then you had to find solid metal gaskets made from copper so the engine would run for longer than ten minutes. I always wanted to mount one of these lawn mower engines to a boat, but other projects took precedence, and I never got my wish. This is why I was so excited when I called Briggs & Stratton and spoke with them about getting a motor for testing.

I was surprised when it arrived in one box. I didn’t think that the fuel tank and motor could fit together in the same box, but they did. It was a compact shipping crate and the motor with a 3-gallon tank were well protected from the rigors of shipping. My wife about fell over when she saw the box and immediately demanded that I take it out of the living room where I had put it before taking it out of the box. I explained to her that it would not get the house smelling because it didn’t have any gasoline or oil in it. She informed me that she would throw a tablecloth over the whole thing if it stayed there a minute more than it should. It seemed small at first but it was a rather large box!

What a shock when I opened the box and found a camouflaged motor! I think the rep thought it was a hunting magazine when I mentioned Duckworks Magazine and MAIB. Camouflage is the brand new option for the motor and it looks great. When I go to a messabout, I’ll just put bushes on my boat and sneak up on group.

What a nice finish this motor has, and everything looks in its place. The throttle grip has just enough tension to not accelerate but make it very easy for turning. Briggs & Stratton provides everything you need except the gasoline, and even then they give you additive so your gas won’t go bad and cause varnish in the carburetor. This motor is far from a lawn mower just in its ignition system. It has full electronic ignition and a speed governor. The motor will never go above its four thousand RPM red line. I put gasoline in the tank, hooked on the hose and put oil in the crankcase. It was the moment of truth when I switched the line open on the petcock and pressed the gas line bulb a few times. Choke and VROOM! Take off the choke, and it fired up perfectly so I shut it down.

With the help from my wife and the lawn tractor we managed to get the copper P.C. Bolger Brick and Briggs & Stratton outboard motor to the shore across the road from my house. I put the PFD’s in the boat and paddled out where I thought there were no rocks and started the motor. Every time I pulled the starter cord the engine would fire up. I then eased the outboard into reverse and backed up. So far so good. I slipped the very crisp gearshift into neutra,l then forward, and off I went. It actually scared me when I gave it a little gas.

I then moved my body forward and tried the throttle again and made the copper Brick get up and plane! For the sake of safety, I had already gusseted the transom with ½”plywood instead of ¼” as the plans called for, and I put extra oak framing there also. I mixed copper in the epoxy of the bottom with a layer of 6-ounce cloth and instead of wood rub strips, I put full dimensional 1”X2” on edge UHMW. The boat was not yet finished, but it had been glassed fully with 1” seam tape and a layer of 6-ounce cloth everywhere and 4” taped seams on the outside. It has 5.2 mm luan plywood with red oak framing and motor mount. It has ½” fir plywood gussets and they will be covered with 3 mm luan for a matching finish. I will place the mast as per the plan, but I will make a rudder that fits over the motor mount with nylon webbing for rudder attachment.

You wanted to hear about the motor and not the boat. After a little fooling around with starting and stopping the motor, I picked up my wife and dog. We cruised out to Modoc Point near where I live. I live on the shores of Upper Klamath Lake. The lake is thirty-eight miles long and varies in width from five to about twenty-five miles wide. It is a great test bench for any boat I could ever build. This Briggs & Stratton engine was eating up the lake like nobody’s business. At full throttle I could cruise at about 12 miles per hour with my wife Nan, dog Spuds and myself. I varied the throttle to break in the new motor and my wife was caught off guard a few times by the deceleration. We had a grand time out on the lake. The motor at full speed vibrates like any other one cylinder engine. Backing off the throttle limit’s the vibration, but you lose the top speed.

The motor runs like a champ and starts the first time every time no matter what the temperature. It is snowing now, and duck and goose season is in full swing. I do not have the constitution to go boating in this type of weather since the ducks and geese aren’t even flying in the stuff. This motor is not a Honda, but then it isn’t priced like a Honda. The motors that are being sold now are for fresh water. They are air-cooled and quiet, something that two cycle motors are not.

I have given this motor a lot of testing, and I feel the only thing that could improve it is a complete remote steering and gearshift control. I feel it is not rated in a correct manner. I live at an elevation of 4,500 feet. A normal 5 hp engine should lose about 12 percent of its power at this elevation. In no way should that motor make the P.C. Bolger Brick plane with my twenty-seven acre body. I have always weighed over 200lbs, but now from my back injury I weigh 280 lbs. The Boat weighs 75 lbs and the motor weighs 53 lbs without the three gallons of fuel. I forgot to mention that you could cruise all day on a gallon of fuel with this Briggs & Stratton. I have been forbidden to disclose under penalty of death what Nan weighs. My Pomeranian must weigh 155 lbs soaking wet, though!

With price cuts this time of year at most marine outlets, you could save a thousand dollars over the price of a Honda outboard with the Briggs & Stratton outboard. I wholeheartedly endorse this outboard to the readers of this magazine. It is about time that America builds a quality outboard at a price that all of its boaters can afford. With its three-blade propeller, solid gearbox, and above average power, I know it is a great deal. When I spoke with Briggs & Stratton they told me that a saltwater version is in the works, but would not give me a deadline. As a pusher motor for a sailboat, this outboard is perfect. It does have a short shaft, and I don’t know if a long shaft version will ever happen. With a lowering motor mount, it would work fine as an auxiliary for any boat under twenty-five feet or even larger.

Now let’s get our gear ready for winter and remember to drain your lower end on any inboard/outboard or outboard motors you have. I hope this will convince any of your significant others to place one of these under your Christmas tree (hint, hint). Everyone deserves an outboard like this.

From John’s floating tool crib to your boat-yard,

John Cupp