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by Bob Van Brunt

What are the proper steps I should take when decomissioning a boat for the season?

Now is the time to prepare for next year's boating season! You wouldn't beleive the number of people who call with engine problems due to poor boat storage practices. Of course if you are one of those people, I'm sure you already know how important these steps precautions really are and I would love to hear back from you this fall if you need any help making sure that your boat is properly winterized. Without a doubt, following these basic steps will save you time and money next spring:

1. Put the proper preservative in your tank. (for gas or diesel make sure you get the right one for you) There will be a recommended amount on the product.

2. Drain the engine oil and inspect it. If it looks like a white foam, NOW is the time to do some major engine troubleshooting.

3. Refill with the proper type and amount of oil as recommended in your owner's manual.

4. Change all fuel filters. Look for water in the canisters. (It will look like bubbles at the bottom of the canister.) Consider changing your fuel supplier if you find very much water.

5. For gas engines: drain the float chamber, spray carburetor cleaner in the air intake. Spray WD40 or similar lubricant on all linkages.

6. For diesel engines: spray WD40 or similar lubricant on throttle and engine stop linkages.

7. For gas engines: Remove spark plugs and spray "engine fogger" in cylinders, then put the plugs back.

8. For heat-exchangers: check anti-freeze. Drain all engines that are cooled with lake or sea water. This is very important. Be sure you drain and rinse according to the manufacturer's instructions. Bypassing the recommendations (some people just put a hose in a bucket of anti-freeze and run the engine) will leave untreated water in the engine and when it freezes will cause expensive damage.

9. Drain and inspect the rubber impeller. Inspect the lobes, and install a new impeller, gasket or o-ring if necessary in the spring, after storage.

10. Remove the battery and store it inside.

11. Grease all steering and tilt mechanisms, throttle, shift cables.

(continued at top of next column)

12. Remove the propeller and look for fishing line or similar foreign matter between the prop and the gear unit. (This can migrate up the shaft and destroy shaft seals.)

13. Drain the lower gear case oil. Inspect like you did the engine. Refill with proper type and amount of oil.

14. Grease trailer bearings.

If you follow these steps you should avoid many headaches in the spring. Naturally, you should read your owner's manual and follow its recommendations as well for properly winterizing your boat.


by Bob Van Brunt, C.P.O USCG, Ret.

What is a flame arrester and why do I need one?

You are required by law to have a U.S. Coast Guard approved flamer arrester if you have an inboard gasoline engine with an installed carburetor. (See 45 US Code of Federal Regulations 162.042. Note: exposed, i.e. hot-rod type engines may be exempt).

The purpose of a flame arrester is to suppress or cool flames. They have a wire mesh that absorbs the heat from a back fire and thereby renders a flame harmless.

If the coast guard boards your boat and determines that you do not have a flame arrester, you will be towed to the nearest dock or safe mooring. If you then attempted to go to sea without bringing your boat into compliance, there are stiff and unpleasant penalties.

Your safety and that of your passengers should be your first priority. Make sure that your gas engine is equipped with flame arresters, and if it is not, please contact us to discuss how you can retrofit your existing engine with the proper equipment. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the proper way to bring your boat into compliance. Please do not hesitate to give us a call.

New at the Marine Parts Express Site:

Volvo Penta Drive and Water Jet Specifications. Need to know what kind of oil or how much oil to put in your outdrive? Consult this reference table.
US Government Sales page. Special information for all government purchasing.
Site map. Finally, a way to get from here to there.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions for topics in our next newsletter? Send them to Marine Parts Express is a division of Repower Services, a privately held Maine Corporation.