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

Wednesday, 09 August 2017 02:52

The moment we all dread. It’s a warm sunny day and you’re out for a cruise. Suddenly the boat shudders beneath you, pings, dings and clangs are heard and you realize that you’ve hit something...

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 05:00

If you walk the aisles at a boat show, visit a marine store, or stop in at a repair shop, you’ll likely be inundated with digital displays, vivid touch-screens, NMEA compatible devices, and...

Wednesday, 08 November 2017 04:38

Water has a funny way of making its way into a boat: through through-hulls, stuffing boxes, leaks, hatches, windows and portholes 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 06:10

The moment we all dread. It’s a warm sunny day and you’re out for a cruise. Suddenly the boat shudders beneath you, pings, dings and clangs are heard and you realize that you’ve hit something...

Wednesday, 10 May 2017 00:43

Question: Can I buy generic automotive parts or products for my boat, or should they specify ‘marine’?

Tuesday, 11 July 2017 07:16

For most of us – this is the time to make the most of the boating season – launch and set up are done. Systems have been recommissioned. Let the fun begin!

Boat Reviews

Video Gallery

 

 

Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54By Zuzana Prochazka

Beneteau saw an opportunity to add a little thrill to any cruising adventure, so they took the hull of the First 53 racer (introduced just last year), and with a few fashionable changes, created the Oceanis Yacht 54, the new entry-level of Beneteau’s swanky Oceanis Yacht line. The result is a performance cruiser that sails like a witch and looks like a grande dame.

Design

Roberto Biscontini is the naval architect and Lorenzo Argento created the details of the exterior and interior design. 

Read More

Destinations

  • Prev
Over the course of four days in September 1864, representatives from Prince Edward Island, Nova ...
The new owners of L’Orignal Marina offer boaters a new destination. Located in a charming ...
On Friday, April 2 at 7 pm ET on TVO and streaming anytime after that on tvo.org and the TVO ...
Salt Spring Island, the largest among the Gulf Islands, has a certain mystique—much of it having to ...
Located in Lake Huron, the internationally significant Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater ...
In Part I, Sheryl Shard ended the story at June and the start of Hurricane Season when they were ...
You likely aren’t quite ready to travel yet, but we have our fingers crossed that we can all fly ...

Riverest MarinaThe new owners of L’Orignal Marina offer boaters a new destination. Located in a charming francophone village in Eastern Ontario, this joined marina and restaurant venue is the ambitious initiative of long-time entrepreneur André Chabot and biologist Alexandra Quester, both residents of L’Orignal.

The purchase of the L’Orignal Marina was made official in November 2020. The new year was barely underway when all 50 available slips were already reserved. No wonder the addition of member and visitor slips is already planned for the 2022 season – the 2021 count is up to 62 power and sail already. At the moment, the Riverest Marina offers boaters a stop where they can launch their boat...

Read More

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Last issue we featured a story about the engagement proposal aboard Via-Mara, a 1969 Trojan 42 Aft ...
With thanks to Sail Canada, here’s a collection of photos that are Olympic quality. Clearly our ...
Wow. That was a lot of fun reading the collection of boat names that came in from all over the ...
No individual had a greater impact on the modern sport of sailing than Bruce Kirby. Known and ...
Just off The Ocean Race European Tour, Daniel is setting his sights on competing in The Ocean Race ...
After being our fearless leader and publisher since CYOB kicked off, Greg Nicoll, handed over the ...
Swim Drink Fish is spearheading the Vancouver Plastic Cleanup by installing, maintaining, and ...
With but four weeks to go, Sarah is in Japan, staying safe while acclimatizing to the heat at ...
MJM is a different kind of boat builder, second generation family owned and operated, we design and ...
Stuart Hendrie, a pro photographer sent along this photo of the pirate ship in Jordan Ontario. Many ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
Watermakers take ocean water and create perfect drinking water using reverse osmosis. A Schenker ...
If you’re headed out for a weekend afloat or on a week-long cruise you often must park your vehicle ...
Ten years ago, St. Margaret’s Bay (Halifax), Nova Scotia-based SailTimer Inc. made the first ...
Between the odor and working in confined spaces, replacing an onboard sanitation line is never a ...
For many boat owners who have gear to tote and the occasional stretch of bumpy road to negotiate, a ...
The 2022 Sea-Doo Switch is a re-imagined pontoon that makes hitting the water more accessible than ...
On the water audiophile-quality sound is attainable with the new JBL-R3500 source unit. The latest ...
An environmentally friendly product for refinishing your teak, hemp wood finishing oil is an ...
August means cruising, entertaining and enjoying summer at its finest. And that means food and ...
A Bluetooth-enabled phone or tablet is ideal for streaming music, but it's often stowed safely away ...

News

  • Prev
Royal Canadian Yacht Club’s Defiant completed a six-race sweep of the Cup for Canada over Zing, the ...
On September 6, Groupe Beneteau laid out its course to develop new boating experiences, new ...
Last Friday, the first ever Canada’s Celebration of Sailing honoured the season for Sailing in ...
Boating Ontario is very proud to have Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety jump on ...
Montreal-based Vision Marine Technologies, Inc. is headed to the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout to ...
Summer is in full swing with Canadians enjoying time outside and on the water. So, while enjoying ...
On July 23 last year, CYOB published a piece on a beautifully restored 1967 Trojan 42 Motor ...
HanseYachts AG presents RYCK, its third motorboat brand carrying the "Made in Germany" label. The ...
“We are all proud of our athletes and coaches who have dedicated themselves to push Canadian ...
Collingwood, ON hq’d Limestone Boat Company – owner and builder of Aquasport Boats, Limestone Boats ...

Mia and Caleb's EngagementOn July 23 last year, CYOB published a piece on a beautifully restored 1967 Trojan 42 Motor Yacht in Oromocto NB. (That piece was also expanded in CY magazine later in the year.)

One of our Canadian Yachting contributors, Denise Miller, had shared the article on my social media and a young man reached out and asked if she could connect him with the owners of the boat, Dave and Barb. Denise leapt into action and Dave and Barb were thrilled. They concocted a plan that the young lady, Mia, thought she was coming to model for a sales brochure for Dave to do charter tours.

Read More