Q And A Time
By Rick Feldmann
Haleís Marine Services
Q: You recommended an impeller change or sea-water pump rebuild.
Why is that necessary, and when?
A: When any boat comes to us for service, asking when the
sea-water pump was rebuilt last is a standard question, as is the
question "When did you run the engine last?"
The rule-of-thumb we present is to have the pump rebuilt/impeller
replaced every two years here, based on the "average" use of a boat
in this area. That small rubber impeller in the sea-water pump is
the aortic valve of your engineís cooling system.
It is a suction pump, which pulls water from the lake, to then be
circulated through your engine to keep it cool. Should it fail, your
engine has no "radiator reserve," as your car or truck does, to keep
the engine from overheating. The lake is your radiator.
If an engine hasnít been started and run in a number of months,
the impeller blades may have taken a "set" inside the cramped
housing and wonít flex back to create the proper suction.
The blades may even stick to the housing, and rip off in many
pieces, which may travel into other areas and clog the "arteries" of
the cooling system.
Should that occur, any shop will have to search for the missing
pieces to insure no clog has occurred.
Q: My boat will only move at a slow speed ó -if I throttle-up,
the engine speeds up, but Iím not moving any faster.
A: If you have an older small outboard motor, you may need a new
shear pin, which keeps your propeller firmly attached to the
prop-shaft. Larger outboard, or inboard/outdrive may be a "spun
hub," which means the rubber or plastic hub inside the center of the
prop is damaged and is slipping, similar to a bad clutch in a car.
In the case of an inboard/outdrive, itís also possible that the
engine coupler has failed and is slipping like a clutch. If the
coupler has failed, the engine will have to be removed from the boat
in order to change it.
In either case, if you have a spare propeller, install it and see
if that corrects the trouble. If thatís the fix, you only need a
"re-hub" of the prop (unless the prop has been "whacked," and the
blades look more like a tulip than a propeller).
Q: I want to go faster ó what can I do?
A: What is "faster?" ó Wide-open or quicker to get on plane?
Everything is a trade for something else ó simplest "gear change"
is to switch pitch of your prop.
Not good enough? Get a different boat: Boat-hull designers
spend hours figuring what their hull, with a particular
engine package, is capable of.
A 20-foot hull, with a 3-litre motor wonít be as "fast" ó no
matter what ó as the same hull powered by a 4.3-litre, or a 5.7
Forget that speedometer ó whatís your "enjoyment factor" with
what you have?
If you have a "Volkswagen" and the guy in the next slip has a
"Ferrari"ó so what? You can use your boat a lot more
than he can use his, based on gas at maybe $3.60 per gallon, and
fuel consumption head-to-head.
After all, you bought your boat to have some fun!
Q: I keep my boat at my house. What can I do to make sure itís
going to be reliable when I want to use it?
A: First, remove the bilge drain plug, so any rain (like we get
rain in the desert here!) doesnít fill the boat with water, even if
you have it covered.
If it is a 2-stroke outboard motor for power, disconnect the fuel
line at the motor, and run the carburetors to empty or run
the motor on "earmuffs" every couple of weeks at the longest.
If you have an inboard/outdrive, store your boat with the drive
down, as far as it will go, to relieve pressure on the rubber
bellows. Stick a piece of plywood or a chunk of 2 by 4 under the
skeg to keep it off the concrete or rock or whatever.
Keep a trickle-charger for your battery/batteries ó attached,
maybe on a timer ó watch the fluid level in the battery, use "good
water" to top off.
Always use a fuel-stabilizer in your gas-tank ó helps keep
our high-priced gasoline "fresh" when not being used. Donít
spend bucks on super-premium gas; thatís not what your motor was set
up for, in most cases.
Do have us do an annual ó that is, yearly
preventive-maintenance service on your boat. Itís sort of an
"insurance policy" versus "emergency room" charges.
Q: Why would you provide these "tips" to me? You run a repair
shop that takes advantage of broken stuff to stay in business,
A: We will see more than our share of blown-up, busted-up,
trashed units every season. We donít want yours to
fall into that category.
Every time a customer picks up his boat, itís a parting that