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If you have no keys for your Merc outboard, you have a problem. Fortunately, there are several ways to solve the problem. Most of them involve little or no damage to your boat or your Mercury outboard. Whether you've lost the keys to a motor you've had for some time, or purchased a motor without a key, a bit of investigation may give you everything you need.
The motor operator's guide is a source of much information concerning your motor. In addition to the basic operating and maintenance procedures, the first few pages carry the motor's serial number. The manual may even include the code number that enables a locksmith to cut a new key. Larger marinas may make duplicate keys based on this code number, too. Once you have the motor's serial number, though, any Mercury Marine dealer can find out the code to make a duplicate key.
On the Motor
The motor itself carries the serial number in two places, in case you don't have the motor operator's manual available. Take a look on the left side of the motor's swivel bracket. You should see an aluminized plate that tells you the motor's horsepower, model number, serial number, the model year and other information. If this plate has been painted over, remove the top cover from the motor and look on the right side of the motor. You'll see a tag attached to the motor that carries the same information. Again, you can take the serial number to a Mercury Marine dealer and they'll cut a new key for you.
Inside the Remote Controls
If your Mercury is equipped with a remote throttle/key switch or throttle/shifter/key switch combination, the code you need to have a new key made is inside, located on the body of the ignition switch. All you need to do is remove the two screws that hold the remote control to the boat, if the control is attached to a boat, or the four screws on the back of the remote unit. Once you remove the four screws, separate the face of the remote unit from its back panel. The ignition switch is the cylinder located near the throttle handle.
Don't Let History Repeat Itself
Once you have the key code for your motor, record it. Record the key code along with the serial number, the model number and the other pertinent information about the motor and the maintenance you've completed. Keeping this kind of record will ensure that, should you ever find yourself without a key to that Merc, you'll be able to stroll into any dealer and walk out with a new key in a matter of minutes.
- "Mercury Outboards Repair Manual --- 2 to 250 HP, All Engines 2001 - 2009"; Seloc Marine; 2009
Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.