Fast Facts: Marine Engine Oil

Why use marine engine oil? Isn’t all oil the same? In a word: no. The oil you use in your car is not suitable for your boat.

Boats have a closed loop cooling system, unlike automobiles. Boats, obviously, are subject to water corrosion and buildup. For those reasons, marine engine oil, with its high anti-corrosion properties, is better suited for boats than regular engine oil used on cars.

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Why Not Use Car Oil?

In the past, boat owners have used automobile oil to lubricate their outboard motors. If you really care about your boat, then it is best to use marine engine oil. Simply put, cars and boats have to operate in different environments and need oil that suits those environments.

To elaborate, boats, unlike cars, have a closed loop cooling system. Water causes corrosion, not to mention running a boat for an extensive amount of time can cause water and fuel build-up. That’s why marine engine oil, unlike automobile oil, has higher anti-corrosion properties

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Yamaha Outboard Maintenance Tips

When it comes to keeping your watercraft in working order, there is a long maintenance check list. Today we’ll focus on two parts of that list: power trim and tilt fluid, and lubricants. Be sure to regularly inspect the lower unit to highlight issues. To prevent such issues from arising, keep the prop shaft well lubricated and top up levels of trim fluids. Yamaha products, like Performance Power, are preferable.

As far as lubricants, Yamalube 2-m oil or 4-m oil is recommended for two-stroke and fours-stroke engines, respectively. It is imperative that all replaced or repaired components be bedded correctly, and then sealed and protected with lubricant. Lubricating parts also aids in motion and can extend the life of an engine.

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Outboard Engines vs. Air-Cooled Engines, Part 1

Two-cycle oil needs to be added to gasoline for both two-stroke outboard engines and air-cooled two-stroke engines. There are notable differences between the oil specifications for the two applications. Let’s start by examining the differences between outboard and air-cooled two-stroke engines:

Outboard engines operate at constant speeds. Two-stroke outboard engines also operate in water, meaning they have a constant supply of coolant which is not re-circulated. Air-cooled engines, on the other hand, are used in spurts; turned on and off or left idling. These engines typically have smaller displacements than outboard engines, and are frequently overloaded. For , Mercury 2 stroke oil is recommended.

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Checking for Compression

Air, fuel, compression, and spark are the four main elements that keep a two-stroke engine running. If any one of the four elements is missing or damaged, then the engine will not go. A loss of compression can be caused by several reasons, but the most likely culprit is a faulty seal between cylinder, piston or piston rings. Fortunately, this is an easy problem to spot and fix.

Start by removing all of the spark plugs from the motor and ground those spark plugs against the engine case. Take a compression tester and screw it into the spark plug hole of the first cylinder to be tested. Twist the throttle and kick the motor over a few times. Check the tester’s gauge; if the gauge reads at least 100-125 then you’re good to go, at least on that particular cylinder. While you’re poking around the insides of your motor, consider replacing your Mercury 2 cycle oil.

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Cavitation Part 1

Cavitation is a condition where gas bubbles form within a liquid flow because of liquid pressure falling below the fluid vapor pressure. Inertial cavitation, or transient cavitation, and non-inertial cavitation are the two most common forms. Either way, cavitation is not desirable. Good pump design helps minimize the impact of the condition.

Inertial cavitation occurs when bubbles within the fluid form and collapse in rapid succession. The sudden collapse creates a shock wave which happens frequently in pumps, propellers, control valves, and impellers. The shock waves cause damage to the mechanism and working parts. It’s important to conduct preventative maintenance, like replacing the water pump impeller every 1-2 years and using the right outboard motor oil.

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What Does Motor Oil Do? Part Three

One of the functions we don’t usually associate with marine engine oil is cooling. In most vehicles, the antifreeze concoction in the cooling system only does about 60% of the work when it comes to cooling the engine. Not only does oil cool the engine as it pulses through the system, it also controls the temperature by reducing friction.

Many of the grooves and spaces in-between the fittings on the engine leave microscopic openings in the system where pressure normally would be able to escape. However, the oil works its way into these gaps and creates a seal, effectively improving the engine’s efficiency. Additives in the oil now help reduce foam, allowing the oil to function to its full capabilities.

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The Anatomy of the Two-Stroke Engine: Part Four

When we left off yesterday, the piston had just bottomed out in the crankcase. Once this occurs, the momentum in the crankshaft will begin to drive the piston back towards the spark plug. As the process continues and more of the gas/air/outboard motor oil mixture is compressed, a vacuum is formed in the crankcase, which in turn opens the reed valve and sucks in more of the mixture from the carburetor.

At the end of the compression stroke, the spark plug fires again and the cycle is repeated. The two-stroke engine derives its name from the fact that only two strokes—the combustion and compression—are required to complete a full cycle. As you’ve probably ascertained, the four-stroke engine has four strokes: intake, compression, combustion and exhaust.

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Mercury Marine Company Overview

While Evinrude may get a lot of publicity, Mercury Marine is actually the world’s leading manufacturer of marine propulsion engines. Unlike other companies that produce complete watercrafts, Mercury focuses exclusively on engines, providing units for recreational, commercial and government usage. The company creates both Mercury and Mariner engines.

You won’t see Mercury Marine on the NYSE, but that’s because they are a division of Brunswick Corporation, who also owns Bayliner, Sea Ray and other leading marine manufactures. In addition to their award-winning engines, Mercury also produces a wide line of accessories and Mercury oil. The Mercury Marines mission statement outlines their commitment to excellence and their customers.

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Winterizing Your Boat Trailer

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Just as we take precautions to winterize our boat by changing the mercury oil, using a gasoline treatment to clean the tank, and greasing the propeller, it’s also important to winterize your boat trailer. The first step you should take is to prevent the buildup of rust, especially if your trailer and boat are stored outside. For rust protection, you’ll want to coat your trailer at least once every few years with rust prevention paint. It’s also important to re-grease the wheels on your trailer to avoid them from freezing and becoming immovable over the winter. If possible, drape your boat cover over the boat trailer as well, as preventing water runoff will help to maintain its condition.

With the proper precautions, you’ll be ready and rearing to go once the weather grows warmer; you’ll be out on the lake or the ocean before everyone else!

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Guide for Selecting a Used Outboard Motor

outboard motor oilIn a perfect world, we would all be able to afford precisely what our hearts desire. There wouldn’t be much diversity in the boating world, as we’d all be cruising past each other in top-of-the line boats with high-end outboard motors attached to the transom. Just think of all the luxury and convenience we would experience on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we would also miss out on many of the great stories that make boating so much fun. Old, well-worn boats have a certain character that their new counterparts lack. To an extent, the same could be said for outboards themselves.

There are several considerations to make upfront when selecting a used outboard motor for your vessel. They fall into three main categories: age, accessories and brand reliability. First, be sure you understand the difference between age and use. An eight-year-old outboard that has lain dormant inside a garage will be in much better shape than a four-year-old engine that has been run hard and denied basic maintenance. Check to ensure that the motor in question operates with a TC-W3 formulation of outboard motor oil.

Choose the accessories that best complement your pre-existing boat. For instance, find a motor that features cable steering, an electric start and other features that make boating more simple if you have a boat that allows for it logistically. As a final consideration, do some research about the specific brand of motor in which you want to invest. The big names in outboards have remained the same for decades: Yamaha, Evinrude, Mercury.

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Tune-Up III: Replacing the Spark Plugs

marine-engine-oil1Before picking up where we left off yesterday – greasing a few of the moving parts of the throttle – let’s quickly review what’s been done so far. We began the annual full-scale outboard tune-up by looking closely at the propeller for serious signs of wear and tear. Next, we looked for visible leaks around the propeller’s base. We added new marine engine oil to the outboard and replaced old lubricant in the motor’s lower unit with new.

Now it’s on to the throttle control – a crucial part of the boat that is used to determine fuel flow and, in effect, the speed of the craft. Start twisting the hand throttle around, watching the motor all the while and making mental notes of the moving parts. These should then be lubricated with standard marine grease. As always, the motor manufacturer may have a special suggestion as to which brand to use.

You’re now ready to disengage the sparkplug wires. Take special care to memorize where they are located and how they are positioned – that way you’ll be able to replace them just as they were. Take an adjustable wrench to each sparkplug and substitute it out for a new one. Tighten the new plug with your hand, then secure it fully with the wrench. Be forewarned that if you should overtighten the plugs, damage to your cylinder head could result.

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