The old girl is still treating us well. She is old, but is in great shape. I’ve always lived by the motto that “If there is nothing left to fix on the boat, it will probably sink.” Boats are a lot of work. I’ve chiseled some more off the list, fixed some others and found a few new ones.
Some of the recent things I’ve done:
- Extended the trailer to make it easier to get the boat in and out of the water while keeping the car dry.
- Fixed the running lights
- Ran a new “hose” wire for the electrics and rigged it through the main battery switch.
- Upgraded the old fish finder to a GPS/Fish finder (Humminbird 383c)
- Put on a proper fuel filter (the old one was too small)
- Replaced the brass thru-hull fitting for the bait pump with a plastic one (brass + aluminum = bad corrosion)
- Found a bit of a problem with the lower unit
I am not sure what I think is the biggest fix. The brass thru-hull is a little scary. The installer did a pretty good job of isolating the brass from the aluminum, but it is still a recipe for bad corrosion in a bad spot. The nav lights make me legal and make me feel much safer about using the boat with the prospect of being out after dark or in the fog. The GPS and fish finder makes for much better fishing and a better time in the boat.
The thru-hull fitting change wasn’t too hard. I simply replaced it with a regular plastic seacock with out the strainer. Thus, I had two volt holes I also had to patch. I used an aluminum fix stick that comes in a tube. I’ve used the fiberglass counterpart many times. It comes in a tube with the epoxy hardener in the middle. You cut off what you need, mix it for a minute and then apply the putty. I patched the holes, did a basic water test and felt good about the fix. It wasn’t until we put the boat in the water that I felt very good abut the patch. So far, so good. In the future, I can easily add a plastic fitting with the strainer and the bait pump. But for now, I just have the inlet of the fitting capped off. I don’t have a bait tank, so I don’t need the pump set up.
The running nav lights on the bow got a bit of a beating before I got the boat. The electrics were shorted out and the fixture was fried. The wire from the console to the bow was not standard marine wire, and I think it was fried too. I ended up replacing the wire with good marine stuff. Luckily the boat is so simple, that it was easy to do. The old light is a classic, and I wanted to maintain the look. At first I got an replacement plastic light and put it on. I was then able to clean out the old light and use it as as cover for the new light. I took the colored cover off the new light and mounted the old light over it. Now I have the new light fixture with the old cover on it. You can’t even tell that the new piece is in there. It works well.
The GPS was another feature that I wanted, but didn’t need. I don’t plan to get out of coastal navigation conditions. Fog is a concern here, so it is a great safety feature. The dual frequency feature of the Humminbird 383c also makes for a great fish finder. It served us well on the first fishing trip. I may have mounted the transducer a little too low as it throws a bit of a rooster tail, but it works well. I don’t know how much I will teak something that is working… After I use it a little more, I’ll try to write up a review of the unit.
The most disheartening thing I discovered was a drop of oil below the engine. I know, a drop isn’t something to worry about, but I could tell it wasn’t motor oil. Unburned 2-stroke oil is common, but this had the characteristics of gear case lube. You shouldn’t see any. I changed the lube, and it came out gray and milky. The dark color probably means it is just old. I needed to change it anyway. The milky means it got some salt water in it. That is bad. That means one or more of the seals is bad. There is a seal at the prop, there is a seal where the drive shaft enters the power unit and there are two little ones where the oil change screws go. I think the seal at the top is the culprit since that is where I found the oil to be leaking. I made some calls and learned that the repair will be in the $5-600 range. That hurts.
I talked to one mechanic who suggested that I just change the oil after every use. That is my current game plan. I don’t know if it is a stupid thing to do or not. I will do it for a few more trips anyway. After the last trip, I changed the oil, and it was a little milky. Some of the old stuff was still in there, so I think it needs a couple of trips just to get the old lube cleaned off. I just hope I don’t cause more damage than I can handle. Either way, I think I will take it in for service in a month or two, or when I can save up some money.