Manual Tilt Release Valve – Just In Case

Manual Tilt Release Valve – Just In Case

You wade back to the boat at your favorite fishing hole and notice there is fishing line tangled around your boat’s propeller. You tilt the engine up for inspection and to clear the line. Once the tangle is cleared, you hit the tilt button to lower the engine but nothing happens. You try the front control switch and also the auxiliary tilt switch located on the lower cowling pan. Still nothing.

You quickly check the battery connections and fuses and find everything in order. You switch the ignition key on and off several times and try the switches again – nothing. There is an audible clicking sound of the hydraulic relays, but that’s all.

You’re way across the bay and frustration begins to set in as you see the whole weekend going up in smoke. Relax. There is a way to get out of this situation without having to call for Tow Boat U.S. to come get you. (Add to your phone contacts – you may need it for other emergencies. Boat US 800-395-2628 or call Froggie’s Towing in Port O’Connor at 361-218-2936.)

Outboard manufacturers include an alternative to the hydraulic tilt system for this exact scenario and it is called the manual tilt release valve. Mercury has the valve located on the right side of the engine bracket, (viewed as if you are driving the boat or standing behind the outboard motor). The manual release for Yamaha and Evinrude outboards is located on the left side, midway down the transom bracket.

ON ALL BRANDS – This screw is to be turned counter-clockwise to release an upraised engine into a trim position where it can then be operated. One full turn only, most of the time. If your boat is in the water this will be beneath the water line; you will feel the opening and the slot for a flat blade screwdriver, size #2 or #3. Depending upon your boat’s transom configuration, you might need a stubby screwdriver to access the relief valve with the engine in the lowered position. See the illustration below, courtesy of Power Pole.

VERY IMPORTANT! – Do not unscrew the relief valve completely as salt water will be introduced into the trim/tilt hydraulic system and you will probably lose the screw overboard.

The relief valve screw is held by a retaining clip and 3/4- to 1-full turn is usually enough to start the engine slowly dropping into an operating attitude. Be sure to keep fingers away from the area between engine and bracket while lowering manually. You can stop the downward tilting of the engine by tightening the screw.

WORD OF WARNING! – Do not allow the engine to drop too far. Raising it back up is not impossible but quite difficult. The idea is to get the engine somewhere within the normal trim range that will allow returning to the dock under your own power for hydraulic repairs. Lowering the engine too far might cause the bow to plow as the power is dialed on to bring the boat on plane. Failing to lower it enough will cause the bow to rise and the boat will porpoise wildly at planing speed.

Becoming familiar with your boat’s manual tilt release system before finding yourself in dire straits on the water is a very good idea. Another good idea is to include a flat blade screwdriver of appropriate blade size and length to access the release valve in your onboard tool kit. You know…just in case.

Have a great summer fishing and boating season,

Chris Mapp
Coastal Bend Marine | Port O’Connor, Texas
361-983-4841 |