ANSWERS FOR YOUR BOATING SERVICE QUESTIONS
Boat Service FAQs
What is the best protection for my boat during winter storage?
Shrink wrap offers the best protection available against weather damage for your boat during storage. It will shield your boat against sun, rain, snow, sleet, leaves and bird droppings and unlike tarps, properly installed shrink wrap will not flap around or chafe your boat in windy conditions. If access during storage is needed, zippered doors can be easily installed. Shrink wrap vents prevent excess moisture from accumulating during storage, but moisture absorbers and mildew control bags are still recommended to keep your boat mildew free in the offseason. Schedule your shrink wrap with our service department and enjoy a worry-free winter experience.
In the evening at my marina there are boats that run interior and exterior accent lighting for hours. How do they do that without running their batteries down?
The new generation of LED lighting uses only a small amount of power. LED lighting puts little strain on your battery’s overall lifespan unlike standard lighting which drains your battery’s power in just a few short hours. LED lighting allows boaters to customize their lighting. There is an endless range of design options available with LED lighting. Simple bulb replacements, supply you with more vibrant and brighter lighting.
LED also gives you the choice of color change accents or even multi-color strip lighting. Give your boat that “night glow” effect, once we install the Multi-Color strip lighting beneath your swim platform your boat will be standing out over them all in your marina. Remote control LED lighting will give you the ultimate versatility in your lighting. Control all aspects of your lighting from a convenient location using one remote. LED lighting is the best value and easiest update you can do for your boat. Stop in our showroom and check out the largest LED selection in the Pittsburgh area. We are always happy to assist with more information or product demonstrations.
Spring is just around the corner. Is there anything I should do to my boat before the beginning of the season?
Start the season off right by doing a thorough inspection before you ever start the engine. Check the condition of your anodes, bellows and shift cable. Change your fuel filters if you did not change them in the fall. Inspect your propeller for damage and replace your battery if it does not hold a full charge. If you are not a do-it-yourself boater, call or email Phil in our Service Department to schedule your pre-season inspection.
My fresh water smells bad. What can I do?
Unless you are constantly using your fresh water there is a good chance it will begin to exhibit a funny smell, especially in warm weather. If your water has only a mildly stale smell, drain the water, refill with fresh water and add water treatment like Aqua Fresh to keep it fresh. However, if the smell of your water is really bad, drain the tank, add a special water tank cleaner , take the boat for a spin to distribute the cleaner and wash the tank. Then drain, refill and treat the fresh water. One caution-Make sure the products you choose are especially designed not to damage your marine fresh water pump. See your local ship’s store for a selection of appropriate products.
What is the best way to clean the non-skid areas on my boat?
The best way to clean non-skid is simply to use STAR-BRITE NON SKID DECK CLEANER. It is inexpensive, easy to use and does a great job keeping non-skid looking good.
I only use my trailer for off-season storage. What do I need to do to keep it safe and ready for use?
Trailers should be checked over annually for safety whether or not they will ever see the open road. Tires, brakes, springs, couplers, bearings, rollers, winches, lights and wiring should all be functioning properly even if the trailer will only be traveling for short distances. Do the smart thing and bring your trailer to our service department or your local trailer inspection station to be checked out for safety before haul out season.
Is it important to use special toilet paper and cleaners on my marine head?
Yes. Although they may look alike, the internal workings of marine heads are different than RV or home toilets. Household cleaning products are too harsh for use on a marine head. Use the special marine head cleaners that are designed to clean and lubricate the inner workings of your head without doing damage to the seals. And always use toilet paper approved for marine heads and make certain that no other items like feminine sanitary products or paper towels get flushed away. Nothing ruins a boating weekend faster than a backed up head
Can a dirty boat bottom affect my boat’s performance?
Absolutely. Besides being unsightly and smelly, an algae-covered boat bottom creates more drag as you move through the water. This decreases your boat’s performance, making your engine work harder to get the boat on plane and simultaneously increases your fuel consumption. Call Phil or Kim in our service department for special offers on our professional boat bottom cleaning services that will make your boat perform better and save you gas as well.
Now that ethanol fuel is mandated for boats as well as cars in Allegheny and surrounding counties, what steps should I take to protect my boat engine?
Most importantly, always choose a high-quality refueling station. Fresh gasoline is critical with ethanol gas. Fox Chapel Marine has taken the worry out of finding high-quality marine gasoline. In order to protect our boaters from possible ethanol fuel related problems, Fox Chapel Marine has enrolled in the ValvTech Marine Fuel Program. ValvTech marine fuel are especially formulated for marine engines and marine operating conditions. They contain additional marine grade ValvTech fuel additives that are not contained in automotive grade controlling moisture to prevent phase separation and maintaining octane rating, stabilizing fuel to keep it fresh for up to a year, clean up intake valve, intake port and manifold deposits. Boats using ValvTech fuel do not need any additional fuel additives to prevent fuel related problems.
One important note: Regular gasoline and ethanol blend do not mix well. Fox Chapel Marine has had our fuel tanks cleaned and treated prior to the changeover to ethanol gas. When changing over from regular fuel to ethanol blend in your boat, it is important to run your tank as low as you dare before refilling with the ethanol blend gasoline. Also, remember to change all fuel filters approximately every 50 hours to maintain top performance in your marine engine.
My prop has a few dings in it. Should I have it repaired?
It is very important to keep your propeller in tip-top condition. Damaged props can cause vibration, cavitation, poor performance, decreased fuel efficiency and possible damage to the outdrive. Always have any damaged props sent out for professional repair. Professional repair insures that your propeller has been restored to true balance and original specifications for best performance.
What are sacrificial anodes and how often should they be replaced?
Sacrificial anodes inhibit corrosion by offering a source of metal that is more easily corroded than that which they are meant to protect. Because they are meant to dissolve or corrode away as a means of protecting the other metals parts on your boat or engine, it is very important to replace them every one to 2 years or whenever they are 50% consumed.
Does my trailer need to be inspected?
In Pennsylvania boat trailers with a GVWR over 3500lb or any trailer with brakes require annual state inspection.
How often should I change my impeller?
Every one to two years is a good rule of thumb for changing impellers but keep in mind that unforeseen circumstances like picking up debris or a plastic bag may necessitate changing of your impeller more often.
I only put a few hours on my boat. Do I really need to change my oil?
Experts agree that engine and gear oil should be changed at least once a year, preferably at the end of the boating season prior to putting it away for storage. This practice insures that moisture, dirt and contaminants are not left in contact with bearing surfaces.
How often should I change my lower unit lube?
Like engine oil, lower unit lube should be changed annually at the end of the season. If there is any milky looking oil in the oil reservoir or if you notice any oil leakage behind your outdrive, bring the boat for immediate service.
How can I tell if my water separator filter needs changed?
Start every year with a fresh water separator filter and most likely you will never need to worry. If you do need to check for water, remove the filter and drain into a clear jar to check for water.
How do I put a name on my boat?
Putting a name on your boat is not a requirement but it creates a unique identity and definitely raises the fun factor. Custom vinyl graphics is an easy and inexpensive way to add character and personality to your boat. Contact Kim in our service department for more details about the hundreds of combinations of colors and fonts you can choose from.
Where can I get custom PA numbers?
Standard stick-on 3″ letters are available in the ship’s store but custom vinyl letters that will complement the look of your boat are available through our service department.
My boat has some nicks and cracks in the fiberglass. How can I get those repaired?
Fiberglass and gel coat damage should be evaluated by an expert before repairs are attempted. Although some scratches and small nicks can be easily patched by the do-it-yourselfer, any damage that extends into the fiberglass should be repaired by a trained professional to maintain the safety and to restore the appearance of your boat. Our service department has an excellent fiberglass repair technician who can repair any damage, large or small.
My neighbor says he can show me how to winterize my boat so I can save a few bucks this year. Is that a good idea?
Be safe, not sorry! Every spring brings an influx of heartbroken boaters who must face the reality that the guy-next-door version of boat winterizing is often less than perfect. There is nothing more distressing than to have the whole family onboard expecting the first ride of the season, only to have the ride cut short because the engine sprouts leaks. Modern engines have many places that can sustain freeze damage. Seawater pumps, heat exchangers, exhaust manifolds, water distribution housings, exhaust elbows and even the block itself can crack due to an incomplete or unprofessional winterization. The damages run from several hundreds to many thousands of dollars. Don’t leave your family standing on the dock. Have your boat professionally winterized this year. Call Phil or Kim in the service department with any questions.
The gasoline in my boat is already treated for ethanol. Should I add more when I put my boat away for the winter?
Yes. Studies have found that adding a second treatment at seasonal layup helps to inhibit corrosion and prevents phase separation of the gasoline in your tank. Fuel filters should be changed as well. A quick inspection for particulates in the gas poured from the old fuel filter will indicate whether your fuel system is beginning to show evidence of future fuel system problems. Experts agree that a high quality fuel system treatment like Quicksilver Fuel System Cleaner should be added at this time as well to help prevent rust and corrosion in the entire fuel system. As a bonus the additive will clean carburetors, fuel injectors and intake valves for great performance next boating season.
My boat runs great but the exterior hull and deck color is all faded out and the upholstery is worn and damaged. What can I do to restore my boat to its original condition?
Mother Nature can certainly take her toll on gel coat color, canvas and upholstery, but do not despair- these items can all be repaired or replaced. Call Phil in our service department for an appointment to discuss the details of your restoration project. We can do as much or as little as you wish to restore your boat to her former glory
If it’s late in the season and if I have service work that needs done on my boat, should I wait till spring?
Good question. The answer depends entirely on your particular boat. Some service jobs are easily done at haul out or over the winter. Other work, like complete bottom painting jobs, should wait until it is closer to spring launch. Call Phil at the service department or email him at email@example.com with the specifics on your anticipated repair and he can steer you in the right direction.