Big or small, basic or customized, every boat require maintainance. Fortunately, routine maintenance and small repairs are not that tough. In the long run, a little elbow grease will definitely pay off.
Wash Your Boat
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The first and simplest thing is to wash your boat regularly. If you boat in saltwater, rinse your boat thoroughly with fresh water after every outing to take out salt residue. Salt will not only corrode metal, fasteners and other hardware, left too long on your gelcoat, It can also mar that as well. Use a long-handle, soft-bristle boat brush and some quality soap. Marine boatwash is best and is made for gelcoat. Car wash soap is next best and some boaters use laundry soap in a pinch.
Just like vehicles boats need to have their oil changed. Four-stroke outboards, inboards and stern drive boats need regular oil changes. The frequency will vary by model but a good rule of thumb is to replace the oil every 100 hours of operation or once a year.
Unfortunately, there are not many quick change oil shops for boats, so you either have to change your boat’s oil yourself or take it to your local dealer. Luckily, changing the oil in your boat’s engine is easy and can be done quickly with the right tools.You’ll require an inexpensive oil extractor pump that removes the oil via the dipstick tube. Also, an oil wrench and enough rags to catch the normal drips. As an additional protection against messy oil, it’s a great idea to put an absorbing pad under the engine, particularly close to the oil filter.
Step 1 – If your boat is in the water, start the engine to warm it up. If your boat is on a trailer, you will have to supply cooling water to the water intake at the gearcase. Do this by putting what mechanics nic-named “earmuffs” over the water intakes. Earmuffs consist of two suction cups on a V-shaped piece of tubing. A hose fitting at the Vee supplies water to the engine. Outboards and some sterndrives have special hose fittings for this job.
Step 2 – After 5 minutes, turn it off and remove the dip stick.
Step 3 – Insert the oil extractor suction tube into the dipstick tube and then slide it all the way in until it stops. Pump out the oil. It will remain safely in the pump until you can take it to an oil replacement shop for recycling.
Step 4 – Hold a rag around the oil filter and take it out with the wrench. Screw on the new one after rubbing oil on the sealing gasket..
Step 5 – Change the dipstick and fill the engine with new oil through the oil fill port—the cap is marked “oil.”
Some engines have a special drain tube fit to the oil pan. You pull this tube out the bilge drain and drain the engine without ever dropping a drip on the bilge. Some outboards have comparably simple drainage mechanisms as well. Consult your owner manual for the exact procedure.
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Be sure to use marine grade oil in your boat engine. Boat engines work much harder than vehicles engines and automotive oil is not made to protect marine engines.
Check the Propeller
If you own an outboard or stern drive boat you should check the propeller as part of your pre-launch routine. Use a deep well socket to remove the propeller several times during the season to ensure discarded fishing line hasn’t become wrapped around the propeller shaft. If it has, have your dealer check the gear case because fishing line can cause gear case leaks and that is not a do-it-yourself job.
While you have the propeller off, check it for nicks, dents and other signs of damage. It’s alright if your prop is missing paint, but send it out for repairs if you find signs of impact. The smallest dent can make your boat to lose performance and burn excessive fuel. A damaged prop also can vibrate, putting too much stress on bearings and seals creating additional damage.
Finally, put a liberal amount of waterproof grease on the propeller shaft to keep corrosion from “freezing” it in position. Then re-install the propeller and hardware in the same order that you took them off. Tightening the nut snugly and secure the locking tabes against the nut so it can’t back off the shaft threads.