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Ready your horses for Spring

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Leisure Boating provides you with a few tips and essential checks in readying your boat engine for springtime boating fun.

It’s been a long winter, especially if you haven’t been on the water for the duration. There are those addicts who brave the cold and take their boat out come rain or shine, but for most of us, and certainly we here at the magazine, aren’t huge fans of boating in the wet and windy conditions that constitutes most of Cape Town’s winter season.

However, the miserable season is nearly at an end and it’s time to get your boat and engine ready for your first day on the lake, dam or deep blue sea. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your first day is going to be a pleasant one without any calamities that could’ve been avoided. If you plan on doing this by yourself it is a good idea to make a checklist and tick it off as you go along. The first task is to drain and refill your fuel tanks. If the fuel in your tank is more than a month old it is imperative that you empty it as the ethanol in the fuel would have collected water over the winter – even if you prepared it with marine fuel treatment. Secondly, check your batteries. Charge them if need be or replace them if they are more than two years old.

Then replace spark plugs, fuel filters, lower unit lube and your water pump’s impeller if it is more than two years old. Make sure that all cables are in good order. Your hoses, fuel lines, throttle, steering, and shift cables and connections should be greased or oiled where necessary, tight and working smoothly. If there are any cracks or bulges in your fuel lines – or if cables look dry and brittle – it would be wise to replace them immediately. Also, cooling hoses should be firmly clamped and fitting snugly and if any hose clamps show any sign of corrosion, replace them right away.

Then, check all belts for tension and wear, check all water pumps for water seepage, test bilge pumps and high-water control switch, and check all fuses and replace as needed. Next up, remove your prop and check for any dings or chips. Fishing line under the prop can cause the prop shaft seals to fail so it’s advisable to do a thorough inspection. Examine anodes on shaft, outdrive or trim tabs if needed, and also check that the rudder is in good health. After lubing the prop shaft, check that it isn’t bent by turning it slowly by hand; then re-torque the prop to factory specs. Many boaters complain about oil injection failures. To avoid this, remove, clean or, if it’s old and worn, replace the filter in your oil injection unit. Make sure that all oil lines aren’t brittle or cracked as they could let you down in rough water.

If you want to do a meticulous oil injection check by yourself rather than taking it to a professional, you’ll have to test the output of the oil injection pump itself. It’s a little arduous, but rather that than an oil-related engine failure. Start by running your engine in a portable tank with a 50/1 oil mixture, and then disconnect your oil line from the oil pump. Now, run the motor at the rpm specified in your service manual while catching the oil being pumped out in a measuring flask.

Check how long it takes to pump the minimum volume of oil and compare that volume/time ratio to the chart in the service manual. Now reconnect the oil lines. Remember that if the oil pump fails, it may set off a warning buzzer, but if it only pumps half as much oil as needed it may not give suitable warning and your motor could be seriously damaged. Lastly, check your owner’s manual or factory service manual, and lubricate every item listed. A final, necessary precaution is to test your kill switch before you head out. Run your engine and pull the kill switch to check if the motor dies instantly…

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