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Maintenance

Getting your engine ready for launch in the spring

Question: I’ve always wondered if there was anything special I should do when getting my boat ready for launch in the spring. My mechanic says no, just start her up, but I wonder.

— M.C.K.,
Tidewater, VA

Professor Diesel: The best advice I can give anyone is to start with the engine’s operator’s manual. Can’t locate it? Here are some common practices that most engine manufacturers require. In performing them you should always wear safety glasses and the necessary safety equipment. And never work alone.

1. LUBE SYSTEM: Change engine and transmission oils and filters. Use lubricants and filters recommended by the manufacturer.

2. FUEL SYSTEM: Change the primary and secondary fuel filters. Check fuel hoses and replace if damaged or too old. If your system has a fuel-water separator and/or fuel tank drain–open and drain until you see clean fuel.

3. COOLING SYSTEM: Replace coolants two or more years old, flush system, and refill with a 50-50 mixture of antifreeze and distilled water. If there is a coolant filter, change the element. Look for leakage around through-hull fittings, and clean all sea strainers. Install a new sea-water pump impellor if you didn’t in the fall.

4. ELECTRICAL SYSTEM: Install batteries. Clean clamps and terminal with baking soda and water and a brush until bright. If they are heavily corroded replace them. Check alternator/drive belts for wear and cracks and replace as necessary.

5. ACCESSORIES: Check engine mounts for wear. Squeeze all hoses and replace any that are soft. After launch, make sure engine controls go smoothly from idle to full fuel and from full forward to full reverse.

Professor Diesel is Larry Berlin, director of Mack Boring’s Training Services division.

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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