Boat Engine Maintenance and Troubleshooting: Part Three

As the heart of the boat, the engine should be near the top of your maintenance hierarchy. Changing your 2 cycle oil is obviously crucial, but it’s not enough. Most marine engine damage stems from neglect of the cooling system. Since marine engines use the water they are in as a cooing agent, the contaminants in the water also flow through the cooling system.

The water filters are the most important component to maintain in the cooling system. Opt for the premium models with metal strainers instead of plastic. Maintenance of the cooling system is particularly significant if you are boating in salt water. If this is the case, check regularly for rust around the gaskets, which is an indication that salt water is leaking out of the system.

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Boat Engine Maintenance and Troubleshooting: Part Two

Regardless of the size of your boat, developing a checklist for your routine maintenance procedures is essential. A checklist will ensure that no simple tasks such as changing your Evinrude XD 100 aren’t overlooked, and as you get to know your boat better, you will certainly want to add and expand this list. It is also helpful to keep a log of all the maintenance you do so that you can monitor when various components and fluids were replaced.

When developing your checklist, it is important to prioritize and recognize what should be left to qualified professionals. Some tasks may be above your head, while with others, the money that you spend on a mechanic will be worth the time and effort that you save. Procrastination is one of the main causes of boat trouble—the sooner you detect a problem, the cheaper and easier it will be to remedy.

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Boat Engine Maintenance and Troubleshooting: Part One

Whether you take your boat out everyday or just on the occasional three-day weekend, all watercrafts require a substantial commitment of time and money. Since any boat is going to be a sizeable investment, it makes sense to put in the effort to keep your boat in peak condition. Of course, you will want to change the outboard motor oil regularly and keep the hull clean, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Over the next several days, we will be going over a variety of engine maintenance procedures to help your ensure that your boat stays afloat and you make the most of your time on the open water.

Obviously, boats are constantly exposed to water, and this is one of the main culprits when it comes to engine damage. The risks associated with water are two-fold. First, water is a solvent, which means that it will dissolve many materials and facilitates corrosion. Water also naturally harbors growth, which is a serious concern for the wood, plastic and metal that is constantly in contact with the water. Now that we know what the enemy is, tomorrow we will formulate the plan of attack.

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Fishing Season is Underway

The start of fishing season is one of my favorite times of year; not only do I get to spend my weekends out on the lake, but it also is when I take the cover off my Bayliner and prepare for boating season. A couple of weeks before the fishing season begins, I take my boat out of storage so that I have an opportunity to go through my preseason maintenance schedule. Nothing is worse than getting to the middle of the lake only to find out that your Evinrude xd 100 oil has run out and there is a crack in the fuel line.

Since all of my maintenance was done ahead of time, I was out on the lake at six in the morning the day the season started. The early bird gets the worm scenario didn’t pan out for my son and me, as we didn’t catch anything all day. This trend continued last week, so I’ve been looking into some new spots for us to test out weekend.

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TC-W3 Certification: How the Oil is Tested

Three different engines are used by the NMMA to test the oils and determine if they meet TC-W3 certification standards. First, the outboard motor oil is tested on a BRP 40 hp engine and a Johnson 70 hp. They also run two consecutive tests using a Mercury 15 hp motor and two separate lubricity tests. This variety of testing ensures that the oil’s performance is uniform in all two-stroke engines. 

During the tests, the engines run for 100 hours each. Every ten hours during the test, the testers stop the engines and the oil is inspected. The testing process remains constant regardless of the manufacturer and chemical makeup of the oil. Many boat manufacturers specify TC-W3 certified oils for their engines, so receiving TC-W3 certification can be a boon for an oil manufacturer.

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TC-W3 Certification: The Testing

The National Marin Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the organization holding the trademark for TC-W3 and is responsible for all of the analysis. Each 2 cycle oil is put through a rigorous series of tests to ensure that it meets the highest lubrication standards under a range of conditions. A bench test is a trial conducted in a laboratory prior to a product being made available to the public.

To receive TC-W3 certification, every two-cycle oil must pass several bench tests, which include checks for viscosity, lubricity and fluidity, among others. Ring sticking and carbon buildup on the pistons are both checked for as well. Tomorrow we will look at the various engines that are used to test the oils and take a closer look at what it takes for an oil to be approved.

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TC-W3 Certification

Virtually all marine engines are two-stroke, which necessitates a particular type of motor oil. In a two-stroke engine, the fuel and oil are mixed so that the system is lubricated as it is supplied with gas. There are myriad reasons why two-strokes are superior for use on the water, but they also have their drawbacks. Because the oil is mixed with the fuel, two-stroke engines tend to emit an excess of burnt oil.

For manufacturers, the goal is to produce oil that can be used in a smaller proportion to the amount of fuel, such as Evinrude xd100. This will help eliminate much of the emissions that are created by excess oil in the system. Of course, this reduction in the oil to fuel ration can’t come at the expense of lubrication and performance. In order to develop criteria so that owners can recognize premium oils that meet all of this criteria, the NMMA developed TC-W3 certification, which we will be examining the rest of the week.

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Oil Spill Fuels Energy Debate

Most outboard motor oil today is synthetic, so drilling really has no direct impact on production or market value. However, since the catalyst of this blog is oil, the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico bears mentioning. Of course, the oil spill will have massive ramifications for the wildlife and ecosystems in the region, but it will also provide a new talking point in the ongoing debate on offshore drilling and alternative

For the last several years, the mantra of the Republican Party has been, drill baby, drill. President Obama has even taken steps to appease the GOP faithful by including offshore drilling in his new energy proposal. In the wake of the current disaster however, it will be difficult to find continued bipartisan support for any legislation that promotes the proliferation of drilling. Although there hasn’t been a major offshore drilling fiasco in 40 years, the current crisis in the Gulf is sure to raise concerns about drilling safety and viability.

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