PS’s Best Practices to Combat Fuel Problems

Additives can’t solve real gasoline-quality problems. At best, consider additives to be only a final tweaking opportunity, something to supplement the following fuel management practices.

PSs Top Picks for Winterizing

Protecting marine water systems from freeze damage is a deceptively simple goal. The terminology and various product claims can be confusing, and what seems like a good common-sense decision can lead to trouble. We tend to think that all water systems are the same; that boats as well as RVs can be protected by the same pink antifreeze without any further thought. However, many of the problems we associate with age, or normal wear and tear-stiff impellers, cracked pipes, ruined joker valves, and foul-tasting tap water-can often be attributed to errors during winterization.

ASTM D1384 Serves as Model for Testers

Samples were tested for corrosion protection following the ASTM D1384 Corrosion in Glassware method (www.astm.org). Samples were diluted to 33-percent glycol, dosed with ASTM synthetic corrosive water (similar to 2-percent seawater), continuously aerated, and heated to 190 degrees for two weeks. As a laboratory control, a reference coolant (ASTM D 3585) was also exposed to provide a baseline.

Practical Sailor Tests 4-horsepower Electric Outboard

As we did with the Torqeedo electric outboard and Minn Kota trolling motor in past tests, Practical Sailor put the Solid Nav Traveler to work in sea trials on a Cape Dory Typhoon to determine whether it was a viable replacement for a small boats gas-powered outboard. The four-horsepower Traveler electric motor is marketed by Solid Nav and manufactured by Suzhou Parsun Power Machine Co., Chinas largest outboard exporter. Using a brushless 48-volt DC motor made by Mars Electrical Co. of Milwaukee, Wis., the Traveler combines a familiar drive train and an innovative solid magnet electric motor. At first glance, it looks like a small conventional outboard. Available in both long-shaft (20 inches) and short-shaft (15 inches) models, the Traveler is a gasoline outboard alternative best suited for a pocket cruiser (like a Cal 25) or similarly sized weekend cruiser where electric propulsion is desired. However, its required battery entourage limits its portability and affordability, and charging needs limit its practical use on smaller boats.

Yamaha Updates F-series Outboards with New F4 and F6

Yamaha recently updated two of its portable outboard engines, the F-series four-horsepower outboard and 6-horsepower engine. We reviewed the original F4 and F6 in 2003. Both updated designs use an 8.5-cubic-inch engine block and both weigh 60 pounds, which marks a weight loss for the F6 but an increase for the F4. Both also have improved stowage capacity and demonstrated solid performance. The report compares the new outboards to the 55-pound Suzuki DF4, the top contender in Practical Sailors 2003 Outboard Engine test.

Winterizing the Engine: Maintenance that Is Truly Preventive

Winterizing an inboard engine installation means a lot more than filling the cooling system with antifreeze and stuffing a rag in the exhaust outlet. It means taking care of the exhaust system, the fuel system, the engine controls, and other components of the drive train, such as the shaft and prop. If you want to do these things yourself none of them is difficult, only time consuming plan on a long day of work, or perhaps a leisurely weekend.

The Perils of Fantastic Plastics

This month’s Gear Graveyard called to mind the famous scene in the movie The Graduate when actor Dustin Hoffman is pulled aside at a dinner party and offered a word of advice: "I just want to say one word to you son . . . just one word . . . plastics." There are a myriad of polymer combinations that make up the vast realm we call plastics, so to speak of them in a general sense can be misleading. Some plastics, like the glass-fiber reinforced acetal copolymers used in a variety of marine hardware are extremely strong.

Additives vs. Gum, Sludge

If we used our boats like the family car, back and forth to work each day, fuel would never sit for more than a few weeks and it would never age. Instead, boats sit for weeks at a time in-season, and for months during the off-season. Water, oxygen, bacteria, metal ions, and even instabilities in the molecules themselves combine to turn fresh fuel into a soup that will clog filters, corrode fuel systems, and leave us stranded. Fuel refineries have long known this, and all products are dosed with inhibitors at the refinery; however, these dosages are calculated for the normal distribution and storage times, not half-full tanks that will sit for months or even years.

Propane-powered Propulsion

Capt. Bernardo Herzer has been converting small engines from conventional fuels to propane since he was a teenager. In 2012, he introduced his first propane outboards, 2.5 horsepower, 5-horsepower, and 9.9-horsepower models. Practical Sailor recently tested the 5-hp Lehr LP 5.0, a water-cooled four-stroke with an electric ignition-no priming or choke required. It operates at 4,000 to 4,500 rpm at wide open throttle, and the 49.6-pound, short-shaft model pushed our 120-pound test boat at 11-12 knots. The engine can be fueled using a 16.4-ounce propane twist-on bottle like those used with camping stoves or a 5-gallon, 20-pound remote propane tank.

What is the Best Keel for A Shoal Draft Boat?

We think the best bet is the modern keel/centerboard. Unlike centerboards of 20 years ago, the new ones are very efficient going to windward with the boards down and not all that bad with the boards partially raised or withdrawn into a stub keel.