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Boat Maintenance Simplified

On this page i am dealing more with the mechanical system side of a boat such as engines and other points that require regular attention

Many parts of a boats mechanical system go either unmaintained or poorly maintained. These are very important parts of your boats system and a lack of maintenance can lead to failure . And on a boat a failure of an important part or system can spell disaster.

Many boats just arent designed with proper maintenance in mind . A grease nipple here, one over there behind the engine etc. Fuel filters in hard to reach places or messy to change.  The worst example of poor maintenance designing is engine manufacturers who build marine engines with oil filters still installed horizontally and usually down low on the side of the engine. This is poor design on 3 points .

1. As soon as the filter is loosened during the removal process , dirty oil pours out of it and in to the bilge and just makes one big mess.

2. When refitting a new filter, the priming oil also pours out in to the bilge again making a mess , and loosing a good amount of the priming oil meaning your engines runs dry on oil for a longer period on start up.

3 . When fitted low on the side of the engine it interferes a lot with boat engine bearers and can be difficult to get out , sometimes engine beares have to be cut out to allow passge of the oil filter on and off. This also adds to the mess creating in doing what should be a simple job.

Many good marine engine companies have had the forethought to place filters vertically and at either the front or rear of engines and not along the often hard to get at sides of an engine. Thats can be something to think of when choosing a new engine!.

Its not all bad though as there is things we can do to fix the oil filter problem ourselves and make it a much easier job to change the oil.

The other part of maintenance is grease points.

Many of the installed parts that need greasing such as rudder bearings and anchor winches usually have a greae nipple or point attatched to the part itself. But this can make it a painfull excercise just to access these grease points as they can be all over the boat far away from each other.

Again there is a system we can copy from heavy industry and fit to our boat to simlify this process too.

I have fitted remote oil and remote grease lines to vessels before and have also done this from new on our latest boat building project.

I have written some on this and a few other things to make this part of boats maintenance a much easier and cleaner job below:-

Relocating Oil Filters

 As previously mentioned , some oil filters are poorly located and orientated. This can lead to a nightmare as far as maintenence is concerned. The hassle of changing the filter often leads us to not doing it as often as we should be.

Regular oil filter changing is vitaly important to an engines life , and even more so in high speed and turbo charged engines.  A marine engine works much harder than a car engine .  It works at full load almost 100% of the time . Theres no coasting down hill or coasting along up to a set of lights . While a marine engine is in gear, its working without let up all the time . This fact alone makes its maintenance vitaly important.

If you have a poorly located engine oil filter , the best solution is to "remote mount" the filter.  There are commercially available kits for remote mounting of oil filters available through the automotive industry that serve this purpose well . Custom made adapters can also be reasonably easy made to suit particular engines as well.

When remote mounting another benefit can also be changing the filter model itself as well, as some manufacturers make oil filters that fit only that particular engine so you have to buy genuine ones at exhorbatent prices . If you take the time to find the filtratation properties ( ie. microns of the filter medium)  and that of any internal bypass valves you will often be able to cross reference an equivalent popular brand filter to use instead of expensive genuine ones.  Most of the required information for cross referencing is readily available on the internet by major filter manufacturers.

The system is basically an adapter that screws on to the engine where the filter normally went , and running 2 lines of proper material to a remotely mounted "head" unit where the filter screws to .

##Fuel filters can also generally be moved to better locations as well but is generally an easier task by simply relocating the filter unit to where it is wanted to go and extending the lines or refitting complete new ones .  Or in the case of a similar installation to an oil filter( with a fixed mount on to engine etc) the same set up of filter adapter and remote filter head unit can be used . 

## The picture below shows the shiny alloy block attatched to the engine . The alloy block is the adapter that replaces the filter and the blue pipes are the oil pipes which lead to and from the remote head unit . This installation replaces a horizontally mounted oil filter with limited space to the engine bearers , hence the need for elbows in the oil lines.



## The next picture shows the remote mounted head and filter. The filter is mounted now vertically and in front of the engine . This makes the job a lot simpler and a whole lot cleaner to do.

The filter was also changed from the manufacturers specialty filter to a common Fleetguard brand filter of the same specification , except the Fleetguard filter has almost a 250% increase in size and filtering capability over the standard fitted filter.


Common Greasing Points 

Most equipment needing greasing have the grease nipples on the part itself. This can mean they are located at several different places all over the boat and sometimes in very hard to reach areas.

The same goes for greasing as with the oil filter. If its hard to do it will often not be done or not done enough.

I have installed a remote greasing system that i have copied from my experience in heavy industries . Its a very simple system and the required parts are  readily available from hydrualics and hose suppliers such as Pirtek and Enzed .

This means that all greasing points in the engine room are led back to one common point in a very easliy accessable place . This makes greasing everything a breeze .  Also the hard to reach trunion mount for the hydrailic steering ram is also remotely greased with the grease line running forwards to an also easily accessable point in the boat. No more crawling around the bilge to grease everything!!.

Im happy with the 2 points for greasing , but this could quite easily be made to one place for all the boats greasing needs. This setup has one nipple for each point to be greased and these can all be placed together and greased one at a time .

An even more advanced system is the use of grease port blocks. This system allows just one grease nipple to supply between 3 and 12 individual greasing points by means of a special port block that equally divides and delivers grease out to each point equally by just pumping greae in to one nipple. This system can also be a bit expensive . An even further advancement of this is what is know as automatic greasers.  These are a container of grease fitted either directly to or via a port block or remote line to the equipment needing greasing. This container or reservior of grease is usually battery powered and has a timer which can be set to deliver a set quantity of grease at a set time period. This system can operate for over a year without any type of service or maintenance and is simply replaced when empty. Again this can be expensive though .

For the average boat i feel just making a common place to apply grease is quite sufficient to make routine maintenance simpler and easier on ourselves.

To make this system up is quite easy . The hose can be purchased in lengths of 1 meter up to a roll of 50 meters. You only need to buy how much you need to go between the part your are grasing and where you place the grease nipple. Then the hydraulic end fittings are bought . The amount depends on how many hoses are needed to be made . The ends are easy to assemble with ordinary spanners . Where you get them from will be able to advise the best way to do this . Then there are numerous adapters, elbows and fittings available to connect it to your part you are connecting to a remote grease line . This will all be readily available from places such as Pirtek and Enzed.


## The above picture shows the main parts of the grease hose ends. The hose and nut are the same for all and the end fittings can be purchased as straight, bent or also bent an amount to suit a particular angle.

The ends are then attatched by standard type compression fittings which are also available in various configurations.

##The picture below shows the same hose and fittings as the previous picture but shown now assembled with a 90 degree end.



## The picture below shows a stern gland and a shaft support roller bearing with remote grease lines attatched . The lines run up to an easily reached point in the boats engine room .



##The picture below shows a remote grease line fitted to a hydrualic steering ram trunion (swivel mount) and led away up to a easy accessable point.



Easy Accessable Servicing

If possible its worth the time to make all the areas on an engine for maintenance be located in one easy accessable spot . This makes a lot of sense as far as convenience is concerned .  Also if you are paying someone to do your engine and boat servicing it will also cut down on the amount of time they need to be on the boat charging you by the hour for service.

If you are building your own boat its a bit easier to do as much of can be planned in on where to locate all the serviced items and make them all go in the same place .

It may be a little more difficult in an already existing installation , but its within the ability of most handy man boaters to make changes to relocte hard to get at parts that need service or make and fit gadgets and devices that can make the job easier.

Things such as fuel and engine oil filters are better if located at the same place not only to save having to climb around to different spots , but also a bit cleaner as any spills are in one place and if located in the open its easy to clean or place containers etc to catch any spills while changing them.

Ive found that if a job can be a bit difficult or messy to do , it doesnt get done or it doesnt get done properly.  So if you can make it easier on yourself , thats got to be a plus .

There is also the risk of injury  when things are located in difficult to reach spots . A bad back can be the result of working in an awkward position along with cuts and abrasions .

So there is some ideas and hints on relocating filters and making easy accessable grease points and just making general mechanical servicing on your boat a little easier and less time consuming.

## Below is a picture showing an engine installation with all the service points located close together at the front of the engine. As you can see everything is easily accessable and open . This makes servicing a much easier and less timely job.

Even the raw water impeller pump is very easy to access to change impellers. This pump was moved from a rearward facing position along side the engine and relocated to a new spot to make it far easier to replace the impeller and adjust the v-belt tension .  Simple ideas such as this can make a big difference to maintenance work.

Also at the top left of the picture the battery isolation switch (red handle) , again located in an easy to get at spot along side the other serviced  items.