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.

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.

E-10 Fuel Additives that Fight Corrosion

Practical Sailor’s original goal with this evaluation was to run a long-term test of fuel additives. Instead of adding heat or oxygen or excessive corrosive materials, we would substitute time. After six months of testing additives in E-10 gasoline, we found no measurable corrosion, so we elected to add a small amount of seawater and compare fuel samples after one month. The results were surprising to even our testers. The additives we tested were: Hammonds’ Biobor Ethanol Buster, CRC’s Phase Guard 4, Mercury Marine’s Quickstor, PRI-G, Sea Foam Engine Treatment, Sta-bil Ethanol, Star Tron Ethanol, and ValvTect Ethanol.

Coolants that Fight Corrosion

Salt and water conspire to reduce our boats, our pride and joys, to pitted and unreliable money pits. Weve investigated corrosion of wiring (see PS July 2010 online), gasoline (see PS August 2012 online), diesel (see PS August 2013 online), and winterizing fluids (see PS September 2014 online), uncovering additives and practices that dramatically reduce deterioration and increase reliability. Engine cooling systems have similar vulnerabilities, and fortunately for us, the automotive engine manufacturers have invested millions in finding those solutions. However, the marketing materials don't always make the differences clear, and its hard to know which product is the best for your engine.

Summer Sailing Gear

Summers warm breezes and lazy weekends have arrived, so PS testers have put together a lineup of cool toys and tools for the dog days. Tower Adventurer Inflatable Standup Paddleboard: Inflatable SUPs are sprouting up everywhere on the Internet; many boards are identical, made by different brands at the same factories in China. Quality varies. Generally, boards 6 inches or thicker offer better stiffness and stability, making them easier to ride.

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.

Practical Sailor’s 2011 Gear of the Year Picks

Each year, as the fall boat shows—and the deals that come with them—appear on the horizon, we pore over the numerous products we’ve reviewed in the previous 12 months to select the cream of the crop for our Editor’s Choice awards. We hope the list will help readers better navigate any boat-show or end-of-season shopping. This year, we picked from the Best Choice products evaluated in the September 2010 through August 2011 issues. The 2011 GOTY roster includes an electric outboard, some stout bullet blocks, electric marine toilets, bilge pumps, chafe gear, and marine maintenance products like bottom paint.

Testing Boat Fuel Stability in Diesel and Gasoline

We followed standard test methods for storage stability. Diesel was tested using ASTM method D 4625, Standard Test Method for Middle Distillate Fuel Storage Stability at 43C. Samples were exposed to air for up to two years at 113 degrees (45 degrees Celsius); each day simulated about four days of real-world storage, according to industry experience. We settled on 8 months of exposure, the equivalent of about three years. At the end of each period, samples were filtered, and the insoluble solids weighed.

Reduce Gasoline Evaporation in Boats with These Tips

Sometimes it is not what has been added to your fuel that matters, but what is missing. The most obvious difference between gasoline and diesel during our vented, fuel-aging tests was that gasoline samples evaporated and required replenishment at the mid-way point; diesel samples did not. Studies by BoatUS and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have shown that anywhere between 5 and 20 percent of the contents of a portable or installed polyethylene gas tank can vanish in one year through evaporation and permeation. The remaining fuel is lower in octane, contains fewer of the volatiles that are so essential for easy starting, and has reduced solvency for gum and varnish. It often looks perfectly good-most of our samples did-but it is perfectly rotten and potentially harmful as fuel.

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.

Know Your Life Raft Inspection Requirements

The experience of the owners of the 14-year-old, six-man, valise-stored Avon liferaft pictured here reminds us of the importance of following the manufacturers inspection schedule. With air leaking from the seams and through the fabric itself, the raft is a graphic example of how even a professionally serviced liferaft that remains dry in its hard canister can deteriorate to the point of becoming worthless.