Please, do not abandon your passion! The water, and especially the saltwater, corrodes everything while the immobility accelerates the wear.
The above phrase speaks by itself and there is no room for doubt. So, when the leaves of the trees begin to fall, it’s time to start thinking about preparing the hibernation of your rib and engines.
Their proper maintenance for the long winter immobility will save you from further damage and cost while the possibility of losing a valuable next season’s excursion will be minimized.
It is true that many rib-friends really throw their boats somewhere in a corner and they remember them when the days begin to get longer again and the temperature rises. Definitely, however, this is a bad habit that leads to the ‘slow death’ of our favourite ribs.
The boat’s maintenance must always take place at the end of each boating season and under no circumstances should it not be left to the beginning of the next one.
Two simple examples are enough to convince you.
Consider the existence of water in the gearbox (because of its seal’s spoiling due to a wrapped fishing line around the propeller shaft that was not realized) which if left for many months, waiting for the spring to be removed, will cause much more damage, ruining thus the bearings and gears.
On a rib that will not be maintained before winter, moisture and mould will definitely leave their marks on both the electric equipment and the tubes as well.
Whatever brand or size of rib or engines you have, maintain them properly, and keep them clean and dry by following the instructions below:
Winterize a four-stroke outboard engine and the fuel tanks by following the below steps:
1. Flush the engine with fresh water.
Prefer to put the engine’s lower unit into a tank filled with clean water so as not to have overheating problems. Add up the appropriate amount of salt remover and let the engine run in neutral for at least 10 minutes. This process will remove the salt and any dirt from the engine preventing corrosion and any blockage into the cooling system.
2. While the engine is still warm, replace the engine oil and the oil filter.
The engine oil and the filter must be changed when the engine is warmed up, so as any contaminants or impurities will be suspended and removed more easily. After the engine has drained well, add the new recommended oil and filter of high quality, and let it run again for a few minutes.
3. Empty completely the fuel tanks and the supply lines.
During the winter, fuel quality can be degraded and may cause sticky deposits both inside the engine and in the supply lines resulting in fuel atrophy or reduced engine performance. So, bear in mind that you should have very little fuel at the end of each boating season so as to be quite easy to empty the tanks completely. You can use the removing fuel in your car.
Otherwise, if it is impractical to remove all the fuel, do the opposite. Almost full the tanks with fresh fuel and add the appropriate amount of a high-quality marine fuel stabilizer to avoid the fuel deterioration. Turn on the engine again, and let it run for a few minutes in order the new stabilized fuel to go into every part of the engine and supply lines, taking out completely the old fuel.
Be careful! Never leave the tanks half-empty. Cause, there will be a large amount of air inside, the liquefaction of which will have a negative effect on the fuel.
4. Remove the lower unit
The lower unit needs special inspection and attention. It is the most exposed part of the engine and certainly the one that receives the greatest strain. After checking its external condition, remove it and place it on a stable base:
- check the impeller and its housing: Even if it has not been a long time since you last changed the impeller, it is prudent to inspect it every time because it can be worn down even by an instant overheating, i.e. when working for a few seconds without any water (which may have happened if a plastic bag has been caught during a ride on the lower unit). Check at the same time the metal housing where the impeller nests for any abrasions or abnormalities on its inner surface.
- remove the propeller and old grease from its shaft. Add new waterproof grease on the propeller shaft and re-install it after checking its hub and inspecting for any distortion or dents on its blades which can cause poor performance or damage to the gearbox.
- drain the lower unit of old gear oil and replace with a fresh lubricant. During the change of the old gear oil, beware of its quality. If it contains metal shavings or its colour is cloudy or milky –which means that water has entered the gearbox and needs new seals – then your gear case must be serviced before it is too late for the bearings or gears.
- finally, grease the shift and drive shaft and re-install the lower unit.
5. Protect the internal engine parts
Take off the engine’s cowl, clean the powerhead from possible oil residues and salt deposits that there are usually at its lowest parts and flush very well.
Then spray generously each part and especially every moving part with fogging oil.
In this way, a long-lasting protective layer of lubricant is created in all internal parts of the engine, which is very important for the prevention of rust and corrosion during the freezing months that follow.
All these and much more (change of anode or spark plugs, cylinders and power trim lubrication etc) are ultimately necessary for an engine depending on its operating hours and the manufacturer's instructions.
The same steps must be followed to maintain your auxiliary outboard engine, even if its operating hours are minimal.
Trust your engineer, and never postpone your engine’s maintenance for the spring.