Your Marine Engine Parts Experts Say You Can Avoid Bad Boating Days
Stainless Marine your marine engine partsÂ professionals would like to share with you these topics we thought would be of interest to you this month regarding how to keep your boat from breaking down.
You’ve seen the bumper sticker: Your marine engine parts analysts do not agree that a bad day of boating is better than a good day at work. Cute, but would you really feel that way if you were adrift 10 miles from the ramp, with a boatload of tired, cranky passengers and an engine that won’t start?
Sometimes, your only option might be to ask for help â either from a professional towing company or a fellow boater. But in most instances a well-prepared skipper can make the necessary repairs to get the boat back to port without assistance.Â
#1: It’s Sputtering and Losing Power
Your boat feels like it’s running out of strength (and you’ve ruled out the No. 1 breakdown reason â running out of fuel). You most likely have a filter problem or fouled plugs.
Solution: Replace the in-line fuel filter â you did bring a spare, didn’t you? If not, you can at least remove and clear the filter element of any debris, and drain any accumulated water.
Prevention: It’s possible to buy a bad load of fuel, but it’s more likely that the fuel went bad while in your boat. Leaving a tank near empty for long periods of time can cause condensation and water in the gas.Â
Older tanks might have debris at the bottom, which can get stirred up as the fuel level drops. The best solution might be increased filtration. Consider adding a larger aftermarket fuel filter. And don’t forget the spare elements.
If it isn’t the gas, it might be the spark plugs. This is a more common problem on older outboards, but might be worth a quick check on any engine. Carry spares, along with the tools to change them.
Carry Onboard: Spare filter or filter element and a filter wrench.
2: The Belt Broke
You probably won’t hear the sound of a drive belt breaking over the general engine noise, but you will know something’s wrong when your overheat warning light comes on, or your voltage meter shows that the alternator isn’t charging.Â
Solution: There’s a lot of info out there on jury-rigging a temporary belt by using fishing line or pantyhose or some such. This might work, but wouldn’t it be easier to just carry a spare, along with the wrenches needed to change it?
Prevention: Inspect, tighten and dress the belt. You also might want to check the condition of the pulleys’ contact surfaces. Your marine engine parts specialists know that sometimes, corrosion can cause rough spots on the pulleys that will eat a brand-new belt in short order.
Go to http://www.stainlessmarine.com/ and see how you can find more information on marine engine parts and on how to keep your boat from breaking down at Stainless Marine.
Carry Onboard: Marine tool kit, which includes everything needed for this and other basic repairs.
3: The Engine Is Overheating
The needle on the temperature gauge is rising. This almost always means you have a lack of water flow in the cooling loop. Outboards, most small inboards and I/Os don’t have radiators like your car, and instead use the water they are floating on to cool the engine.
Solution: Trace the source. In a vast majority of cases, the problem is an obstruction in the raw water intake â like weeds, mud or a plastic bag. Locate the intake and clean it out.
Prevention: Regularly service and replace the impeller. Also look at the condition of its housing. Scarring or pitting of the metal housing can cause even a good impeller to lose pumping power.
Make sure you or your mechanic checks for corrosion or blockage in the exhaust system. Every so often, have the exhaust risers and associated components opened up for inspection.Â
Carry Onboard: Soft wire or rod to snake intake clogs.
#4: It Won’t Start
Anyone who has ever turned an ignition key knows the frustration of hearing nothing. Again, this is most likely an electrical issue â a low or dead battery, or a break somewhere in the ignition circuit.
Solution: Check the kill switch. Make sure the shifter is in neutral. Then pay special attention to the starter switch itself. Sometimes, a dash-mounted ignition switch will simply become loose in its fitting, allowing the entire switch mechanism to turn with the key.Â
Prevention: We’ll say it again â inspect, clean and, if necessary, replace your wiring periodically. If your crew habitually drains the battery by cranking the tunes while at anchor, consider installing a secondary battery bank or one of those metering devices that monitors supply and saves enough reserve to ensure a restart.
Carry Onboard: Screwdrivers with insulated handles; wrench set or crescent wrench; Allen wrenches.
5: It Just Went Dead
If you’re lucky, someone simply bumped the kill switch. Or you could be out of fuel. If neither of these checks out, this usually represents some type of electrical failure.Â
Solution: Start with the simple scenarios. On any boat equipped with a kill-switch and lanyard, make sure the lanyard key hasn’t come loose. Sometimes, it might seem to be engaged, but has actually slipped just enough to activate the switch.
Ignition switches can also fail or suffer loose connections, and though this will mostly likely show up at start-up, it’s worth fiddling with the switch a bit (and checking its attendant breaker or fuse) before moving on to the engine side of things.
If it turns out to be something more complex â such as an ignition chip on an EFI engine â you might have to pull out the cell phone or put out a call on channel 16.
Prevention: Learn the various components of the ignition system, and periodically inspect, clean and coat each exposed connection with an anti-corrosion product.
Carry Onboard: Wire brush to clean terminals and Corrosion X spray.
The No. 1 Shutdown
Aside from our Top-10 list, ask yourself: What’s the No. 1 reason people call for towing assistance? Answer: They run out of gas. And while we know you’re way too smart to do that, you might want to make sure your boat’s fuel gauge is accurate â or plan accordingly, if it’s not. In addition, knowing a bit about your boat’s fuel burn and operating range could save you from guessing, and then making that embarrassing call for help.
So don’t forget these helpful reminders on how to prevent your boat from breaking down. 1)Â Leaving a tank near empty for long periods of time can cause condensation and water in the gas; Â 2)Â corrosion can cause rough spots on the pulleys that will eat a brand-new belt in short order; Â and 3)Â replace your wiring periodically.
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