Archive for August, 2009
For the most part, automotive maintenance is incredibly simple. The majority of drivers are hardly car experts; they only need to know a few basic precautionary measures. As long as they get the oil changed every 3,000 miles and follow any serious imperatives broached by their mechanic, things work out fine. But a car engine should never be confused with an outboard, which requires more maintenance by its very nature.
In fact, avid boaters should perform a series of simple steps at the end of every trip. First of all, the engine should be flushed. Salt water can be especially corrosive to the motor’s interior parts, but freshwater can wreak havoc as well. Just restart the engine and watch as the water pump recycles the fluid. Take this opportunity to evaluate the water pump for level of flow.
Next, disconnect the fuel line from the engine and allow any excess fuel to be burned. This will ensure that the entire fuel system is cleaned out and ready to go for your next excursion. Top off the engine with plenty of Yamaha 2m oil in order to guarantee that your outboard is in fine working order. These steps might seem like a hassle at first, but they’ll become routine before long. If a few extra minutes of maintenance work can add months or years to the life of your outboard, isn’t it worth the time and effort?
Yesterday’s discussion of TC-W3 brought a few terms to the fore that might have been unfamiliar to novice boaters. Seeing as how it’s so important to understand every facet of your outboard motor in order to get the most out of it, it’s time to define some terms. Some people have a tendency to confuse lubricity with viscosity when in fact they are two entirely different principles.
When considered in a bulk outboard motor oil context, viscosity refers to the thickness of the fluid. Oil must be viscous enough to stand up to the intense heat created during the combustion process; otherwise it will fail to coat the hot engine adequately. On the other hand, if the oil is too viscous it can create blockages in the fuel system and make the boat ineffective for cold starts.
Lubricity is a bit tougher to define, but it’s equally important in terms of maximizing outboard motor performance. To put it in a rudimentary way, lubricity measures an oil’s capacity to lubricate against wear and tear. In the course of its normal operation, an engine generates plenty of friction. This combination of intense heat and pressure can be detrimental to a motor that isn’t properly lubricated.
Today we conclude our two-part series on the TC-W3 oil certification program, which is headed up by the National Marine Manufacturers Association. As discussed previously, the goals of creating a new two-cycle marine oil standard were two-fold: to reduce the number of pollutants released into the environment and to make engines more sustainable by reducing the mixture ratio to fuel.
Any two-stroke oil on the market today that bears the TC-W3 stamp of approval either meets or exceeds rigorous lubrication requirements that are set by the NMMA. The NMMA performs a series of tests such as fluidity, viscosity and lubricity. In addition, the association looks for carbon buildup on the pistons, which can be a sign that the oil isn’t doing its job.
If you’re in the market for a fresh bottle of outboard motor oil, you could do worse than making your ultimate decision based on TC-W3 certification. The leading two-cycle motor oil brands such as Mercury, Evinrude and Yamaha, all feature specific offerings that make the grade. The blend of additives present in Mercury oil is especially highly touted boat enthusiasts across the country.
If you’ve been shopping around for outboard oil lately, you’ve probably noticed a small indicator on the label, proclaiming that the oil meets “TC-W3″ standards. But what does this designation really mean? As one might expect, TC stands for two-cycle. The W is merely standing in for water-cooled. And the 3 simply means that it’s the third formulation of oil for two-cycle, water-cooled engines.
Now that you’ve learned to crack this cryptic motor oil code, it’s time to look in depth at how the TC-W3 standard is determined and which outboard oils make the grade. Two-stroke marine engines are characterized by the way they blend oil and fuel, thus providing lubrication for the engine even as it’s functioning. For many years, people mistakenly believed that this oil-fuel mixture would become archaic due to its environmental impact.
Luckily, the big-time competitors in the two-cycle market – Yamaha, Evinrude and Mercury – took the issue to heart and worked to create an oil formulation that would reduce mixture ratio to fuel and keep an engine running strong. That new formulation is known as TC-W3, and today’s Yamaha oil easily makes the grade. Bear in mind that the old motor oil lying around in your garage or shed might not be appropriate for outboards made after 1992. Consult the outboard manual for more information on the topic of oil compatibility.
Yesterday we talked generally about the Evinrude E-TEC engine and its environmental benefits over the 2-stroke outboards that came before. Today we’ll focus our attention on the inner workings of the E-TEC injector. As most boaters know, air is the enemy of lubrication. Well aware that a well-lubricated engine runs longer and smoother, the makers of the E-TEC designed the engine to recirculate fuel through the injector while also keeping air out.
Obviously, machines that feature fewer moving parts pose a smaller threat of breaking down. Compared to other models, the E-TEC has one-fourth the number of total parts. The oil reservoir marked another crucial improvement. The automatic oiling system feeds a 1.8 liter tan, which stores enough oil to last 40 hours of routine recreational use. It’s imperative, however, that the E-TEC is fed a steady diet of Evinrude oil or some other quality TC-W3. Even though these engines boast a large fuel tank and a recirculation system, that’s no excuse to skimp on all-important lubrication.
Just a decade ago, the face of the small boating industry was dramatically different. Environmentally conscious boaters were disenchanted with the two-stroke engines of the era – inefficiency and a propensity to pollute had placed them firmly behind their four-stroke counterparts. If that weren’t already enough to signal the two-stroke’s demise, the Environmental Protection Agency set rigorous pollution standards for snowmobiles, personal water craft and other recreational vehicles that utilized two-stroke motors.
The two-stroke renaissance came just in the nick of time – when Evinrude introduced the revolutionary line of E-TEC engines. For years two-stroke engineers had been caught in a serious dilemma – how could they increase the engine’s power while simultaneously cutting emissions? They found their answer in a device known as the Lorentz coil, which had previously been used exclusively for audio technology. The E-TEC fuel injection system also helps keep pollution to a minimum.
Even if the EPA were to place further restrictions on two-stroke engines, the E-TEC could stand pat as a leader in its field. According to one Evinrude executive, the engine only burns 1 percent of the total intake, and the oil doesn’t mix with gasoline. The engine requires very little maintenance, but regular oil checks are recommended. As with any outboard motor, it’s important to keep things well lubricated with Evinrude outboard oil.
Less than a month after reports of widespread outboard motor thefts rocked the Florida Keys, boaters in Reno, Nev., are reporting similar troubles. According to local police and the Reno Gazette-Journal, at least eight outboards have been reported stolen in the last four months. Although authorities suspect a connection between the incidents, thieves were indiscriminant about stealing the motors. Five were taken from residences, one from a commercial business and two from storage yards.
As always, incidents like this should serve as a stern reminder – no pun intended – to keep meticulous watch over marine engines when they aren’t in use. There are a number of preventative steps boaters can take in order to deter theft. The most obvious and perhaps most effective measure requires that boat owners remove the motor from their boats and put them indoors for storage.
Other ideas include installing an outboard motor lock, putting a motion detector in the storage area, or even chaining the boat and the trailer to a permanent object. Boaters are always encouraged to take proper care of their outboard during the boating season by lubricating liberally with 2 stroke oil, but offseason care is just as important. Outboard motor theft is a very real threat, so take the time to protect your investment.
In a perfect world, we’d all take advantage of these warm summer days by taking the boat out on the lake – to fish or maybe just relax. In reality, however, hectic work schedules and the drudgery of the daily grind have a tendency to get in the way of a boat enthusiast’s true passion. There’s nothing worse than returning to your craft after weeks or months away and finding that the engine won’t start.
Don’t worry, you aren’t being punished by the boating gods for spending too much time on land. It’s just that an outboard motor’s fuel system can become clogged from underuse. As a result, you might need to siphon any excess water or solids out of the fuel tank and hosing. There are two simple ways to keep this situation from ruining your day: run your engine regularly and perform routine maintenance checks.
First, make sure that your supply of Yamalube 2m oil is topped off. Then study the area near the propeller for excess oil residue. If you notice significant buildup, it could mean a problem with the lower gear case. Finally, investigate the fuel system for leaks. Once these daily checks are performed, you can feel confident that your outboard motor is in tip-top shape.
The lower-horsepower outboards highlighted yesterday are perfectly suitable for inflatables, canoes and other small craft, but what about those who want to step up their performance? Mid-range engines are tailor-made for fishermen and other boaters who appreciate the capability of traveling several miles at a time. Outboard motors in the 20 to 35 hp range fit the bill, providing crucial mobility for light fiberglass vessels and sailboats.
In general, you should select your ideal horsepower based on a boat’s weight and a boat owner’s desired level of mobility. It might take a 90 hp engine just to get a large pontoon or deck boat to plane. A sailboat won’t require a motor this large, however. Larger engines that generate excess horsepower can actually weigh down and impede the progress of a small boat.
Once you’ve selected an outboard motor with the proper size and power, it’s important to keep the engine well-tuned. By purchasing bulk motor oil, you can ensure that you’ll always have easy access to lubricant when it’s time to perform engine maintenance. This in turn will extend the life of your motor and allow you to enjoy many more summers out on the lake.
Yesterday, we discussed the bare essentials of outboard motors. Today, we continue our series of posts geared toward beginners – boat enthusiasts in the making who want to revel in what’s left of the glorious summer season. After establishing that you do in fact want to invest in an outboard motor of some kind, it’s time to investigate and compare a few small engines in terms of horsepower.
Engines in the 2 to 4 hp range are almost exclusively 2-stroke outboards. They are intended to be used with inflatables, small sailboats or other lightweight craft. A larger motor, while more powerful, would be overdoing it for these boats; it would weigh them down rather than provide more speed. The next class of engine, ranging from 5 to 8 hp, could be referred to as mid-range motors suitable for trolling and slightly bigger sailboats. Those in the 10 to 18 hp range are even more powerful and suitable for long distance travel. If you’re trolling around with two or more passengers, these are a safe bet.
Whichever class of engine you choose, be sure to take steps to extend its lifespan through careful maintenance. The most simple yet constantly overlooked aspect of outboard maintenance has to be the addition of fresh outboard oil. Lubrication is the key to a smooth-running, long-lasting engine.