By Pete Shelton, Hatton Marine
The warm weather we’ve been having is telling us it’s time to get ready for boating season. Perhaps our early spring will offer us a little extra time on the water this year.
With so many items on the typical boaters’ spring checklist, don’t forget about your engine or generator on-board spare parts kits. You should always have enough spare parts to keep the engine(s) and genset operational if minor breakdowns occur. Despite the best maintenance, engines can have sometimes have problems.
You know how it goes…one minute all is well just cruising Puget Sound, and the next minute the temp gauge has climbed high indicating a problem not to be ignored. Now you back off the throttle to slow the overheating, but can’t shut it down right away because of the strong current, proximity to a sandbar or whatever hazard may be threatening. By the time you can safely turn things off and diagnose the problem, you find that a plugged sea strainer has reduced water flow, which shredded your raw water pump. Do you have an impeller aboard? How about a cover gasket? How about heat exchanger end cap O-rings so that you can remove the impeller debris from downstream? It’s a simple enough fix, as long as you have the parts.
There are several types of spare parts kits available, and frequently they are customized to the needs of each individual engine and usage. If you stay relatively close to home, a basic list will usually suffice. Those traveling long distances or taking extended vacations should think about a more comprehensive list of parts to be self-sufficient and minimize downtime (and stress).
Your typical short list or minor kit usually consists of:
• Engine belt(s)
• Oil filters
• Fuel filters (both primary and secondary)
• Engine oil, transmission or gear oil (sometimes this can be the same as the engine)
• Gear filters
• Seawater pump impeller and gasket
• Hose clamps, duct tape and bailing wire. OK, I threw those last two in there for fun, but I can tell you there is some serious truth to those as well.
A more comprehensive offshore spares kit may also include items such as
• Fuel injectors and associated sealing washers
• Complete fresh water and seawater pumps
• Complete gasket kit
• Heat exchanger end cap O-rings
• DC circuit breakers, fuses and relays
• A feed or lift pump
• Oil pressure switch,
• Coolant temp switch
And many other items depending upon the application and needs.
How do you know exactly what to get for your engine or generator? Ask a professional. Each manufacturer and every model can have its own unique “character issues.” Those familiar with your model can give you some valuable advice on what parts are commonly necessary. This can also save you money from purchasing something not likely needed.
Here are a couple of other quick tips:
-Rotate your spares when servicing. Most items are sensitive to age; especially pump impellers, rubber and paper products. Even some foam type air filters only have a 2 year shelf life. You want your spares to work when you finally need them.
-Keep your spare parts kit dry in a safe location and box. Rusted relays and soggy filters won’t help much in a time of need.
-Record and maintain a list of what spare parts you have aboard and when purchased. Part numbers are even better. This will make it easy to repurchase in the future as well. Also be sure to have all your model and serial numbers recorded as well. Those need to be handy in the event you need to contact someone for parts.
-Ask your local parts retailer if they will keep your engine and generator model and serial numbers on file. Marine parts vary greatly between models and years and the serial numbers decode those changes. When you need the right part fast, the last thing you need is someone asking 20 questions. Make it easy for all – and a whole lot less stressful as well.
Get prepared early for the summer heat and season. Boat safe and enjoy yourselves!
-Pete Shelton is a Parts Specialist for Hatton Marine Engine and Generator, and has been in the engine repair and maintenance business for 19+ years. Some of his previous positions include Fleet Service Advisor, Service Consultant, Parts and Service Director and Yacht Service Manager.
Hatton Marine serves the Pacific Northwest from its Seattle headquarters in Ballard. Hatton specializes in diesel engine sales, parts, maintenance and repair. They are dealers for manufacturers such as John Deere, Northern Lights, Cummins, Yanmar, Onan, Mitsubishi, GE and many others.