Call For a Tow

12. Bilge Busting Tips

By Tom Neale, 9/23/2004

Bilge Busting Tips
By Tom Neale

A wet/dry vacuum cleaner, such as a Shop-Vac (tm) is a great tool for bilge maintenance. You can pour bilge cleaners down there all day long, but they won’t take care of everything, and sometimes end up smelling worse than the bilge water. An occasional cleaning with a Shop-Vac, using the extensions (such as the crevice wand) can dry your bilge almost completely, pick up grime and dirt, and even suck up most of the wildlife that’s lurking down there. It’ll also help to ward off bilge blister. Yep, in some fiberglass boats it’s possible to get them down there if it’s wet enough long enough. Then you’ve got outside blisters working through to meet inside blisters. This is a union that’s not made in heaven.

Always follow the manufacture’s instructions and warnings when you use any tool. Don’t use a wet/dry vacuum or any other electric tool aboard if there is gasoline or other explosive gasses in the bilge or elsewhere open.

Bilge diapers are better than pampers in a nursery. If you spread them under your engine you’ll know at an early stage whether it’s about to ruin your day, if what it has in mind is to leak oil, tranny fluid, or coolant. You can buy these oil absorbing diapers as flat sheets or as high capacity log rolls, neatly tied in mesh. The flat sheets are considerably cheaper and more versatile. Should you need the greater capacity of a roll, you can easily layer several flat sheets, roll them up into a log, and tie them. This saves both money and storage space.

If you have water standing under your engine (on some boats this is a given) the sheets should float on top of the water, absorbing oil only. But if you get certain “additives” in the water, such as anti freeze or some bilge cleaners, you’ll need to change the oil absorbent diapers more often, because these will adversely affect their floatation and absorption qualities.

Copyright 2004-2005 Tom Neale