The boating industry, like any other industry, is constantly evolving. For the most part this is a good thing. Yes, there are sometimes new products that make us scratch our heads and think “Why didn’t they just leave this alone, it was fine the way it was?” I too am guilty of having this thought. But the truth of the matter is this, in industry today you are either going forward, or backwards. There is no sitting still.
Everyone is making their products with more features, easier to use, or safer for the environment. Which brings us to today’s first service topic, your gas tank. In the past if you needed a second gas tank to put on your boat so you could get the extra fishing time in, or just have it in case you ran out of gas in the primary tank, you could just run down to Bass Pro Shops and grab one off the shelf, like this Moeller Tank;
then find the correct fuel line attachment, and away you went. Well in 2011 the E.P.A changed the way fuel tanks are made to make them friendlier to the environment. Now, even with the vent open, the fuel tanks will hold 5 PSI of pressure, and boats manufactured before 2011 do not have a fuel demand valve to prevent that pressurized tank from forcing fuel into the engine when it is not needed. This can cause running issues as well as fuel leaking onto the ground or into the water depending on where your boat is parked. This is especially true of Mercury 75-115HP fourstoke engines and all Mercury Verado engines since they do not have a “needle and seat” shut off valve in the internal fuel system on the engine. With that being said, other motors that utilize the “needle and seat” system on their motors are still susceptible to having that excess fuel pressure unseating the needle and causing fuel to overflow. So if you buy a new gas tank and your boat is older than 2011, you now also need to purchase a fuel demand valve (pictured below)
and install it in the fuel line between the fuel tank and the primer bulb, with the fuel flowing in the correct direction (there is an arrow to show you this). For more on fuels check out these service tips on gasoline.
The second service tip I’d like to address is bringing your boat in for service when it breaks down. Of course the goal when dropping your boat off for service is to get it back quickly, have it done correctly, and for the fairest cost possible. You can actually help with that process quite a bit. When you bring your boat in and it’s being written up, do not leave out even the smallest of details as to what was going on before the problem occurred. Be honest if you were working on something or tinkering around with the boat at that time. Did you install a new accessory? Adjust some settings? I know sometimes it’s hard to admit that you might have caused a problem. I just had to do it with a tool I bought that I made a mistake while using it. I threw the calibration off after I had just sent it in to get it calibrated and had to call and tell the technician who did the work what I had done. Thankfully he gave me an easy fix, and I was on my way. Sometimes it is that easy, but even if it’s not, at least the technician has a direct path to take to fix your boat’s problem. Leaving out information to save your pride only makes it that much harder on your technician. Sometimes the problem has nothing to do with anything you’ve done, but at least armed with the information, the technician can rule out issues right away as well.
Some of the hardest problems I have had to put my “forensic detective cap” on to fix were problems that the customer had no idea they were causing. For the most part, they were just out using their boats like they should be, doing perfectly normal things. These were some odd cases, but I want to share them with you so the knowledge might help you avoid making the same mistakes. Here are some examples:
- A customer was out pulling the kids on tubes, the boat is running great. He stops to pull the kids and tubes in, and suddenly the boat is hard to start and runs rough. He brings it to a service station a few days later and no problem is found, yet the next time they pull the kids and tubes in, the same thing happens. It turns out the way the kids and tubes were coming in was the very thing causing the problem. When the kids and the tubes were on the sundeck over the engine, water was running down on the distributor cap. By the time it got to the dealership it was dry. So the lesson to be learned from this case: take precautions to avoid excess water in the area over the engine, like not drying off in that particular part of the boat and moving wet items to another place quickly.
- A customer’s boat just shuts off while running across rough water. I lake test the boat with the spare key and it never happens. I then meet up with the customer at the boat launch when it happened again to him right after picking the boat up. We lake test it together and sure enough, we hit rough water and the boat shuts right down. But I notice something on his key chain, an old college spring break memento, a brass piece that weighed about 2lbs. It was a nice “conversation starter” but it would also bounce around on rough water and pull the key down to the off position, shutting the boat off. Easy fix, but again, odd situation.
- While out fishing all night a customer’s boat never wants to start. Turns out they kept pulling the extremely wet nets over the side of the boat right above the key switch. Water and key switches don’t mix.
- A customer’s boat had sat for a few years, so he went out and bought a new fuel tank for it. As he begins using it he hears an alarm. This customer had bought a new style tank and put it on his older boat, which caused fuel to go in a place it should not be. That caused the vent canister switch to close, causing an alarm.
- This one was a costly mistake. Shortly after putting the boat in the water the customer noticed water over the floor. The drain plug was not installed, something every boater has done at one time or another. He drives the boat over to the launch pulls it out of the water on the trailer, drains the water out of the boat, puts the plug in this time and launches off again. After about 2 hours his motor starts making a horrible noise. Turns out the water level was high enough that there was water intrusion into the oil. The motor was severely damaged internally. Since the customer told me the whole story, without holding anything information back, I knew exactly how to deal with his insurance company. His insurance covered his motor through what I would call a “dummy clause”. I don’t know about you, but if you’re going to pay my $6000 repair bill, you can go ahead and call me a dummy!
So remember if there is something you think may help the technician diagnose your boat and get it back underway faster please let the service writer know. No detail is too small, and omitting information will only slow things down.