Posts Tagged ‘marine’

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.

Tricks to installing a marine steering system and what you should definitely avoid

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Installing a steering system into your boat can be a relatively easy and straight forward job, as long as you know and understand the do’s and don’ts. Our technicians here at SeaStar Solutions have put together some tips to help ensure your installation goes as smooth as the ride.

  • If you have an outboard or stern drive without power-assisted steering, we recommend you use either a No FeedBack (NFB) mechanical or hydraulic (SeaStar/BayStar/Hynautic) system. For boats with power-assisted steering, use HPS (mechanical) or SeaStar.
  • If you have or plan to install an autopilot, use SeaStar. Be sure you have the correct cable for the helm on the boat (or vice versa). There are several kinds of cables and helms that are not interchangeable; this is true whether the system is rotary or rack & pinion. See the steering identification guides in the front of the Mechanical Steering section of the catalog and the Steering Options based on Engine Type charts on pages 6-7.
  • Be sure you have measured properly and ordered the correct length of cable. The #1 reason for cable returns is “wrong length ordered”. See How to Measure on page 26 in the catalog.
  • Follow the installation instructions for steering products completely. This will ensure the maximum performance and reliability of the product. If the instructions are missing, contact us directly.
  • Handle the products with care and do not expose them to impact or external stress.
  • Allow for generous (large) cable bends, notably where the cable exits from the helm (or rack housing) and where the cable makes the bend to connect to the engine/drive/rudder. The tighter the bends, the stiffer the cable will tend to be in during operation. Tight bends also reduce cable life. NOTE: 8” is the minimum bend radius generally recommended for SeaStar Solutions steering cables.
  • When using tie wraps to affix the cable along the gunwale area, allow some slack (do not cinch tight). Slack in the tie wraps allows for cable flex as it is actuated and leads to smoother operation with a longer life span.
  • Replace all worn steering connection/mounting components with correct replacement parts that are designed for the application. DO NOT SUBSTITUTE PARTS.
  • If you think parts are missing from a kit, contact your distributor OR the kit manufacturer for replacements.
  • When installing the cable at the engine end, be sure to lubricate the telescopic ram (output end that slides in and out) with liberal amounts of a good, waterproof Lithium-based grease. This is ESPECIALLY critical if the steering cable is connected through the engine tilt tube as this area tends to get very dirty and corroded.
  • Do not use add-on grease fitting products designed to lubricate cables. These units can in fact force old grease, dirt and rust onto the moving internal parts of a steering cable, shortening its life.

Lastly, there is no substitute for proper cable maintenance procedures. The information we’ve provided here is a general guide, so if you do have any additional questions about our Mechanical Steering, please contact our technical support at 610-495-7011.

Spring Boat Maintenance Tips

Monday, April 14th, 2014

As spring slowly approaches, it’s time to start planning for boating season.  In order to make sure your boat is safe and running efficiently, you must thoroughly inspect and address a number of items on your boat.

FUEL TANK

  • Completely empty your tank of any gas that might have remained through the winter. When filling up with a fresh tank of gasoline, use a fuel treatment, such as Sierra’s eGuard, to ensure better fuel economy.
  • Visually inspect the gas tank for any corrosion.
  • Check the primer bulb and make sure it is firm and strong. Replace the bulb if you notice cracks or if it collapses.

BATTERY

  • Since the cold weather can greatly deplete your battery, it’s important to allow it to fully recharge. You should also regularly change your battery every two years.
  • Battery cells should be filled with distilled water.
  • Visually inspect the terminals for corrosion. Clean them if needed.

OIL & LUBRICATION

  • Replace the oil filter if it wasn’t done in the fall.
  • Inspect the oil injection unit and clean or replace it if necessary.
  • Inspect the prop shaft and lubricate it if needed.
  • Re-lubricate all necessary parts.
  • Check the condition of the lower-case oil. If the oil appears milky or cloudy, it is likely there is a leak in one or more of the lower unit seals. This should be addressed quickly, as water in the gear case can lead to expensive repairs.

ELECTRICAL

  • Check spark plugs and wires for damage. If one needs replaced, your chances are relatively high that another one will go bad soon after, so save time and replace them all.
  • Check all electrical components.
  • Inspect fuses and replace those that may have damage
  • TIP: When you disconnect the ignition wires, be sure to remember the cylinders to which they correspond.  With larger motors this can be especially important because the timing is set to fire the cylinders in a certain order.

PROPELLER

  • Pull off the propeller and inspect for any damage or fishing line.
  • TIP: Make sure you keep track of the order you remove the washers, nuts, sleeves and adapters. This will ensure an easy reinstallation once you’re done.

ANODE

  • Inspect the anode on your engine and replace it if there appears to be heavy corrosion. An anode that is in good condition will keep the parts of your engine that sit in the water from corroding.

HYDRAULIC STEERING

  • If your boat has a hydraulic steering system like BayStar, SeaStar or SeaStar Pro, check the tilt and trim fluid for the proper fluid levels.
  • Address any leaks prior to launching the boat.

STEERING CABLE

  • Inspect your boat’s steering, shift and throttle cable.  If you notice any cracks or bulges in the outer jacket of the cable, this could indicate corrosion and warrants replacement of the cable prior to taking your boat out onto the water.

A spring tune-up of your boat can go a long way toward ensuring a trouble-free summer boating season and it is an essential part of spring maintenance for your boat!