Maintaining your rig
Below is a copy of what our clients receive along with the manufacturers manuals when purchasing a new or used boat package. Whilst some of it is basic, we find it covers 95% of things not mentioned in manufacturers manuals and has been a great help particularly to new boat owners. Why not have a quick read.
Using and Maintaining your Rig – A Guide for Owners
Prepared by Hunts Marine Pty Ltd
Congratulations on your purchase and thank you for choosing Hunts Marine.
We are proud of the products we sell and we are keen to help you maximise your enjoyment of them. At any stage should you have any queries or concerns about operating or maintaining your rig please do not hesitate to contact us on 9546 1324 (Sydney), 4284 0444 (Wollongong) or 4472 2612 (Batemans Bay).
This folder contains information gathered over many years' experience. It is designed as a supplement covering areas that may not be mentioned in the owner manuals provided by manufacturers. However, please read all your relevant owner’s manuals carefully and carry out their recommendations, as these are specific to the products you have purchased.
It is important that you record all the serial numbers that make up your rig. Make sure that you not only record the numbers of the boat, motor and trailer, but also any accessories that may be fitted such as depth sounders, radios etc. Such information will be vital if your rig is stolen or damaged.
Boat ownership carries with it responsibilities to yourself, your boating companions and to the general public. Make sure that you are familiar with all the rules and regulations of operating your craft. Your relevant state authority will have information booklets that you will need to read.
We have provided the following information to help you and we consider our recommendations to be a vital part of owner maintenance. They are necessary to ensure correct, hassle free operation of your rig, to keep your investment in tip top condition and to minimise the chance of any future costly repairs. Whilst the following information has been checked to ensure its accuracy, Hunts Marine does not accept any liability in regard to incidents which may occur through errors and/or omissions.
Be sure to read the motor manual for correct starting and operating procedures. Some helpful points that may not be mentioned in the manuals are as follows.
The manufacturers recommendation is that engines are only flushed using the static screw in hose fitting and the engine is NOT started while being flushed. If you choose to use the “ear muffs’ then make sure the muffs seal well around the gearbox and that water is coming out the tell tale. Only flush your engine for a few minutes as they will eventually overheat as they do not get the water pressure that they do when in the salt water. If you gearbox has an additional low water pickup on the front of the gearbox then you cannot use ear muffs as it will just suck air through this second pickup.
To avoid damage to the shift linkages only ever shift gears on an outboard or sterndrive with either the motor running or while the motor is turned off and somebody is rotating the propeller. When shifting gears to move underway, always shift with a firm movement so that the clutch dog engages quickly. Shifting slowly will cause the gears to make a ratcheting noise and wear the edges of the clutch dog over time.
Most outboards and sterndrives have a start-in-gear protection device which prevents the motor from starting unless it is in neutral. It is quite common that whilst the control handle may look as though it is in the neutral position, it has not fully engaged neutral gear. If you turn the key and absolutely nothing happens then either wriggle the control handle or shift it into gear and back into neutral. The motor should now crank over. If the motor is fitted with a safety cut-out device (kill switch lanyard) then always check its connection if the motor will not start.
As the cowl is fibreglass it is a good idea to polish it with a fibreglass polish to help protect it from the sun and salt. Spraying the motor under the cowl with a water displacer is also recommended every 6 months or so.
Sterndrive motors should, if possible, be stored with the engine cover open or at least left ajar. This will limit condensation in the engine compartment and minimise the chance of engine parts rusting. Do not do this if it is possible that rain or dirt/dust can enter the engine compartment. It is also crucial that sterndrive hulls be left with the bung out as the starter motor is located quite low on the engine and just one night of heavy rain is enough to submerse it.
NOTE: If you have purchased an Evinrude ETEC engine we will have set the computer to run on the fully synthetic XD100 oil. You MUST use this oil and no other.
Adjusting the trim of the motor
The trim of the motor adjusts the angle at which the outboard or sterndrive leg runs across the water. Correct trim position will depend on a number of factors such as water conditions, speed, load and weight distribution in the vessel.
As a general rule you have the motor in the fully down position when getting onto the plane. This will help keep the nose of the boat down and the boat will come on to the plane faster and flatter.
Once on the plane the motor should be trimmed up a little. You will then feel the nose of the boat rise and the revs of the motor pick up without you actually increasing the throttle. If the boat starts to 'porpoise' you know you have trimmed up too far.
As you trim up you will also feel the steering go neutral and come into balance. This is the best way to determine the right angle to run the motor. If you trim down you will feel the steering pull one way. It will pull in the opposite direction if you trim up too far.
If you are new to boating we strongly recommend that you spend a few hours experimenting with different trim positions at different speeds. Please refer to your owner’s book to obtain the full benefit of power tilt and trim adjustments.
Consult your owner's book for the correct type of fuel. If regular unleaded is unavailable it is our strongest advice that you choose premium unleaded (95 octane or higher) and not an ethanol blended fuel. Whilst ethanol fuel will not technically damage your engine it will cause irreversible damage to your fuel tank, lines and fittings and deteriorates rapidly with any form of moisture or condensation. It is our strongest recommendation to avoid any form of ethanol fuels. Visit our website to read more about why ethanol and boating don’t mix.
If spillage occurs during filling make sure that excess fuel is washed off immediately, as it will damage tapes and stickers. Fuel tanks that are full or close to full can pressurise on hot days and fuel may spill out of the breathers. Try to avoid this, as damage that arises from this is not considered a warranty claim by manufacturers.
Fuel gauges should only be used as a general indicator of fuel levels. Irregularly shaped tanks and the location of the sending unit in the tank can introduce considerable error in the fuel gauge reading.
We recommend you start with an empty tank and note how much fuel is needed to reach each marking on the gauge. You will then know when it is time to top up. Remember however, the angle of the tank is going to differ depending on the load in the boat, whether the boat is on a trailer or whether it is in the water.
We have found that it is not uncommon for instruments to develop a certain amount of condensation under the glass. This is often the result of atmospheric or storage conditions and will usually disappear over a short time. The condensation will not interfere with the function of the gauge and replaced gauges will possibly still do the same.
Speedometers generally rely on water pressure to give a speed reading. Most speedometers will not work below 20 kph (12 mph). If the intake becomes partially blocked inaccuracies will also occur. Jellyfish, weed and mud will cause a total or partial failure of the speedometer. Clean out the intake with air pressure or a bit of wire to remove any obstruction.
Most marine batteries are fairly low maintenance and generally only require maintenance of the water levels and terminals. This should be done about every six months or so. Make sure that the terminals are clean and are all fastened tightly.
Never disconnect the terminals or turn a battery switch thru the OFF position while the motor is running as alternator damage will result. You can turn a battery switch from one battery to the another while the engine is running but make sure you do not turn the switch through the off position. If your boat is fitted with a battery switch it is a good habit to make sure that it is turned off when the boat is not in use. Every battery will eventually discharge itself over two or three months depending on its age so make sure that you check its condition a day or two before you go boating and not when you get to the ramp.
Tyre pressures on trailers are not as critical as cars and we recommend running them slightly under pressure so as they ride a bit softer on the road. Somewhere between 10% to 20% below maximum is fine.
Wheel nuts should also be checked periodically and definitely when the trailer is very new. Quite often they will be biting into a powder coated rim as opposed to, say, a plain galvanised rim and will require re-tightening as the powder coating is either worn down or compressed.
The most important maintenance for trailers is to hose down the frame, springs, brakes and axles to ensure that all salt is removed as soon as possible. Do this as soon as you can.
For those trailers with mechanical disk brakes make sure you get underneath and hose across to the brake on the other side. Lubrication needs to be applied to pivot points on the callipers, and the pads and cable need to be regularly checked for wear. A regular check of brake adjustment and wear by us is also recommended. The best time for this to be done is when your boat is in for service.
The rollers and winch gears need to be greased once a year. The easiest way to do this is with the boat off the trailer. Bearings these days are as maintenance free as they can be. You must check them at least once a year or before taking the trailer on a long trip. This is done by simply jacking the wheel off the ground and giving it a spin and listening for any signs of bearing noise (rumbling) caused from water entry. We can certainly do this for you when doing an engine service so please just ask. If you wish, axles and springs can also be coated with some form of protectant such as fish oil or grease to help reduce rusting.
If a trailer is taken on a long haul try and allow the bearings to cool down before immersing them in the water. If they are still hot when they go under the water the heat will naturally suck a bit of water into the bearing regardless of the condition of the seals.
As a general comment you must remember that trailer brakes, light and bearings will require more frequent regular maintenance to keep them in good running order. Their life span is irrelevant to how often the boat is used and quite often lack of use can require more maintenance than excessive use.
Caring for aluminium hulls
Salt water is probably the biggest enemy of all boats. Always wash the salt water from the hull as soon as possible. This also applies to both the motor and trailer as well as any articles that may have been used in the water such as ski ropes, jackets, kneeboards, fishing gear etc.
Aluminium boats should be washed as soon as possible with a sponge and soapy water. Make sure the boat is hosed out well, both inside and out and is able to drain properly.
It is not uncommon for painted aluminium boats to develop small sections of paint blistering. This is just oxidisation of the paint and is not corrosion and is just cosmetic. If at any stage you have any questions or concerns then please by all means give us a call.
Do not under any circumstances leave hooks, sinkers or any metal objects in the bottom of an aluminium hull as this will trigger a serious corrosion problem.
Caring for fibreglass hulls
A fibreglass boat can be washed with a soft cloth or sponge and soapy water. Be sure to hose the boat well and leave it in a storage position that will allow the water to drain to the back of the hull and out the bungs.
The amount of polishing required will depend on where the boat is stored. It is preferable to store the boat out of the sun either in a garage/carport or under a large tarp. If this is the case then polishing once a year with a fine cut polish should be sufficient. For those boats that are moored or are stored in direct sunlight then more applications may be needed. If the surface has become dull an extra cut polish will be required and should be followed by a fine cut.
Harsh marks and grease can be removed from the hull with a solvent. Use a small amount on a cloth and be sure to avoid contact with any tapes, decals and stickers.
Canopies and upholstery
Canopies and seats should also be cleaned when washing the boat to remove any salt. Canopy zips can be lubricated with a silicon spray or candle/surf wax if needed. Press studs must be lubricated with a small amount of Vaseline. Without this press studs will slowly become harder to use and will eventually fail or rip out of the canopy. Clean canopy clears with a wet soft cloth. Canopy clears must never be wiped when dry, as fine scratching will result.
When trailing on highways it is important to remember that you will probably be travelling at twice the speed that you would be going on the water. Most canopies are not designed for this and should be lowered for towing.
Seats and cushions must be left in a position where they will drain and dry and should have a protective coating, like Armoral, applied twice a year.
It is not easy for boat manufacturers to make windscreens watertight. Sometimes in heavy rain or under direct application of a hose, leaks may occur. The use of non-setting flexible sealants (Sikaflex, Silastic) can reduce this possibility though they are not very cosmetically attractive.
Always wet perspex screens before cleaning with a soft cloth and never allow anyone to wipe them when they are dry or fine scratching may result. Fine scratches can be removed by polishing with a perspex polish or Brasso. Do not polish in a small area as visual distortion may result. It is better to polish the whole section of a screen that is damaged.
Stainless steel fittings
All stainless steel will eventually develop surface rust or browning. This can easily be removed with a metal polish. Polishing once or twice a year will help to reduce this and will leave rails and fittings bright and shiny.
If your boat has teak fitted the maintenance required will depend on whether or not it is stored in direct sunlight. New teak should be oiled with a teak oil and a dry cloth two or three times in the first couple of months to saturate the wood. Thereafter oil teak a couple of times a year or more if it is in direct sunlight. Never varnish teak as the natural oil in the wood will cause the varnish to flake off.
As mentioned, boating carries with it many responsibilities to yourself, your passengers and the general boating public.
Make sure that you are licensed if necessary and familiar with the rules and regulations. Always tell someone when you are going out and what time you expect to be back. Always check the weather forecast before leaving and don't go if the weather looks unstable. Always also, be aware of the level of alcohol consumption by yourself and your passengers.
The boat capacity plate gives a guide to the maximum number of passengers in good conditions. Always make allowances if unfavourable weather conditions are predicted. In adverse situations such as crossing a bar your boat’s maximum load may need to be considerably reduced.
What do I do if I break down on the water?
Whilst this is very rare, 90% of the time it is something straight forward like the kill switch cord not clipped in properly or a breather not undone on a fuel tank, so stay calm and slowly go through all the manufacturer recommended procedures and checks.
If you have a phone with you then by all means give us a call on 9546 1324 (Sydney) , 4284 0444 (Wollongong) or 4472 2612 (Batemans Bay) and we will be of assistance if we can.
We are, however, unable to offer an 'on-water' breakdown service. This is provided by Marine Rescue NSW and the Water Police. You can look up your nearest Marine Rescue unit at www.marinerescuensw.com.au. It is a good idea to have the local unit’s call-signs or phone numbers available in your boat. We recommend also that you become an auxiliary member of your local volunteer rescue organisation.