Maintenance All Articles

Maintenance

Using synthetic oils in older engines

 

Question: I own a 1996 43-foot Hatteras with twin six-cylinder Detroit Diesel engines. I change the oil approximately every 100 hours of operation. At this point, I have 1,200 hours on each diesel and so far have only used non-synthetic oil. Is a synthetic or a blend of synthetic and regular oil contraindicated for this aged engine for any

Lürssen's Polar Star

Seeing a yacht in a shipyard is like seeing a dolphin at Sea World—it’s not an entirely accurate representation of behavior in the wild. So when I heard that the 208-foot Polar Star had been released back into the wild after five

Top-Notch Enclosure Panels

Virtually everything can be improved—that’s the point Capt. Matt Condon was making just before the big brainstorm hit him. Condon’s the head guy at Signature Yacht Shares, a Destin, Florida-based outfit that’s into a variety of marine

Garmin’s Tip of the Month - June 2011

I’ve got a great tool for topping off batteries. Attach a length of clear plastic hose to each end of a gas-line squeeze bulb. Next time you’ve got low distilled water levels, simply insert one end in the jug and squeeze. You’ll be able to control the amount of water going into each cell and keep from spilling and/or over-filling while pouring directly from the jug.

Dave Jogerst,

Vintage Yanmars Running Hot

 

Question: I have a 29 Phoenix with twin, 1984-vintage, 170-hp Yanmar diesels with 1,000 hours on them. While the boat seems to run fine, I have one issue. During operation, the temperature of each engine rises normally at first but then keeps on going, not to the point of setting off alarms, but close. Pegging the engines (i.e., throttling them

Garmin's Tip of the Month, July 2011

Splash-proof your smartphone with a (61/2" x 3 1/4") Ziploc snack bag. You can manipulate its touchscreen through the plastic and speak and hear clearly as well. This is not 100-percent waterproof, of course, but if you've ever bent over a livewell and watched your phone drop out of your shirt pocketwell, maybe you'll keep

Hands-On Test Of Totally-Green Teak Deck Sealers

Over the years, I’ve squirted, rubbed, mopped, and sprayed my fair share of potions, pastes, and potations onto fiberglass and other boaty surfaces. And, given the amount of time, money, and effort I’ve lavished upon this strange enterprise, you’d think I’d

Garmin’s Tip of the Month - May 2011

Boaters are always trying to splice and strip small-gauge wires in spaces where a pen-knife or wire stripper won’t fit. I use a letter opener—one of those you hold in your palm. It has a little arm that guides the wire to the fixed razor’s edge while keeping it firmly in place. And it cuts without stripping strands and produces a neat, clean job even in cramped places.

Tom Fitzpatrick,

Idling diesel engines

Question: My mechanic friends tell me not to let my diesel engine idle for long. They say that it should either be under load or turned off. I hear a lot of diesel engines in trucks idling at truck stops for hours though. Is there a difference in the two types of diesel engines or are my mechanic friends mistaken?

Tips for easy boat maintenance

Most boaters are conscientious enough to perform the familiar annual maintenance chores involving things like zincs, bottom panting, tune-ups, and the like. But over the years, savvy owners also pick up their own tips and tricks that can make it a lot easier to keep their vessel shipshape. Below you’ll see some of mine as well as those from knowledgeable boat-owner friends, family, and colleagues that can help you keep your boat running right and looking good with minimal effort.

Garmin’s Tip of the Month - April 2011

Here’s a little suggestion that’s comparably green, at least in my opinion. Save the paint thinner you use to clean paint brushes in a plastic container. After you’ve set the container aside for a while, the paint residue will settle to the bottom and you’ll be able to decant the now-clear thinner through a paper towel into a second container for a fresh usage.

Dave Jogerst, Gulf

Bilgewater Treatment

Many years ago, because a now-defunct marine towing outfit I was working for at the time found itself a little short of qualified personnel, I became an instant chief engineer for a few months. I say chief, by the way, because there were no other

Trouble-shooting an overheating boat engine

Question: I have a 1990 Carver Yacht with two 375-hp Caterpillar 3208 diesels. The starboard engine works fine, but at 2000 rpm the port engine overheats. Once the temperature hits 200F, I slow down to prevent damage and everything returns to normal.

Garmin’s Tip of the month - March 2011

To keep plug-in-type low-voltage chargers for electronics sorted so you don’t inadvertently use an incompatible charger on a pricey piece of equipment, put a dot of nail polish on each of your onboard gadgets (rechargeable spotlight, hand-held VHF, etc.) and a matching dot of the same color on the appropriate charger. You’ll never goof up again.

Bilge Pump Early-Warning System

Just the other day, I received in the mail a device called a BW8 Bilge Pump Activity Monitor from British manufacturer Celectron. Manufacturers occasionally send me products in hopes I’ll feature them in this column and, after looking the little unit over (and reading the

Seasonal Storage For Fuel Tanks

 

Question: When I took your one-day Introductory Diesel Maintenance Course several years ago, I forgot to ask one question: What is the best way to lay up a fuel tank for seasonal storage? For years now, I’ve been topping off my tanks when fall lay-up comes around in order to reduce the air space above the fuel and thus minimize algae growth. Just

Aluminum in engine oil

 

Question: I just did my first oil analysis on my Cummins 6BTA diesel, and the results seem somewhat disconcerting. According to the report, there was aluminum in the oil at 28 ppm (parts per million) and iron at 20 ppm. The oil that was tested had approximately 43 engine hours on it. And since I bought my boat some nine years ago, I have

Dinghy Replacement

Recently, I underwent a profoundly meaningful conversion experience and, like a whole passel of converts before me, I’m hot in the heels to share it with the world. The whole thing started several weeks ago when I felt the pain of being dinghy-less for the

The Ultimate Upgrade

Disaster struck at seven o’clock on a wintry North Florida morning. Tim Martin and his buddies were idling along in Martin’s seasoned battlewagon, 30 miles offshore, having deployed lures for the early wahoo bite. “Hey,” yelled Adrian Heilman from the cockpit as one of the exhaust ports burped black smoke. From the helm station on the flying bridge,

Caterpillar 3208 low rpm

 

Question: I have a 1989 Sea Ray with 375-hp Caterpillar 3208 diesels. Last year I overheated one of them and blew a head gasket. Overheating had been a problem for some time prior, incidentally. Anyway, I determined shortly thereafter that the gasket had blown into the cylinder although no cooling fluid had escaped. So I hired a diesel shop to

Onan genset spewing black smoke

Question: I have a 4-kW Marine Onan genset with 600 hours on it. If I let it run for a lengthy period it produces so much black smoke that a residue discolors the hull around the exhaust port. A year ago, I cleaned the heat exchanger and installed a new raw-water pump. There are no overheating issues. Do I have an injector or rack problem?—Charlie Carpenter, Morristown, New

Noisy Engines

Question: I have a pair of Detroit Diesel 6-71 TIBs in my 1990 Ocean 48 Super Sport. I love both the boat and the motors, but the Detroits have always been loud at the exhaust end of things. As I grow older, this noise is starting to bother me, particularly at times when I have to shout to be heard on the flying bridge at cruise speed. Muffler companies tell me that modern

Garmin’s Tip of the Month - November 2010

To loosen a sticking oil filter that you can’t get to unscrew with a standard filter wrench; simply attach a hose clamp around the filter’s base, close and tighten it, and, after positioning a flat-head screwdriver sideways against the screw housing of the clamp, gently tap it with a hammer. I’ve had success with this method on more than one