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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fluid Analysis Saves Time and Money

Gearhead Passagemaker Magazine
Fluid Analysis Saves Time and Money by Steve D'Antonio
In Passagemaker's recent Gearhead article, "Fluid Analysis Saves Time and Money," author Steve D'Antonio gives a fantastic overview of the benefits of analyzing the fluids in our boat engines.  Chronicling his first interaction with the importance of fluid analysis on a Navy destroyer, he then goes on to say what a great ROI fluid analysis is, costing just $25 per sample.

Steve: I promise that when I own a beautiful motor yacht, I will analyze my engine fluids 'till the cows (whales?) come home.  For the beginning boater, or for the less-mechanically-inclined, I wanted to offer some simpler tips for keeping our boats in ship-shape.

There are four simple tips corresponding with four of our senses:

1. Look
2. Listen
3. Smell
4. Touch

The last is of course 'taste', but I do not recommend this.

Lots can be discerned by paying close attention to how your boat's mechanicals behave.  You should know, through careful observation, how your engine looks, sounds, smells and feels like.  What does the engine look like when running, and at rest? What does it sound like at idle, at higher RPM, or at takeoff?  What does it smell like, and what components tend to warm up while running (don't scald yourself...pay attention to your gauges!).

I've noticed many a problem just by paying attention to any changes in these attributes over time.  Sure, it won't be as preventative as fluid analysis, or as telling, but it just might save your bacon before a big trip if you notice a water pump is squealing a bit too much, or there is a certain color of water in your bilge.

Last thing: no matter what you do, it's a boat! Last minute breakdowns will always crop up.  Like when there was an Indian summer last year but my carburetor was clogged and the boat wouldn't idle while my family was visiting so we missed the entire weekend.  But I'm not bitter or anything.

More to come on maintenance in the future...stay tuned!

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