Test Checks Burst Point and Freeze Protection

We tested each product for glycol content using a refractometer and either the ethylene glycol or propylene glycol scale, as appropriate. In the case of Camcos Arctic Ban and Sudburys Winter Stor, some portion of the freeze protection is provided by ethanol, and such mixtures cannot be easily evaluated by any field method (test tape, gravity, refractometer) unless the exact proportion is known, which we find troublesome.

Step-by-step Winterizing Tips

Winterizing agents should never be used in freshwater tanks or hot-water tanks. Doing so will greatly increase the chances of biological growth, which can result in foul-smelling, bad-tasting water. If your boats water system does not have bypass fittings that allow you to add glycol to waterlines, install them. The addition of a few simple fittings can reduce the annual process from hours to minutes for the cost of a few jugs of glycol.

Refractometer Takes Out All the Guesswork

What matters most, our testing confirms, is not so much which brand of pink stuff you choose, but how you use it. Even the best product, mixed with too much water left in the line, results in a blend with unknown and perhaps unsatisfactory performance. While this may not be critical in North Carolina, sailors in Wisconsin need to get it right.

Diesel Tank Vent Filters

Through lab tests and years of field testing, weve found that silica-gel vent filters reduce tank corrosion and improve gasoline stability. But is the same true for diesel fuel and tanks? Thats what this test sought to find out. Testers put two silica-gel diesel tank vent filters through their paces: Pindell Engineerings AVD2 (for tanks up to 60 gallons) and AVD3 (for tanks up to 200 gallons). The results were compared to setups with a free vent and those with a sealed tank.

Installation Best Practices for Fuel Systems

The Coast Guard and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) have worked together to develop general installation guidelines for the carbon canisters required under the EPA's evaporative emission regulations. While the standards (AYBC H-24) don't specifically apply to the H2Out AVD unit when installed in diesel fuel systems, they represent good basic commonsense and should be followed with any fuel tank vent adsorbent product. We have added a few tips and precautions learned during our testing.

Diesel Fuel System Maintenance Best Practices

Dont look to tank vent filters and fuel additives to solve real fuel-system problems. They are only ancillaries to regular fuel system-management and maintenance, improving reliability even further. Here are some fuel-system management best practices that we recommend.

Keeping Fuel, Water in their Place

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Yacht and Boat Council (AYBC) are requiring devices that prevent foam and splash during fueling and operation from reaching the carbon canister. If sea water did reach the fuel filter, it could destroy filter effectiveness and compromise venting capacity.

Diesel Additives

Whether by condensation, through a deck fill leak, or contamination at the fuel dock, water inevitably finds its way into our diesel tank. How much damage it does over time depends on our tanks design, material, and maintenance regimen. Can fuel additives help? We tested seven diesel additives to determine which is the best at battling tank corrosion: Hammonds Biobor JF, Valvtect Bioguard, Fuel Right, Stanadyne, Sta-Bil Diesel, Star brite Star Tron Enzyme, and Sea Foam.

Stainless-steel Hose Clamps

Practical Sailor evaluated stainless-steel hose clamps from 11 manufacturers, including Shields, ABA, Murray, AWAB, Breeze, American Valve, Ideal/Tridon, Trident, Koehler, and Norton. The test clamps, both T-bolt and worm-drive designs, were all size 28 (for hose sizes 1 5/16 to 2 1/4 inches) and 32 (for hoses 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 inches). Bench tests included torque to compression and torque to failure tests, and a magnet test and long-term saltwater bath test to determine corrosion resistance. All clamps were closely examined for quality of construction and workmanship, and price was considered in final ratings.

EPA Mandate Sparks Fuel-vent Filter Test

Every day, as the temperature rises and falls, gases inside your fuel tank expand and contract. The emissions released during this diurnal breathing have raised concerns at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and in July 2011, the agency mandated passive carbon canister filters on all installed gasoline-tank vent lines to collect fuel evaporation emissions. While older boats are not required to retrofit, we wondered how such a filter would affect fuel quality and engine performance-and whether carbon is the most effective filter media-so we launched tests using E10, gasoline, and diesel to find out.

In Search of the Perfect Portable Boarding Ladder

Last year, we ran a review of a Union 36, and the opening photo of the boat featured a unique folding ladder that I hadnt seen before. The ladder, instead of hanging vertically, folded out at a comfortable angle in a way that seemed-at least in the photo-pretty practical for routine boarding. One problem: the maker-the American Ladder Corp., based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., appears to be out of business.