Meet Rodger Strickland

by Stacy Lash

Roger Strickland

Marine Parts Express would like to introduce the newest member of our sales team: Rodger Strickland.

Rodger is originally from Radnor, Pennsylvania, though he recently moved to Maine to be closer to his wife's family. Lisa is a native Mainer who grew up on Monhegan Island.

After completing his BA in International Economics and Political Science at the University of Denver, Rodger moved to California where he began a career in the import/export industry. His first assignment was to export metals to locations such as Europe, China, and South America.

Several years later, Rodger moved to Boston where he took over for two partners importing Russian aluminum to the United States. Aside from metals, Rodger has dealt in African wood like Mahogany, bulk raw materials, even fertilizer components.

Rodger and Lisa were married in October 2010 and moved to Maine in February 2012. He initially worked as a financial consultant for firms in Pennsylvania, something he has done in various capacities for more than a decade. In July 2012 he became part of the Marine Parts Express sales team with the goal of expanding the international leg of our business. Rodger believes that his past experience provides Marine Parts Express with "a great opportunity to grow our business and market with commercial trading partners in foreign countries."

Although our current focus is on personal boat owners, Rodger hopes to capitalize on the wealth of knowledge and contacts he made throughout his impressive career by expanding sales opportunities to "commercial and governmental fleets."

With a solid and exciting career history in both import/export and finance, we're certain that Rodger will be able to achieve his goal of expanding Marine Parts Express as an international name.

Outside of work, Rodger is a sports buff. He enjoys tennis and golf, and hopes to learn to sail now that he is closer to the coast.

The next time you need assistance, give Rodger a call at extension 627. He is very excited about "helping our client base solve the pressing problems they face as boat owners."


Now in its second year, our amazing app is still delivering tide and weather information to an installed base of more than 70,000 users. The best part of the app is the ability to enter your Zip Code and find nearby tide locations quickly on a map. About 20 new users download the app every day.

We still get questions occasionally about how to set the location for tides or weather, but more than anything we are getting questions from people about what parts they need. Built into the app is a feature that allows you to enter a part number and check the price, right from your smart phone or tablet.

If you don't know the part number, you can also e-mail us a question. We love to hear from folks, no matter where they are. If you haven't tried it yet, the app is free to iPhone and iPad users, and just 99 cents for android devices.

You can download it here.


Our punny title is perhaps an indication that we have "broken the mold" on blog-writing. More than just an experiment, the Marine Parts Express Blog is a fine mixture from our varied and rather talented staff. Whether they are writing about birds or economics, you'll be entertained by the blog entries that show up sporadically when the mood strikes. From the world review stream-of-consciousness blog entries that JD posts (most recently "Now for Something Completely Different") to an homage to the late, great Steve Jobs, we promise you only that it will be interesting and probably have very little to do with boat maintenance per se (although we have been known to steer leeward in that direction occasionally). Feel free to share and comment on anything that strikes your fancy.

Click here to read the Parting Thoughts blog.


The diesel engine schematics on our website have been recently updated to include many of the newer engines from Volvo Penta. We have our own staff member Noreen O'Brien to thank for her tireless efforts converting 20,000 files to PDF format so that you can have easy access to them online. We will be making similar updates to the gas engines line soon.

Ethanol and Your Marine Engine

by Marine Parts Express Staff and Stacy Lash

August 2012

Recently, we have had many questions about the effect that ethanol has on marine engines. The government's decision to include this chemical in gasoline is a perfect example of unintended consequences. Many engines that use fuel injection pumps are now beginning to operate poorly (stalling, skipping, and starting hard) and often make a high-pitched squealing sound. Carter, who manufactures the fuel injection pumps that Volvo Penta uses, has had particular problems with ethanol, and the two companies are furiously blaming each other for the problems as some poor boat owners have had to replace pumps multiple times.

While carbureted engines are not affected as dramatically, gas left in the carburetors for any length of time leaves varnish-like deposits that can cause problems (especially at higher speeds) and require the pump to be disassembled and solvent cleaned. These are just some of the issues. Below, our new technical writer Stacy Lash discusses this further.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) defines ethanol as an "alcohol-based fuel made by fermenting and distilling starch crops such as corn." First generation ethanol crops include corn, sugar cane, and wheat; however, new second generation "cellulosic" materials such as grain straw, paper, wood chips, and even municipal waste are used to the same effect. In Maine and many other states around the country, fuel suppliers are increasingly offering an ethanol and gasoline blend known as Gasohol, or E10. E10 fuel contains 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, and is acceptable for use in all gas-powered automobiles. This doesn't mean that E10 is a welcome change for the boating industry, however.

E10 may be a safe, alternative, bio-fuel for your car or truck, but, in the setting of a marine engine, E10 poses a unique set of problems. Fuel mixtures containing ethanol have behaviors that can be harmful to your marine engine. The most important of which is how ethanol interacts with water and other compounds commonly found on your boat and in your engine.

You might more commonly associate the term ethanol with alcoholic beverages, and rightly so. After a crop is refined, it packs a whopping 200-proof punch. This is even more powerful than the Guinness world record holding distilled beverage named Everclear, which tops out at 190-proof. That translates to 95 percent pure grain alcohol to be exact. Ethanol begins its life as a product more likely found at a local watering hole, but the addition of the hydrocarbon gasoline makes it unfit for human consumption.

E10 supposedly creates fewer emissions and reduces America's reliance upon foreign oil. Beyond that, ethanol replaces an additive called MTBE (Methyl Tertiary-Butyl Ether), a potentially carcinogenic substance that oxygenates gasoline as well as increases its octane. As of 2008, 25 states created laws banning the use of MTBE enhanced gasoline. Since that time, ethanol has become the preferred gasoline additive.

50 Times

Ethanol is hygroscopic, meaning that water molecules have a natural attraction to it. Because of its chemical composition, ethanol is predisposed to both absorb and retain water. Ethanol will absorb over fifty times more water than gasoline alone. This might be beneficial in the context of sponges or bath mats; however, the combination of fuel and water is disastrous to the fuel system of a boat. Petroleum products, on the other hand, do not blend with water. At 70 degrees Fahrenheit, traditional gasoline will only absorb 150 parts of water per million (ppm). E10 will absorb a staggering 6,000 to 7,000 ppm at the same temperature.

Since ethanol molecules uniformly distribute throughout the gasoline molecules, when ethanol performs its peculiar feat of absorption, it effectively distributes water throughout the entire volume of liquid fuel. The clumped-up ethanol and water molecules then settle to the bottom of the fuel tank because they have a higher density than straight gas. The name of this process is phase separation. This is why people shake the can. Interestingly enough, it only takes a small amount of water to produce phase separation in E10-to the tune of just 3.8 teaspoons per gallon of gasoline. Addressing the issue of phase separation is essential because it has the potential to wreak havoc with a boat's fuel system. Unlike automobiles which have closed fuel systems (why you hear psst when you remove the gas cap), boat engines, under Coast Guard regulations, cannot have closed systems and must be vented. This means that not only does ethanol absorb water, but it keeps getting new sources of water from the water vapor in the air.

Besides being hygroscopic, ethanol is also a solvent. A solvent is a liquid that can dissolve another substance, and ethanol is a very powerful solvent at that. It is capable of eating through resins, rubbers, even metals. This puts your fuel system (lines, tanks, filters), as well as your engine at risk. When we cut apart failed fuel injection pumps there is a fine black powder. This powder (similar to very fine baby power) is from the internal coating of the pump installed during the manufacturing process. The solvent in the ethanol breaks the coating down. When you hear the high-pitched squealing, it is the gas being forced by and around the powder trapped at the end of the pump. If you continue to run your engine, you can break down the powder even finer and push it out of the pump into the fuel injectors and ruin them.

If you own an older formulation fiberglass fuel tank (prior to 1995 or so), ethanol can dissolve the resin inside the tank. This incorporates contaminants to your fuel system in two ways. First, by introducing dissolved resin particles into your liquid fuel; second, by chancing that fiberglass particles loosened by the erosion will break free and get into your system. Outside of the fuel tank, ethanol can destroy fuel lines, gaskets, and other soft engine parts that aren't resistant to its effects. We have noticed a great increase in the number of outboard fuel primer bulbs we sell.

As if being a solvent and hygroscopic weren't enough, ethanol is also a potent degreaser. This means that if anything is clinging to the inner-working of your engine, be it grease, sludge, dirt, rust, or other type of infiltrate, ethanol will work its magic and release it into your engine where it will be distributed to parts like your valves, carburetor, filters, and injectors.

Ethanol also causes galvanic corrosion because of its affinity for water. Once ethanol has absorbed water that gets into the fuel system, it creates an environment ripe for corrosion. Even aluminum isn't resistant to its effects! The water that has been absorbed into the E10 will, over time, erode the surfaces of aluminum parts. Water and aluminum produce aluminum hydroxide. Aluminum hydroxide in conjunction with heat produces aluminum oxide, which just happens to be one of the abrasive ingredients found in sandpaper.


Two other issues of importance are reduced fuel economy and shelf life woes, both of which can increase your fuel costs. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, published by the DOE, "a gallon of ethanol contains less energy than a gallon of gasoline. The result is lower fuel economy." Simply put, it takes more E10 to produce the same amount of energy as a similar amount of straight gasoline. The DOE estimates the fuel economy reduction to be around 3-4 percent per gallon. This problem compounds itself once phase separation has occurred. As soon as ethanol absorbs the water, it leaves two unhealthy layers of fuel in your tank—a contaminated bottom layer and a low octane top layer. Low-octane fuel reduces engine power and performance.

90 Days

E10 doesn't perform well over time, either. While straight gas will often last years if properly stored, experts recommend not storing E10 in your fuel tank for more than 90 days. And that figure is the very upper end of the spectrum. Some sources will even state that its death-clock starts ticking at the two-week date. If you're a commercial boater, this may not be a concern, however pleasure-boaters beware.

Ethanol is "bad news" for your marine engine. But enough about the bad; let's focus on some good solutions that will help prevent E10 from ruining your investment. While some of the problems associated with E10 don't have a direct or inexpensive solution, others are a simple matter of vigilance.


The part of your boat that is most vulnerable to E10 is your fuel system. Here is a list of fairly inexpensive ways to prevent or alleviate fuel system issues due to E10 use.

  • Start by adding a product similar to Marine Formula STA-BIL to your fuel. STA-BIL protects the hydrocarbons in your gasoline from breaking down at a fast rate, keeping it fresh for up to 12 months. STA-BIL is not a cure-all, and will not address phase separation issues. We sell STA-BIL in both 8oz and 32oz sizes. There are other additives on the market including Marvel Mystery Oil, Sea Foam, and Aronol. Be sure to check with your engine manufacturer to be sure you have chosen the right one, or at least one that will not void your warranty. (Some additives may actually increase the percentage of ethanol in your gas, and that is something you definitely don't want to do unwittingly!)

  • Replace older-style, rubber fuel line hoses with modern barrier lines. This will prevent the ethanol in the E10 from eating through your hoses causing leaks and dislodging particles.

  • Replace all rubber and plastic components with modern, ethanol resistant materials.

  • Always have spare fuel filters on-hand. Nothing spoils the day like a clogged filter and since boating with E10 is notorious for creating issues that require a filter replacement, having one on-hand will prevent a lot of wasted time. It is also wise to change your fuel filter more often than in the past. Many people change the fuel filter in the spring and wait until the next spring to change it again. If you use your boat a lot then, paradoxically, you might be able to have a single filter change as the gas is used up quickly, but if the boat sits around a bit unused, you might want to change the filters twice a season.

  • Install a second in-line water-separating filter between your fuel tank and your engine. This will add another layer of protection to your system. Always hire an authorized installer to perform this type of work.

  • You might want to make sure you have a spare raw water impeller onboard. We have had a big increase in the number of impeller failures. While it is hard to believe, it appears that all those older two-stroke engines put enough unburned gas in the water (lakes especially; think of the poor fish) that water sucked in by the raw water pumps (both the ones in the foot of the drive or outboard or the ones inside of the boat) sit in the pumps when the engines are not running. There is enough ethanol mixed in with gas that in turn is mixed with cooling water to suck out the plasticizing agent in the impellers. The impellers get brittle and fail.

  • If you are currently using an older formulation fiberglass fuel tank, consider swapping it for an ethanol-resistant plastic one. Over time, ethanol will cause blistering and erosion of fiberglass tanks, something easily avoided by changing materials.

  • "It's generally advisable to plan ahead so that your boat is stored with a minimum quantity of fuel," says Jeff Stuart, technical support manager for Volvo Penta in North America. Limit filling your fuel tank to no more than you will use in a short time frame. Moreover, when storing your boat for longer than 90 days, be sure to follow proper procedures to ensure your fuel system is ready for use when you need it next. Check with your manufacturer or dealer for recommendations.

  • Lastly, if you have the option, consider purchasing standard non-ethanol gasoline for your boat. Some harbormasters have listened to the complaints of their boaters and installed pumps for this specific purpose. It's worth the call to check.

Call one of our experienced sales representatives to discuss replacement parts or upgrades that will better protect your marine engine from damage due to using E10. 1-877-621-2628.

Food For Thought

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began taking steps to allow fuel manufacturers to produce a 15 percent ethanol blend, or E15. In April of 2012, E15 gained approval. Because of the logistics involved in offering this new fuel blend, stations will be slow to add tanks and pumps. The first station in the country to open a pump with E15 fuel was in Lawrence, Kansas on July 13, 2012. Even if this becomes a trend, it's unlikely that it will occur overnight. Moreover, many stations adding E15 to their menu will do so with the use of blender pumps that allow consumers to choose the level of ethanol they are adding to their gas—10, 15, 30, or 85 percent.

The primary concern for boaters when E15 and higher become more widespread will be selecting the correct mixture to keep your boat in the best condition possible. Obviously, this means choosing the gasoline blend containing the smallest percentage of ethanol. Accidents may happen however, and this will likely be at the expense of the boat owner.

Ethanol isn't just expensive to boaters. It appears as though it's had an unwanted side effect on the nation's food industry, and by extension, global relations.

As of 2011, U.S. corn crops earmarked for use in ethanol production exceeded 24 percent. As ethanol production has reached new highs, so has the demand for corn. But it's not just the refineries that want it, so does the food industry. USA Today reported just 18-months ago that "U.S. reserves of field corn are at their lowest level in 15 years." Higher corn prices mean higher beef prices, as livestock are dependent upon corn production. Couple rising corn costs and unexpected droughts that reduced the yield of corn crops worldwide with a higher demand for ethanol and the result was the food crisis of 2011. Rising food costs initially spurred the Arab revolts occurring that year and the consequence was higher oil prices. Unfortunately, both oil and corn prices refuse to stabilize or decrease.

Unless a balance is found, this cycle will undoubtedly continue, especially if E15 and higher become the fuels of choice for automotive consumers.


Related Articles:

Marine Parts Express

Volume 6 Issue 1

The next edition of The Express will cover "The Physics of Corrosion or, How the Ocean is a Giant Battery"



Marine Parts Express has developed software using state-of-the-art search engine tools to provide our customers with fast and comprehensive search. The new service is DEEP SCAN. This Java-based reference engine includes many more schematics than previously possible using our perl-based software. It allows our customers to search by part number, part description or just about anything else you can think of.

Cont'd below...

For help with any issue discussed in our newsletter, either e-mail us or call us toll free between 8 am and 5 pm EST at 1-877-621-2628 from the US and Canada. You may call us at (207) 882-6165 from anywhere in the world.

JD Neeson, President

Accredited since 2003 with an A+ Rating

Try out our new Deep Scan search tool. It has more than 6 million pages scanned!

Deep Scan...cont'd

While we're in transition, if you are not getting the search results you want with the search engine you have chosen, try using the other one.

The current scan list took two weeks to complete and returned 6 million pages of information (far more than any previous scan) and it just goes to show how large our schematics library really is!


The search engine crawls our web site from any possible link. Although circular searches are not possible, the fact that there are multiple ways of finding the same information can lead to a higher number of search results that are actually there. DEEP SCAN has built-in deduplication technology that reintegrates previously scanned pages by reference. The result is a very fast, very helpful set of information that works as fast as Google, if not faster.


The underlying technology was originally developed at CNET in 2004 and was gifted to the Apache Software Foundation in 2006. This open source enterprise search platform is now known as Apache Solr and it is in its third major release since 2007. Our adaptation of the software took more than two years to complete and has been a labor of love for our technical team.


You can find schematics by looking in DEEP SCAN for general names of parts now. For Volvo Penta you can also search by the part number and it will find the corresponding schematics. Part numbers for some brands will not show up (Mercruiser and Mercury, for example) because the schematics are pictures only and have not been translated into part numbers yet. (Stay tuned for our next incarnation of the search engine).


Here is a list of the brand name schematics included in DEEP SCAN:

Volvo Penta (including marine, industrial and QL parts), Mercruiser (including Quicksilver), Mercury, Borg Warner, Pleasurecraft, Generac, OMC, Jabsco, Evinrude, Johnson, Chrysler, Yamaha and ZF.


When you get your search result, look at the schematic or page that you need and when you find the part number, enter it in the box at the top of the screen. Those part numbers will show up in your shopping cart with pricing or other information to help you get the parts you need. If you see the RPL code, remember that means that the part number has superseded so enter the new part number to find the new price. Finally, if you need any assistance using our search engine or the web site, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (877) 621-2628.


Happy boating!

Henry Lyons


Marine Parts Express

Find Us On Facebook

Like Us on Facebook!