Now is perfect time to have boats serviced

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 23, 2008

Now is the best time to have your boat, motor and trailer serviced.

Whether you store your boat during the winter season or use it all year, there are several things you can do to avoid costly trouble next spring. Take your boat to a capable local service center you trust, or do it yourself. Remove the prop.

Actually, props should be removed each month to check for fishing line and other debris that could be wrapped around the prop shaft. Have the gear case pressure tested with a good gauge to check for leaks.

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If the prop shaft seals are not air-tight, water will enter the gear case. If that water freezes, The housing could crack.

The cost to replace or repair a gear case is anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the motor type and size. While you have the prop off, grease the prop shaft.

Now is a good time to drain and fill the gear case with fresh lube.

These suggestions apply to the seasonal boater as well as the winter fishermen.

If the boat is going into storage, pour a good fuel stabilizer in your fuel tank and run the engine for at least 15 minutes. It’s a good idea to do this monthly to keep the fuel system clean.

The additive will clean out the carbs or fuel injectors and keep moisture from forming in the fuel tanks.

If you have a carbureted engine, unplug the fuel line and let the motor run until it shuts off. Any gas left in the carbs could spell trouble the next time out.

If your batteries are not maintenance free, top them off with distilled water, give them a full charge and periodically keep the batteries charged.

It amazes me the number of perfectly good batteries we replace that go bad because of neglect. A good marine cranking or deep cycle battery costs $100 or more, and you can save that money by properly maintaining and keeping the batteries fully charged.

If you’re running the spark plugs that came with the motor, change them. Fresh plugs will make your engine run smoother and start easier.

Boat trailers and trolling motors are the most neglected. Remove the grease caps on the hubs and repack with fresh marine-grade grease. Check lug nuts and tighten. Grease the jack stand and winch. Check the trailer lights and make repairs to the wiring if needed.

Trolling motors are often neglected until they don’t work. Check the connections at the battery and the plug-in on the bow for corrosion, and clean them.

Ski boats or any rig powered by an inboard/outboard require a bit more attention prior to the winter months. They should be fully winterized. Again, pour an additive in the fuel tanks. Remove lower hoses and plugs, and open any valves to drain the water from the engine block.

If the water is not drained and it freezes, you will be in for some very expensive repairs next spring.