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year around February or March you read about it and every year you
have to do it or pay someone to do it; spring boat maintenance.
Tackling this annual ritual can run the gamut from supreme
drudgery to extremely expensive.
easiest way to accomplish a spring tune-up is to drop your rig off at
a local dealer you trust and have them do it for you.
If youíre not handy with tools and donít have a basic
knowledge of marine maintenance or just donít have the time or
interest then this could be the most sensible way to go.
It will be more expensive to have it done by the dealership but
probably cheaper in the long run than trying to do it yourself.
are still some things that can be done at home to cut down on the
cost, even if youíre going to take it to a dealership. Theyíre
simple and not overly time consuming.
should have changed out your lower unit gear lube last fall.
If you forgot, now is the time to do it.
I like the type of gear lube pumps that screw onto the 32 fl.
oz. bottles of gear lube. Quicksilver
manufactures one, as do other companies.
The Quicksilver pump will take adaptors that allow it to be
used with just about any outboard or sterndrive.
A word of warning - since there are no industry standards for
gear lubes presently established, donít try to go cheap and save a
few cents. Use a gear lube
recommended by your engineís manufacturer.
If you cannot find that try Quicksilver gear lube.
Just make sure you use a top-of-the-line product that is
specifically formulated for marine use.
On some outboard brands the gear oil drain screw is magnetic.
Check it for any metal shavings and remove them before
reinstalling it. Remember,
if the drained oil is milky looking, water is probably getting into
the gear case. You need to
have your dealer check the lower unit at this point.
check hydraulic fluid levels for any steering units or power tilt/trim
units, if your rig has them. This
is another place to use a brand name fluid or one recommended by the
manufacturer. Use a
universal hydraulic fluid that will mix with all hydraulic fluids and
one that will prevent foaming, oxidation and corrosion.
is the time to pull the propeller and check the shaft for fishing line
or damage. Actually you
should be pulling the propeller off a couple of times each season.
Remember to lay all the nuts, washers, sleeves or adaptors out
on the ground in the same order they came off the shaft.
This makes reassembly so much easier.
Take a look at the propeller, if the blade edges are rolled
over or showing an excessive amount of nicks/dings, now might be the
time to send it in to be rebuilt.
Even slightly damaged blades will take performance away from
your boat and running a boat with really damaged blades can lead to
all kinds of shaft/seal problems down the road.
Before putting the propeller back on lube the shaft.
You can use the same 2-4-C you used earlier.
I get to the built-in cooler and live wells itís just a matter of
vacuuming out the live wells. I like to pull the drain screens and
clean them. Then I wipe
both the cooler and live wells down with a very mild bleach and water
solution, rinsing them with plain water.
Donít use soap in the live wells, it takes forever to rinse
it out; and even after a thorough rinsing you will still end up with a
bubble bath most of the time.
I check all the toggle switches and breakers to make sure they are
working. Then I check each
pump to make sure it is running. If
I have time I fill the live wells and check the pumps that way.
Then I hook up the graphs and make sure they have power along
with the trolling motor. Check
all the lights now to make sure they work.
If you had rodent problems over the winter now is when you will
usually find it.
out all the carpeted storage compartments and then add an
anti-odor/mildew product. Iíve
been using Odor Absorber Natures Air Sponge for a couple of years and
it seems to work just fine. Wipe
down the storage compartments that are not carpeted with an
anti-mildew product, the same stuff thatís used on shower stalls.
not too much left to do but tighten downs all the screws and bolts.
Even after doing spring maintenance all these years Iím still
amazed at the number of bolts and screws that need to be tightened
the quality of todayís boats and motors even the most minimal of
yearly maintenance will help keep your rig running and make the annual
spring tune-up next year a much easier task.
always, stay safe and we hope to see you on the water.
Ek is a fishing guide, tournament angler and writer living in