Archive for September, 2009
Yesterday we discussed the fuel efficiency standards that were introduced to the outboard motor industry. Prior to that landmark moment, 2-stroke motors were simple and reliable but caused too much pollution to be viable from an economic standpoint. As we alluded to previously, it took a coordinated effort from the Environmental Protection Agency along with motor manufacturers to create any leeway.
Evinrude stepped up in a big way with its E-TEC engine, which was specifically designed to compete with dominant 4-stroke engines of the time. The E-TEC had the advantage of fuel injectors that work to remove water and vapor from the internal parts. The engine was an instant hit, and Evinrude has been touting this flagship model, along with the boat motor oil it uses sparingly, ever since.
In recent days, Evinrude announced its “Best Deal on the Water” fall promotion, offering boaters a five-year, factory-backed warranty on new E-TECs with 40 or more horsepower. The deal lasts through December 22. According to a press release from Evinrude, the E-TEC is the only marine engine on the market with no dealer-scheduled maintenance for the first three years.
Today’s boaters could be forgiven for putting the past out of mind. As recently as the 1990s, federal rules for outboard engine efficiency were much less stringent – to the point that pollution became a problem and the small boating industry became something of a scapegoat for environmental groups. Around 1996, the marine industry and the Environmental Protection Agency teamed up to create and enforce fuel standards.
That standard might seemed especially ambitious at the time – outboard engine hydrocarbon emissions were to be reduced by 75 percent from 1996 levels in just 10 years – but it was necessary to move forward. The phase-in started in 1998, and traditional carbureted 2-stroke engines were immediately targeted for a revamp. In the past, 2-strokes accounted for more than 12 times as much pollution as their 4-stroke counterparts.
Today, most of us would be hard-pressed to remember the days when 2-strokes lagged behind in terms of fuel efficiency and eco-friendliness. Direct fuel injection represented a tremendous boon by cutting down the ozone-forming exhaust coughed up by engines as much as 95 percent. The increased fuel efficiency of today’s outboards has allowed boaters to save serious cash on bulk oil. It’s important to note, however, that these regulations apply only to newer boats. The clean technology developed by manufacturers with the help of the EPA cannot be retrofitted to an old boat.
A boat’s drive system consists of components that work together to transfer engine power to the water, directing the thrust of the vessel. A problem with the drive system can spell disaster for a boat’s mobility and bring what should have been a peaceful day out on the lake to a screeching halt. Today we’ll take a closer look at the three main types of drive systems as well as their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Drive systems are identified by their positioning in the boat. The three types include inboard, outboard and inboard/outboard. Among the three, outboard motors are highly touted for their portability and the fact that they don’t take up any interior space. It’s crucial that the weight of an outboard is chosen according to the size of a boat, as a heavy motor can cause the craft to sit low in the water. Before taking an extended trip with this type of engine, it’s crucial to pack a supply of bulk outboard motor oil.
Inboard engines often get credit for providing more stability as they can be balanced inside the boat near the center of the hull. Unfortunately, these engines are less than ideal when families or large groups of friends want to take a ride; they simply take up so much interior room. An inboard/outboard system solves the space problem by keeping most of its components outside the boat, but the engine itself is more complex and prone to breakdowns.
Today we turn to a boating topic that’s often overlooked but cannot be understated – that of regular outboard maintenance. Most boat owners take the process of winterizing their boats quite seriously at the end of the season, but it’s easy to forget about the little things that should be done after each trip. By going over these simple steps every time you return to shore, you can help prolong the life of your outboard engine.
Before you do anything else, take a moment to flush out the engine. Some people claim that this step isn’t as important for freshwater boating, but it should be done in saltwater and freshwater as well. During the flushing process, keep an eye on the water pump to guarantee good water flow. Check the water temperature as it leaves the pump; it should still be warm. Weak flow suggests a blockage in the outflow tube.
Next, disengage the fuel line and burn off all the fuel in the carburetor. Turn the battery switch off and begin looking beneath the engine cowling for leaks. Lubricate the cables and carburetor valves, put the cowling back in place and then replenish your tank with Yamalube 2m oil or some similar high-quality outboard oil. Once you’ve completed this routine checklist, you can rest assured that your motor and fuel system are prepped for the next trip.
Over the last few months, we’ve visited and revisited the threat posed by ethanol additives to the small boat industry. Specifically, ethanol lobbyists are seeking a waiver to sell E15 – that’s gas with a 15 percent concentration of ethanol – or even E20 as a standard fuel mixture for marine engines. As many boaters are aware, most small vessels on the market and in the water today are ill-equipped to deal with such high concentrations of the additive.
The question, then, for most boaters is “how much is too much?” The answer depends on the make, model and year of each individual boat. While most outboards are made to handle standard two cycle oil made by the likes of Yamaha, Evinrude and Mercury, marine engines can generally tolerate E10. The fuel system of the boat is a whole other story, as even a 10 percent concentration of ethanol can do irreparable damage.
E10 has a shelf life of two weeks, after which time it undergoes phase separation. If a boat sits idle for any extended stretch of time, the ethanol additive will evaporate, leaving behind only low-octane fuel. This fuel is much more likely to create blockages in the fuel system, and the ethanol that separates will sink to the bottom of the tank. After phase separation occurs, the fuel system is rendered inoperable until it’s drained.
We recently discussed the importance of packing multiple battery systems for fishing excursions. One system should be devoted to the general operation of the boat – the cranking function that starts it up – and the other should be relegated to smaller tasks like keeping the radio, radar and GPS juiced up. You might be wondering how it’s possible to prevent one battery from being used up by providing power to all of the boat’s electrical needs.
Yamaha’s battery isolator system has the ability to recharge multiple batteries right onboard the boat. This is especially handy because it’s crucial to keep the cranking battery operational for the duration of a trip. There’s nothing worse than finding out that an outboard engine won’t restart during the middle of your journey. The battery isolator system senses which battery has the least energy and supplies it with a charge. If both are equally tapped or equally full, they each receive the same amount of power.
Note that batteries should always be mounted a safe distance away from the boat’s fuel system. Fuel lines, gas tanks and outboard motor oil in general should be kept separate from electronic components. By keeping these and other safety measures in mind, you can ensure a fun, relaxing late-season boat trip.
With technology advancing by leaps and bounds in recent years, allowing anglers to pinpoint their location, route, and the best places to find fish, it should come as no surprise that reliable batteries and charging systems are a top priority. Many boaters rely on GPS, fish finder technology and VHF radios for communication; none of this would be possible without the juice required to power the whole enterprise.
While the above features could be classified as luxuries, there are several functional parts of the boat that also need battery power – namely electronic fuel injection systems. As such, Yamaha recommends that boaters bring two battery systems onboard. One should be used as the main power source for starting the engine, and the other should be dedicated to the specialized electrical devices.
By limiting yourself to a single battery system, you run the risk of sapping it part-way through your trip. Just as you should always bring bulk motor oil along for lengthy voyages, you should also be prepared in case of battery problems. Bring a backup or two, and you can work on installing it into the system as needed. Bear in mind that deep-cycle batteries are suited for energizing the electrical system as they are more dependable over an extended period of time than cranking batteries.
For boat owners lucky enough to live in areas where the sun shines year round, fishing season is anything but over by mid September. According to professional angler Clark Wendlandt, many fishermen overlook one of the most bountiful places to catch a sizeable dinner – or maybe even a genuine trophy fish or two. If you begin and end your day of boating in a marina, you may not have to go far to find fish.
Rocky stretches of shoreline, and even man-made rock walls, are excellent hideouts for certain types of forage bass. The algae that grows along those rocks marks the bottom of the food chain, and small minnows gather to feast on the sustenance. Crawfish also prefer tiny crevices where they can hide from predators, and all of these elements combine to bring bass from miles around.
Wendlandt, who relies on Yamalube oil to help propel his boat around the lake, recommends fishing rocks early in the morning. That’s when the bass stay in relatively shallow water. He tends to use crankbaits when fishing rocky stretches and then, if that doesn’t work, switches to worms or even jigs. You don’t need to be a professional to recognize a great opportunity to catch fish.
Over the years, 2 stroke engine manufacturers competed not only to build the most powerful engines, but also the most efficient ones. Efficiency becomes even more crucial when discussing engines in the 115 to 150 hp range. These outboards are best suited for boat owners who don’t mess around – they want to get from point A to point B quickly, and reliability is key. Still, it would be a shame to waste a perfectly good fuel/oil mixture.
Loop charging, also known as Schneurle porting, is a method by which transfer ports force the fresh fuel/air mixture into the combustion chamber as soon as it enters the cylinder. This discourages fuel from being lost through the exhaust port, improving efficiency as well as engine power. The method got its moniker from Anton Schneurle, a German scientist who invented a form of it in the 1920s.
Prior to the widespread of loop charging, 2 stroke engines trailed behind their 4 stroke counterparts in terms of power and efficiency. Today, Yamaha and other purveyors of 2 cycle oil feature a line of high-end, loop-charged engines that run the gamut from 115 hp to 150 hp. Without these innovations, boat owners wouldn’t be able to enjoy the speed and efficiency of modern outboard engines.
Outdoors enthusiasts’ tastes change with the seasons. In summer, they can be found fishing from the deck of a small personal craft or perhaps splashing around shore on a waverunner. But as the air begins to take on that distinctive crispness and the leaves take on a reddish hue, their thoughts turn to other endeavors. The boats are stored safely and securely in an out building – away from those who would steal their valuable outboard engines.
But just as many boat owners are going about the painstaking process of winterizing their crafts, they are also thinking of taking the snowmobile out of storage. Before too long the ground will be covered in a powdery layer of fresh snow. Even though that first ride might feel far out of reach, it’s still best to make sure that a sled is in tip-top shape for snowmobile season.
Begin by checking the fuel and oil levels. If it isn’t already, be sure to top things off with some Yamaha 2s oil. People also have a tendency to forget about other crucial fluid levels such brake fluid and engine coolant. Brake fluid levels can be verified by taking a gander at the sight glass of the master cylinder. Anti-freeze can be viewed in the reservoir tank. As long as both of these fall somewhere between the “low” and “full” designations, you should be fine.