Kick Off Party

In two weeks time, my family and I will be having a small spring kick off party. Yes, I realize that spring will already have been around for about a month, but in my experience, you can still get snow in March. Thus, I want to wait until I’m sure that the snowy season has passed us by.

A few family friends will be joining us at a nearby lake for a day of boating and barbecuing. I’m not a big party planner, so my only responsibility will be to get the boat ready by replacing the outboard oil. I’m sure I’ll be suckered into grilling, too, but for now I’m keeping my mouth shut so I don’t get dragged into any more party preparations.

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Engine Oil Analysis Service

Have you ever used an engine oil analysis service? I haven’t, but I do have a few friends who swear by the practice. Apparently, all you need to do is send a sample jar filled with outboard motor oil to a specialty place and then they run a full analysis to figure out the condition of your engine.

Upon further research, it appears that engine oil analysis is something frequently done by fleet operators. Taxi companies in particular condone the practice because it helps them figure out how often they should be changing their oil and parts, or even replacing cars in their fleet. The aviation industry also uses oil analysis to get a better sense of what is going on inside of their jet engines.

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TCW-3 Amalie Oil

When it comes to maintaining my two-stroke outboard motor, I swear by oil TCW-3 Amalie. For a while I was attached to the Chevron brand. When I could no longer buy Chevron TCW-3 I tried out some other brands.

What I found out is that TCW-3 Amalie oil is pretty consistent across brands. Though I have some brands I favor more than others, all that I have tried have performed well. If you’re looking to try out new two-stroke oil, then I would recommend a TCW-3 Amalie because regardless of brand and price, it will get the job done.

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Replacing Floats

Last weekend I helped a friend troubleshoot some issues he was having with his older 65hp Mercury outboard motor. Whenever he pumped the bulb to get the fuel lines filled with gas, the gas started spraying out of both carburetors. Too much pressure seemed to be reaching the carburetors in the float bowl.

We took apart the fuel pump and did not find any holes. After some more inspecting we concluded that it was probably time to replace the old cork floats with new plastic floats. We did that, put the parts back together, filled it up with fuel and Mercury outboard oil, and then gave it a go. The new floats seemed to do the trick!

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How Long Does Bulk Oil Last?

Every now and then I like to browse boat forums to see what people are talking about outside of the marina. One question that comes up frequently is how long does bulk oil last? One poster stated that he had recently bought a Mercury oil 55 gallon drum and was now worried that he might lose money on the transaction.

One person replied that oil only has a shelf life of four years. The overwhelming majority, however, replied that that was nonsense; motor boat oil does not have an expiration date. From my experience, bulk oil can last years and years, but you may have to mix it every so often to keep it from jelling.

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Taking Advantage of the Weather

The reason I’ve been so anxious to stock up on Mercury oil is I don’t know how much longer we’ll get to enjoy good weather. I suppose I should start by explaining that it has been exceptionally rainy. We’ve finally gotten a small reprieve, so I’m determined to take advantage of the good weather, which may not return again until late June.

This weekend I’m hoping to take a few guests out on my boat. It’s a little cold for water sports, but taking a cruise around the lake will be a pleasant break from the norm. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Mother Nature will cooperate!

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Lightboat Swiftsure

Built in 1904, Swiftsure is one of the oldest lightships in the United States. It is also the only lightship to have its original steam engines. Its journey began in Camden, New Jersey and continued to the tip of South America and back up to the Blunts Reef, California. It was part of a successful rescue mission of 150 passengers whose ship had run aground in a dense fog.

The boat has had other names (it started out as simply Lightship #83) over the years. Its current name refers to the Swiftsure Bank near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca whish separates WA from Vancouver Island. The Swiftsure is a National Historic Landmark and is currently moored at – you guessed it- Lake Union in Seattle. Yes, my Mercury engine oil purchasing buddies will be hearing about this vessel, too.

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Arthur Foss

In 1989, 100 years after it was built, the Arthur Foss tugboat was declared a National Historic Landmark. It’s no wonder, given the Arthur Foss’ storied past. The little tugboat that could is one of the oldest wooden-hulled tugboats afloat in the U.S.

The Arthur Foss transported barges of gold seeking miners and supplies up the Inside Passage during the Alaska Gold Rush. In 1933 Arthur Foss was in an MGM movie called “Tugboat Annie.” During WWII Arthur Foss was the last vessel to get away before the Battle of Wake Island began. I may have mentioned some of these stories to the guys when I was shopping for Mercury 2 stroke premium outboard motor oil.

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The Duwamish Fireboat

For 75-years the Duwamish was one of the most important fireboats in the United States. The Duwamish was built in 1909 specifically for the Seattle Fire Department. On board were three American LaFrance steam piston pumps rated at 3,000 gallons per minute apiece. An upgrade in 1949 bumped the rated capacity to 22,800 gallons per minute. Only the L.A. Fire Department’s Warner Lawrence has exceeded the Duwamish (38,000 lpm), and that didn’t occur until 2003.

When volunteers are available, visitors can board the Duwamish, which is moored at South Lake Union Park in Seattle. The boat is used by the Sea Scouts (a part of the Boy Scouts of America) and maintained by the Puget Sound fireboat Foundation. This is another vessel I’ll tell my buddies about when I go get my Mercury 2 stroke oil.

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Northwest Seaport

Last week I dedicated a lot of space to Mystic Seaport. This week I’m going to take you to the opposite coast to the Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center in Seattle, WA. Not surprisingly, the Northwest coast has a rich maritime history. In the 1960s a campaign called “Save Our Ships” was launched to save the Wawona, which was successfully bought in 1964.

The Wawona was a three-masted fore-and-aft schooner. It was used as a lumber carrier and fishing vessel from 1897 to 1947. Unfortunately, the Wawona was slated to be towed to a dry dock and dismantled in 2009. The schooner’s masts had already been removed three years earlier for safety reasons. I’m glad I got to see the ship before it was destroyed. When I’m shopping for Mercury 2 cycle oil this week I’ll ask my buddies if they’d like to go check out the Seaport sometime.

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Sandbagger Sloop

This past week I’ve been writing extensively about some of the vessels found at the Mystic Seaport Museum. Until now, I had failed to mention the first Mystic Seaport acquisition: Annie. No, not the musical, Annie is the name of a sandbagger sloop donated to Mystic Seaport in 1931. Annie became the first vessel in the now extensive watercraft collection.

Annie was built in 1880 in Mystic by David O. Richmond. The ship was commissioned by Henry H. Tift to use for competitive racing. In 2004 the ship underwent restoration to return it to its former glory. Annie is definitely a sight to be seen. Perhaps this summer I’ll take my own family to Mystic. It might be nice for my kids to see what boats looked like before the advent of marine engine oil.

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Only two members survive of the American mosquito fleet. One of the two, called Sabino, is housed at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut. Additionally, Sabino is a National Historic Landmark.

The wooden, coal-fired steamboat was built in 1908 at the W. Irving Adams shipyard in East Boothbay, Maine. The boat has served the entirety of its career as a ferry vessel. Even in its preserved status, patrons of the Mystic Seaport Museum can take a ferry ride on Sabino. Being a passenger aboard Sabino is a wonderful childhood memory of mine, but I much prefer my efficient Johnson outboard motor (filled with Johnson outboard oil) nowadays.

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