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Winter Maintenance brought to you by MDL Marinas – Engine Winterisation

Changing oil from the gearbox.
Changing oil from the gearbox.

As the main boating season comes to a close, we’ve joined forces with some of our onsite marine tenants to share some top tips on all the necessary winter tasks which need to be done to make sure everything onboard is in peak condition ready for the spring.

First up is engine winterisation. Speaking to marine engineering specialist Motive Marine, based at our Shamrock Quay marina, we found out what’s involved and why it’s so important.

“An engine is an integral part of your boat, whether power or sail, and it’s a costly item to replace, if it’s not cared for correctly,” says Peter Burgess, MD at Motive Marine. “Saltwater, extremes of temperatures, sun and humidity create a harsh environment for engines, so regular maintenance is essential for trouble free enjoyment on the water.

“Winterising marine engines, whether outboard or inboard, is a crucial step in protecting your boat’s engine(s) from the potentially damaging effects of cold weather, and extended periods of inactivity during the winter months.

Proper winterisation helps prevent issues such as freezing, corrosion, and fuel degradation that may occur when a boat’s not in use.
Peter Burgess, MD at Motive Marine

“Obviously, the specific steps for winterising will vary depending on the type of engine (inboard, outboard, sterndrive) and the manufacturer's recommendations, but in general it will include the following:

  • Fuel stabilisation - adding a fuel stabiliser to the fuel tank and running the engine for a few minutes helps prevent fuel from breaking down and forming deposits during storage.
  • Oil and filter change – this helps avoid damage to the engine during storage by any contaminants or moisture which can often be found in used oil.
  • Fogging oil application (for 2-stroke outboards only) – by spraying this protective coating into the engine's cylinders while it's running, it forms a barrier against moisture, preventing rust from forming inside the engine.
  • Cooling system flushing – flushing seawater voids with fresh water removes salt, dirt, and other debris.
  • Draining water - draining all the seawater water from the engine and exhaust system prevents freezing and expansion that could lead to damage.
  • Fuel system flushing – running the engine using water and fuel system cleaner helps get rid of any deposits in the fuel system and ensures the entire system is treated with the stabiliser.
  • Battery disconnection – the battery needs disconnecting and storing in a warm dry atmosphere. It can be connected to an ‘intelligent’ charger, but not a simple changer as this will boil the battery dry over a long period.
  • Belt and hose inspection - all belts and hoses need to be checked for signs of wear and replaced if damaged.
  • Grease and lubrication – all moving parts that require lubrication (propeller shaft, steering mechanism etc.) need to be greased to maintain fluid movement.
  • Spark plug removal – by removing the spark plugs, spraying fogging oil into each cylinder, before running the engine over a few times to distribute the oil you prevent corrosion.
  • Lower unit draining – if you have an outboard, you need to drain and replace the lower unit gear oil, as well as renew the impeller.

“Whether you opt to winterise your boat’s engine yourself or have a professional like one of Motive Marine’s team do this for you, I just can’t stress enough how important proper winterisation is to help extend the life of your marine engine, and to ensure that it's ready to go when you are when boating season starts again.”

With over 500 tenants across our marina network supported by our fantastic boatyard teams, there’s a marine business near you that can assist you with any winter maintenance issues you may have.

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