Bent bars on an Outboard Jet intake

How to Straighten Intake Bars on an Outboard Jet

As you run your boat in those boney waters the bumps and bruises gathered can take a toll on the grate bars of your Outboard Jet intake.  Once those bars are smashed up pretty good you should take the time to straighten them out.  A twisted intake grate can rob the engine of performance and contribute to clogging more often as the twisted bar gives the debris more to grab on too.  Straightening out intake grates seems to be an annual maintenance requirement for me (at minimum).

When you decide it’s time to do this maintenance make sure you have plenty of time.  Do not plan on doing this when you get home in the evening after work when you need to blast off for a fishing tournament in less than an hour.  Give yourself a couple hours and if you have neighbors that are within earshot you may want to do this during waking hours.

First thing you’ll need to do is to get the intake off the outboard.  All you’ll need is a ½ inch wrench.  If you have a thin ratchet wrench they work wonders for this operation.  I have this Gearwrench ratchet wrench set which works great. Depending on the intake model you can get most of the nuts off with a ⅜ drive ½ inch socket with a swivel and decent extension.  If you don’t have all those tools don’t worry a trusty ½” wrench will work fine.  On a site note, if you’re running boney waters you should have a wrench in your boat for when you run into trouble and need to service the intake on the side of the river.

After you’ve removed all of the nylon nuts holding the intake on you should be able to pull it off without any trouble.  If it has been a while then there could be grit between the intake and liner holding it on.  Usually a swift bump with a mallet will jar it loose.

If you have a bench vise it will make this job much easier.  You can do it without one.  I’ve helped friends before by straighten grates in a driveway with just a pipe wrench so if you don’t have a vise, you’ll be fine.  

However, unlike the vise you are going to need a punch to drive the bar out that retains the intake grate bars.  I use a Mayhew 25006 7/32 (No. 7) punch to do the intake work.

Position the intake on its side and while using the punch drive the forward intake bar further into and out of the side of the intake.  I also have a broken 9/16 drill bill that I use to chase the rod on through the intake grates just to help it out.  Using this method you only have to remove the front or forward bar.  Remember which way you knocked the pin out and use that same direction to reinstall it.

Once you’ve driven the rod completely out of the intake you can use a pry bar and raise the intake grates up out of the intake one at a time.  You then clamp the intake grate into the vise and use both the vises clamping power and a pipe wrench to straighten those bars right up.  You’ll be able to see which direction the bar needs to be adjusted.  Use a pipe wrench as shown and tweak the bar the proper direction.  This can be used to remove bends or twists.

Once you have the bar as straight as you can get it just lever it back down into the intake.  You may need to use the pry bar to shift it over a bit one way or the other to get it back in the slot.  If you have to pry on it too much then you should continue working on the bar to try to get it as straight as possible.  Now go through each bar bending and twisting until they are all reasonably straight.  Then lower them back down into the intake.

If you have a wire wheel available, now is a good time to clean up the intake rod.  A piece of sandpaper will work just as well.  You can also bevel the end just a bit to ease the installation.

Now all that is left is to drive the intake rod back through all of the intake bars.  This can bit a little bit of a tedious process.  Using the pry bar to adjust the grates if needed as you tap the rod in.  If it rod hits a solid point you’ll need to back the rod out just a bit.  I use the long drill bit to guide the intake rod into the grates.  You may have to tap on the grates or wiggle them a bit with the pry bar to get the intake rod back in.

That’s it!  You’re good to go for another season, hopefully.

If you just can’t seem to get the bars straight you can order new ones individually or an entire set from Outboard Jets or The Jet Doctor