Preventative Outboard Motor Care: Part Three

Flushing your engine is one of the most basic and essential components of outboard motor maintenance and as such, every boat owner should be well acquainted with the practice. Aside from a basic garden hose and a water source, the only other tool you need is a set of “rabbit ears”—and not the kind you put on your TV. These rabbit ears consist of two rubber hoses and a metal clamp.

Slide the rabbit ears onto the lower unit where the water intake is and hookup the garden hose. Turn on the engine and the water pump will start to do its magic. Once you start everything up, examine the water pump to ensure a good flow of H20. The water coming out of the pump shouldn’t be hot nor have any debris in it. If this is the case, turn off the engine immediately. Tomorrow will go over how to fix the problem, as well as other routine maintenance like how to change your marine engine oil.

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Preventative Outboard Motor Care: Part Two

Before we delve into the maintenance procedures, I have a quick caveat: Unless you are a mechanic, have a professional tune-up periodically. It’s good to have a grasp of the basics like changing your Evinrude XD100, but an expert mechanic is sure to detect some problems before you do. Their routine should include a pressure test of the lower unit, testing of the spark plugs, seals and pump, and a comprehensive examination of the rest of the components. Trust me, it’s worth the time and money to nip these systemic problems in the bud.

One of the easiest ways to maintain the integrity of your engine is by flushing it after each outing. Admittedly, sometimes I cheat and go an outing or two in-between flushes—do as I say, not as I do. Salt water is particularly corrosive, so there are no exceptions here. Tomorrow we’ll go over some basic checks you can do for the 10-15 minutes while you are flushing your engine.

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Preventative Outboard Motor Care: Part One

Now that the sun is shining and the days are long, taking time to care for your engine is probably not high on your priority list. And why should it bet; the summer is the time to go out and enjoy your vessel, not spend hours in the garage tuning your engine. However, if you neglect to care for your outboard motor, your time on the water could be fraught with disaster. Personally, I like to do my maintenance in the winter to maximize my boating time when the weather is fair.

From overheating and spent spark plugs to corrosion and rusting, a litany of mechanical problems can plague your motor. Luckily, preventing damage to your outboard motor is relatively simple and won’t take hours on end. You obviously want to change your outboard motor oil regularly, but this is only one of the necessary maintenance procedures. Over the next couple of days, we’ll overview a simple maintenance routine to help keep your engine up and running.

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Environmentally Safe Boating: Part Five

In the previous posts covering eco-friendly boating we have focused exclusively on spilling petroleum products, but this isn’t the only threat your vessel poses to the environment. Emissions are also a serious concern, particularly with two-stroke engines, which emit a much higher level of hydrocarbons. To that end, it’s important to take the proper measures to ensure your watercraft puts off a minimal amount of exhaust.

First, be sure to use the gas to oil ratio outlined in your owner’s manual; an improper mixture can lead to higher emissions and a greater risk of engine damage. Also be sure to only use premium grade gasoline and boat motor oil, such as Evinrude XD 100. Using top-tier oil will help your engine burn cleaner and prevent carbon deposits. In the end, the number one thing to remember when is comes to being environmentally conscious on your boat is simply to use common sense. And if you do have an accident, be sure to contact the Coast Guard and proper authorities immediately.

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Environmentally Safe Boating: Part Four

Fueling your boat is obviously one of the riskiest practices when it comes to petroleum spills in the water. Not only will spilling gasoline harm the wildlife and ecosystem, the corrosive nature of the fuel can cause serious damage to the hull of your boat as well. Although gas stations built on piers are easily accessible for boaters, the ramifications of a spill are exponentially worse than if you were refueling on dry land. So whenever possible, throw your boat on the trailer and make the trip down the street to your standard station.

Whenever you fill your boat, be sure to leave about 10 percent of the tank unfilled to allow for expansion and help prevent spills. There are multiple ways to determine when the tank is almost to capacity, including sounding sticks, listening to the filter pipe and, of course, taking note of the tank’s volume. Another one of the main ways boaters contaminate a body of water is by discharging outboard motor oil through the bilge pump; however, this should be an issue if you keep your engine well maintained. But just to be safe, it’s a good idea to place some oil absorbent materials in the bilge boom and underneath the engine.

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Environmentally Safe Boating: Part Three

Due to the systemic risk of petroleum and oil in our water systems, there are several federal laws pertaining to the proper disposal of these fluids. Under The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, any expulsion of oil or oily substances into navigable water or water in the contiguous zone is illegal and carries up to a $5,000 penalty. Of course, you can always find ways around the law, but as we’ve learned in previous blog posts, the detrimental effects of oil in the water vast, so you shouldn’t need any additional coercion to deter you from dumping.

In addition, The Clean Water Act forbids you to use soap, dispersants or emulsifiers in an attempt to clean a spill. Unauthorized use of these cleaning agents carries a hefty penalty—as much as $25,000. If you accidentally spill any oil or see a fellow boater leaking gasoline or dumping mercury engine oil, the best M.O. is to call the Coast Guard and give a detailed report of the spill.

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Environmentally Safe Boating: Part Two

The BP oil spill has rekindled public awareness of the detrimental effects humans can have on water and ecosystems. And while the oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico is extremely hazardous, materials from your boat can be just as dangerous. Petroleum alone is perilous for wildlife, but gasoline also contains benzene and other carcinogens. As we have seen in recent weeks, cleaning water is an infinitely difficult proposition, so the best M.O. is to prevent a spill in the first place.

Outboard motor oils, such as Evinrude XD100, contain a litany of potentially dangerous elements as well, including zinc, sulfur and phosphorus. Some people assume that a relatively small amount of gasoline or oil spilling into the water isn’t a big deal, using the BP logic that the body of water is immense, so my little quantity of oil is just a drop in the bucket. In fact, just one pint of oil has the capability of covering once acre of surface area on the water.

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Environmentally Safe Boating: Part One

With tens of thousands of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico everyday, people around the country have suddenly taken more interest in environmental issues, particularly as they pertain to the water. If you have been boating for years, chances are you were already well aware of the myriad risks that constantly threaten lakes, streams, rivers and oceans. And while you may not be able to produce a disaster on the scale of the BP spill, gasoline and outboard motor oil from your vessel are still a hazard to the environment.

To that end, it is imperative to take the proper precautions when changing your oil, fueling or handling other potential dangerous substances, particularly when you are around the water. As you can imagine, cleaning up spilled gas or oil from water is virtually impossible. Over the next few days we will be covering some of the basics on how to protect the environment and abide by federal and local laws.

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Boat Trailers and Launching: Part Five

Whenever you are towing your boat, no matter how short the journey, always be sure to bring along a spare tire. In my experience, trailers get flats far more often than cars. Also be sure to bring along a jack that has the capacity to lift your trailer and boat along with your extra outboard motor oil.  Once you successfully get the boat to the launch, the only thing left to do is get her in the water.

If you have never backed up a trailer before, I recommend practicing before you get to the ramp. Be sure to always keep the trailer in your sights and drive slowly while you are backing up. I could spend all of next week writing a series on how to back your trailer, but the fact of the matter is that the only way you learn is by doing it yourself. One tip, however: Don’t be afraid to pull forward and start again. It’s always easier to launch the boat when you are aligned properly.

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Boat Trailer and Launching: Part Four

When it comes to actually towing your boat, it is always best to err on the side of caution. If you have a modestly sized vessel, be sure to secure it to the trailer with straps. All boats under 1,000 pounds should be strapped down, and if there is any doubt in your mind, it’s worth taking the extra five minutes to secure the boat. In addition to the craft, be sure that liquids like outboard motor oil are secure and that life jackets and other accessories won’t fly out of the boat.

For those with an outboard motor, you should remove it when towing the boat in virtually all circumstances. It certainly is a hassle to take the engine off its bracket, but it’s more of a headache to have to replace your motor. And before you leave the driveway, be sure you know if your boat is covered by your insurance policy. Some auto policies won’t cover the boat while it’s on the trailer, so do your research.

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Boat Trailers and Launching: Part Three

When you purchase your trailer, it is important to remember that they are designed to hold an array of watercrafts. This means that some trailers simply won’t be long enough or designed to support your hull properly. Before making a purchase, check will various sources and perform your own measurements to be sure the trailer is a good fit for your hull. It is also crucial to ensure that the tongue on the trailer fits the ball of your hitch. After taking all of the above criteria into consideration, you’re ready to go out and make your purchase.

And don’t think that once you’ve bought your trailer that your work is over. Just as you have to refill your Evinrude XD50 oil and perform regular maintenance on your boat, your trailer will need ongoing attention as well. In the next two days we will cover some of the basics of trailer maintenance and upkeep, as well as how to tow and launch your boat safely.

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Boat Trailers and Launching: Part Two

Unless your boat is in the water 24/7, it will likely spend the vast majority of its time on the trailer. With this in mind, it is important to take the time to properly research the various trailer options before making a purchase. Putting in new Evinrude XD100 and flushing the engine are essential for maintaining the internal components, and a properly sized trailer is just as important for the exterior.

When considering the capacity of the trailer, be sure to include all of the gear and supplies that you plan to keep onboard. Many boat owners switch to a smaller tire on their trailer to make launching easier. If you choose to do this, be sure that the tires also have the ability to support the weight of the watercraft and supplies; the tire’s load rating will be located on the sidewall.

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