Engine Winterizing


So now the season is ending what should I do with the machinery?


Several things to consider:-

Will the boat be ashore? Will it be used at all during the off season? Is the Horse Power small enough to run the engine in gear whilst the boat is moored? Will it be laid up afloat?

If laid up ashore it won’t be possible to run the machinery so it needs winterization.  Before shifting to the boat hoist run the main engines and generators and change the lub oils.  They are best changed at the end of the season.  Year old lub oil contains some corrosive contaminants, and don’t forget the filters.

Fuel tanks are best left full to reduce condensation, strip the tanks and change the fuel filters. 

Most boat yards are set up to flush the raw water systems once the boat is ashore. Engine fresh water cooling need not be changed annually.  If there is an exhaust system water lock, there should be a drain, so the exhaust system left dry.  Block the exhaust skin fittings and the air intakes to prevent cold damp air passing through the engines during the winter.

Remove jabsco pump impellers to avoid the vanes acquiring a ‘set’.   ‘V’ belts should be slacked off for the same reason or alternatively turn the engine over by hand if possible.  Make sure the engine is in the stop position if you do this or the fuel system will still be injecting gas oil into the cylinders.  Not a good idea.

If the boat is going to remain afloat, with low powered boats, the main engine can be run in gear.  All of the above but instead of winterizing, routinely run the engine in gear, at least until it reaches temperature.  Twin engine boats, one engine and one generator (on load) at a time everything is kept in commission.

Say port engine and port generator, then two weeks later starboard engine and starboard generator, so everything is run monthly.

If the main engines are too powerful for this then run every three weeks so there is a six week cycle which is a reasonable compromise.  Running engines for long periods light (no load) is not good practice.  Once every six weeks just until it reaches achievable temperature is considered reasonable.

Batteries should not be allowed to discharge, either a smart charger or check specific gravity and trickle charge as necessary.  Bear in mind batteries can be dangerous and do need care.

Oh and do consult the engine handbook – that’s the bible


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