Well, it's about that time of year again. Time to get the boat out of storage and ready for the new boating season. Well at least time to start thinking about it.
So, what should you do?
Hopefully all the oils, gear lubes, grease zirks , oil & fuel filters, should have been taken care of during winterization. If not, shame on you, time to get it done. Also look in your service manual/owners manual at the maintenance items it suggest for this time of year and however many hours you have on your boat.
Now let's talk raw water pump impellers. On Alpha I style drives, the impellers should have been replaced during winterization while the gear lube was drained and the drive off the boat for inspection of the gimbal bearing and alignment. Other drives with external raw water pumps should have the impellers replaced. Most impellers should last a couple of years, if you have an Alpha I Gen II, you can usually get 3 years with no problem.
Now you know the impeller will not be the reason you are sitting at the dock on a 3 day weekend with an engine that doesn't cool.
Look at your engine belts and pulleys. If they are all rusty, time to take them off, sand em up nice and smooth and paint em with a good coat of enamel. Allow to set for a day if possible just to allow the paint to get cured completely. If the belts are thinned down from the rust, replace them now, it's easier to do now with the tools handy than on the water with the wife and kids watching.
Next, it's time to tuneup the engine. Yea, I know what people say about wasting money on spark plugs when they only have a few hours on them from last year, but they have also been sitting with fogging oil on them all winter, plus your cap and rotor both see a lot more corrosion than in the auto industry. If you have points and condenser, well, there is no doubt you need new ones. The points are probably glazed over and you will be getting very week if any spark., but hopefully it will start with the old ones.
Start the engine and let it warm up a bit and burn off all that fogging oil. When the smoke clears, pull the plugs and do a proper compression test. See link below.
The main reason for the compression test is to make sure all is well. Record the readings and put them in your log book or a page in your service manual. Then you can check them next year to see how your engine is doing. Change your cap, rotor, points, condenser, etc.
With points ignition, you want to set your dwell, set your timing and check your advance timing, adjust idle speed, adjust idle mixture. If you have electronic ignition, just eliminate the dwell check since you don't have points.
Now, you know your engine is running properly and set to specs so you get the best fuel economy possible. And with the price of gas the way it is, that is a big plus.
While your engine is idling (on muffs of course) make sure it shifts and steers.
Make sure you have oil pressure and the temp is staying where it should. Listen for any strange noises, now is the time to investigate, not when the family is on board and wanting to go boating.
Shut her off, and just go over all the hose clamps to make sure nothing was left loose during winterization. Make sure the drain/vent plugs on the outdrive are tight.
Check all the fluid levels. Recheck all the battery connections. It's best to get rid of those wing nuts and get standard nuts and use a wrench to tighten the freshly cleaned and greased connections. Might want to look at the other end of those cables as well. Corroded ends are a great way to spend money with Sea Tow.
If you have a closed cooling system, make sure it's at the proper level.
Now, since your corrosion guard product you used to keep your engine nice is probably gone. Time to add another coat.
You also want to check the other boat systems needed. Nav. lights, anchor lights, horn, all Coast Guard requirements. Also check your bilge pump and float switch. Make sure the blower works, it's also required.
If your boat has them, now is the time to check the head and domestic water systems for operation.
Make sure your life jackets and other safety equipment are up to date. Fire extinguishers and flares must be checked.
Now, do your entire cleanup and waxing, you probably won't have to leave anymore greasy fingerprints on your boat this year, because you know all is well right at the start.
Don't forget to check your trailer; it has to get you to the water. Wheel bearings, breaks, lights, etc. all need checked and repaired.
This is just a basic list and really doesn't have a lot of details. That is what your service manuals and owners manuals are for.
Your alignment tool is made up of three precisely sized shafts. The smallest fits exactly into your coupler. The next is sized small enough to pass through your bearing with room to spare, and is long enough to allow the first shaft to engage the coupler 1/2 inch before the larger shaft, sized to exactly fit the gimbal bearing contacts the bearing.
You should feel it bottom out when you slide the bar in. You want the alignment bar to slide in with very little effort and you want spiline marks to be equal all the way around the tip if the bar.
First thing you need to do is make sure your gimbal bearing is set.
Using your alignment bar insert it through the gimbal bearing and just so it starts to go into your coupler. (approx. 1/2 inch)
Using the palm of your hand, give the alignment bar a couple of "whacks" on the top,bottom and both sides of the bar. This will ensure that the gimbal bearing is at the correct angle to your coupler.
Coat the 1st 2 inches of your alignment bar evenly with grease.
Put a mark on your alignment bar near the handle so you can keep your bar in the same orientation when inputting and removing it from the coupler.
Slide the bar into the gimbal bearing and into the splines of the coupler and without twisting the bar pull it out.
You should see spline marks evenly around the end of the bar.
Are the even?
Turn the engine over 90 degrees and check again.
Keep turning engine over in 90 deg. increments. This ensures that your coupler is centered and true. Ater the engine has turned 360 degrees go ahead and tighten and torque down the front motor mount top nuts. Check alignment once more just to ensure that the engine has not moved while tightening.
Are the spline marks heavy on the top or the bottom?
If they are heavy on the top you need to Lower the front motor mounts half a turn and check again. Keep doing this step until you achieve the results listed above.
Put marks on the motor mount nuts to make sure you turn them both in the same increments.
If the heavy spline marks are on the bottom you need to Raise your front motor mounts half a turn and check again. Keep doing this step until you achieve the results listed above.
Here are some videos to help you along.
This one is showing you when its not aligned. Notice how he uses his hand to smack it in.