Sunday, September 22, 2013

Preventative Maintenance (Engine Room)

We are planning a small cruise from from Houston to Corpus Christi and in preparation for that, I was doing maintenance in the engine room prior to the trip.  This started with the simple stuff

  • Change Oil and Oil  Filter
  • Fill and Check Transmission fluid
  • Run the engine with a load to just validate everything is good to go for a trip
Timing was great, because I found my preferred oil on sale for $12.99 per gallon.  Since we have a 50 Horsepower Perkins 4-108 diesel, I like the heavy duty oil made for diesels.  Shell Rotella T is the brand I use.  Given it was on sale, I went ahead and picked up 2 gallons.  
I also keep a good supply of WIX oil filters for this engine on hand.  I bought a dozen of them 2 years ago.
One of the things I like about having an engine room (and not just a compartment the size of the engine) is the ability to store spare parts and have a little bit of room to work when needed.   I keep a small wire shelf on the rear wall of the engine room that has spare parts and required tools close at hand at all times. 

This is certainly not a complete supply of all of our spares and parts, but these are some of the things I like to keep very handy and nearby the area they will be needed.  The top shelf (not shown in this picture) contains 3 different funnels; small oil funnel, large funnel with flexible hose and a diesel filtering funnel.  

Maintenance supplies in Engine Room
The next shelf down has a small battery tester (you can see the red bulb on the syringe.  It is a glass tube that can determine the quality of each cell of a lead acid flooded battery.
To the right of that is a kitchen spatula that stays in the engine room.  It is used to clean the inside of the site glass of our water strainers (Engine, Air conditioner, shower, etc)  To the right of that is a spare Fuel lift pump in the event we ever need to replace it.   The WIX box is the oil filter and I always keep 2 on the shelf.  You will notice there is only 1 here as I just used one today and have not put the other spare on the shelf.  I also store 2 plastic bags (to the left of the fuel pump) these can be used in a pinch to capture all of the oil when removing the filter and keep any from going into the bilge (See attached video for explanation).  To the right of the filter behind the exhaust riser, there is also an oil filter wrench.

The next shelf down contains two diesel fuel filters and o-rings.  Additionally I have my antifreeze tester there as well.  For those who are really observant and want to know why there is a shot glass also on that shelf, I would love to give you a cute little answer about needing a shot each time I work on the engine, but actually we put a dollop of Kanberra Gel in that about once a month to help keep odors down in the engine room.  

One of the great things that the Previous Owner (PO) has done on this boat is install a permanently mounted oil removal pump.  To "draining" the oil is as easy as running the engine to temperature so that the oil is nice and warm, then opening the oil fill cap, and putting the end of the small hose in a gallon jug and pushing the button.  That's it.  This little pump will pump all of the oil from the drain pan into the jug.   Great little tool and one of my favorite "makes life easier" tools.  Once empty, I changed the oil filter as well.  I have to thank Mike O'Barr for showing me this great little trick for removing the oil filter and keeping oil out of the bilge.  He showed me this on my last boat, and I certainly have carried it forward on this one.  I fold up a few paper towels, or a "puppy pad" under neath the oil filter. I then use the oil filter wrench and loosen up the filter until I can turn it by hand.  Then I take a 1 gallon zip lock back and slide it over the filter and the filter housing, holding the opening of the bag as high as possible.  Then it is just a matter of spinning the filter off it's post.  The oil drips in the bag, once off, I pick up the paper towels underneath and wipe off any oil sitting on the filter housing and drop them into the ziplock.  Zip it up and viola, the oil, filter and oily towels are all in that nice little package.  

I then topped off the transmission fluid.  I have a Borg Warner Velvet Drive transmission in this boat and it can use just about any transmission fluid that meets the Perkins standards (which are most of them).  

I also took the time to treat the water in the holding tanks and install new cartridges in the whole boat water filtration system we built earlier this year.  I added a sediment filter (5 micron) as well as a 1 micron Coconut shell carbon block filter.   The first stage removes any debris, sand, dirt, etc that may be in the water, the next one, removes any chlorine, bleach or other chemicals that may give the water an undesirable taste.  


  1. Nice Post About Perkins engines parts.Thanks for the post, I will look forward to see more posts from your blog.

  2. This blog has no affiliation with Adpower who left a comment above. It appears they have Perkins parts, but please research before using them as I don't have experience with them and can not provide a recommendation.