The most common complaint we get from our customers involves fuel issues. Dirty fuel or filters regularly cause hard starting and running, inconsistant RPM, stalling and costly repairs. Keeping your fuel system clean and your fuel filters clear are an important part of maintaining your engine.
Water, algae and sludge can enter the fuel system right at the fuel dock. Start by making sure that you are using clean fuel. If filling up at an unfamiliar fuel dock, we recommend using a fuel filter funnel which can be found on the GLD website. This is the first line of defense against future fuel problems.
Water can enter the fuel tank through a loose fuel fill deck fitting or the fuel tank vent fitting located near the fuel fill. After filling the fuel tank, confirm the fill cap has been tightened properly or water could enter the fuel tank. The fuel tank vent hose should be inspected for correct routing. If there is improper routing of the vent hose or the vent hose itself is old, dry and cracked, water can enter the fuel system.
We also recommend frequent preventative fuel filter inspections/replacement. Often we find that boat owners do not know how many filters they have or their location. Knowing where the filters are located should be a basic preventative measure for boat owners as there could be multiple fuel filters on your engine.
Another source of fuel problems can be fuel lines/hoses that are dry, cracked or stiff. Fuel fittings can become loose and old copper washers can leak. This might allow air to enter the fuel system or cause a fuel leak. GLD regularly inspects the fuel system and will advise customers on timely replacement of these parts.
Fuel treatment added to the fuel tank helps prevent algae from growing and contaminating the fuel system, prevents fuel gelling, gum and varnish, cleans injectors, increases power and reduces smoking. Old or contaminated fuel can be cleaned with a fuel polisher. GLD installs permanent fuel polishers or we can polish the fuel right at your dock.
Proactive maintenance of your fuel system helps ensure your engine runs smoothly and helps you avoid costly breakdowns and repairs.
You'll never know what you'll find on any particular day, at any scheduled service. Jim boarded a boat for a service call and immediately heard what sounded like water in the bilge and the steady hum of the bilge pump. Looking below, he saw water shooting into the bilge through the thru-hull fitting, which was cracked. While holding the fitting with one hand, he dialed the marina with the other as this boat was on it's way to sinking to the bottom of the harbor. Luckily, they were able to tow the boat to the travel lift while Jim held onto the cracked thru-hull fitting. When they lifted the boat out of the water and Jim let go of the fitting, it broke off completely.
Just a reminder, checking the thru-hull fitting should be part of every boat owner's Spring maintenance check-up prior to launch.
Jim spent hours commissioning a brand new sailboat. This involves checking all the systems, top to bottom, bow to stern. All fluid levels were topped off, motor mounts were tight, the gauge panel lights were operational and reading properly. Except for ONE minor detail... Jim found no hose clamp on the water hose to the engine water pump. WHEN, not IF the hose popped off the engine, the bilge pump would not have been able to keep up and the boat would have flooded and ultimately sunk.
Using a checklist has advantages. Make your own or use one of our's before every trip. It may take a few extra minutes that can have a huge pay-off in the end.
One of our more interesting service calls involved a Catalina 38 in Vermilion. On a Saturday afternoon, we received an urgent call from the dockmaster. Sailors from Norway had traveled through the canal system from New York, and were on their way to Chicago and ultimately the Mississppi River. Only one gentleman spoke very limited Emglish as Dutch was their first language.
They had pulled into Vermilion because their engine was overheating. Using his best guess instincts and the captain's limited English, Jim was able to ascertain that the engine was overheating because the cooler core was plugged. Jim found seaweed and pieces of an old impeller blocking coolant flow. He was able to clear the seaweed and impeller pieces and installed a seawater strainer to prevent debris from entering the water pump. The owner was instructed on keeping the seawater strainer clear and the importance of locating and removing broken impeller pieces.
We were able to put together a spare parts kit for the remainder of their trip and after the service was complete, they continued on their way. Interestingly enough, they offered to pay the bill in Bitcoin.