Apr 12, 2018

API Standard This is the API standard shown on oil containers. This oil is designed for Gasoline engines denoted with an S for Spark ignition engines. Diesel engines are denoted with a C for Compression ignition

All engines, including marine engines (inboards, outboards and stern drives) have many moving parts that need to be lubricated by oil in order to allow metal parts to move with as little friction as possible. Without oil, these moving parts would grind and seize.

Without quality clean oil, a number of problems could develop: The engine could have difficulty in starting; engine parts could become damaged by friction; rust buildup could occur inside the engine; dirt could build up and clog moving parts; the engine could overheat; the engine could lose compression, preventing it from running; the engine could burn excessive amounts of fuel. In short: a quality and clean oil is essential for proper engine operation, and ensuring that the right type of oil with the proper filter in place will add to the life of your engine.

The first time you walk the oil aisle in a marine or big-box store can be daunting. Lots of types, brands and numbers. What does it all mean, and how do you choose the right type for your engine? Here is a crash course:

Oils are classed in two ways:

1) SAE – The Society of Automotive Engineers – focuses on the viscosity of the oil.

Viscosity is a measurement of an oil’s ability (or inability) to flow. Thin, free-flowing oils have low numbers; thick, slow-moving oils have high numbers. Engines need to have an oil that flows freely enough when the engine is cold to start, but thick enough so that it fills the voids between moving parts, providing sufficient protection. This has to remain true when the temperature outside is -10 or +30 degrees! To this end, viscosity can be measured using one number or two: SAE 30, or SAE 10W30. The oil with two numbers indicates that it meets the SAE requirements of two or more SAE grades.

2) API – American Petroleum Institute – focuses on the type of oil – it’s characteristics and application. An API label is found on the oil’s label, with three parts: the application (diesel or gas, and the era the engine was built), the viscosity, and fuel-saving properties

Manual Oil Upgrade a page from a service manual detailing the grade of oil to be used, depending on the ambient temperatures of the area that the boat will be operating in

How do you know what type to get? Engine manufacturers specify the type of oil to use. This information can be found in the engine service manual, on the engine specification plate or sticker, or by contacting an authorized dealer.

Manufacturers specify the frequency of oil changes in their service manuals – the general rule of thumb, though, is 100 hours, or once per season (typically done just before haul-out, or just after launch – I recommend changing oil in the fall: this ensures that contaminants aren’t left in the engine all winter, and that the engine will be at its best form for re-starting in the spring).

Yellow dipstick and cap

 

 

 

 

 

Note the dipstick with the yellow handle in the lower left corner of the photo. The oil fill cap is on the right side, also yellow.

Engines typically have two access points for oil: The oil fill, and the oil dipstick. The oil fill is a cap which can be removed to add oil. The oil dipstick, when pulled from the oil sump, will show the quality/colour of the oil, as well as the oil level. The appropriate operating level should lie within the hash marks on the dipstick.

When the engine is started, the oil pump will force oil from the sump through an oil filter (which filters out particles and contaminants), and then through the passages of the engine, lubricating necessary parts. The oil then makes it’s way back to the sump where the cycle is repeated. Oil is under pressure when this happens – and many boats have a gauge at the helm to show the oil pressure. Too much pressure can indicate dirty, thick to too much oil in the system. Low oil pressure can indicate thin or not enough oil.

 

 


Clear But High

This oil looks clear, with little contamination - but note that the oil level is very high - well above the hash marks on the dipstick.

When checking the oil level with the dipstick, it is important to note the colour of the oil: it should be a honey-golden colour. Black oil indicates contaminants in the oil (which doesn’t run well through the engine potentially leaving deposits and contaminants in unwanted areas). Grey or white oil indicates water in the oil – which can cause many unwanted problems. Water can enter the system if the water level in the bilge is too high (entering into the sump at the bottom of the engine), or through a blown seal or gasket in the engine. In each of these cases – black or grey colour - the oil should be changed immediately, the engine run, and then checked to ensure that the oil is clear after running.

Dipstick Milky

Note the oil colour - milky white/grey - indicating that there is water in the oil. The oil should be changed immediately and the cause determined.


Oil Changes the right way – step-by-step:

1) Ensure that there is oil in the engine, and that it is not a danger to run the engine to operating temperature in its current state.

2) Check the engine manual, or with an engine dealer to determine the correct oil grade, and oil filter for the engine (don’t trust that the oil filter currently on the engine is the right one!), and the correct amount of oil

3) Start the engine and run it to operating temperature – this warms the oil and allows it to run smoothly – and will allow you to extract it easily.

4) Unlike in a car, most marine engines don’t have a drain plug that is accessable to allow the oil to drain. Instead, oil must be pumped from the engine, using an extractor with a tube inserted into the dipstick tube. The extractor handle is pumped, building pressure, and sucking the oil up the dipstick tube into the extractor. Check the level in the extractor to ensure that the proper amount has been drained before finishing this step (ie if the engine is designed to hold 7L of oil, but you’ve only extracted 4, there is likely still oil inside).

5) Once all the oil has been removed, the oil filter can be removed and replaced. Most are spin-on type (to loosen, turn the filter to the left. To tighten, turn it to the right). You will likely need an oil filter wrench, as the continual heating and cooling of the filter can cause it to seize tightly to the engine. There are many mounting configurations – some are top-up, some are top-down, others are mounted to the side: All are equally messy. You may want to wear latex gloves, and wrap the end of the filter in paper towels – it’s also a good idea to wedge a container below the filter as it is removed, so that you don’t make a mess in your bilge.

6) Open the fresh oil container and using a finger, smear some fresh oil on the rubber gasket of the new filter – this will aid in keeping a seal, and in removal next time.

7) Spin on the new filter, and hand-tighten it (don’t overtighten, as the filter can be damaged, and will be difficult to remove the next time!)

8) Open the fill cap, and using a funnel, pour fresh oil into the engine. I tend to stop every 2L or so and check the level using the dipstick – this ensures that the engine isn’t overfilled – and allows the new oil to settle. Continue filling until the oil level is close to the full marks on the oil level dipstick.

9) Replace the cap, dipstick, clean up any excess oil, spills and rages. Run the engine for a few minutes and check the level and colour on the dipstick. Enjoy the remainder of the year, or 100 hours!

Ask Andrew : Andrew McDonald is the owner of Lakeside Marine Services – a boat repair/maintenance firm based in Toronto. Andrew has worked in the marine industry for 12 years and is a graduate of the Georgian College ‘Mechanical Techniques - Marine Engine Mechanic’ program.

Questions or comments for Andrew? Email him directly via: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Related Articles

Destinations

  • Prev
We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set ...
The Halifax waterfront has been attracting more and more large yachts in recent years. However, a ...
Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population ...
Vancouver-based Big Blue Yacht Charters Worldwide owner Emma Murdoch explains that luxury crewed ...
In the 1920s, a small cove in Canoe Bay was used as a shipping point and safe-haven for rum runners ...
Here’s an update from Caroline Swann with some news for the adventurous types who may be heading to ...
The New Glasgow marina is located about six miles up the East River of Pictou in the heart of the ...
The British Virgins took a huge hit last fall from Irma. Boats were stranded on the shore by the ...
Located about half way between Shediac and the Miramichi on New Brunswick’s Acadian Coast, the town ...
Suddenly the once forsaken city of Hamilton, Ontario is booming for at least two good reasons.

An Abacos Adventure

Great Guana CayBy Mark Stevens; Photos by Sharon Matthew-Stevens

It’s a perfect Sunday morning jaunt.

We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set for a close reach out of a harbour guarded by a necklace of tiny emerald islands decorated by palms that dance in fifteen knots of wind.

Our boat, “Tropical Escape II” (perfect name for both the boat and our adventure), is a 44-foot Robertson and Caine catamaran, chartered from Sunsail’s Marsh Harbour base on Bahamas’ Great Abaco Island.

Read More about An Abacos Adventure...

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Stuart Walker a legend in competitive sailing passed away on November 12, 2018 in Annapolis. Stuart ...
“In Grenada, we had about 80 cruiser kids visit our boat...by dinghy of course! Sometimes you ...
Austin Edwards told students and parents at the Saanich School’s “Parents as Informed Partners” ...
As the sole arbiter of the Photo of the Week I, your editor, get to make the choice. This week, ...
Michele Stevens pointed us to this interesting project which recently came to fruition in Cape ...
Our Photos of the week this time come from BC where our friend Rob Stokes sent us a very nice ...
Our little treasure: Montague (Monte) taken at Pirate's Cove in the Gulf Islands. Monte is a ...
It has been a long, hot summer here on Georgian Bay and we miss Adamant 1 terribly. We did manage ...
On Thursday last week, at age 88, Bruce Kirby has been invested into the Order of Canada for his ...
The Olympic Qualification Regatta is now being held in Aarhus Denmark with unlimited entries. That ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...
The latest new model from Cruisers Yachts is the Cantius 42 and this yacht made its debut in the ...
The Sabre 45 Salon Express is new for 2017, making its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International ...
Jeanneau’s newest NC model is the NC 33, and it’s an exciting and innovative inboard cruiser ...
The Four Winns H290OB combines two of the most popular new big boat trends to come up with a great ...
Commodore’s Boats is a full service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...

Hanse 388

Hanse 388By Katherine Stone

The Hanse group produced their second most popular boat of all time with the Hanse 385. The trick was to build on that winning formula when they upgraded to the Hanse 388, which they have done in spades. The German build quality is first rate and true to the Hanse tradition. Leaving the hull the same with a steep stern and straight stem for an optimal long water line, they went with a slightly stiffer, heavier displacement, new deck, interior layout and window line. Hanse’s highly experienced yacht construction team, judel/vrolijk & co., have combined ease of sailing, comfort and performance into the newly designed Hanse 388.

Read more about the Hanse 388...

 

 

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
Sail shape is long gone. They have stained, feels thin and you see broken threads everywhere. Your ...
Stripping the antifouling paint from the bottom of a boat is physically demanding and is one of the ...
The 2019 Ultimate Sailing Calendar highlights the drama and excitement of blue-water sailing, as ...
Weather nerds and boaters of all stripes will be absorbed by Bruce Kemp’s account of the monstrous ...
Canada Rope promises that its new Night Saver Rope will illuminate at night and act as a reference ...
Take a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the ...
Industry Firsts Include Direct Injection and Integrated Electric Steering System
Verviers, Belgium, 18 May 2018 — Mercury Marine, the world leader in marine propulsion technology, ...
Again, we return to the beginning. We started this column with a look at marine navigation for ...
Ga-Oh (spirit of the winds in Algonquin) creates bags and other items from re-purposed sails.