Systems & Propulsion

Coexisting with a No Discharge Zone

Sanitation systems aren’t the sexiest part of sailing, but they are, well… necessary. And although the risk of transmission of COVID-19 through means other...

Steady at the Helm

A sailboat’s steering system also plays a vital role in safety at sea. The failure of any key component can jeopardize boat handling and...

What Happens to Your Pumpout Waste?

California’s decision to ban sale or use of several chemicals found in marine products (above) is of interest to PS readers. After a careful...

In Search of Better Filters

Presumably, air cleaners are about dusty environments, and dust is a rare thing on the water. But is the engine room actually clean? We’ve seen...

Hidden Impacts of Metal and Fuels Chemical Stew

After years of testing fuel products and systems, PS began to suspect that mixed metals in the system could be causing harm.

Are Copper, Zinc, and Brass Mucking Up Our Fuel?

Something we have long noticed at PS is that gasoline and diesel control samples in our aging and corrosion studies never really age much. Only when the samples include metal samples do they generate gum and discolor. One explanation is refinery stability treatments, but the primary difference is that copper and zinc ions are powerful catalysts for polymerization. Shore-side fuel storage systems do not experience this type of break down because copper tubing, brass fittings and galvanized pipe are forbidden by code . The following requirements are quoted from standards groups and OEMs.

Flexible Tanks Require Special Protections

What about fuel bladders? Fuel bladders must meet a higher standard than water bladders, but many of the findings from our water bladder test apply to fuel as well (see Practical Sailor Drops, Drags, and Dissects Three Flexible Portable Water Tanks, PS October 2007).

Gasoline Additives in the E-15 Era

Ever since we adopted improved fuel management methods, we've enjoyed a decade of no carburetor maintenance-not on the twin 9.9 hp engines that ran our catamaran, not on the dinghy kicker, and not on our trimaran. Not on any of our chainsaw or blower motors. Given the quarterly ritual wed enjoyed before, its been wonderful.

The Best Solution to E-15? Stay Away From It

This year, President Trump rescinded the summer ban on E15 sales. Previously, E15 could not be sold between June 15th and September 1st because the extra ethanol increased vapor pressure and increased smog formation. As of this writing, distribution of E15 is limited outside of corn belt areas, and negotiations continue between the EPA, which opposes higher ethanol blend levels, and the agribusiness lobby.

Plastic Tank Report

The leading cause of death of metal tanks, on land and at sea, is corrosion. Industry standards for fuel tank farms require internal inspections starting at 15 years, and as a licensed API tank inspector, our Tech Editor Drew Frye knows well why these interior inspections are required.

Winterizing Your Boat’s Water System

Much of your winterizing success will depend on the initial condition of your existing water system. If it is nearly sterile (effectively chlorinated water), there may be too few bacteria and fungus present for infection to start. However, if you use less than 20 percent alcohol or glycol (after dilution with water left in the system) you are at risk of biological growth; the lower the concentration the greater the risk. This is the reason why vodka and other alcohol-based winterizing fluids should be avoided. In our testing these solutions acted like an invitation to a microbial feast.