Boat maintenance tips before you go boating.

25th January 2013
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Everyone wants to have a nice day on the water when they go boating and to make sure they do, there is some preventive maintenance things you can do to your boat before you hit on water.

Let’s start with the outboard and its maintenance requirements. And of course, it will vary depending on whether you have a two or four stroke motor.

Firstly we drain the gear box of oil, checking for any water contamination. If there is any milkiness to the oil or filings on the magnetic part of the bottom plug, then the gear box will need to be checked out by your local marine dealer. The gear box is then refilled from the bottom plug until it flows freely from the top plug. Screw the top plug in first and then the bottom plug.

The engine oil should be replaced every year and every 100 hours on two stroke or two hundred hours on a four stroke. Check your outboard manual or with your dealer for details or Google it.

If you have a two stroke engine, the plug should be changed every 100 hours or evey year. In the case of a four stroke these should be checked once every 200 hours or yearly and a compression test is also adviseable on all the cylinders.

Check the motor for any corrosion, in particular the anodes. Either clean or replace where there is deterioration. Check the cableing to the motor. Finally spray the engine with CRC or WD40, avoiding the area around the starter motor.

Check your propeller for any damage. If you are a fisherman it might pay to check there is no fishing line wrapped around the shaft, as this will erode the seals and allow water up into the gearbox.

Ensure your boat’s fuel is fresh

It’s recommended that if your fuel is more than 3 months old you should syphon your tank and replace it with fresh fuel. The old fuel is fine for your lawnmower or car.

People often head out to sea, only to develop a fuel problem, usually caused by sucking dirt through to the intake, preventing the motor starting for the return trip. This is usually caused by stale fuel being left in the tanks from the previous season.

  1. Check your fuel filters for water or debris.
  2. Replace your fuel filters at least every 100 hours or once a year, whichever comes first.
  3. Place fresh water muffs on your engine.
  4. Start the engine and check it sounds okay.
  5. Run it for a while and check that fresh water flows freely from the cooling system outlet.

Checking the boat’s steering

The steering wheel to the outboard should turn freely. If it’s hard to turn then the cables need to be either adjusted, lubricated or replaced.

Fresh grease should also be applied through the nipples on the steering ram connected to the outboard. And the steering arm cleaned of any residual salts and dirt that might have built up.

The Boat Battery

As you know, batteries are a critical part of your boating experience, so you want to make sure that you have yours in the best shape possible when the season starts.

Clean the terminals with a stiff wire brush. Then give the battery a thorough cleaning, especially the housing with CRC or WD40, getting rid of any residual dirt and dust that might have built up over the winter.

Unscrew the battery caps check the distilled water is covering the leaded plates of the battery and top up the ports where needed. Next, charge up the battery overnight and then check with a voltmeter. Replace it if it shows “poor” or indicates the batter’s getting tired. Return the battery to the boat, securing both the battery and the terminals. Spray a sealer around the terminal connections, this will help stop any corrosion over the season.

Checking your boat trailer

Just as important as the trailer itself, check the wheel bearings by jacking up the trailer and spinning the wheels. Listen and look for any movement or grinding sounds in the bearings. Replace the bearings if required and finally fill your bearing buddies with grease.

Check the winch cable for any damage or corrosion and if there is damage, replace it. Check the rubber around the bunk for cracks.

Boat Hull Integrity

Check your hull for any dings and bangs put there last season to ensure the hull has not begun to delaminate. This can cause the boat to take on water. With a few regular safety maintenance checks you should have a safe and enjoyable time on the water.

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