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    Published on 02-21-2011 10:08 PM
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    Diesel fuel is far different from gasoline. With gas, you pretty much put it in the tank and forget it, or you could in the days before E-10. Diesel fuel requires some management or you will suffer from the effects of poor quality fuel. Understanding the major differences goes a long way in helping to avoid fuel quality problems.

    Diesel fuel is a fuel oil that is subject to contamination by both dirt and moisture from poor handling practices, leaks in piping, moisture condensing on the interior walls of tanks at the refiner, the distributor, your marina or retailer and in your boat. Microbial growth occurs in diesel fuel in the form of bacteria and algae that seem to thrive in the presence of water.

    Water or moisture droplets in fuel will cause mechanical problems with pumps and injectors and will cause corrosion in the lines and fuel handling parts (distribution pump and injectors) of the fuel system.

    A lot of moisture is introduced into diesel from the tanks the fuel is stored in. Every tank has this potential, but a boat’s fuel tanks are vented to the atmosphere. As fuel is used, the volume used is replaced by air drawn in through the tanks vent line. The vent is frequently about 3 ft. above the water line, so any air drawn in the vent line is going to be moisture laden. Then as temperatures fall in the evening and rise during the day, the fuel tank will condense moisture on the tank walls in the space above the fuel remaining in the tanks. As droplets form, they will run down and into the fuel. Since water is heavier than the fuel, it accumulates on the bottom of the tank.

    Microbial growth in the diesel fuel is then possible since water is present to feed the growth. The growth seen in diesel is most often long stringy clumps of dark green or black crud that often will adhere to the tank walls and bottom. Sloshing around when the boat is in motion often breaks the microbial clumps off wherever it is adhered so it can then make its way to the filter system. It doesn’t take much to clog up a set of Racors.

    Virtually all boats have dual fuel filtration systems. A primary filter, usually a Racor brand turbine filter, will be located between the tank and the engine. The design if the Racor is such that it will separate water from the fuel and collect it in a bowl at the bottom of the filter housing before it traps any dirt particle larger then the trap size of the filter element. Most Racor primary filters are available in 2 micron, 10 micron and 30 micron trap sizes. Another or secondary filter is located after the Racor, usually on the engine itself and most frequently supplied by the engine maker for his particular engine. Some manufacturers publish the trap size of their filters, some do not, but generally they are 2-5 micron filters.

    Cold weather brings on other problems with fuel since diesel fuel will not flow in extremely cold conditions. It can gel or form wax crystals in the filters and plug them which stops fuel flow. Most fuel refiners formulate their fuels for cold weather use by mixing no.1 diesel (lighter, less viscous) with no. 2 diesel to yield a blend that does not gel in the climate area in which it is to be sold. This is not a major concern to pleasure boaters because we don’t usually go boating when the temperatures are cold enough for fuel to gel.

    Bulk storage tanks and fuel handling between the refinery and the fuel fill ...
    Published on 04-14-2010 09:02 PM
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    One of the systems on our boats that we nearly always take for granted is the steering. The reason is simple: it always works, it never causes problems and it requires no maintenance. But what do you do if you lose your steering?

    Steering loss can happen and I would be willing to bet that very few of us have the necessary ingredients on our boats or are prepared for an emergency fix.

    Any boat with Teleflex Sea-Star hydraulic steering is subject to losing it’s steering. For Sea Ray boats this usually means inboard and v-drive powered boats above 32 feet. Unfortunately, when the Sea Star system fails, it is seldom a partial or intermittent failure.

    How The System Works:

    The basic Sea Star system is a hydraulic pump operated by the rotation of the steering wheel. Hydraulic oil is pumped out of one port on the pump and into the hydraulic line that runs to the stern of the boat where it then connects to one port on the steering cylinder. This causes the piston and attached cylinder rod or actuator to move toward the opposite end of the cylinder. The ball joint on the end of the cylinder rod is attached to the boat’s rudder linkage so moving the cylinder causes a similar action in the rudders. As the piston moves, oil is displaced from the opposite end of the cylinder via the port on the other end. The displaced oil travels back to the pump and enters the opposite port. The hydraulic steering system is a closed system. The oil in the lines, the cylinder and the pump form the reservoir for the pump. The cylinder has internal check valves so the rudder cannot move and remains stationary unless the helm pump is turned and oil flows into the cylinder.

    Steering Loss:

    Any time the oil level in the Sea Star system gets low enough, the helm pump will ingest air. Since air is compressible, once the level is low, the helm pump just compresses the air it has ingested when the steering wheel is turned. The air compresses in the lines instead of the pump moving hydraulic oil which means you lose your steering. The helm pump’s reservoir is small so it doesn’t take much of a leak to allow air into the system. The symptoms you will most likely notice are “spongy” or soft steering and a lot of play between port and starboard reaction to steering input. The steering play gradually increases until you have a revolution or so of play followed by a soft feel in both directions and no rudder deflection when you turn the wheel. Long before this, however, the boat becomes unsafe since its steering reaction is so vague and sloppy that you lose steering control.

    For air to get into the system, hydraulic oil must get out. So, where does the oil go?

    The first place to check for leaks is all of the fittings connecting the hydraulic hoses to the pump, to the cylinder, and if equipped, to the power assist module and the autopilot pump. It is also possible that the hydraulic lines, which are usually plastic, may have gotten crimped or physically damaged with clamps or screws securing them or something else somewhere between the helm pump and the ...
    Published on 03-21-2009 08:52 PM
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    From time to time there are comments on CSR about coring. Many people consider cored hull boats to be evil and won’t even consider owning one. The truth of the matter is that cored construction is quite common and is used on many high line and expensive brands.
    If you have read many threads on boat buying, you almost always see the recommendation to survey prospective boats and have that survey done by a competent marine surveyor. I was the Sea Ray dealer (where we also happen to keep our boat) the last couple of weeks, and saw the first cored hull problem this dealer has had to deal with. I thought some of you might like to see the problem and how the dealer and Sea Ray handled it.


    The boat involved is a 2000 460DA. The owner noticed the boat listing in the slip. At first, several months ago, it was a little bit, barely noticeable from the stern. Then it got worse. Eventually the generator exhaust was almost submerged which on this boat means she was listing about 3” to the port side. The dealer found the port side hull vent had been leaking. The vent hole is sawed into the cored side, so any leak can let water get into the cored area between the inner skin and the outer gelcoated skin. This particular boat had been leaking a while, and the hull side coring was found to be wet from the stern to about 5’ forward of the hull vent…….a total of about 10’ worth of wet hull/coring. The fiberglass guy at the marina identified the wet area by sounding the hull and with a moisture meter.


    This is a photo of the water draining out of the core:



    The hull vents were removed from the hull and about 3/16” holes were drilled in the bottom of the cored area to allow it to drain naturally. The bow was raised slightly until no more water would gravity drain out of the lowest, aft-most hole.


    Next, shop vacs were taped to the hull and any remaining water was vacuumed out of the cored side.


    Even though a large area of the core got wet, the extent of the damage in this case was some rotten coring between the inner and outer skins around the hole sawed in the hull for the vent. The damaged area needing repair was limited to the area on the bottom and aft end of the vent which was about 1” to1-1/4” into the core from the opening. The rotten area was dug out and removed, as shown here:





    The repair was done by digging out the rotten balsa and filling the area between the skins with West Systems Epoxy thickened with #403 Microfibers. The holes drilled in the hull were filled and sanded smooth. Since the repaired area at the vent was covered by the vent panel itself and the holes drilled in the hull were below the waterline and in an area covered with bottom paint, gelcoat repairs were not necessary.


    While the usual feeling here on CSR is that wet coring is the kiss of death, this is a case where a bad situation was caught and properly repaired with no long term negative impact on the boat or its value. Since the rotten balsa was limited to a relatively small area, and the wet area was easily drained and dried out, the boat was only out ...
    Published on 02-19-2009 01:17 AM
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    Raymarine is well onboard with the NMEA2000 rage with their new ST70 Plus Color instrument. This thing is sweet and one will definitely be going on my Seacraft this summer! This new 6.5? display is sort of a universal all in one display that can control their pilots and can be used as a stand alone instrument to display info on the N2K network. It is color, very bright, and has a lot of screen area relative to the size of the fixture. In fact the fixture is all screen!



    They include a remote keypad for control. So you can put the display up on your dash where it might be a stretch to reach it, and put the control keypad closer to the wheel for easy reach. There are three variations of the keypad available – an instrument keypad, sail pilot pad, and powerboat pilot pad. One keypad can also control multiple displays. The picture below is worth a thousand words. Should be out the 2nd qtr of ’09. I can’t wait! ...
    Published on 02-06-2009 01:12 AM
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    AIS is short for Automatic Identification System, it is a system primarily used by commercial ships to keep tabs on each other for collision avoidance among other things. It is getting popular on recreational boats too. There is a new website called MarineTraffic.com that allows you to view this data right on your PC screen. You can view ships and recreational boats in action all around the world. Way cool!!

    I included a screenshot for my local area on the Chesapeake Bay where you can see the 5 RORO ships (short for Roll On, Roll Off, they carry cars) that are waiting to unload in Baltimore. Unfortunately Baltimore is out of room for new cars so these ships have been here as long as a month. 4 more are on the way too!


    I’m not sure how “real time” the data is, but its sure to be interesting to any mariner to waste a few minutes on the internet. I personally think its one more step towards having web enabled multifunction displays on boats with data delivered as a service, from charts, to weather data, to AIS.

    Check it out - MarineTraffic.com ...
    Published on 02-03-2009 01:23 AM
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    Some of the information you have been given is not correct concerning dealers and how they operate.

    First, Sea Ray does periodically offer rebates or incentives. When they do it is always for one of 2 reasons…..1. they need to balance production in a factory and giving a little money back, i.e. reducing profit, is a cheaper alternative than closing a factory since their fixed costs continue whether they run the factory or close it, or, 2. there are some leftover boats at the dealers in inventory and they know they have a problem getting the dealer to take and sell ’08's when he’s sitting on a bunch of ’07's………this usually occurs when a model is being replaced by a new boat.

    Rebates or incentives are between the factory and the dealer and are passed on to the buyer in reduced prices…….they don’t happen unless the boat is sold.

    How much on what boat is variable and can be changed by Sea Ray. Now days, they announce incentives and affix firm dates to them. There is no guarantee that incentives will be extended or that they will not be changed if they are. The only way to know the present incentives is to go ask your dealer. If your salesman can’t tell you how much and how long the current program is for, then tell him to find out now; you’ll wait on the answer.

    As far as calling some dealer out of your area, that will not do you any good. Sea Ray requires dealers to stay in their territories and will not allow them to sell out of area. No dealer will risk losing his franchise over the profit he can make on a single boat, so unless the dealer you were referenced to is in your area, its going to be a wasted phone call. The only possible exception to this may be if you live in one area but keep and do your boating in another.

    Irrespective of the above, it is critical that you buy your new boat from the dealer where you will get service. Sea Ray dealers are not like a Chevrolet dealer……..they do not have to service boats they don’t sell and most will not until they have completely caught up on all the service needs for the boats they have sold. Our dealer is glad to take other boats in for service, but they are up front and will tell you that it will be a long wait since their own customers boats come first….if you can’t wait 8-10 weeks for a repair then you should take your boat to another dealer.

    Your best course of action on the boat you are looking at is to go to the dealer and negotiate the best deal you can. No matter what people on a boating forum tell you, you never get the best price until you write a deposit check and make an offer……the trick is to make the offer low enough that you don’t leave money on the table. You didn’t give us the msrp on the boat in question, but a decent starting place is 35% off MSRP less incentives. There are some real expensive options on your list, so be careful, that may buy you a boat.

    On the deposit check, let me explain a little more……

    When you make a dealer an offer, you will execute a buyers order or sales contract which says you will buy boat X under ...
    Published on 01-19-2009 01:31 AM
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    NMEA 0183 Interfacing is a common stumbling block for the do-it-yourselfer. What is it? NMEA0183 is a protocol used to share data among multiple units on your boat. It will allow you to share numeric data from one unit to another. Any proper electronics installation will make use of NMEA0183 when applicable, although sadly its often forgotten.

    The purpose of my NMEA0183 explanation below is to give a common sense guide to how it all works. I will use values and scenerios that we have found to work well, explained in a way we have found our customers to comprehend. If you want a technical explanation please visit www.nmea.org.

    How does it work?

    * NMEA0183 works by having one unit as a “talker”, and up to three other units as “listeners”. One unit can talk to up to three others, but can only “listen” from one other unit. Make sense? If not go back and re-read until it does because this is a very important piece of the puzzle.
    * Each unit capable of NMEA0183 will have “Transmit” wires and “Receive” wires. Transmit wires are called any number of things in your units installation guide, some more common names are TX, Out, and Transmit. Receive wires are commonly called RX, In and Receive. So each NMEA0183 wire will either be a transmit or receive. Of these Transmit and Receive wires they are further defined by their polarity. So some are + (positive) and some are – (negative). Negative wires might also be called “gound”.
    * The data that is sent between units comes in the form of “sentences”. Each bit of data will be sent as a sentence, followed by another sentence, then another very rapidly. For a list of sentences NMEA sentences search google.com for “NMEA0183 Sentences” or try this link.

    What connects to what?

    * There are some very basic rules to NMEA0183. If you follow these rules we officially certify you as an expert. They are:
    o Maintain polarity among wires you connect – so positives connect to positives and negatives connect to negatives.
    o A transmit wire always connects to a receive wire. And a receive wire always connects to a transmist wire.
    * If you a paying attention and soaking this in then you are done. This is it, go off and interface happily.

    Limitations

    * As explained before, one unit can talk to up to three others, but can only listen from one other unit. Lets use an example: If you have a gps, vhf, fishfinder and radar you can make great use of NMEA0183. The data that all four of those units can use is GPS data. The VHF will need it for DSC, the Radar will need it to have the cursor display position of a target, and the Fishfinder can use it for marking waypoints on fish targets. The best way to interface this pile of stuff is to have the GPS display talk, and the FF, Radar, and VHF listen. This will get GPS data to every device. So each transmit wire (if you are paying attention you will know there are two of them, a positive and a negative) on the GPS will be connected to three receive wires of the same polarity (one wire from each unit). Do this for both transmit wires. Ahhh, but ...
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