Dilemma - '81 Merc 4hp Gnat or '80 Evinrude 4.5


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Which would you keep?

  • '81 Merc 4hp Gnat

    Votes: 2 33.3%
  • '80 Evinrude 4.5

    Votes: 4 66.7%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .


Well-known member
TinBoats Supporter
Oct 13, 2011
Reaction score
Central MA
Hi all,

I'm having a hard time figuring out which to sell and which to keep. I've got two very similar motors, both are short shafts and have the built-in fuel tanks, around 4 hp with tiller controls. Both have at least forward/neutral and are running very well.

The '81 Merc 4 hp Gnat is VERY lightweight, coming in at 35lbs total. It's got new pistons and rings (Completed by myself) and starts first pull. It idles very well and can plane my 14' Gamefisher with me and a friend (funny thing is it won't plane with me alone, need to weigh down the front). It has forward / neutral with the spring engagement in the lower. It has a through-the-prop exhaust and nickel plated cylinders. The drawback is that this design was only made a couple of years and wasn't very popular, so parts are VERY hard to come by. I searched for a solid week for pistons and a water pump rebuild kit for this unit. I like it for it's weight and power.

The '80 Evinrude 4.5 is a little heavier coming in at 50 lbs. It has a F/N/R lower unit with the typical shift dog gear case. It also runs well with a new head gasket and water pump. It runs and idles well, also starts first pull. Of course, these are far more popular, with parts readily available.

I don't have much prior history on either motor, although there is nothing currently wrong with either one.

This will be used on my 14' sears with a 4' beam. I will hand-carry this into smaller launch areas without a ramp (some are carrying over boulders) where the motor needs to be separate from the boat, so the lighter weight is valuable.

I guess in the end, I'd be trading the 15 lbs of weight for the long-term part availability. If nothing were to go wrong, the merc would be the better choice, but I'm really concerned with the effort needed to find the parts I already replaced. The impeller is available, but the water pump body required a fairly long search.

One of these is going up for sale, but which should it be??
Here's a video of the Merc. This was just me in the boat.

I don't have one of the Evinrude yet, but I should be able to get one this weekend.

'81 Mercury 4 hp: https://youtu.be/KGonXRnJ2jM
Keep the Evinrude; everyone knows they are better than Merc.

I'll be darned. You almost got a rooster tail off that.

How big was the boat towing you \\\ 8)

My first outboard was an air cooled 3hp w/o recoil start. I was nine years old. Still remember the burns that sucker gave me when I touched the wrong spot.
I've been really impressed with the power of this motor compared to the weight. It actually runs faster with the extra weight in the bow to get it down. I honestly think a big part of it is the boat itself, it's really lightweight, maybe 100lbs total.

Love it SDGUY! :) I'm actually more of a JohnnyRude guy myself, but only because that's what I've got more experience with. The Mercs don't seem to be available as often at the prices that I'm looking for.

Oh well. I think for the long term, the part availability will win out. I'm putting an ad up for this one now.

Thanks guys!
Are you sure your planing? You may just be moving smoothly. Have you tried the same thing with the other motor?

I would go with the parts availability. If you have issues you will be back in business quicker and it is better if you want to sell later.

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