sail-world.com -- Three thieves of boat engine's reliability - vital info for sailors
Three thieves of boat engine's reliability - vital info for sailors
Sun, 13 Jan 2013
Like three thieves in the night they creep into your engine and work their way past the slumbering gate guards. Sliding and slithering like a nest of rattlers deep into the belly of your engine to wait... to rest. Until that moment that you push the starter button. And then they attack with relentless, merciless destruction...
World famous cruising sailor and engine guru Nigel Calder has--I believe--the perfect title for a chapter in his book 'Marine Diesel Engines'.
In five simple words, he describes the mantra that any sailor with any engine on earth should heed: 'Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness'.
Those 'thieves in the night' we are talking about go by many names--dirt, dust, grime--but they all are guaranteed to do one thing; cause you grief, big money, and lots of unreliability with your small diesel engine (or outboard for that matter).
All engines need but three 'clean' things to operate like a top: clean air, clean fuel, and clean oil. You do not need to be a mechanic to maintain any engine in tip-top shape. Follow your manual's preventative maintenance advice to the letter. Use this guide to help you along...
1. Keep Your Air Filters Clog-Free: Clean air gives you good compression. Lose compression from a clogged, dirty, dusty air filter and you lose power. Starting your engine becomes harder and harder. Black smoke from the exhaust signals unburned fuel. Often forgotten, that air filter on the side of your engine needs lots of attention.
It can be hard to pick out, but it often resembles a miniature hair-dryer. Change air filters at least once a year or as your environment changes. Do this even if the filter looks clean after several months. This will ensure easy starting and proper combustion to give you good, reliable power.
2. Keep Your Fuel Squeaky Clean: 90% of all problems with all engines are related to contaminated fuel. Water, bacteria, and dirt are the major enemies of fuel. Ignore these enemies at your peril. Water in a fuel tank encourages bacteria growth. After all, it's dark in that tank, which makes it the perfect 'petri-dish' for engine killing microbes to grow.
Dirt kills engines even faster than water or bacteria. One speck of dirt that makes its way past a fuel filter can damage your costly injectors and create enormous damage to your engine's innards. Put these seven engine life-saving steps into play aboard your boat to avoid fuel problems this sailing season!
* Treat your fuel tank with a diesel soluble biocide (there are 2 types, water and diesel soluble--use the superior diesel soluble biocide).
* Install dual separator-type primary filters between the fuel tank and engine.
* Filter fuel at the pump with a fine mesh funnel (available from marine stores).
* Keep your tank filled to 95% when you leave the boat (allow 5% for expansion).
* Check the fuel deck fill-cap and gasket. That's two things--cap and gasket. A tight cap with a cracked gasket will allow rain water to penetrate into the tank. Keep the cap tight and replace the gasket often.
* Change out primary and secondary fuel filters once a year. Even if your manual says you can go longer on the secondary, do it once a year. If unsure how to do this, hire a mechanic to show you how. It will be one of the best returns on an investment you ever made!
* Before you start the engine, trace the lines form tank to filters to engine. Look for leaks, weak hose clamps, cracked hoses, and bright, colorless sheen (this indicates a fuel leak). Fix fuel leaks before you fire up your engine.
3. Keep Engine Blood Clean and Filtered: What one component gives you the triple advantage of a lubricant, coolant, and dirt-trapper? Nothing helps your engine operate more smoothly than good oil of proper viscosity (thickness) with a strong filtering system. Look in your user manual and note the interval to change engine oil and filter. What do you see? Slice the interval in half.
If it says change the oil and filter every six months, put it on your schedule for every 3 months. Become fanatical about checking and changing your oil, oil filter, and filter gasket (always change all 3 of these at the same time).
Do not attempt to start any engine before you check the oil level. (this includes before getting underway from a slip, pier, anchorage, or when you use the engine for charging). Check it again after you shut the engine down. Oil should appear black on the stick. Any brownish or milky threads that show indicate water in the oil. If you see this, locate the source of water penetration and repair the problem before you attempt to start the engine.
Follow this simple advice to keep your expensive sailboat diesel engine running like a top and roaring like a lion. It will reward you with long life, good power, and super reliable service--wherever in the world you choose to cruise!
John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website at www.skippertips.com. Sign up for the Free, highly popular weekly 'Captain John's Sailing Tip-of-the-Week'. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, and e-Books!
Ensign Ship Brokers
Ensign Ship Brokers was established in 1980 and has spent the last 28 years expanding our marine knowledge and developing our reputation! We strive to provide the very best service! [More info]
GME Standard Communications Pty Ltd
Leaders in communications and navigation. Their goal has always been to make products whose innovation, convenience and peace of mind can help improve the lives of their customers. [More info]
Hamilton Island Luxury Accommodation
Full range of private apartments, villas and houses on Hamilton Island. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 bedroom options available. All include buggy and island airport or marina transfers. [More info]
Multihull Solutions is Australia and New Zealand’s premier offshore and cruising catamaran and trimaran specialist, offering sales and servicing of the world’s finest multihull brands.
Navionics is proud of its superb cartographic database comprising more than 25,000 charts and port plans; the largest privately owned database of its kind, the only one using full seamless technology [More info]
OziOpti is all about 'getting kids in boats' and the Australian company supporting the introduction to of the world’s most popular junior sailing yacht, the 'International Optimist Dinghy' [More info]
Performance Sailcraft Australia (Asia Pacific)
Laser builder Performance Sailcraft Australia has taken on the successful RS Sailboat range from Britain, and is now licensed to build and distribute all of the RS range in the Asia Pacific region. [More info]
Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week
Entries for the fourth annual Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week have opened! 4 days of racing, 5 days of fun – that is what you can look forward to from 3-7 September at Magnetic Island. [More info]
Sydney International Boat Show
The 40th Sydney International Boat Show
will be held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre & Cockle Bay Marina, Darling Harbour, Sydney Australia
Ullman Sails Australia
The Ullman Sails Australia team provides service to customers all over Australia with four main locations in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and the Whitsundays. [More info]
Vicsail Sydney Pty Ltd, launched into the Australian sailing fraternity in 1983 and has been sailing strong ever since. At Vicsail, “We Sail the Boats We Sell”. [More info]