Make Your Boat Engine Purr

Fuel Filter Fuel Capturing

There's always the question of how to take the fuel filter off without letting fuel get into the bilge or all over the engine, and we all know how important it is to keep fuel fumes out. A method very helpful in preventing fuel odors from hovering in our engine rooms, getting into our bilges, and going overboard is to place several paper towels under and around the bottom of the filter. Next, have a large, heavy-duty Ziploc bag at the ready (gas and its additives may eat through the Ziploc eventually, but you should have enough time to do this job first). After you've loosened the fuel filter enough so you can unscrew the balance by hand, place the Ziploc bag around the filter. With the bag surrounding the filter, loosen it so that it releases from the engine and gently drops into the Ziploc bag, being careful to catch the contents. Dispose of it properly.

Easier Outboard Starting For Sailors

Outboards mounted on the transom of a sailboat are often located where starting must be done on your knees. It doesn't have to be that way. Replace the starter cord with one that is four or five feet longer. Wind the same amount on the reel, and where the handle used to be, tie a stopper knot, perhaps backed by a rubber washer or grommet. Tie the handle onto the end of the extra line and secure it aboard the boat. Now you can stand at the stern and pull with your shoulder rather than your back. Your chiropractor will approve.

Got Milk?

Engine oil, drive oil, and hydraulic fluid all react the same when blended with water; they get whitish and sometimes even frothy. Water in fluids is damaging so check all of these fluids regularly for signs of water intrusion. Trailer brakes are subjected to this as well. Compromised fluids need to be replaced and maybe even flushed, immediately prior to the next use. Brake fluid becomes less effective when it comes in contact with water, and it damages internal parts.

Exhaust Stains

Photo of boat exhaust stain on fiberglass hull

Cut a short piece of PVC pipe or exhaust hose and glue it into the exhaust exit. Smoke and water will now clear the transom instead of dripping down the surface. No more black stains on the fiberglass.

Get Rid Of Oily Rags

Photo of oily rags
Photo: Thinkstock

Don't leave oily rags around. Some oils are subject to spontaneous combustion and should be dried and disposed of in an airtight container.

Live Trim

While many of us think of the trim/tilt function as the only way to control the attitude of our boats, what I call "live trim" can also be an advantage. Of course, I'm talking about your passengers. Move them around to gain optimum riding attitude. Are all the parents to starboard and the kids to port? Noticing a bit of listing? Take charge as the captain and position your live trim to keep the boat as steady as possible. No add-on, aftermarket fins needed!

Fuel-System Maintenance

Replace any rubber or vinyl fuel line older than a few years, as the older lines will deteriorate with the use of ethanol fuels. Ensure that the hose clamps used aren't worn or corroded, and that when tightened, they don't allow any air or fuel leaks. Replace the primer bulb as well because alcohol in the fuel affects these, too. Don't forget the fuel lines under the engine cowl.

Prop Choice

Do you use the same propeller for every application? Wakeboarding teenagers like a different ride from the parents sightseeing, so why not have prop choices that match the need? The prop can make all the difference in the world. Take a small 18-foot bowrider with a four-cylinder inboard/sterndrive combination. A 19-inch pitch is great fun for three or four teenagers going waterskiing or wakeboarding, but put six parents in the same boat going out for an evening cruise, and the chances of getting on plane are greatly reduced That's when you switch to the 17-inch pitch — less top-end speed, but more torque and bite. It's like having two different boats. The example above could reach speeds of 40-45 mph with the 19 pitch but may only reach 35-40 with the 17. Think of it as switching from "normal" to "sport" mode in your car! 

— Published: Fall 2014


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