row2k Features
Rigger Tricks
Theft-Proofing Outboards
March 21, 2012
row2k hackers

Scuffed enough to be safe . . .

contributed by John FX Flynn, row2k

This Rigger Trick came to our attention, appropriately enough, from a guy who works on outboards all the time, and it's both good and simple. If you don't want to lose your outboards to the sticky--and very strong--fingers of engine thieves, try this trick:

Make your engines look NOT new. 

That's right: making an outboard, however new, look old and scuffed up might actually work better than any amount of chain or engine locks--though we recommend those, too.

The good folks at Martin Marine, near Oak Ridge, TN, shared this trick years back with a rigger who had to acquire a bunch on engines in hurry at the start of a spring break trip, after the brand new ones were lifted off the trailer the first night of the trip.

When the experts at the marine shop heard they were new engines, they pointed out that this was exactly why they were stolen, and why the thieves went to great pains to cut the chains that had been securing them. The outboards, these guys pointed out, are worth far more if they can be resold, so the newer they look, the more desirable they are to the bad guys.

The guys at Martin Marine said that, had the engines been older--scratched and scarred--or marked with the colors of the school, they probably would have been left alone. These guys are the experts, after all, and noted that even distressing the engines by spraying any random color of paint onto the covers would discourage theft. To make it a good hack, we'd argue that any besmirching you do needn't be messy: adding your school's logo, or painting it sharply with your colors--any kind of "personalization" that is not easily removed--will make the engines worth far less, if not worthless all together.

Of course, if you like to sell re-sell your engines, this hack might not work for you, but if your program hangs onto engines for a long time, this might help you keep them a bit longer--and you could always hunt down an older, more banged up engine cover to use daily, saving the new one for the resale. If clean, looking-new engines mean a lot to you, try leaving the new ones at home, where (hopefully) they are more secure, and take the oldest engines you have when you travel…because just about any measure you take to keep the engines un-stolen beats taking an expensive trip to the local marine engine shop when you are far from home.

Remember though, keeping outboards scuffed up, painted over, or even just hidden under a beat-up engine cover is fine for the outside, but they are no good to you if the insides aren't tuned nicely and well-maintained…but you don't need a Rowing Hack to tell you that, right? 

Have any good theft-proofing tricks that you use? Or tips for traveling with outboards? Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

Have a great rowing hack for future inclusion here? Send it to us!

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joe blow
03/22/2012  11:11:16 AM
be sure to paint the whole engine and not just the cover which can be replaced. The uglier the better. I painted one like a candy cane one time. The other thing to do is engrave something in solid base part of the engine with some thing like "private property" or the name of your club etc. if you are going to keep the engine forever.

03/21/2012  9:04:08 PM
Locks and chains can all be cut through. But the bigger better locks and chains take longer. The Furgettaboudit locks from Kryptonite are rated a 12. They are about $100 each ordered online. Thick, thick chain slows things down too. Not the Home Depot stuff. Get it from a wholesaler or distributor. We bought 40 feet for about $300. Third we bought a good stainless steel cover for the handle(s) $75/each. Fourth - we bolted the motors to the boat with different sized bolts and locknuts and lastly we painted the motor covers. Given technology etc...I am wondering if there is some sort of GPS chip out there that can be put somewhere inside the motor...that can be linked to an app or something....sounds expensive but so is your insurance deductable....anyone know of anything like this??

03/21/2012  6:52:36 PM
1 people like this
This is dead on. No amount of chains or locks will stop a thief who wants your motor. It goes back to the same place at the end of every day, he knows where it is, how you have it secured and when you are not there. There is no stopping them. The only way to keep your motor is to make sure they don't want it and painting the hoods with your blade pattern or school colors has never failed me. I ran a team for 25 years with often as many as 9 motors out every day in a public park and never lost a one, while newer teams around me scoffed at my custom paint jobs and then had their motors stolen.

03/21/2012  9:15:33 AM
Great idea. Thank you.

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