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Maintenance

FENDER ATTACHMENT STRETCHES FOR BEST PROTECTION

A simple device can help prevent those unwanted moments when the possibility of damage is present during docking maneuvers.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Here at the Boat & Yacht Report, we are always on the lookout for products that can enhance our boating experiences. I came across this one from Davis Instruments and thought it might be of interest to some of you who want an extra edge on protecting your boat’s hull and rails while leaving and getting into the dock.

There are various rope, strap and clip fender attachment products on the market, but none provide the stretch needed when a fender gets caught between the dock and boat while the boat is still moving forward. The Shockles FenderFriend from Davis Instruments is the first and only fender whip with a built-in shock absorber to receive the impact generated by fenders rubbing against the hull, dock or piling.

dav21842-x3hThe stretch protects both the boat and fender from damage. Keeping stanchions, rails and cleats from bending under pull, FenderFriend helps keep fenders in place while docking, or during surges and wakes when the boat is unattended

With no knots to tie, FenderFriend is incredibly easy to use. The quick-release NEXUS® NYLON buckle makes deploying and stowing fenders quick and easy. FenderFriend can be clipped to anything, including cleats, lifelines, stanchions and handrails.

It can be set to length for a standard docking situation and anyone can easily deploy the fenders. The adjustable buckle allows FenderFriend to be set to the correct length. Owners simply tighten or loosen the strap to adjust the fender height.

FenderFriend is available in two styles. Both the Twin-Eye and Center-Tube versions allow the strap length to be adjusted from 16-72″. Its tubular nylon webbing protects the elastomer from UV rays and abrasion. FenderFriend provides 12″ of shock-absorbing stretch.

Contact Davis Instruments, 3465 Diablo Ave., Hayward, CA  94545. 510-732-9229;
Fax: 510-732-9188. info@davisnet.comwww.davisnet.com

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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Maintenance

 

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Maintenance

Maintenance

No Fueling Around

Proper fuel storage, whether on board or on the hard, will help keep your boat running smoothly.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

There are very few on the planet that disagree with the scenario that oil is the result of decaying matter of once living organisms compacted over untold tens of millions of years. As layer upon layer of sediment settled one on top of the other, the increasing pressure and the ensuing rising temperatures produced a chemical change whereby the remains—way too complex to discuss here—were transformed into the raw material that would eventually lead to petroleum. And while it took some time to figure out just how to properly store and distribute this energy source–surely a work still in progress–we still have to contend with our need to often have it at the ready and in places that may not be on the beaten path.

For our discussion then, let’s center things on our boats. I would venture to say that most of us, traveling from point A to point B, perhaps over to point C before returning to A, if not re-routing to D, E, and F, are usually savvy enough to chart our necessary fuel ups with plenty of reserve built in just in case.

If you enjoy covering long distances, and may not have the proper tankage, or do not trust the quality of the fuel in a certain port of call, you might consider carrying bladder tanks to store your extra fuel.

“Not all fuel bladders are created equal,” said David Dack, VP of sales for Aero Tec Laboratories (ATL), a company specializing in flexible containment technology, as we discussed several tips for those wishing to use these devices. “First off, always look for the best quality possible. Money should be no object with this equipment. The one thing you do not want to deal with when carrying volatile diesel fuel or gasoline is an inferior product.”

ATL manufactures custom bladder fuel tanks to fit your own needs and boat's configuration.

ATL manufactures custom bladder fuel tanks to fit your own needs and boat’s configuration.

Dack’s company manufacturers bladders constructed from rugged military spec rubberized fabric equipped with such built-in safety features as pressure relief and anti-backflow valves. “The former prevents any pressure build up as the fuel expands, for example, with the bladder sitting in the sun in the cockpit. The latter prevents any back spill while taking on fuel,” he said.

Options such as this stand pipe and safety cap with pressure relief valve & anti back-flow valve are available.

Options such as this stand pipe and safety cap with pressure relief valve & anti back-flow valve are available.

Ease of use is a primary concern as well. Make sure you position the tank(s) so the weight is evenly distributed as not to throw your boat off. “The bladder must be firmly fastened to the deck with a tie-down kit that is secured over the stand pipe and then ratcheted down. We suggest using a cargo net as an added security measure in case of rough seas,” Dack indicated. “Bladders are most stable when full and can be easily rolled up or folded and tucked away within a vented compartment.”

With ATL equipment, a ½” brass ball valve assembly with a composite hose barb fitting is standard with an optional 1” ball valve for those who are looking for faster fuel transfer. Reinforced hose is then slipped over the barbed fitting on the outlet while the other end is run into the vessel’s main tank. A siphon or gravity feed is then initiated to start the flow of fuel from the bladder to the main tank. Alternatively, an explosion proof pump may be used to transfer the contents of the bladder to the boat’s main tank.

“We also offer our space-saving FueLocker™ design not only for those whose deck space is limited but to maximize those areas where traditional pillow type of tanks can take up lots more real estate,” Dack commented.

If you are a seasonal boater, you will want to pay special attention to having to deal with the fuel in your

A 1" outlet with 1" ball valve - hose barb included for quicker fuel transfer compared  to 1/2", is also available.

A 1″ outlet with 1″ ball valve – hose barb included for quicker fuel transfer compared to 1/2″, is recommended.

tanks when getting ready for winter lay up. “For inboard gasoline or diesel boats, and with all the issues concerning ethanol, we top off the tanks, this to minimize the chance of any water condensation from happening and stimulating biological growth and corrosion, and add a fuel stabilizer,” said Dan Cordano. Service Manager for the Suntex Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, NJ. For outboards with small portable fuel tanks, Cordano suggests running the engine until it stalls out before putting it away. And with those portable tanks, make sure you use the familiar red plastic for gasoline and yellow for diesel, this to avoid any confusion.

403-32ozOn the subject of fuel stabilizers, Janis Grundman, National Sales Manager for Technol, a company specializing in these products, also had some thoughts. “Besides the inherent nature of fuel degrading over time, boats have a vented system and the possibility of introducing water, whether during seasonal storage or not, is always a problem. You want to do whatever you can to avoid that situation,” she said. “Make sure of your fuel source, keep your tanks topped off whenever possible, and use a stabilizer during those lay up times as well as an additive during regular operating times will help to prevent any engine problems. And always follow the manufacturers recommendations for amount to use per gallon.”

Until we figure out a better way to power our boats, perhaps with solar, wind, electric, or another energy source or combination thereof, this is what we have to work with. Taking the proper precautions and getting the best out of our fuel systems, and the proper way to store it while traveling, will help keep your boat running smoothly and safely.

For more information, contact www.atlinc.com, (800) 526-5330; www.technol.com, (800) 645-4033.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Maintenance

 

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Maintenance

Maintenance

The Devil Is In The Details

Knowing what kind of corrosion can be present aboard will help save your boat from disaster.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Great floods have flown from simple sources.” So said William Shakespeare and is a fitting opening for our conversation on the potential negative effects of corrosion aboard your boat and the possibility of big troubles because of it. How big? Great floods indeed.

Let’s jump right into this by getting a few facts straight. Steering clear of any chemistry

This kind of damage, and much more, can occur when your underwater metal is not protected.

lesson, electrolysis involves only one metal and a major change occurring in an electrolyte with chemical properties that make it capable of conducting an electric current. A good example would be when a lead-acid battery discharges and produces a significant alteration in the concentration of the battery acid.

So when, years ago, one of my dock mates called me on the VHF asking for a tow, he was wrong when he stated, “Electrolysis caused that blade on my prop to weaken and finally break off.” No shipmates, his problem was most likely brought about by galvanic corrosion or, in part and sometimes in collusion with, its equally evil relative, stray current.

With galvanic corrosion the deterioration occurs between the dissimilar metals as they react while immersed in salt water. This is caused by the current—the movement of an electric charge—that flows between the two, each acting as anode or cathode, depending on its place on the galvanic chart of metals in sea water, and as a result of either being physically or electrically connected.

The easy-to-read galvanic chart.

The easy-to-read galvanic chart.

The long and short of it here is not so much with the why of the process but more of preventing the result. For example, my buddy’s bronze propeller blade gave up more of itself, corroded as it were, then let’s say the stainless steel shaft it was attached to because it is a less noble, or more reactive metal than that of the shaft’s material.

While the effects of galvanic corrosion will more than likely occur over a protracted period of time, the serious effects of stray current can be seen in as little as several days. Should you have, for example, some faulty wiring lying in the bilge or a damaged float switch sending current into the water, or the same condition existing on another vessel in your marina, and even with issues from the dockside shore power, regardless if you have a galvanic isolator in use, your boat is in serious danger. A shaft, rudders, props, outdrives, lower units, and bronze through hull fittings are all at risk.

If you even suspect this may be the case, and unless you are an ABYC certified marine electrician, the best advice is to take a big step back and get the experts in post-haste. (www.abycinc.org/educationprograms/certificationDirSearch.cfm)

The all too familiar bolt-on zinc anode is necessary for protection against galvanic corrosion.

The all too familiar bolt-on zinc anode is necessary for protection against galvanic corrosion.

Protection against galvanic corrosion is a bit simpler and yet comes with its own set of rules. “With fiberglass boats, Mil Spec A-18001K Zinc alloy sacrificial anodes are most suitable for the saltwater environment if the underwater metal you are trying to protect is bronze, stainless, and Nibral,” said Bob Olsen, President of BoatZincs.com. “With brackish water, aluminum anodes (Mil Spec A-24779), which also provide saltwater protection as well, work best. “If you use your boat only in freshwater, magnesium anodes (Mil Spec A-21412) is what you will need.” If you run a stern drive or outboard boat, use aluminum protection. It’s best to check with your manufacturer for any special needs. In addition, with inboard engines, always make sure to check your pencil zincs twice a year.

The size of the anode is a function of how many square feet of metal is being protectedmil-spec and if you are re-zincing, make sure you confer with your yard or marina service manager. “And but for a few situations, you cannot over protect your boat,” Olson added so feel free to collar your shafts as well as long as your boat is properly bonded. Any questions on this, call in the right technician to have a look.

Making sure your boat’s metal fittings are properly protected against both galvanic and stray current corrosion is one of the most important preventive maintenance regimens aboard your boat and one you should always be aware of.

For more information, please contact http://www.boatzincs.com

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Maintenance

 

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Maintenance

Maintenance

Tightened Up

Replacing the trickling, dribbling, leaking and seeping stuffing boxes, dripless shaft seals still need attending to.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Ever since the first prop was connected to the first shaft being turned by the first internal combustion engine, there has always been the dilemma of how to keep water from entering a boat through that all-important hole in the hull while also protecting the rapidly spinning shaft from the ravages of friction.

If your boating years go back as long as mine, you are familiar with the steady dripping of the practical, always carefully attended to stuffing box. This most important piece of gear housed a series of packing rings—numbering three to five and often made of braided flax rope—coated with a waterproof material, and allowed the shaft to pass through the hull and keep turning while under power. It also prevented the water from getting in and flooding the bilges. Once properly tightened down by a collar, the rings were compressed enough to allow a few drops of water every minute or so to ‘leak’ in, permitting the shaft and the packing to be cooled enough to prevent scoring the metal surface or ‘burning’ the packing.

With regular routine maintenance, the Tides SureSeal should do its part to keep the shaft well lubricated and running properly.

With regular routine maintenance, the Tides SureSeal should do its part to keep the shaft well lubricated and running properly.

But as with all things in the marine industry, a change was due. Enter the dripless shaft system. Utilizing highly machine-polished, mechanical mating surfaces held together by pressurized tension on a rubber bellows surrounding them, and a hose connection between the intake side of the engine’s raw water pump and the device, they have become the familiar norm in most applications.

One of the big downstream concerns associated with the old stuffing boxes was one created when there was a more than acceptable raw water flow. Sprayed outward by the spinning shaft, the ensuing salty mist would, of course, hasten corrosion to any metal it landed on. With a fully encased design, shaft seals alleviate this problem.

“We were most likely the first to use a rubber lip seal lubricated by raw water from the engine, replacing the traditional packing,” said engineering and quality control manager Skip Lookabaugh for Tides Marine.

Overheating the housing can be trouble. In most cases, this is caused when air is allowed to accumulate inside due to most inboard engine drive shafts being installed on an angle thus creating bubbles that can travel up the shaft. Dripless systems use the pressurized lubrication water to force any air out.

Dirt and grit can get sucked up if you run aground or operate in shallow, sandy bottom areas. And watch out for fishing line as well. “And as with all devices with moving parts, if you notice a slight leak which steadily increases over time, you might want to check inside,” said Lookabaugh. Prevention includes examining the lubrication system, hoses, clamps, and pump, on a semi-annual basis. Lookabaugh also recommends changing the lip seals on Tides’ equipment every five or six years.

According to Duramax, the design features of this system eliminate problems that other systems experience, and with no lip seals or packing to change there is no maintenance. It is easy to install, with no need for constant adjustments once properly installed. Removal and replacement of the system is simple.

According to Duramax, the design features of this system eliminate problems that other systems experience, and with no lip seals or packing to change there is no maintenance. It is easy to install, with no need for constant adjustments once properly installed. Removal and replacement of the system is simple.

Mike Schoenauer, VP Sales & Marketing, and Lou Foster, VP Sales for Duramax also offered some maintenance insight and highly recommend regular visual inspections especially if you have had any work done in the shaft area where someone could have stepped on the seal. With boats that have been sitting idle, there could be scale, sea growth, or some other debris present, they offered. “Also, and while it should never happen, a noticeable bulge in the outer yellow bellows indicates something is causing the inner one to leak and should be taken care of,” said Foster.

“While we do have tolerances built in to allow for some misalignment and vibration, the main problem most boaters would face occurs when something hits the running gear and really throws things out of whack,” said Justin Romesburg, Director of International Sales for PSS. Therefore, it is highly recommended that should there be any alignment or vibration question, make sure you have your shaft seal checked as well.

The PSS Shaft Seal System.

The PSS Shaft Seal System.

The shaft seal systems on the market today are rather robust and will have a fairly extended longevity with regular and diligent preventive maintenance. Should you have any questions about your particular dripless shaft seal, it’s best to get in touch with the manufacturer and have it serviced. Keeping your boat on top of the water depends on it.

For more information on these shaft seal products, please visit each of the company’s Websites at www.tidesmarine.com; www.duramaxmarine.com; www.shaftseal.com

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Maintenance

 

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Maintenance

Maintenance

Antifouling 101, A Comprehensive Guide from Interlux®

Everything you wanted to know, and most likely more, about bottom paint.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Some of my most cherished memories of boat ownership took place many years ago when I owned a 42-foot, Maine-built lobster boat made of wood. She was an East Blue Hill, Webber’s Cove boat with the kind of lines that, well made you see what a boat was supposed to look like. She was seaworthy, dependable, and possessed quite the salty, nautical soul. My boat saw me through college life by six packing her during my undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate studies.

For me, keeping my boat looking good was as important as making sure my single flat head, 90-hp, 6 cylinder Ford Lehman diesel was always running clean oil. To that end, my spring weekends, prior to getting her ready for the charter season, were spent with sander, caulking, and of course, paint brush. And, accepting my hubris on this particular subject, I became quite proficient with preparing the hull and applying bottom paint.

A lot has changed since those halcyon days in the yard and to help you understand the often-complex decisions that go into this most important maintenance item, my friends at Interlux have prepared quite the comprehensive guide to antifouling paint.
antifouling_guide

Called Antifouling 101, it’s a free PDF download in the company’s Ask The Experts Series. Even if you’re not a DIYer, the information you’ll get will make it worth the read. You can download the guide at www.yachtpaint.com/LiteratureCentre/antifouling_101_usa_eng.pdf as well as visiting the company Website at http://www.yachtpaint.com

If you have any other boat maintenance items you would like us to cover, please let us know by tabbing the COMMENT button on the bottom right side of this page. We’ll do everything we can to get you the right information.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Maintenance

 

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Maintenance

Maintenance

Exhaustive Knowledge

An awareness of what is going on with your exhaust system can keep your engine running at peak performance and avoid costly repairs.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Years back, a friend of mine, short a mate for a late afternoon, early evening six-pack charter, asked me to work the deck for him. Fishing was good and on the way back to the barn, with just a few minutes to his dock, I noticed we were riding a bit low in the water and that the bilge pumps were now discharging fairly regularly. I told him about it and decided we would check things out as soon as we shut down and our fishermen were on their way.

Make your exhaust system part of your regular preventive maintenance regimen.

Make your exhaust system part of your regular preventive maintenance regimen. Photo Credit: DeAngelo Exhaust

We discovered there was quite a bit of water below as well as having collected forward. I asked him to hit the starter button and as the engine turned over, I was shocked to see raw water pouring out from underneath the hose connecting to the riser. Instead of being discharged out the exhaust pipe, it was bucketing into the boat. When we took things apart, we discovered the riser itself was totally corroded from the inside with very little material left being held by the hose clamps. We had dodged a very big bullet and one that neither of us would ever forget.

This kind of extreme corrosion in an exhaust manifold can mean big problems. Photo Credit:  BoatUS.

This kind of extreme corrosion in an exhaust riser can mean big problems. Photo Credit: BoatUS.

Just like any other critical part of your boat’s engine, the exhaust system needs proper attention to ensure safe and smooth operation. Besides the chance of being exposed to noxious fumes, not doing so can lead to severe engine problems and yes, even sinking.

We usually take the exhaust system for granted and expect there is little if anything that can go wrong. First mistake. This is a very important maintenance component and while you should call in the experts if you suspect there is a problem brewing, there are some things you can look for to help you head off the sticker shock of a major engine overhaul.

Water comes in; water goes out. A simple operation that carries a lot of importance in the safe and proper operation of your boat.

Water comes in; water goes out. A simple operation that carries a lot of importance in the safe and proper operation of your boat.

By now, we all know that when an up stroking cylinder compresses atomized diesel fuel—or when a spark goes off in a gasoline engine—there is detonation. Once that occurs, the resultant gases given off need somewhere to go. And it is during the exhaust phase of your engine’s operation that this is accomplished. Not being able to efficiently do so will result in back pressure problems, the first of many that can occur.

“Most people don’t worry about it until something goes wrong; and when it does, it can be pretty bad,” says Jorge Lang, Operations Manager at Ft. Lauderdale’s DeAngelo Exhaust Systems. “Think of it as a human being; it has to inhale, through the air intakes, and exhale through the exhaust.”

Basically, back pressure is the inability for your engine to breathe properly and as easily as it should and results in poor performance, a cut in fuel economy, and decreased speed. In addition, there can be consequential damage to internal engine parts such as valves, stems, injectors, and critical gaskets. “If the exhaust is running straight out, you have no back pressure. But if it has to go through a ninety degree turn or through a muffler, or you’re going to throw water into that gas flow, you’re adding resistance.”

No matter how big your boat is, always know the proper water flow of  your exhaust system and if any restriction is suspected, shut down and have it checked out immediately.

No matter how big your boat is, always know the proper water flow of your exhaust system. If any restriction is suspected, shut down and have it checked out immediately.

Given the fact that diesel engine manufactures do not supply exhaust risers with their engines, this critical piece of equipment is therefore, an after market component where improper system design and sizing, that being the diameter of the exhaust pipe, can worsen the problem. “If the material used is also not of the proper grade, what you wind up with is a lethal combination of metal, exhaust fumes, and salt water that does not get along very well,” said Lang. “We’ve seen it all; some even thinking a Home Depot pipe job will suffice.”

A failed gasket can cause a leak.

A failed gasket can cause a leak in the system.

Poorly designed exhausts can also allow water to flow back into the exhaust manifold, especially during large following sea conditions, and make its way into the engine. “There are a number of factors that determine how long a riser will last. Some of these include the quality of the welds, materials used, if the riser holds water when the engine is shut down, and how well it is supported.” Lang also suggests a regular inspection underneath your engine bed and stringers to look for rust spots, indicating a possible leak coming from somewhere.

Just as with your other important engine parameters, it’s best to have a base line for your exhaust system including correct operating temps for both cooling and exhaust systems, the right amount of visible exhaust flow should you not have an under water system, and of course, taking regular back pressure readings from your engine monitoring data. OEM’s have different predetermined back pressure limits based on critical internal features, so it’s best to check your engine manual or have the discussion with your engine manufacturer. Remember, the higher the back pressure, the more restricted the exhaust system will be. “Exceeding those limits will lead to problems,” said Lang.

But what if your running bottom and props are not fouled and your back pressure is within

Impellers should be changed at regular intervals to prevent any overheating problems with proper engine operations.

Impellers should be changed at regular intervals to prevent any overheating problems with proper engine operations.

acceptable limits? “This happens a lot, especially with boats up north that are stored for the winter,” says Mechanical Engineer and Manager of Centek Industries’ Product Design & Engineering Bert Browning. “Something may have made its winter home in the exhaust pipe and either died or made a nest or some other kind of living space.” A careful check for obstructions before getting your boat back in the water should be part of your regular preventive maintenance regimen.

“While back pressure issues can result in higher exhaust temps you don’t necessarily need to have back pressure problems for this to result,” offered Browning. You can have some cooling water issues as a result of a faulty water raw pump or failed impellers. These should also be checked regularly. If that impeller is degraded or damaged, not only will the proper amount of cooling water be diminished but, should any of the vanes break loose, the rubber material can be pushed all the way through the cooling system and severely clog the water flow. Or, you may have picked up a plastic bag or some other debris through the intake hose. In this case, make sure you shut off—and open once done—the seacock before attempting to have a look. And always make sure, just as you check your oil and fluid levels before starting up, to have a look at your raw water strainer and clean the basket if any debris or fouling is present.

Always make sure to check your exhaust hoses and the clamps for any sign of wear.

Always make sure to check your exhaust hoses and the clamps (right) for any sign of wear.

Another area to check is the condition of the blue and 443606black hoses and the clamps, especially those connected to the riser and the mixing elbow. With high temperature ratings, blue hose, rated at 350F if preferable. Any telltale problems will show up as a discoloration on some portion of the hose, usually at the clamp site. And it’s a given that hoses should be double clamped. Other revealing signs, such as those with fiberglass, gelcoated, or even Awlgripped systems, will be a yellowish-brown discoloration and ‘flaky’ deterioration. “With fiberglass, over time, the resin will ‘cook out’ and start weeping resulting in salt deposits forming on the exterior surface of the exhaust pipe,” said Browning. “Losing the resin will cause the pipe to eventually soften and compress under the clamp force.”

Keeping tabs on your exhaust system is as important as any other aboard your boat. Check with your yard manager during yearly haul out time and have the risers inspected as part of your maintenance regimen. Besides the fact that exhaust fumes are noxious and can cause health problems, your engine will not be running as efficiently as it was designed to do and, allowed to continue operating under diminished conditions, will lead to costly repairs.

For more information on exhaust systems and proper operation, contact http://www.deangelomarine.com; http://www.centekindustries.com

If you would like us to cover a maintenance issue that is of particular interest to you, please feel free to drop us a line by tabbing the LEAVE A COMMENT key located at the bottom, right hand side of this page.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Maintenance

 

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Maintenance

Maintenance

HEADS UP!
Your marine toilet is the one system you do not want to have problems with.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Let’s cut to the chase here shipmates. You DO NOT, under any circumstance, shape, manner, or form, want to, pun obviously intended, mess with your marine toilet. I’ll take dealing with sopping up bilge water rather than hear the dreaded news that something is wrong with the boat’s toilet system.

No matter what, make sure everyone on board heeds this warning.

No matter what, make sure everyone on board heeds this warning.

My worst experience? Luckily we were in the dock when a backed-up MSD, being attended to by one of my crew members, coughed up not only the clog, which in this case was caused by a significant plug of way too much toilet paper, but whatever else was sent down on its way to the holding tank as well. A long, hot shower at the marina, and a complete change of clothing was necessary before we were able to continue on our way. Not fun.

The best way to prevent any problems, no matter how small, is to become familiar with the particular operation of your system, its parts, how they work, what can go wrong and why, and what you can do to head off any confrontations with it.

For most of us, our concern is with a Type III U.S. Coast Guard approved Marine Sanitation Device designed to simply hold waste material for pump-out into a shore-based facility. Whether you have a simple portable unit or a top-of-the-line electric system with multiple locations plumbed into a holding tank and utilizing a macerator, you will want to make sure it is properly maintained and cared for..

Simple and easy to care for, Thetford's 550P can make life aboard a bit easier.

Simple and easy to care for, Thetford’s 550P can make life aboard a bit easier.

With smaller boats, the most simple and easy-to-care for unit is the basic portable unit like that of the Thetford Porta Potti® 550P. As with all similar models in the marine line, this compact system requires only minimal care, including proper replenishing of the deodorizing chemicals and cleaning, to ensure trouble-free operation. “It’s always advisable to keep the slide lock seals between the upper and lower parts properly lubricated as they do tend to wear,” said Thetford’s Scott Mason. However, as a vessel’s length increases, so does its need for a more sophisticated system and in there, to quote the Bard, is the rub.

One of the biggest problems is the result clogging the system by using way too much of the aforementioned t.p. or throwing something down there that, as with your toilet at home, just does not belong. This includes tampons, sanitary napkins, paper towels, and baby wipes. It’s best to use t.p. specifically made for marine use that is both biodegradable and fast dissolving.

“The number one trouble maker is using improper tissue,” agreed Dometic’s Bill Friedman. “Household products are hard to break down, especially going into a pump or with systems using level indicators.”

If you use a saltwater flush, you are going to have to deal with the possibility of pipe and hose

Regular preventive maintenance can keep your Dometic Sealand Masterflush free from problems.

Regular preventive maintenance can keep your Dometic Sealand Masterflush free from problems.

scale forming within the system. A careful check of the bowl and even any accessible hose or piping, making sure all seacocks are shut, will help. For scale buildup on the discharge side, you can dump the proper agent down the bowl. On the intake side, remove the intake hose from the thru hull—make sure you shut it off first—and, in a bucket filled with a decalcifier, pump the liquid through the system as well. And regardless of fresh or saltwater operation, you should regularly check all hoses, connections, clamps, and fittings for leaks and wear. If found, or at the very least, suspect, replace them as soon as possible.

 “Over time, odor is going to be a problem due to organisms being brought in and constantly replenished by the saltwater,” said Mason, adding many a service call for a leak was actually the odor of decaying sea life in the lines. While you can try and mask the smell with deodorants and air fresheners, obviously switching to a fresh water system will alleviate this problem.

General wear and tear can also be trouble and in the case of most electric systems, there is not too much you can do. It’s best to keep an eye on things and pay careful attention to your owner’s manual for scheduled upkeep. Most of the major manufacturers such as Dometic, Thetford, Headhunter, and Raritan, all have convenient service centers and dealers in the major boating areas.

As far as macerators are concerned, today’s units are fairly robust and, but for the errant foreign object—again, tampons and sanitary napkins for the most part—forcing an electrical pause and being unable to start up again, you should have uninterrupted service for many years. However, should that EFO (errant foreign object) finds its way into the system, and if you are not the kind who can follow the schematics in your owner’s manual, it’s time to call in the experts.

Using holding tank treatments such as Thetford's AquaKem (left) or Dometic products can help to alleviate odors.

Using holding tank treatments such as Thetford’s AquaKem  can help to alleviate odors.

Odor and flushing problems can also be caused by a tank vent and filter being clogged by water or debris. Check both these on a regular basis and swap out that filter according to the manufacturers recommendations. You also might want to consider having a yearly cleaning of your holding tank as sediment can settle on the bottom and build up over time.  “To help keep it somewhat clean, you can also try sending a couple of capfuls of liquid laundry detergent into your holding tank, filling it with water, and then doing a proper pump out at your marina,” offered Friedman.

Your best bet in preventing problems with your marine toilet is make sure everyone aboard knows how to properly operate the system and what does and does not belong in it. Check all hoses and connections for leaks and try to keep your holding tanks relatively empty whenever possible. In this way, you will have one less thing to worry about while enjoying being on your boat.

For more information about proper MSD operation, it’s always best to contact your specific manufacturer. With those mentioned here, it’s http://www.thetford.com; http://www.dometic.com; http://www.raritaneng.com; http://www.headhunterinc.com

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2013 in Maintenance

 

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