NO HOPE FOR OLD ROPE?
Is there a good way to renew three-strand nylon docklines that have become
stiff and hard? It’s almost too stiff to tie off on a cleat. Mike Robinson
TOM NEALE: Some folks recommend soaking nylon docklines in fabric softener and various other products. Some just recommend soaking it in warm water with laundry soap or
dish detergent. I don’t recommend this because of the issue of weakening the lines. Nylon
isn’t forever, and when it gets stiff like you describe, it’s probably time to replace it. Sun
exposure over the years can cause aging. Replacing it can be expensive, but not as expensive
as repairing the damage to your boat if a line breaks or chafes through. I use higher-quality
line, which pays off in the long run. Braided lines are easier to handle and don’t get stiff as
quickly as stranded nylon, but they’re more expensive, and you do have to be even more
careful with abrasion.
TIME TO WAKE UP
I’m considering buying a boat that hasn’t been used since the 2006 season. The engine has
less than 30 hours and was winterized by the marina at the end of that season. What should
be done to this motor prior to and after a sea trial? Joseph Barbaro,
East Rockaway, NY
JOHN ADEY: The fuel in the boat’s tank should be considered suspect. The engine
should be operated from a portable 6-gallon tank for this sea trial. I would also check the
lower-unit oil to make sure it’s up to the proper level and looks clean (e.g., not milky white
or burnt smelling). Assuming this is a two-stroke, I’d inspect the oil for contamination (water)
and consistency (like oil or syrup?). If either of these cases exists, properly dispose of the oil,
and clean/refill the reservoir.
If you decide to purchase the boat, invest in a fuel-tank pumpout. Take this into account
when looking at a purchase price. My immediate maintenance list would include a
lower-unit oil change, water-pump impeller
change, a new battery, and any and all fuel
filters – both boat side and engine. If you’re
buying the boat with a trailer, have the bearings repacked, and take a good hard look at
the tires for signs of dry rot.
I was about to put a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery in my microskiff, but the shop working
on the boat declined to install it because of
the fire issue. They said that this past summer they were going to install Li-ion batteries
in a customer’s boat and the battery spontaneously burst into flames. Has there been
any follow-up from the industry regarding
these issues? Eric Wiltz
BETH LEONARD: Li-ion batteries are an
attractive technology that offers much greater
energy storage capacity at a fraction of the
weight of lead-acid batteries. Unfortunately,
some of the Li-ion chemistries are also prone
to “thermal runaway.” Once a Li-ion cell gets
overcharged, it gets hot, and
the temperature can continue to rise even when
the cell is taken off charge.
Depending on the battery
chemistry, the cell may get
hot enough to spontaneously catch fire or to overheat
neighboring cells. To keep
their concentrated power in
check, Li-ion batteries rely
on a sophisticated management system that provides
over-voltage and short-circuit protection for each cell
in the battery. These battery-management
systems are vulnerable to failure in the event
of a lightning strike or power surge, so even
they are not yet foolproof.
There have been a number of high-profile fires associated with this technology.
PRACTICAL BOATER | ASK THE EXPERTS
For more information on lithium-ion
batteries, see this article online at
www.BoatUS.com/Magazine I L L U
are not a reliable proxy for
of an engine.
Have a mechanic inspect