Posts Tagged ‘Boating’

Boat Winterization: Interior Winterization Tips

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

It’s getting to be that time of the year again, cold weather is approaching and the beautiful days that you can get on the boat are dwindling down. Most everyone knows the basics of winterizing your boat and keeping the actual mechanics good to go for the spring, but do you ever think about the importance of winterizing the INSIDE of your boat too?

If not done properly, condensation and mold will be the first to greet you inside of your boat in the Spring. Here are some tips to help keep everything smelling and looking fresh and preventing damage to your interior!

  1. Make sure everything is clean to begin with! Keeping tables, chairs, seats, bedding, wiped down and laundered will help in the first steps of winterizing your interior
  2. If your boat has a galley, fridge, kitchen equipment and/or a head, clean those out too! Remove any liquids or anything that could freeze from the cabinets and I mean everything.
  3. Check into dehumidifiers or moisture absorbents to keep on the boat while it’s in storage, just to remove any extra moisture that lingers behind or seeps in.
  4. Bag up any extra linens, clothing, anything cloth to bring home with you. You’ll want it fresh for the spring anyways!
  5. Make sure the kids bring their toys home with them too! Not only will this prevent them from being damaged with temperature, they’ll probably be begging for them the instant the boat gets into storage!

Do you have any secret tips and tricks for winterization? Let us know!

ECOTIP #2: Preventing and Cleaning Spills

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

 

Picture this, you’re enjoying your day out on the water when you see a rainbow looking film on the water. You think, “Oh no! Is that from me?”. Day ruined. 

Take a look at some tips that we’ve found from our friends at discoverboating.com so there is no worries next time you’re out and about!

 

  1. Spill-proof your oil changes: Use an oil change pump to transfer oil to a spill-proof container. Wrap an absorbent pad around the oil filter to prevent oil from spilling into the bilge
  2. Fueling up: Prevent fuel spills by filling fuel tanks slowly and use absorbent pads or reusable rags to catch drips or clean up spills. Don’t “top off” your tank, remember fuel expands as it gets warm, so leave about 10% empty.
  3. CLEAN IT UP: Never use soap to disperse fuel and oil spills. Not only is it harmful to the environment, it is also illegal.
  4. Maintenance on land: Try (as much as possible) to do all maintenance projects in the boatyard instead of on the water. If you do have to do maintenance on the water, use tarps and vacuum sanders to collect all debris for proper disposal.
  5. “Stow it, don’t throw it!”: Keep your trash on board! Never throw any type of garbage into the ocean and take advantage of shore-side facilities to recycle plastic, glass, metal, and paper. Sometimes, the wind picks up and blows out trash you were trying to keep on board. Try this cool trick to wind-proof your trash can. (Adapt the instructions for your particular size of trash can.)

Do you do any of these? Let us know! If you’d like to check out more tips, click here.

How to Maintain Your Boat’s Steering Cables

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

I’ve heard steering cables should be ‘maintained.’ How exactly is this done?

By keeping your boat’s steering system in proper working order you can ensure that you have reliable and proper control of your boat at all times. Lack of maintenance is the major contributor to stiff steering and in some extreme cases, cable seizure. We suggest the following periodic maintenance at least twice a year:
  1. Be certain the helm(s), cable(s), steering wheel and connection hardware are correctly assembled and in proper working order. Check for signs of stiffness, binding, excessive free play and/or wear. These items cannot be repaired; if any components are not in good working order, replace them. Disassembly of these items will void the warranty and can lead to steering failure. Always replace steering cables that are stiff in operation or have damage to the plastic jacket (outer casing).
  2. Clean and lubricate the engine tilt tube or cable support tube and the steering cable telescopic output ram as follows:
    1. Remove the steering cable(s) telescoping ram from the tilt tube.
    2. Clean the tilt tube inside diameter thoroughly.
    3. Remove corrosion in the tilt tube with a wire brush. Wipe until all loose material is removed.
    4. Lubricate the tilt tube with a good water resistant marine grease.
    5. Scour the steering cable telescopic ram with a brass wire brush and wipe until clean.
    6. Lubricate the sliding parts of the telescopic ram with a high-quality, water resistant marine grease.
    7. Reassemble, making sure all (correct) fasteners are tight and there is no binding or excessive free play in moving parts.

Please note where locking fasteners are used. Do not use non-locking fasteners; vibration can loosen them, causing steering failure.

Steering cables cannot be repaired. If the steering cable is deteriorated, does not move or operates in any manner other than correctly, replace it with the correct one for the helm. If the cable for your helm is no longer available, replace the helm, bezel and cable with an appropriate SeaStar Solutions steering kit.

Why does Lloyd’s Type Approval matter when it comes to Shield’s Hose?

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Type Approval from Lloyd’s Register (LR) proves that a product conforms to recognized industry quality standards and/or the LR Rules, through a process of independent design review, testing and verification of production controls.

There are two main steps to Type Approval. The first is Type Examination. Design data is submitted and reviewed to ensure it complies with the requirements of the specified standard(s) and/or LR rules. Then, samples of the product are tested to verify they meet the testing requirements of the relevant standards and any performance requirements associated with the product.

The second main step in the Type Approval process is Production Quality Assurance. This is performed to ensure the product (when mass produced) will be of an acceptable quality and will conform to the version that was prototype tested. Production controls are inspected to confirm that the product can be manufactured in accordance with the design data.

Once Type Approval is achieved, a Certificate is issued and is typically valid for 5 years. The product is then entered in the relevant part of the Lloyd’s Register List of Type Approval Products.

Why does this matter to you? It matters because this certification ensures you that our vendors and suppliers are capable of providing the highest quality product possible. You can trust your boat with Sierra.

Marine Starter VS. Automotive Starter… And the Winner Is…

Monday, November 24th, 2014

You pull the starter off of your Mercruiser (GM manufactured 5.7L) I/O and take it to the nearest auto parts supplier for a replacement. The starter for a car looks exactly the same as the one you just removed from your marine engine. You think to yourself, “I wonder how much difference there REALLY is between the marine and the automotive starter.”

Don’t be fooled by the fact that an automotive starter will bolt on to your marine engine. A marine approved starter has better seals and gaskets to keep water out. It also contains more corrosive resistant materials.

However, the primary consideration is safety, as there are deliberate design differences to contain sparks that could ignite fuel vapor in the bilge.  In an enclosed engine compartment, where volatile fumes exist, any stray spark could cause a catastrophic explosion, resulting in severe injury or possible death.  In order to prevent this, a marine starter is constructed with internal shielding to contain any sparks or stray electricity that could travel into the bell housing or bilge where gasoline fumes may be present. Another benefit from this shielding is that it protects the back half of the starter motor from moisture and contaminants which WILL decrease the life of the starter.

If the replacement starter you are buying does not have a tag or sticker on it that states it has been manufactured to SAE J1171 standards, you should ask if the product really is an approved marine grade product. You should always make every attempt to be sure that you are not being sold an automotive starter for your boat. In order to receive this certification, the manufacturer of this starter must submit a sample to pass three separate tests, each of which is performed fifty times. The tests include operation in an enclosed explosive atmosphere, high temperature tests and induced ignition tests.

Please remember the following:

  • Using anything electrical that is not marine rated is BOTH illegal and dangerous
  • The Coast Guard WILL ticket you for noncompliance
  • The risk of injury or death is incrementally higher when you elect to use automotive electrical parts on your marine engine

Stay safe out on the water and if you have any questions as to which start is best for your marine engine, call our Technical Support Line at 1-877-663-8396.

Tips to making the most of your STATS Diagnostic Tool

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

For some time, marine technicians needed an easier way to diagnose engine problems without the added expense of a laptop or having to maneuver a boat trailer or motor on a stand to the computer bay.  STATS™ (Sierra Touch and Test System) is that solution.  STATS is an innovative new handheld engine diagnostic tool from Sierra that allows technicians to plug into a marine engine’s Electronic Control Module (ECM) and diagnose engine problems without the need for a laptop or PC. Engine diagnostics can even be performed on boats while they’re still in the water.

Since Sierra launched STATS, our technical services representatives have come across some very good questions. We thought these questions and answers would be useful in order to get the most out of your experience with the STATS Diagnostic Tool.

  • Does STATS have the ability to change the oil ratio on Evinrude E-Tec Engines?

YES. STATS has the ability to change the oil ratio on Evinrude E-Tec engines from XD30, XD settings to XD settings.

  • Can STATS configure vessel management systems such as SmartCraft?

NO. Currently, STATS does not offer vessel management configuration features. Sierra is now researching vessel management opportunities.

  • Does STATS display engine run histories?

YES. STATS has the capabilities to display engine run histories. Most engine histories are broken down via engine RPM or by temperature. This feature is very useful when determining the habits of the boat owners and advising the customer when periodic maintenance is due.

  • What is the warranty on STATS?

STATS is equipped with the same industry leading warranty as ALL other Sierra Products which is a Limited Lifetime Warranty against defects and workmanship!

  • What happens if I enter in the wrong passcode 3 consecutive times on my STATS?

Entering the wrong passcode 3 times consecutively will result in software deletion from the STATS unit and lock the console for security purposes. Once locked, you will need to contact Sierra Technical Support to unlock the STATS unit and you’ll then have the ability to reinstall software from the STATS loader page. Passwords will be kept on record along with serial number information at Sierra. You’ll need to supply the serial number and registration information to unlock the console.

  • Can I purchase software upgrades online?

NO. Currently software is not available online for purchase. At this time you will need to contact your distributor for purchase of software and corresponding cables.

  • How do I start using my STATS unit?

Before use, STATS must be activated by connecting to a PC. You will also need to download the STATS Loader Program from www.sierrastats.com. This will enable you to download new software and updates for your STATS unit. The STATS Loader Page is also where you will view, save and print information from the STATS unit.

  • Can I use STATS with my MAC?

NO. STATS is not compatible with MAC Operating Systems unless you utilize the Windows Parallel Program.

  • Does STATS program injectors on Evinrude E-Tec Engines?

NO. STATS does not currently program the injectors on E-Tec Engines.

  • Does STATS have the ability to tune engines?

NO. Currently, STATS only performs diagnostics. It is not equipped with a tuner to reformat an ECM.

  • Does STATS work with Ficht Engines?

YES. STATS does work with all Ficht Engines.

  • Can STATS record live data to capture an intermittent concern?

YES. STATS is able to record live data for up to 30 seconds at a time.

  • Can I create diagnostic reports with STATS?

YES. You can create diagnostic reports via uploading the saved information on the console to a PC. Your report can then be created on the STATS Loader Page.

  • How often do I have to charge my STATS unit?

STATS is not equipped with an internal battery. STATS operates from engine battery voltage either through the Diagnostic Link Connector or via a DC Power cable that connects to the battery. While connected to a PC, the STATS unit is powered by an AC adapter.

  • What if I have questions about how to use the STATS unit?

Your STATS purchase includes a printed copy of the STATS user manual which can answer most questions before and during use. If you still need assistance, our Sierra Technical Support Team is here to help. Our toll-free number is 1-800-648-3976 Extension 3.

How to Tell if a Starter is Bad on your Marine Engine

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

When the starter on your marine engine refuses to crank, the engine’s starter may have gone bad.

First, you need to make sure the starter is really the source of the problem.  Several other things: including a blown main fuse, not moving the throttle/shift lever into “neutral” before attempting to crank the motor, electrical connections that are not clean and tightly connected and wiring in poor condition can cause symptoms similar to those of a bad starter. So, go grab your multimeter and let’s do some testing! (NOTE: This is a good time to remove the lanyard from the emergency cut off switch to prevent the engine from accidentally starting)

Step 1: Turn the dial of a digital multimeter to the DC voltage setting. Place the red probe on the positive battery post and then the black probe on the negative battery post. If the multimeter indicates the battery is producing less than 11.3 volts, recharge or replace the battery before testing the starter.

Step 2: Set the multimeter to the DC voltage setting. Place the red lead of the multimeter on the positive terminal of the starter motor and then the black lead on the engine ground.

Step 3: Turn the ignition switch to the “Start” position. Read the voltage indicated on the multimeter.

Step 4: If the reading on the digital multimeter is greater than 9.5 volts, attempt to start the motor. If the motor fails to start when the reading on the digital multimeter is more than 9.5 volts, the starter requires replacement or rebuilding. A reading of less than 9.5 volts indicates a voltage loss between the battery and the starter; this should be corrected and then start the testing procedure again. (NOTE: This test is for a 12V operating system)

TIP: Before you crank the motor, shift it into “neutral.” The neutral lockout will prevent the motor from starting. Check the main fuse and inspect the wiring for broken or frayed wires.

Do you need help selecting the new starter for your marine engine? Give our technical support a call at 1-877-663-8396 or you can visit our website for a complete listing of our Rotating Electric Products here.

What is Optimus EPS?

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

For centuries, people have been steering boats by brute force. While cable steering, and more recently hydraulics, have made steering easier, the prime mover is still the arms and hands of the skipper at the wheel. All of that is about to change with SeaStar Solutions’ revolutionary Optimus Electronic Power Steering (EPS) for twin, triple and quad outboard engine boats.

This new and innovative product was developed because boating operators continue to ask for increased comfort, lighter steering loads and car-like steering response when on the water. Optimus EPS truly raises the bar when it comes to comfort, control and maneuverability, especially for the new breed of high performance powerboats, saltwater fishing vessels, catamarans, RIBS and high end pontoon boats.

Active Sensitivity

Lock-to-lock turns and wheel effort are programmed to change with engine RPM. At slow speeds, Optimus EPS can be set to reduce the number of turns lock-to-lock, for example, 4 and make it easier to steer. When you’re negotiating through traffic or in a tight spot, those smaller moves of the wheel give you precise control. When you’re running at speed in open water, Optimus EPS can be set to increase lock-to-lock turns, for example, 6 or 7 and increase steering effort giving the driver more stability to comfortably keep on course. And through it all, Optimus EPS does the work, so you can relax and take it easy.

The Technology Behind the System

The incredible feel you get when you’re behind the wheel of a boat equipped with Optimus EPS is the result of an incredible array of technology and engineering. Each component has been designed to complement the other, resulting in a seamless experience of steering control in virtually every situation on the water. The high level of engineering also extends to the reliability of the system, with quality materials, careful manufacturing and redundant systems, all to stand up to the rigors of life on the water.

Ackerman Steering

Intelligent programming allows the Optimus EPS system to individually control the steering angle of the inner and outer outboards. This reduces the effect caused by the outside outboard “pushing” against the curve of the turn. Ackerman steering is especially important in power catamarans where the engines are located further apart.

Autopilot Interface

The Optimus EPS electronic power steering system interfaces directly with the latest generation of autopilots from Garmin, Raymarine and SIMRAD, without the need for an autopilot pump, rudder feedback unit and the lengthy installation and purging procedure.

Optimus EPS by SeaStar is the ultimate choice for your twin, triple or quad outboard engine boat and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced when it comes to steering. If you’d like to receive more information about Optimus EPS, click here  and send us your details. We’d be happy to steer you in the right direction!