Sept 26, 2019

Spin on Style Fuel FilterA spin-on style fuel filter. This type separates water and debris from any fuel flowing through.

Engines don’t need much to run (or to stay running). When you break down even the most complicated gasoline engine – even one with modern technology including an onboard computer, diagnostics and electronic ignition – it still only needs three things: Spark, Compression and Fuel. (Diesel engines differ slightly, in that they rely on high pressure and compression, rather than a spark.)

One of the trickier aspects for marine engines in today’s world is fuel. An engine’s fuel system seems complicated – but when broken down and explained, boat owners have a much greater chance of getting through a season with no issues.

A fuel system is comprised of a few parts:

1) The fuel tank
2) Fuel Lines
3) Fuel Pump
4) Shut-off valves
5) Fuel Filter(s)
6) Delivery system

Fuel Tank Multiple HosesA fuel tank with multiple hoses: the lowest hose is the tank fill. The middle hose connects to the tank pick-up tube (providing fuel to the engine) and the top hose is a vent, allowing air to move in and out of the tank as the fuel level changes

It works pretty simply: When the engine is engaged, a fuel pump (either electric or mechanical) draws fuel from the fuel tank, via the fuel lines. The fuel runs through a filter, separating out water and debris, where it travels to the engine and is delivered to the engine cylinders (where all the work happens) via the carburetor or injectors.

In all of these parts the main problem encountered is fuel itself. In most boats in Canada, fuel is used for half of the year and then is left to sit in long-term storage for the winter months. Fuel breaks down over time, and is susceptible to microbial growth, and loss of octane (the ability of the fuel to ignite.)

Fuel Stabilizer

Secondary to this is the ethanol additive that is found in many readily available fuels. Ethanol is an alcohol that is added to fuels available at the pumps to help in reducing emissions. However, alcohol additives in fuel attract water, which dilutes the fuel, creating problems for boats. Alcohols also break down gaskets, diaphragms, primer bulbs and fuel lines.

An example of a fuel stabilizer which should be added to the fuel tank (and run through the fuel lines and engine) any time the boat is in long-term storage

How do we optimize fuel and maintain our boat’s fuel system?

First: Purchase a fuel that is ethanol free. if filling up at a standard gas station, choose high-grade fuel. If at a marina, ask if they have ethanol free fuel available.

Next: When storing your boat for long periods, add a high-quality fuel stabilizer to the fuel in the tank. This will slow the loss of octane and counteract the effects of any ethanol or water. For diesel fuel, add a biocide during periods of storage

With these two steps, we can be fairly certain that the fuel itself is in good shape. Lets look at some other maintenance points:

Fuel LineA marine grade fuel line, with specifications.

1) Fuel tanks – try to prevent sludge or debris from accumulating in the fuel tank. If you suspect that there is any debris or old fuel, try to keep the tanks topped up with fresh fuel and don’t allow the fuel level to get low. Inside the tank, a tube (called a pick-up) sits vertically like a straw, and allows fuel to be drawn from the bottom of the tank. At the top of the pick-up is an anti-siphon check-valve that stops fuel from continuously running out of the tank

2) Fuel lines – check fuel lines regularly for any breaks, cracks, loose hose clamps or other leaks. At the first sign of damage, replace them with an appropriate grade and diameter fuel line

3) Fuel pump – most are designed to be maintenance free – but watch for lack of pressure. A broken fuel diaphragm or a blockage in the fuel lines can cause an engine to starve and die off with lack of fuel (especially at higher speeds), or not start at all.

4) Fuel filters – check fuel filters regularly and replace them at least annually. If fuel filters accumulate water and aren’t drained or replaced, water can make it’s way into the engine. If your engine is bogging or dying off as it runs, check the fuel filter first to see if it has accumulated water.

5) Shut-off valves are a safety feature allowing the user to shut off the fuel supply to the engine, to perform maintenance or, in the case of multiple tanks, to switch between fuel tanks

6) Delivery system: fuel can be delivered to the engine via a carburetor, fuel rails and injectors. Each will deliver fuel in the correct proportion to air into the cylinders where the fuel is burned. The fuel is aspirated into the cylinders – its delivered as a fine mist. Any clogs or broken down fuel can block up passages in the carburetor or the injectors. Proper winter layout procedures and periodic carburetor and injector cleaning can keep the fuel delivery in top shape.

In summary: keep fuel fresh, limit your used of ethanol, replace fuel filters regularly and perform periodic inspections and maintenance to avoid any fuel problems!

In part two of this discussion, I will take a look at diesels both in powerboat and sail auxiliary application.

Enjoy the last month of boats before winter layup begins!

Andrew McDonaldAndrew 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
Maintenance
  • 07 July 2020
  • By Ethan

Ask Andrew: Tune-ups

Many boats are now on the water after a COVID-imposed hiatus – and with a shortened ‘prep’ period, usually filled with antifouling, polishing, cleaning, engine check-overs and the installation of a new...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
New at the end of 2019, the 58 Salon Express design features large windows to flood the living ...
No wonder this is one of Regal’s best-selling boats; the Regal 33 Express offers amazing ...
The newest member of Beneteau’s Gran Turismo line is the GT 36 and this yacht brings the style and ...
With a philosophy of quality and 'doing things right Ranger Tugs launches the all new R-25 at the ...
The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 renews the spirit of the practical seaworthy cruiser. The ...
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...

CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

Virtual Boat ToursWe all love boats and nothing can break us up! So, what better way to spend our time than looking at interesting boats and going aboard in a virtual ride or tour. We have asked our friends at various dealers and manufacturers to help us assemble a one-stop online resource to experience some of the most interesting boats on the market today. Where the CY Team has done a review, we connect you to that expert viewpoint. Our Virtual Show will continue to grow so visit frequently and check it out. If you can’t go boating, you can almost experience the thrill via your screen. Not quite the same, but we hope you enjoy our fine tour collection.

 

Read more about the CY Virtual Boat Tours....................

AXOPAR 37 XC

 

Axopar 37 XCWhole new ball game…

 

Set aside your assumptions and expectations for a few minutes while we try to describe the new Axopar 37 XC that made its American debut at the 2020 Miami International Boat Show. This boat represents a whole new ball game in terms of design, performance, seakeeping and functionality. In fact, I’d say it takes a ‘clean sheet of paper’ approach to boating – it’s that different.

Read More about the Axopar 37 XC..................

Destinations

  • Prev
On May 19, the New York State Canal Corporation today announced an updated opening schedule for the ...
If you have four hours to enjoy a fine tour of one of Canada’s most interesting waterways (let’s ...
Boom & Batten Restaurant is suspended over the water adjacent to the Songhees Walkway and ...
Provincial Boat Havens are those special places to drop anchor in British Columbia’s West Coast and ...
NW Explorations, a Bellingham, Washington-based yacht charter, brokerage, and marine services ...

DolphinsBy the Canadian Yachting Editors


Canadians are blessed in many ways and especially when it comes to boating. We enjoy some the world’s most beautiful cruising waters and many places are as sheltered as they are scenic.

British Columbia and the Pacific North West plainly have the most breath-taking scenery with the combination of the majestic ocean views and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. It’s like no place on earth when you have a Killer Whale breach beside your little fishing boat.

Read more about Canadian Cruising...........

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
This interesting shot is one you will remember. It comes to POTW from our pal, photographer and ...
Unknown to us at the time, the quest for VIA-MARA started in 1973 when I saved the back cover of a ...
You will find that many of the yachts travelling up and down the BC Coast have Sea Kayaks on board. ...
The Council of British Columbia Yacht Clubs with over 50 yacht club members has become the voice of ...
Classic boat restoration expert and wooden boat builder Stan Hunter recently sent us this great ...
In Mid June, a floatplane plunged into Constance Bay on the Ottawa River after two planes collide ...
Winter is a fun time for sailmakers in Canada. We grind through mountains of repairs and have an ...
The seasoned sailor mapped out an ambitious course around the world — aboard his 28-foot ...
Clean wake: A concept amongst cruising sailors that stresses the impact that individual behaviour ...
This line-up of Beneteaus can to us from our friends at RCR Yachts in NY State where they are ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
Stainless steel is an ideal metal to use on a boat, but it's not maintenance-free; it requires ...
Hate running the generator all night and getting little sleep? New lithium-ion battery systems are ...
Wet decking can compromise passenger safety on boats, particularly when boarding or disembarking. ...
Anyone who has repeatedly used a rag to clean gelcoat, paint and delicate surfaces has seen the ...
The new Mercury Racing 300hp Five‑Blade CNC Cleaver propellers are designed expressly to maximize ...
Beneteau may have outdone itself with introduction of its new Gran Turismo 36, manufactured in ...
Yanmar Power Technology has announced the development of a hydrogen fuel cell system for maritime ...
Kevin Monahan is a retired Canadian Coast Guard officer with more than 20 years of experience ...
The new 2020 PORTS Georgian Bay, North Channel & Lake Huron Guide is available for purchase at ...
Professional boatbuilders don't want to have to redo a job any more than a DIYer. Many choose Life ...