Archive for July, 2010
Some people see mixing outboard motor oil and gasoline as a chore, but I actually prefer it. It beats having to change the oil the traditional way twice a year, in my opinion at least. Each two-stroke engine specifies a different fuel to oil ratio, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual; when I mix in my Evinrude XD100, I use a 50:1 ratio.
To figure out the proper combination, you first have to convert everything to a common unit of measurement—ounces are the easiest. There are 128 ounces in a gallon. So lets say you are going to prepare 5 gallons of mixed fuel, which is equivalent to 640 ounces. Since I use a 50:1 ratio, I divide 640 by 50 to get 12.8—so I need 12.8 ounces of outboard motor oil.
Two-stroke engines are more powerful and compact than the four-stroke, which is why they are found on the back of so many boats. But some boats do have four-stroke engines. When you purchase outboard motor oil, you’ll notice that there is both two- and four-stroke oil, but is there really any difference? As we all know, one of the biggest differences between the two types of motors is how you put oil in the system. In a two-stroke motor the gas and oil are mixed, while in a four-stroke the oil is contained in a separate compartment.
Two-stroke oil costs more, but is it really worth the extra money. The simple answer is yes. And the reason is that two-stroke motors are more susceptible to wear because of the immense amount of power they generate in half the movements. Two-stroke oils have higher ratings to ensure your engine gets the protection it need.
Yesterday we discussed why using premium oil is so important for boaters, but what I failed to mention was that most premium bulk oil on the market today is synthetic. And while we may think that synthetics are relatively new, their origins date back many decades. During the 1930s and 1940s, Dr. Hermann Zorn began to research new engine lubricant which wouldn’t coagulate or become sticky like the oils of his day. His research led him to the conclusion that esters held the answer. At the same time as Zorn’s research, the US was in the process of synthesizing esters for use in oils.
Synthetic oils were first used in WWII by both Germany and the United States. It wasn’t until the 1960s however until Chevron released the first synthetic for commercial use. The quality of synthetics has continually improved, with new esters and methods constantly being utilized. Today, synthetic oils are the gold standard of the industry.
Needless to say, some of my boating brethren don’t take outboard motor oil as seriously as I do. And that’s okay, because most people don’t. But if you own a vessel, investing in premium outboard motor oil is important. While all oils provide lubrication and help protect the engine, a premium synthetic blend drastically improves the overall performance of your craft.
Top tier oil, like Evinrude XD 100 oil, can be used in a range of boats: outboard engines, direct injection or oil injected. Two-stroke oils have a tendency to smoke and emit odors, but premium oil reduces the emissions from your engine and prolongs the motor’s life. And when your engine runs cleaner, acceleration is smoother and overall performance is better.
For years, three-blade propellers have been the standard issue for virtually all boat motors. But on certain boats, particularly bigger ones, a four-blade propeller can offer some distinct advantages, so their usage is becoming more and more common. Although three-blade propellers will be faster at full throttle, most of the time four-blade propellers are more stable and efficient, meaning you spend less on gas and outboard motor oil.
The overall increased surface area of the blades on a four-blade prop make planing easier, which is particularly useful when you are pulling skiers or wakeboarders. This large amount of blade area also reduces vibrations, making for a smoother ride on all levels. There is no cut-and-dry method for choosing which propeller is best for your vessel; there are simply too many variables in the equation.
Now that I’m thinking about it, this portion of the series probably should have come first. Before the skier gets in the water, it’s important to go over some ground rules and establish an agreed upon form of nonverbal communication. The thumbs up or down are simple signals to indicate a desired increase or decrease in speed. A circle above your head is obviously a turn, while drawing your hand across your throat is a sign to “cut it.”
Always have an extra person onboard to watch the skier and raise the safety flag when they go down. Even if you have a spotter, installing a rearview mirror is never a bad idea. Last but not least, be sure you always have the proper supplies before you leave the dock: first aid equipment, tools, and extra gas and Evinrude XD100.
One way or another, the skier is eventually going to go down, and the proper steps must be taken to ensure their safety. As soon as the skier lets go of the towrope, immediately grab your safety flag—which should be stowed away with your extra outboard motor oil and other supplies. The flag alerts other boaters to the person in the water. Quickly circle back around and come back to the skier.
You should always pass the skier on the driver’s side of the vessel, which allows you to talk and keep them in constant eye contact. If the skier wants to go another round, bring the boat around to the right, which will draw the towrope up next to the skier. If, on the other hand, they’ve had enough, simply pull forward to give them access to the step. In our final installment tomorrow, we’ll cover some basic tips and precautions to ensure safe skiing.
Once the towrope is taut, give it some gas and accelerate smoothly. A quick caveat before we continue with how to pull a skier: Be sure to adjust your ratio of gasoline to Yamalube oil carefully to ensure peak engine performance. Many people accelerate too slowly, which means the skier will be dragged under the water. Note that if the skier is only using one ski, you will want to give the boat a little extra juice.
After the skier is up, settle in at your cruising speed and head for open water. When making a turn, begin by angling the boat slightly to one side, then bringing it back around in a circle to the other side. Be sure to maintain your speed throughout the turn, as the boat will naturally slow down. Once the circle is complete, straighten your boat out so you are going the opposite direction from which you came. Tomorrow we’ll go over the protocol for when the skier goes down and cover some general safety tips.
Boats are certainly fun to drive and it’s enjoyable to spend a day anchored in the middle of a serene lake, but one of the main reasons most people invest in a boat is water sports. And while towing an innertube is a cinch, getting a skier up—especially a novice—can be difficult. The boat driver has a crucial impact on the enjoyment and the safety of the skier, so before you put someone behind your boat, be sure you know what you’re doing.
When the skier is in the water, have the engine cut and someone else on board displaying your safety flag, which should always be kept with your extra gasoline and Evinrude XD 100. Once the skier has the handles of the towrope and is comfortable in the water, clear the rope from the propeller and start the engine. Slowly move away from the boater until all of the slack has been removed from the towrope. Tomorrow we’ll go over how to get them up.
When you neglect to bring extra gas and supplies with you on a road trip, the consequences are minimal—perhaps you’ll have to phone in for a tow truck or get a ride to the closest town. But when you forget to pack the proper supplies on a boat outing it can sometimes be difficult to garner immediate assistance. To avoid incident on the water, here are a few essential supplies to always keep on hand:
~First aid kit
~Extra food and water
~Gasoline and outboard motor oil
~A set of tools
~Extra parts, such as prop fins and fasteners