mardi 20 janvier 2015

THE MOST COMMON SYSTEM FAILURES

11:07

Fuel sludge in the bottom of a fuel tank is a common problem on boats, especially if the boat has been sitting for a long time. The owner goes boating and has to keep changing his fuel filters every few hours. Often the issue is the owner changes the fuel filter, does not have any fuel problems for many hours until he gets in rough water and the fuel sloshing around in the tank will break up the sludge on the bottom. 
If you have a fuel polishing system installed, make sure to start out with a clean tank. Having a proper fuel filter installation is the most important part of having trouble free engine and generator problems. What I like to see is a dual fuel filter system so that you can change a fuel filter while the engine(s) are running. I have an electric fuel pump in my system so I can immediately fill the filter and bleed out all the air. Also, don’t ever go boating without at least 2 spare fuel filters for each engine on board the boat and the correct size filter wrench to change them out. When you have your engine oil changed, which should be once per year or the hours of use that your engine recommends, you should also check belt(s), cable links and wire harness connections.
When was the last time you cleaned and lubricated you boat’s winches. Removing the winch drum and inspecting the winch bearings, paws and springs is not a difficult job. The key to doing this job is to be patient and careful not to lose any parts. When we clean and grease winches, we use diesel fuel and remove all grease and dirt. We make sure the springs on the paws are working properly and the needle bearings are turning free. We use Super Lube synthetic grease, since it is impervious to salt water. It takes only a dab of grease to properly lubricate a winch and you will note the difference.
The most common problem with overheating of an engine or generator is the raw water strainers being clogged, especially in the summer months when there is a lot of seaweed floating in the water and the water temperatures is warm that barnacles like. It is also the most common problem with your AC and refrigeration system (if water cooled) shutting down. You should check your raw water strainers before every trip and check your AC and refrigeration strainers weekly, especially if keep them running while you are not on the boat. Another thing we see often is that the exterior hull strainers are not the proper size for the water intake. We changed the hull scoops to a larger size on a 70’ Hatteras motor yacht and it completely stopped the overheating issues they had been fighting for years. Don’t forget to carry spare impellers; it only takes a couple of the rubber blades to be missing and the water temperature is sure to go up on the engine.
Batteries are another source of problems that can give you a headache. If you have wet cell batteries, you need to check them often to make sure the water level is where it should be; letting the cells go dry will weaken the battery and shorten the life substantially. The only way to check batteries is when the battery charger or charger/ inverter is turned off. We have had customers being able to start their engine while the boat was plugged into shore power, but could not start the engine after that because the batteries could not hold a charge. If you have a 5 year battery that is 5years old and you plan to go on a trip to the Bahamas, don’t wait until the battery can’t hold a charge, just change it out so there are no battery related problems on the trip.
Here are some other common issues that create problems on the water:
  • Vibration – caused by engine/ shaft alignment, bent shaft, gouged or bent propeller.
  • Steering – if hydraulic, fluid needs to be checked and also checked for leaks. Air in the system will make the steering feel like a sponge. If mechanical, check to make sure your system is well lubricated. On my sailboat, I have Edson pedestal steering and there are 2 grease fittings that need a squirt of grease once per year. Most of our customers are not even aware that many steering systems have fittings that need lubrication; it is usually in the owner’s manual and, if you know the manufacturer, you can go online and get the maintenance information.
  • Bilge pump – the float switch failure is the single most common problem with bilge pumps. The other common problems are corroded wiring to the pump and the intake fouled by debris.
These are some of the most common problems; the key is to keep your boat well maintained and keep using it. The more you use the boat and its systems, the fewer problems you will accrue. Boats are built to be used and not to sit around. Know you can tell your spouse “honey, I need to check our boat’s systems so I will be out on the water today”!

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