Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, comes information from Graeme Pullen that it might not be. That’s if you don’t look after your outboards properly. Read on for tips on how you could make your boating exploits just that little bit easier, and save yourself a few good pounds as well!
It was a random phone call really. King’s Marine of Chertsey who service my 60hp Yamaha outboard gave me a call about what I was going to do this winter with “Hi Sea Drifter”, my 17- foot Wilson Flyer. I told them that I had every intention of getting it into the water for some Isle of Wight Cod, just as soon as the weather settled down. The summer had been awful for wind, and only a handful of trips had seen me venture out. But it was the fact that over the last two winters, Kings Marine had seen a marked increase in the number of outboard engines suffering from cracked engine blocks. Now the cost of a new 4-stroke outboard is a considerable financial replacement, and if the engine block is cracked you are going to be looking at a pretty hefty bill. Not to mention a total engine rebuild will see the boat up on the trailer for longer, and we all know when that happens an enormous blocking high pressure will sit over the Isle of Wight, and the sea will be flat calm. Now that really would be frustrating. And this winter is being hailed as potentially one of the worst ever recorded, so coupled to the fact that expensive fuel costs mean boaters are not using their vessels much, all points to an outboard engine just sitting there taking sub zero after sub zero. King’s know this, and they can winterise your outboard properly, so when the spring comes it can be recommissioned, safe in the knowledge that all the working parts will have been protected. But what about the anglers like me, who are still hell bent on getting the odd Cod trip out during winter ?Winterising is not really an option unless you want to put all your toys back in the cupboard for six months. So let’s look at winterising first, to get some sort of grip of what it entails. A pro-winterising session would probably deal with the following.
Flush the outboard with fresh water, warming the engine at idle for 5-10 minutes. Let the water drain out completely. You can drain out any fuel from 2-strokes by unplugging the fuel lead and letting the carb run dry. But don’t do it with a 4-stroke.Just switch the engine off after idling, either in a roof tank of water, or via the “muffs” and hosepipe system. I have heard of putting fuel stabiliser in the system on modern fuel injected engines as you can’t get all the petrol out. You can spray “fogging” oil, which is special marinised oil for storage, and it can be sprayed from an aerosol can. It helps stop rust. Go through the cylinder, pistons, bearings, crankshaft and other mechanical moving parts. Remove and check spark plugs. If you have a pull cord outboard, turn the engine over slowly as you spray the fogging oil into the hole where the spark plugs were. For electric starts always have a water supply for coolant when you turn over as you spray the fogging oil, and disconnect the spark plug leads.
Leaving oil in can mean it deteriorates over a big freeze up. For what it costs you might just as well drain it out. Then there’s no question of moisture accumulation if left in. Put water repellent grease to the prop shaft, and look to smear some on all moving parts. Always store your engine in a vertical position if on the trailer or stand. Now that’s just the very basics of winterising. What if you want to leave it all on the trailer ready to go at a moment’s notice when the weather clears. My Yam is always protected by a tube of tarpaulin that I sewed into shape. But having heard of the increase in cracked blocks I have taken it a stage further, and built myself a “Freezer-free” boxed cover. Simple to make, and very cheap.
Get yourself some thin plywood. Measure your outboard cowling, and allow a couple of inches extra each side. It needs to come down as deep as the bottom of the cowling, but make sure the tarpaulin, or something at least covers the leg as it could still have water in it that could freeze. To fix the plywood panels together you need some supports for the joints, and the cheapest I found was treated batten that roofers use. Most D.I.Y. stores have it. Cut strips to support all four corners, and screw together rather than nail, as you can always tighten screws up, but not nails if they work loose. Fit the batten in each vertical corner for support, and a couple at the top.
You can now give the box a coat of whatever paint you want to keep the water out, and then get some old rubber foam, cut it to size, and glue it inside the box. This will be a good insulation as the coldest part will be the top of the motor. I put a layer of 2-inch thick foam on the top, and you can put it all the way round. Or if you can’t get scrap off cuts of foam (try an upholsterer who may be throwing bits away) you can use some thick bubble wrap. Anything that will create air pockets to prevent the cold air seeping into the engine. I cut a gap out of the plywood to allow the inverted box to drop down over the control cables, and that is it. Simple to remove when you have an impending trip, and you are ready to go at the drop of a hat, without the need for a full winterising service. If however, you have no intention of using the boat until the spring, you may be running a very real risk of a cracked engine block if the winter is bad, so consider the full winterising service. Remember the discovery of a cracked block will be in about April when you first turn the engine over. If cracked, you’ll be out of the fishing loop for at least a month, and that’s just when the best of the Spring Plaice will be running!!!!…..And if you do want a quote for full winterising of your outboard contact King’s Marine. Bridge Wharf. Bridge Road.Chertsey.Surrey.KT16 8LG. Tel-01932-564830