Tag Archives: Maintenance



The Fuel Measure

What you need to know about fuel conditioners, additives, and stabilizers.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Let’s get a few basic facts down before we open up the fuel fill and dump some mystic conditioning brew into our tanks.

Oil, the result of the detritus of once living organisms, has spent millions of years ‘cooking’ under intense pressure beneath both land and sea. Fast-forward a couple of thousand epochs, eras, and millennia…well, you get the idea, to when the first oil well finally popped the cork.

oil-rig-101275_1280It’s a dirty business getting the dirty product refined and to market in its many forms to run the world as we know it. During the refining process at those expansive plants with their cloud-spewing towers, seemingly miles of above ground pipes, and fields of storage tanks, the crude oil is processed into the lifeblood of just about everything we use in our everyday lives. And, among all the other products that come out of the spigot, there is the stuff that we are most concerned with: gasoline and diesel fuel.

The ‘problem’, and the reason why you might want to use a fuel additive or conditioner, begins with the refining process. “Because the refiners are trying to get as much out of a barrel of crude that they can, today’s aggressive process of splitting open the molecules, using catalysts and high temperatures is far different that the distilling methods of years ago, and can create more instability in the after products,” said Barry Sprague, chemist and consultant to NJ-based Technol Fuel Conditioners (

tanks-406908_1280But wait, as said in those obnoxious infomercials, there’s more! Moving downstream from the refining process are a host of ills waiting to be visited upon our precious gasoline and diesel.

For example, with those of you who use gasoline in your inboard and outboard engines, the government- mandated fuel contains oxygenated additives, offshoots of methyl and ethyl alcohol. Add some heat and moisture along with the sometimes lengthy storage time the gasoline is sitting around, from refinery tanks to tanker trucks to your marina tanks, and not only are you liable to get less efficient fuel but a bit on the dirty side as well. “With those who run gasoline engines, you might want to consider a treatment with every oil change,” said Sprague. “You really want to help control that moisture as the alcohol can separate out with only the minimal amount of water.”


Using a conditioner can help keep your fuel in top shape.

For diesel fuel oil, and along with the same issues associated with gasoline storage, there are the low sulfur levels—also courtesy of the EPA—combined with the products’ affinity for water, sludge, and bio-growth (bacteria and fungi), that can also present problems. “What we want to do here is even out the playing field for performance, how the fuel is handled once it gets to the end user in regards to its stability, and trying to control any contaminants,” said Sprague.

So, here’s where our additives, stabilizers, treatments, and conditioners come into play. The first thing you want to do, is keep a careful watch on your primary and secondary fuel filters. Drain your Racors or similar systems should any sign of water be present. If you have to change the elements a bit more often, or if you begin to notice a drop in rpm levels, you more than likely have a fair amount of gunk in your tanks that is getting roiled up as you use your boat and is clogging the free flow of fuel to the engine(s). “With severe problems in this area, such as obvious plugging, it’s best to take some time out and have those fuel tanks professionally cleaned,” suggested Sprague.

For you diesel users, this filter problem can be a direct result of using a biocide additive. As the juice begins to do its work and kill the ‘bugs’ at the water/oil interface, which is where the organisms live, the accumulated buildup of dead bodies will be added to the already sludgy bottom layer of the fuel tank resulting in a Stephen King-like, totally non-combustible mass getting sucked up into the fuel system. “If you think you might have something growing, you should use a biocide treatment but be aware of the consequences,” offered Sprague.

Fuel stabilizers do their work by scavenging and removing oxygen that may get into the fuel by several means including the ever-present motion and agitation as the boat moves through the water. “Even trace amount of oxygen present in the fuel can cause problems,” said Sprague.

To simplify the chemistry, the additive can help repair the hydrocarbon chain that was ‘damaged’ at the refinery and/or chemically remove most of the trace oxygen making it more stable and therefore, more efficient. They also work to emulsify, or blend, any water droplets present in the fuel oil thus helping to impede the growth of bacteria. Other positive results include breaking down of particulate matter that can be safety filtered out, and the shattering of larger contaminants that can be burned off during combustion.

However, there is a caveat emptor attached to using any fuel additive: Make sure you check with your engine manufacturer before adding any of these products to your tanks as they can void a warranty that is currently in effect. In addition, many OEM’s offer a recommended product line for use with their power plants and fuel systems. And as with any product such as additives, always follow the directions on the container or bottle as to the correct amounts that need to be added per gallon. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the manufacturer.


Keeping your fuel clean and your vessel’s fuel system operating at peak proficiency will result in a more enjoyable and safer boating experience.

With today’s highly advanced engines, and because of the aggressive refinery processes that result in a more unstable end product, using a fuel treatment can help you get the best possible grade of gasoline or diesel fuel into your system and have you running more efficiently with the added result of a positive effect on the environment.

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Posted by on February 16, 2016 in Maintenance


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Frequently Asked Questions About Marine Exhaust Systems

The experts at Centek Industries offer some advice on this vital component.

At Centek headquarters in Thomasville, Georgia (USA), company experts frequently answer questions about the design, engineering and manufacturing of custom marine exhaust systems. Centek’s engineering staff has more than 80 years of marine wet exhaust system design and innovation experience. Centek is the only registered engineering firm to offer fiberglass exhaust components that are Lloyd’s Register Type approved and meet or exceed ABYC-P1 standards. Centek has also earned a Certificate of Conformance for ISO 9001:2008, for the excellence of its quality management system.

Salt Deposit

A salt deposit on a muffler indicates a “weeping” spot where water is escaping.

Here are three of the most frequently asked questions.

1. How do I make my boat quieter?
This one is right in our wheel house. There are several options available when it comes to sound attenuation for both propulsion and generator engines. Centek assigns a rating to their standard exhaust products with the range going from Good to Better to Best. Generally speaking, and compared to straight exhaust, the Good rated muffler provides 15-18 dB of attenuation, a Better rated muffler gives a 22-28 dB improvement and a Best provides an improvement of 25-30 dB. These are ball park estimates and should be used as a rule of thumb. Also available are custom systems which can provide even better results depending on your specific engine and space available. For generator exhaust, these same standard mufflers and ratings are used but at the same time there are other considerations to take into account. Is the noise you are hearing actually the engine running or is it the irritating splash you hear as the exhaust cooling water is discharged overboard? If the overboard discharge is the culprit, consider adding a Gen-Sep and separate the cooling water from the exhaust gasses. The exhaust gas is then discharged to the atmosphere and the cooling water is discharged below the water line thus elimination the splash you hear when the gen-set is running.

Centek Marine Exhaust

A Centek installation offers complete access to its exhaust systems.

2. I am doing a re-power – can I use the same exhaust?
This is usually one of the first questions asked when it comes to a re-power for both propulsion engines and for generator upgrades / changes. The short answer is maybe. To get the most from your new engine or gen-set, it is important to make sure that the exhaust system is properly sized. A properly sized exhaust system provides the best sound attenuation and stays within the backpressure limits set by the engine manufacturer. When Centek engineers recommend a specific size, they take into account a number of variables which include, but are not limited to, horsepower, raw water flow, exhaust flow and temperatures, the position of components relative to the waterline and the backpressure limits. If you have a question whether or not your current system will work, call and talk with a Centek engineer and let them help guide you through the process. Also, keep in mind that Centek can supply an almost endless variety of elbows and fittings for your new project.

3. I have a leaking muffler. How can I fix it?
Often customers call in with questions about mufflers or other exhaust components that have developed a leak. In addition to looking for dripping water on the muffler body or water in the area of the muffler, another sign to look for is salt deposits on the muffler. These salt deposits appear as a white chalky substance and indicate a “weeping” spot where water is escaping. Before any consideration of a repair or replacement, first determine why the leak occurred. Almost 100% of the time, this type of leak indicates that the muffler experienced overheating due to a loss of cooling water in the exhaust stream. If the cause of overheating is not corrected, any repair is going to be short lived. Centek uses high temperature resins in all our products; however, if cooling water is interrupted, exhaust temperatures can sky rocket quickly. When temperatures reach a certain point, the resin is essentially baked out of the resin/glass matrix causing water droplets to seep from the damaged area.

JB 64

Having your exhaust system operating at peak performance will result in safer and more enjoyable time while out on the water. Photo courtesy of Jarrett Bay Boatworks.

When a muffler or other exhaust component develops a leak, the best course of action is to replace the item. A good fiberglass shop can patch a leak on a temporary basis but replacement is critical. Keep in mind, when cooling water is lost and temperatures spike, damage can occur to the internals of the muffler or component which is often impossible see.

Have a question about marine exhaust systems? Ask the experts at Centek., fax your question to 1+229.228.1270, or call 1+800.950.7653 (toll free in the US) or 1+229.228.7653. For more information about Centek, visit

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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Maintenance


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The Wood Factor

Does your varnished wood trim or rails need some care? Here’s how to keep everything in Bristol fashion.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler


Under the right conditions, and with careful prep work, your varnish job can result in a professional look. Photo: Ken Kreisler

Back in the day, during high school summer vacations, I was a yard snipe at what was then the Schatz Brothers marina in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn, New York, and came under the tutelage of a crusty old salt that, as I would quickly find out, knew everything about anything that had to do with boats.

On one particular early morning, while he prepped a section of teak rail, I caught the job of taping the water line.

“Commere kid, I wanna show you somethin’,” he said as we walked over to his well-traveled van, reached in, took hold of a wood box, set it down on the floor, opened the latches, and showed me a set of brushes.

“Paint brushes?” I asked.

“Nah, ya knucklehead. These are badger brushes, and they’re for varnishing.”

Badger 1

While there are many who use other types of brushes for varnish work, badger hair brushes are favored by expert finishers. Photo:

That was my first lesson in what some call the black art of wood finishing; filled with mystery, concern, and at times fear in getting it just right with a deep and beautiful finish.

To begin with, and no matter whom you ask, it truly is 90% preparation and 10% application, with both parts equally important in order to achieve the desired results. And as there are many surface conditions to deal with, such as starting with bare wood, deep gouges, checking and splitting, as well as rot and stains, that require a whole different approach—perhaps in a later installment—here we are going to deal with good, clean wood that, due to age or sun exposure, is in need of a proper maintenance coat or two to bring back the shine.


Careful and meticulous taping is essential for a great look to your finished varnish work. Photo: Ken Kreisler

Before you even deal with product or brush selection, or getting out the several grades of sandpaper and the ubiquitous blue or green painters tape, it’s important to pick the right day and time for the job. A humid, windy day is not preferred as the moisture in the air will cause your finish to dull as well as carry dust and bugs onto your still-wet surface. Cool, dry weather with filtered sunlight is preferred.

It’s now time to tape off the area. Depending on the scope of the job, length of rails or location of trim, this can be a time consuming and somewhat laborious affair that can test your back strength and patience. Go slowly and make sure your line is straight and true. I still remember the administrative cuffs to the back of my head from my tutor when I strayed off course with my taping. Trust me, as with a perfect water line, there is nothing more nautically professional looking than a razor edged varnished trim against your boat’s painted surface.

In preparation for sanding, you’re most likely going to start with 220 and work your way up as subsequent coats are applied. Given the surface already has several coats on it already, there is no need to get aggressive with sanding. You can use a sanding block or fold the paper up so you can switch to a fresh piece as you go along. Remember, there is no need to take off the entire coat; the sanding here is merely to provide a surface that will be able to accept the new coat. Once you have the entire area, or the section you are working on, scuffed up enough, tack the surface off. As you can get a tack cloth at any paint supply location, make sure it a quality one. Just like anything else for this kind of project, the better materials used results in a better finish.


Even with minimum trim, the varnished highlights makes the boat’s lines stand out.                      Photo: Ken Kreisler

Once your area is sanded and tacked, it’s time to apply the first coat. Should you be so fortunate to have a set of badger-hair brushes, you are far ahead of the game. If not, use a new, clean brush. Again, quality counts. I’ve had good results with foam brushes especially on the build up to the final two or three finish coats when I will bring out my own badgers.

Do not shake your can of varnish as this will only cause bubbles. Slowly pour your product of choice into a clean and separate container and place the lid securely back on the can, this to prevent any dust, bugs, or any other material from getting into your varnish. And should some flying pests land on your still wet rail or trim, do not attempt to remove. What’s done is done. Wait for the next sanding and the interloper will easily disappear.

During application, avoid drowning the entire brush into the container. Instead, dip a bit under half way and brush one way with the grain by ‘drawing’ the varnish on. Do not load up the brush; too much varnish will find its way up into the ferrule and stay there. Not good. And if you have to ‘fight’ the application, the varnish may need to be thinned out some. Carefully follow the manufacturers instructions and gently stir in the thinner with a clean wooden stick.


Once your wood is properly sanded and wiped free of any dust, dirt, or insects, it’s time to apply the first coat. Photo: diynetwork

When the brush is lightened up—not too much varnish left—use a featherlike touch to finish off. Continue the application until your entire section is done. Allow this coat to dry fully and then repeat, this time with 280-grit and with the next one or two coats, using 320. For the finish coat, use 400-grit.

My advice is to carefully follow product instructions as directed and do not cut out any of the preparation work. Doing so will allow you to achieve the right outcome.

If you have any questions, contact your product manufacturer before beginning as this will hopefully prevent any mistakes in the process. Or, better yet, track down an old salt in the area and, treading lightly, ask them their secrets to a beautiful varnish job.


While you may not own a beauty like this Lyman Morse built boat, should you have cause to varnish your wood trim, a well-done job will make a big difference. Photo: Lyman Morse

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Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Maintenance


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Swobbit® Introduces Surface-Friendly Washing Tool

        Microfiber Strands Clean Without Marring Use on smooth fiberglass, plastic enclosures and acrylic.

Marine cleaning products manufacturer Swobbit® has introduced a microfiber washing tool specially designed to clean smooth fiberglass, plastic enclosures and acrylic without marring the surfaces.

The unique tool has hundreds of microfiber strands that hold more soapy water than other washing tools to clean surfaces faster and more efficiently. It is adapted to the Swobbit swivel plate that attaches to the patented Swobbit Perfect Pole. MSRP for the microfiber washing tool is $29.95.

For more information about the new Swobbit® microfiber washing tool and other Swobbit marine cleaning products including wash brushes, drying mops and complete boat cleaning kits, visit or call 1+203.453.3090.
Swobbit Products – 2415 Boston Post Road
Guilford, CT 06437

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Posted by on January 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


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A safe, non-toxic and biodegradable marine growth remover specifically formulated for cleaning seawater cooled equipment.

Marine growth build-up is the #1 reason water-cooled equipment malfunctions. These deposits will reduce equipment effectiveness which will often result in costly downtime. Even a thin layer of growth – as little as 1/64” – can result in a 15% decrease in efficiency.

While conventional methods of cleaning such as mechanical brushing do have some success, harsh acids are harmful to the user, the equipment, & the environment and in many instances, these methods result in damage to the equipment.

Barnacle Buster liquid with before (l) and after (r) results.

Barnacle Buster™ from TRAC Ecological Products is a safe, non-toxic and biodegradable marine growth remover specifically formulated for cleaning seawater cooled equipment. With minimal dismantling required, Barnacle Buster can be safely re-circulated through seawater cooling systems, dissolving barnacles, zebra mussels, calcium, rust, lime & all other mineral deposits. Most applications can be completed within 4 hours. Available in (US) quart and gallon bottles (ready to use and concentrate) and a five gallon pail.

More info: or call 1+954.987.2722.
TRAC Ecological Products, 3402 SW 26th Terrace, Suite B-11, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312 USA

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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Uncategorized


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