Let's investigate a seldom-explored phenomenon that most likely arises from things unseen or at least unobserved. The Frenchies call it une odeur de vieux bateau (which translates as the
Maintenance All Articles
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
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.
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.
Here’s a common, if unwelcome, sight for boaters: You go to pull your boat out of the water for winter lay-up or perhaps
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
Now and again, I serendipitously stumble across an onboard problem well before it snowballs into something expensive. For example, I was recently talking with my industrial-electrician brother and the subject of...
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
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
The 30-foot Carver Santego was for sale and up on the hard. From a distance she looked gray and tan instead of her original white with navy and black trim with...
Question: I have a 1994 Mainship 31 with a pair of 315-hp Yanmar diesels with 2,000 hours on them. While running at full throttle (about 33 knots) for five minutes, the starboard engine temperature creeps up enough to set off an alarm. If I ease ‘er back to half-throttle, the temperature returns to normal after a couple of minutes. The starboard engine has always run a bit warmer
Question: While performing routine maintenance on my Caterpillar C7, I was surprised to find a substance about the size of a quarter at the top of my Racor—it looked like algae. There was no water in the bowl, and the engine-mounted filter was found to be clean. My Cat runs fine now and I would like to keep it that way. I am getting a lot of suggestions from friends as to what
A cheap and easy way to prevent costly prop damage.
It was an interesting suggestion, really.
Some weeks before, Heath Schuman of Nautic Air had UPS’d me an experimental version of his portable NA20 air purifier to temporarily try out on my trawler Betty Jane. I’d placed the thing on the dining table in Betty’s saloon straight off, plugged it into a nearby 110-volt outlet, and after securely closing all
A contrarian take on battery replacement
All batteries have terminals and cable connectors that need to be periodically cleaned, preferably with a battery brush. I’m guessing I’m in the same boat as a few other folks these days. I’ve got three marine batteries salted away aboard my trawler Betty Jane...