Following on from our previous tips and advice on Laying Up For Winter, this week Andy looks at engines and winterisation covering inboards. Watch out next week for advice on outboards.
At the end of the season we strongly recommend that you fill your diesel tank to the brim as this will help prevent a condensation build up, however, before doing so we suggest you also add the appropriate amount of diesel fuel additive like Marine 16. This, along with a full fuel tank, will help prevent the dreaded diesel bug.
So, should you do your oil change now? Most experts prefer to do it at the end of the season, some say “best in the spring”. The main concerns are acids in the used oil attacking metal surfaces and sludge or debris settling and hardening in small oil passages. You should run the engine under load (in either forward or reverse gear) for at least twenty minutes before draining the oil and changing the filter. This warms the oil making it easier to remove as well as putting any particles into suspension in the oil so they are removed at the same time. Our mechanic has always used a Pela vacuum pump to remove the oil which is retrieved via the dipstick hole. It’s sucked straight into the pump’s container which lessens the chance of a spillage. Not quite so robust is the Seago Extract-It but it was still awarded best buy by PBO. On a tight budget? Consider the traditional brass cylinder type this may be the answer, however you do need to collect the oil in a separate container!
If you are like Rob (of advancing age and suffering from arthritis in the wrists) and have difficulty in undoing the oil filter, the Boa Constrictor strap wrench takes the pain away! It's also worth investing in a packet of Uniwipe Ultragrime Industrial wipes, with 100 in the box its a convenient way to keep your hands clean never mind your surroundings and they're great for cleaning your tools too!
If your boat is being stored on dry land, once she is up on the hard stand we suggest that you close the water inlet seacock, open the water filter and with the engine running pour in an appropriate antifreeze mix. Carry on pouring till you can retrieve the mixed antifreeze from the exhaust outlet. Once you have done this, stop the engine and turn off the diesel tap. If you intend to leave your boat in the marina or on moorings don’t follow this procedure with the antifreeze as you will pollute the water. In this case we would recommend draining the seawater system. Next, disconnect the starting circuit from the battery and consider taking all batteries home and storing in a warm place, however, if you are leaving the boat on the water make sure there is still a battery to run the bilge pump!
If the engine could do with a clean, consider cleaning it down with an engine cleaner and degreaser, this will remove any ingrained grease and grime. Don’t forget to keep on top of any rust spots; surface should be prepared with the appropriate primer than follow up with the correct colour paint. Spray all exposed parts of the engine with Quicksilver Corrosion Guard then get a couple of oily rags and stuff them up the exhaust pipe and engine air intake. It should then be noted in your maintenance log so that you remember to clear these before starting next season.
If you have access to shore power a tube heater will stop any moisture from freezing as it circulates warm air round the engine bay. Check, however, that a heater can be left unattended; some yacht clubs don't allow heaters to be left unattended in their boatyard.
At this time of year it’s worth checking the condition of all water hoses and belts. Check the impeller (out of sight out of mind), the engine anode and of course the thermostat. Incidentally, to check a thermostat is working all you have to do is remove and place in a bowl of boiling water and check it activates, depending on the make of engine it may either open or close when placed in the hot water so make sure you check the status before you drop it in. Throttle and gear shift cables can snap where the cable exits the outer casing so examine closely by gently flexing the cable and check for broken strands. If old, stiffness in the operation may mean the beginning of cable failure. Check along the full length of the outer casing for any signs of damage.
Finally, for what it costs, a replacement primary and secondary fuel filter should be fitted regardless of the condition of the old. If you are using your onboard spares stock, don't forget to replace the spares whilst it's fresh in your mind, incidentally Yanmar now produce and of course we sell a spares kit, contents include oil and fuel filter, impeller, gaskets etc
Loads more advice and tips can be found in Marine Diesel Basics. A great book which not only covers all you need to know about winterising your diesel engine but also maintenance, storage and spring recommissioning and he also covers sail drives, shaft seals, batteries etc etc. To sum up, an excellent book, superb illustrations and well worth the cost at £10.99