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.

Did you like this? Share it:

Save Big with Routine Maintenance

outboard-oilYesterday’s post about fuel flow meters got me thinking about other simple ways for boaters to save money in this uncertain economic client. If you can’t afford upgrade your boat’s meter and instrument panel at this time, there’s no need to despair. With a bit of discipline and ingenuity, you can help ensure that your marine vessel will never let you down in a pinch.

All boat manufacturers provide a recommended schedule of maintenance. This schedule is intended to give boaters all the information they need to keep the craft running at peak performance. Not surprisingly, the better you do at keeping up with routine maintenance, the less money you’ll have to pay for repairs down the line. Maintaining the engine should be made a top priority; if you neglect a marine motor you’ll end up spending more for outboard oil.

As is the case with automotive engines, a marine engine becomes practically useless if it’s allowed to overheat. Since outboards pull in water from the lake or river through an impeller pump, you’ll need to check this system and replace its components at regular intervals. Don’t skimp on crank case lubricants either as they keep the internal parts of the system running smoothly.

Did you like this? Share it:

Phase Separation in Ethanol


By now most small boat owners will be familiar with the debate raging in boardrooms and congressional halls over the merits of ethanol fuel. We’ve posted before about ethanol lobbyists whose primary goal is to force all boaters to use E15 fuel. And while most of their reasons for doing so are altruistic and pro-environment, the drawbacks of using high-ethanol blends in marine engines are myriad.

It’s not that boat owners are stubborn or set in their ways; to the contrary, they are often willing to embrace the latest technology if it promises to make their hobbies more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly. Unfortunately in the case of ethanol the detriments appear to outweigh the benefits. A process known as phase separation occurs when the ethanol present in blended fuel absorbs water and separates. This leaves multiple layers inside the fuel tank with the majority of ethanol and water – which won’t burn – settling down at the bottom. The marine engine oil remaining on top will have a lower octane rating.

Critics might argue that boat manufacturers need to overhaul their current fuel tank designs, but that problem would do nothing to assuage vintage boat owners or other 2-cycle motor users. Snowmobiles, go karts and chainsaws all feature engines that would be put at great risk if high-ethanol blended fuel entered into the equation. For now it’s up to individuals to make wise choices when selecting their boat oil.

Did you like this? Share it: