Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Extra drink holders for the 'Toon.

Ordered a few of these cool drink holders. Check out their product website.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New 'Toon part two

We have out new pontoon. Encore Bentley Cruise 200 SE, from Watersedge Marina.

Waiting on a few changes to meet our requirements and of course dry weather to launch.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Boat Service - Trailer

Trailers should be checked before use as well. Being parked on the side of the road because of a flat tire or a bad wheel bearing really puts a damper in the weekend boating excitement.  Lubricate and inspect the hitch coupler. Safety chains might keep the trailer from getting away from the vehicle when the coupler comes undone, but why have that happen in the first place.  The coupler needs to be free to move but at the same time fit tight over the trailer hitch ball.
Check the air pressure and inspect the tire treads and sidewalls for cracks.  Low pressure can cause the trailer to start swaying and potential cause the loss of control.

Inspect the bearings and repack if necessary. Don’t rely on just pumping more grease into the hub. The bearing should be cleaned and repacked at least once a year or so.  Bearing greasers do help keep water and air out of the hub, but over time the grease gets heated and hard and doesn't provide the lubrication it needs to. The only way to prevent damage is to clean and repack the bearings.  If you use the trailer in salt water, check to make sure you can flush the hubs and break to prevent corrosion.

 Also test all the tail and back-up lights and the wiring on the tow vehicle.  Additionally, if there is rust or corrosion on the trailer frame it should be cleaned and repaired. Any damaged rollers or pads should be replaced or repaired also.

Extras are personal flotation devices, safety equipment and paper work.  Remember; don’t leave home without it means more than the boat. Make sure you have a enough personal flotation devices for the rated number of the boat or at least for the number of people that you take with you.

You’ll want a safe and dry place to keep the registration and insurance paperwork.  

You also want to make sure that all of your fire suppression and extinguishing systems are fully charged and in working order.  

If there are inspections required, make sure they are done before you head out on the water.    

One other thing to think about is having a good Marine First Aid kit.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Boat Service - Engine

It doesn't matter if you have an inboard or out board engine, the basics are the same.  If you didn't change the engine oil before parking the boat, now is the time to do it.  Oil is the life blood of an engine and needs to be able to efficiently lubricate and cool the engine.  Oil is also cheap when compared to an engine over haul. Reference your engine service manual for recommendations as to the recommended oil change intervals. 

If your engine was winterized and treated for storage, you will need to clean or replace the spark plugs and change the fuel filters.  It is easiest to just replace the old spark plugs with new ones.  But if you are saving a few bucks, you can also clean and re-gap the old ones.  All you need is a small stiff bristled wire brush and gapping tool.

 Don’t forget to change the fuel filter before you head out on the water.  Also make sure you have the tools and extra fuel filters on board before you go out for your first run. Many a boater has made it out on the water just far enough not to get back and had crud plug the filter stopping the engine.

Cooling systems should be checked and the fluid replaced or added to as necessary.  All hoses, wires and belts should be inspected and replaced if dry or cracked. It is a good idea to carry an extra belt or two with you along with the appropriate tools to change the belt.  Belt tension should be adjusted per the factory service manuals recommendations.

Transmission fluid, hydraulic fluids (power steering, power tilt) and oil injection tanks should all be inspected and refilled.  While you are at it, check the bellows on the stern drive, packing or stuffing boxes hinge points, U joints etc. Fittings, cables and connections should be lubricated. Many of the components will have grease fitting so that they can be lubricated using a grease gun.

The lower unit, drive shafts and propellers should be inspected for nicks and damage. Basic aluminum propellers (especially on lower horsepower engines) can have minor nicks filed by hand. Paint can be touched up with a spray can of paint from a home supply or auto parts store.  

But if you have brass, stainless, adjustable blades or any other type of high performance propeller, don’t take the chance of trying to fix it your self. Take the propeller to a good prop shop and have it repaired and balanced. 

Make sure that when you remove the propeller that you lubricate the shaft to prevent corrosion and assist in removal in the future.  It is always a good idea to have a back up prop on hand along with the appropriate nut or cotter keys. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Boat Service - Interior

Cleaning the interior includes not only the fabric and carpets, but also checking for leaks or signs of damage to the hull, hatches and port holes.  Most interior fabrics can be cleaned with any household fabric cleaner.  Dedicated vinyl cleaners are available for cleaning and protecting the vinyl seats and cushions. 

This is also a time when any wood trim or joinery should be cleaned and protected with an appropriate material such as teak oil, polyurethane, etc.  If your boat happened to develop moisture during the storage, you may need to remove a little mold and mildew from the surfaces.  It’s a good idea to wipe all the surfaces down with an anti bacterial cleaner anyway, even if you don’t see mold spots. 

Once the basic interior is cleaned it is time to look into bilges, under engines and at storage tanks.  Clean the bilges checking for any debris or oil that might have dropped or seeped into the area.  If there is oil in the bilges you have to find the leak before putting the boat in the water.   You will also need to check the bilges pumps for operation.  Make sure you check both the automatic and manual operation if necessary.  If you only have one bilge pump you may want to take the time to install a back up.  If you leave your boat on the water for the season a back up pump can be a lifesaver during a heavy rain.

Of course, while you’re digging around in the bilge areas, check, test and lubricate all the seacock’s.  Make sure you inspect any hoses and clamps. It’s highly recommended that any hoses that are below the waterline get a little extra protection by being double clamped.  This might also be the time to make sure you have a few appropriately sized wooden plugs as emergency stoppers for through hull fittings.

Depending on the size of your boat the systems could include the head, water galley and electrical components, all of which need to be inspected, cleaned and tested.
If your head is a portable system the checking is pretty simple, make sure the tank is cleaned out, you have chemicals on board and it works. 

If your have a permanent systems, it’s really not much different. The system need to be cleaned and lubricated for smooth operations. The tanks need to be cleaned and maybe even flushed if possible. If you have chemical treatments make sure you have a supply on board and accessible.  If you have to have your own dump hose for the marina, make sure it’s accessible and not damaged or leaking.  

One other thing, if your boat has a Y-valve make sure it is working, labeled for the correct operation and secured in the appropriate position.

The water system is pretty basic. The storage tank needs to be flushed to clean it out. If it was sitting with water in it, you’ll need to run a sanitizer through it.  In fact, you should sanitize the tanks even if you had antifreeze in it.  Using a pool or spa chlorine will remove bacteria and clean the tank.  Once you add the chlorine to the tank, let it sit for a while and then run the water through the system so that the chlorine gets a chance to pass through all the fixtures and drains. 

While running the chlorinated water through the system; inspect the hoses, clamps and pumps for leaks.  At the same time you can test the water heater to make sure it works. But remember; don’t run the water heater without water in it.

After testing the water system you should inspect clean and operate the refrigerator, freezer, stove and any other appliances.  Depending on your individual situation, this might include operating the appliances on the shore power, battery power or “gas” (like propane).  Any gas fittings should be inspected for dirt, damage and leakage.  A small bottle of bubble blowing liquid works great to find leaks in gas line fittings. 

The electrical system inspection and preparation can be quite extensive depending on your specific boat.  Typically you’ll have batteries that need to be inspected and charged. Battery fluid levels need too be checked and the terminals should be cleaned and lubricated to prevent corrosion.  Fuses, breakers and wiring should be inspected for corrosion, damage, cracks, worn spots, signs of arcing and operation. 

If you have a fishing boat you may have the addition of a cleaning station and live wells. The live wells should be checked for operation and leakage.  Many boats also have a deck fresh water shower or spray system that needs to be tested.