Maintenance All Articles


The Nose Knows

The weather is getting warmer, and the sweet smell of sewage is wafting through your cabin. Why? Maybe you took a winterizing shortcut last fall and failed to clean the holding tank thoroughly, leaving a sewage/antifreeze mix that became a smelly sludge glued to the tank bottom. Or maybe you've never rinsed your tank after pumping it out. Whatever the reason, your nose knows that this problem

Oil Be Seeing You

You don't know what quiet means until your diesel goes "clunk" and dies—silence may be golden, but it rarely bodes well. "Clunk" is what a snapping crankshaft sounds like, for example. I once lost a crank halfway across the Gulf Stream, leaving me adrift on a moonless, star-filled night. Mea culpa: If I had included oil analysis in my regular maintenance program, it probably would

Beat the Heat

A fire on land is bad enough; at sea it can be disastrous. Since most fires start in the engine room, if you don't have an automatic fire-extinguishing system, it's time to install one. When fire breaks out, such a system will do the dangerous work for you, without anyone having to enter the compartment until the fire is out. (That's doubly important because opening a hatch introduces fresh air

Servicing the Circuitry

The screen looks complicated, but updating a Raymarine E-Series is easy.

When you go through your boat this spring, show your marine electronics some love, too.

Let me acknowledge right up front that I got help with this column from the Web. While I already had a lot of notions about commissioning marine electronics, asking

Varnishes, Oils, and a Little Heresy

What finishing technique is best? These suggestions may surprise you.

Ask any ten boaters how they protect the wood on their boats, and you'll get ten different answers, sometimes at length. There is no question that the deep, lustrous look of 12 coats of gloss varnish on a caprail epitomizes boating elegance, but living with that

Wonder Board

You PMY readers are never satisfied. From the time you take delivery of your latest boat, you're thinking about just two things: the next one you're going to buy or ways to improve the one you just bought. We know you don't need advice on how to shop for a new boat—you're veterans at that—but if you're looking for a few projects to either do

Caulk the Line

There are four chief types of boat adhesive sealants: polyurethane, polyether, polysulfide, and silicone. Knowing which sealant is best for each project and its proper application procedure can be the difference between a seal that lasts and a seal that fails.

Choosing the Right Sealant

Polyurethane is the strongest

Bye Bye, Blisters!

A bad case of blisters can penetrate the skincoat and go deeper into the laminate.

Except for one dispiriting little detail, the boat was exactly what I'd been looking for. She was meticulously maintained, reasonably outfitted, and cosmetically impressive—a perfect example of the model I'd been lusting after for years. In

The Lowdown On Lubricants

Pessimists have been known to argue that engines are nothing more than constantly degrading machines. It's a somewhat depressing characterization to be sure, but it's also a truthful one. From the day you start your engine up, parts corrode, sludge forms, bearings wear—things are beginning to break down. To slow down the process, man created lubricants.

Keep Your Cool

While most sportfishermen now come with ice makers, retrofitting an older boat with one is a no-fret, no-sweat way to keep your catch fresh.

Most fishermen lug blocks or bags of ice onboard until every insulated box is filled before they leave the dock and hope it will keep their catch cold until they get back. But this is the 21st

Troubleshooting 101

You've heard the mantra before, but it bears repeating. A diesel engine basically needs just two things: clean fuel and air. If it's missing either, it's dead. That's why troubleshooting a diesel usually involves tracing the air and fuel systems from start to finish, always beginning with the simplest and least-invasive potential cause and ending whenever your expertise reaches its limit.

Real Ratings

Here's the situation: You're in the market for an engine rated at 1,000 hp. But before committing you wonder, is that rating accurate? The answer is, sort of. The numbers on an engine spec sheet are formulated according to a set of conditions that may or may not reflect those your engine will face. It's your responsbility to understand the caveats that can affect

Magical Mystery Tour

The way the average marine transmission accomplishes the mission is "Way more complicated."

Okay, my education concerning things mechanical has not been formal. Indeed, you might say I've extracted the whole shebang from the School of Hard Knocks—meaning I've typically learned about things by having to either maintain or fix

Is Your Prop Up to Spec?

As seen here at Hale Propeller, measurements get fed into a computer for precise analysis.

When did you last spend quality time with your propeller? I'll bet it was a long time ago, if ever—not many of us obsess over our props like we do our engines and electronics. But when it comes to performance, your propeller is arguably

The Ozone Zone

An ozone generator can be connected to any existing water tank that has an access plate.

Any shellback will tell you that ships don't run on diesel, they run on coffee. If the coffee's no good, the ship won't be a happy one. And the coffee won't be good unless the water that brews it is good—free of unpleasant tastes and

Fountain of Youth

Even under ideal storage conditions, E10 gasoline has a "shelf life" of just 30 to 45 days. After that the ethanol and gasoline start to go their separate ways. During the season this isn't a problem as long as you use your boat often and run the tank as low as you dare before refueling so the gasoline is always fresh. But winter is almost here. What'll happen to the E10 in your tanks between now

This Ol' Boat

Late last winter, my crew and I were faced with a dilemma: sell our faithful 1987 48-foot Viking charter vessel, and be forced to purchase the best boat we could find, or refit her. Canyon Runner had more than 10,000 hours on her engines, and while they'd served the boat well, they were downright tired. But at the time the expense of a comparable vessel that could do 150 fishing trips a

Cover Your Asset

Fifty years ago no gentleman left the house without a hat, and no yacht spent the winter outdoors without a fitted canvas cover. Supported by a sturdy frame, the cover not only protected the yacht from snow and ice damage, but also from winter winds that would dry the wood planking, ruining the topside paint job, and opening the bottom seams. Drying's not a

The Hard Core Facts

Craftsmen apply core-bonding putty to the inner surface of the laminate.

It's probably just human nature. Whether the controversy is Ford versus Chevy, Yankees versus Red Sox, or simply "Tastes Great" versus "Less Filling," people love to take sides. Among yacht builders, one of the more impassioned topics of debate is which core

PMY Tries: Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment

Starbrite Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment

My trawler spends plenty of time sitting in a slip with her fuel tanks semifull and her powerplant twiddlin' its thumbs. To deal with the consequences, I installed a fuel polisher last year to remove contaminants, a savvy move in retrospect because I've since been able to keep my go-go

Bare Her Bottom

Procedures such as the Farrow System are eco-friendly.

Eventually the day will come when you have to bare your bottom. No, I don't mean your college reunion or Mardi Gras—I'm talking about stripping your antifouling paint, taking your boat's bottom down to bare surface to prep for fresh primer and paint, to find and repair

Fending Off

I probably don't have to tell you about the benefits of having strong, solid, reliable fenders; when correctly positioned, they provide a cushion between your boat and the dock, preventing nasty scratches and often considerably worse damage. But finding ones that fit the contours of your particular boat and

Spares Solution

SeaKits' MMS keeps track of parts to save you the trouble.

Think about how many individual parts make up your yacht: The engines are full of them, as are the genset, stabilizers, air conditioning, watermaker, and so forth. Now think about how many of those parts can wear out or break. How can you carry spares for all of them? Heck,

Learn Your Lines

Few things aboard your boat are as simple—or as important—as rope. Docklines and anchor rodes will give you years of service if you take care of them properly, but ignore them at your peril: A failure of either can be disastrous. Fortunately the care and feeding of rope is both simple and cheap.

Once a year wash your docklines with mild soap and water to remove salt, dirt, and

Watch Your Winch

Heavy ground tackle makes for sound sleeping, but when it's time to weigh anchor, it can be a pain unless you have a windlass to do the heavy lifting. Fortunately for our lower backs, there are windlasses sized to fit any boat and no reason not to have one aboard as an unpaid hand. When properly installed, a windlass requires minimal maintenance. Here's what you need to know.

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