Weekend Boating Update
On my way to the boat ramps Saturday morning (around 9am) I stopped by the gas station to fill up a small (2 gallon) gas can. I have no idea how big my boat's tank is, nor do I know how much gas I use or whether or not the fuel gauge works. So I wanted to keep a few gallons of gas on the boat with me in case I run out of gas, that way when I fill up next time I'll know how big the tank is - and whether or not my fuel gauge works. I suspect that it does not.
I get to the boat ramp at Jordan Lake (Seaforth recreation area) around 9:15, and get the boat into the water by myself. It's a little tricky to do by myself - takes a little more time because I basically have to get the boat off the trailer and get it tied to the dock and THEN drive the truck up and park it. So I did this and just as I was driving up to a parking spot, my sister Laurie and her boyfriend Charles show up. Charles is a mechanic, he owns an automative shop in Cary.
We head out on the water, and one of the things we test first is the accelleration. The boat has always had a problem with quick accelleration - Charles cleaned out the carburator for me last year and noted a strange issue with the accellerator pump. I don't really want to replace the carburator, but I'd like to be able to accellerate without a problem.
Well, the problem still occurred and I stalled the boat out a few times before getting it going. My tachometer doesn't work - Charles says the engine won't last long if I drive it at full throttle too much. I'm gonna have to get Adrienne on the tachometer. After all, she was a calibration technician in the Navy. I don't think tachometers are all that different on battleships. At any rate, it sounds like it's running about 5k RPM at full throttle. I rarely run it at full throttle anyway.
We stop the boat and Charles takes the air filter off and has me pump the gas a few times. He puts the air filter back on and I start the boat up and he asks to drive. He gasses it and we plane right out, no problem. I'm like "How'd you do that!?"
Apparently, if you put the boat in gear and give it a little bit of gas (just enough to get above idle), and then "floor it", it has no problem.
Laurie says the boat is just finicky and "you've got to drive her like she likes to be driven."
Just like a woman. No wonder we give boats the names of women.
Anyway, we cruise around looking at the campground at Poplar Point (one of the many campgrounds on Jordan Lake), and we stop in front of the beach to check something out. I can't remember why we stopped, but we did. The engine was *HOT*. I didn't even notice the temperature gauge, but it was spiked all the way. The engine was smoking, and Charles got a little lake water in his hand and poured it on the engine and it boiled. Oops.
After about 15 minutes of letting it cool and checking things out, Charles says he thinks I'm actually out of gas. Good thing I filled up the gas can earlier, eh? Even after pouring the gas in, she still won't start. About a half hour total goes by and not only won't it start or even sound like it wants to start, but we've now killed the battery too. Damn.
And since it's pretty early in the boating season and it's only about 11 o'clock now, there's nothing but bass boats, and since we're off by the beach, nobody really things we need help apparently. So we got out the paddle and rowed to shore and hitched a ride with a camper back to the boat ramp on the other side of the lake.
Once there, I went down to the docks and waited for someone with a boat that I figured could handle towing me back. Boaters are pretty friendly like that, if you've got a problem. A couple fishermen in a converted ski-boat with a good sized outboard engine helped me out. I ended up leaving my shoes in their boat and didn't notice before they'd taken off after getting me and the boat back to the ramp. Oh well.
so I trailered up and took her home. First thing I did was hook up the jumper cables and try and start it, and thank god, it started right up. I had the water hooked up so I ran the engine for a few minutes and it only took about 3 minutes of running and "medium" speed to get the temperate gauge back above half. Not good, I've definately got an overheating problem.
Charles suggests I take the boat up to an auto parts store and get a thermostat. The thermostat apparently controls the water flow by using a special kind of wax that starts to melt at a certain temperature and is completely melted at another temperature.
the auto parts store tells me I need to take the thermostat out before they can tell me what kind I need, so Charles tells me (on the phone) where it is, and I take off the thermostat housing. It's not there.
What the hell?
I end up buying a shop manual online and it says I definately need a thermostat. See, without a thermostat regulating the water flow, the water could flow through the exhaust manifold too quickly, and NOT take any of the heat with it.
However, since I've had this boat now for 3 years and never really noticed an over heating problem, we suspect that the bigger problem is the water impeller (a small pump in the lower unit that pulls lake water in for cooling). If that's not working, the engine gets no water at all. You can't run a gas engine very long without some kind of coolant.
So I ordered a new thermostat, a water impeller kit, and a water circulation pump kit (just in case). About $130 worth of parts, and if I don't need the water circulation pump I can send that back and get $75 back. I'm pretty confident that the water impeller is the problem. I probably fried it accidentally but running the engine for more than a few seconds without water. Lesson learned!
Hey, at least I know the temperature gauge works, and I know that my tachometer and fuel gauges do NOT work.
Ah, boats. Gotta love 'em!
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