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Old 09-18-2014, 06:49 AM   #1
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Winterizing Engines and Boat

Having owned and operated boats in south FL, I have never had to winterize my boat before. We're in the Chesapeake area and plan on leaving the boat somewhere on the bay for the winter, probably hauled out.

So two things to winterize

The engines:
I have twin Cummins B series engines turbo and after-cooled. As I understand it, it is important to keep the engines warm (above freezing) to reduce condensation and hence rust and corrosion. So to keep the engines warm some folks have talked about engine block heaters that are threaded into the block of the engine after all coolant is removed. The coolant is replaced after the heater is installed and the heater keeps the coolant warm and hence the engine.
Here's an example: New Block Heater Kit Cummins 034 B 034 Series Engine Heater Upgrade to 1000 Watts New | eBay
I believe SBMar (Tony Athens) has the low wattage ones.

Another possibility and much easier to install is an engine room heater, like this: Caframo Pali Engine Compartment Heater
This would take care of the generator too.

Once I figure out how to keep the engines warm do I need to remove all the raw water from the raw water cooling circuit? If I have an engine room heater I wouldn't think this would be necessary.

I understand I would need to change the oil in the engines and genny to reduce the effects of acid on the engines with the old oil.

The boat: As I understand it I need to keep air flow in the boat to prevent moisture and mildew. With the engines warm there will be some residual heat in the cabin but I was thinking of adding a space heater like this:
Caframo True North Deluxe Space Heater

I think most people probably add some anti-freeze solution to the water system and tank, even though the interior should be above freezing.

Anything else??
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Old 09-18-2014, 10:33 AM   #2
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Tim:

No boatyard worth its salt will let you keep a heater plugged into your boat while it is on the hard. Mine removes and cuts the external cable if any owner leaves power connected to make the point! So all of your heater questions are irrelevant if the boat is on the hard, but good if you are going to keep the boat in the water where it is generally ok to keep power plugged in.

I have used the Caframo heater in the engine room of my boat in the water in NC, a little warmer than the Chesapeake and it worked well. I used a standard electric heater with a temperature controlled electric outlet in the main cabin to protect the fresh water system.

Running those heaters even with thermostatic control all winter cost more than the antifreeze would have, but it seemed easier at the time.

But if you have to keep the boat on the hard, everything will freeze solid, so you will have to winterize.

But winterizing is fairly easy. First make sure that your engine coolant is good to the temps expected. You can pull a little sample and put it in your home freezer or there are test kits available at auto parts stores.

Then winterize the raw water system (sea water freezes at 28 deg F) by closing the seacock, opening the strainer, starting the engine and pouring a gallon or two of RV/Boat antifreeze- the pink stuff, into the strainer. When it comes out solid pink, you are done.

Then if you have air conditioning you need to winterize its raw water system. Remove the suction hose to the electric r/w pump and start the A/C. Pour a quart or two into the suction hose with a funnel. If you can't start the A/C (no power) then remove the discharge hose and raise it or splice another hose onto it to get it high enough to pour the pink stuff in and out the thruhull. Then remove the suction hose and flush the pump with pink stuff.

The fresh water system is a bit more complicated. First get a short length of clear pvc hose and bypass the water heater. Sometimes all it takes is a male to male connector. Then open the drain on the water heater. You don't want to have to fill the entire water heater with antifreeze and it is a bear to flush out later.

Run the taps until the fresh water tank is empty. Then remove the suction hose to your fresh water pump and connect another short length of clear hose that you put into a bucket. Fill the bucket with antifreeze, turn on the fresh water breaker and go through the boat opening every valve- hot and cold and watch for the water to turn pink. Make sure that you get any transom shower connections, etc. It helps to have another person filling the bucket. This will take 2-5 gallons of antifreeze.

If you have a raw water anchor wash down system, you need to winterize that similarly.

Put a cup of antifreeze in each sink drain to fill the trap (if it has one) and maybe a half gallon in the shower to flush the shower sump with antifreeze. Some people dump a couple of gallons in the fresh water tank, but I don't think that is necessary.

Also flush a half gallon or so through the head.

If your bilge pumps are standing in water, either bucket it out or put enough antifreeze in the bilge water to protect them. Boats seem to mysteriously collect water in the bilge during the winter, so I wouldn't rely on the bilge staying dry.

All of the above will take an hour or two of work and 5-10 gallons of antifreeze.

David
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Old 09-18-2014, 11:00 AM   #3
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anyplace that experiences water..you need to drain or flush with antifreeze.

one thing most people forget is that rainwater does gets in certain places and that worth considering how to deal with...or when freezing occurs...certain drains can freeze up and now water can't escape..adding weight or water entering places you don't want it to.

there are dozens of good winterization checklists online..all have something special in them and all usually forget something so look at least a dozen and make a comprehensive list for your boaat...then think your boat through one more time.

here's one of many that discusses things many others don't...

Seaworthy - Boat Winter Checklist: Page 4 - BoatUS Magazine
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Old 09-18-2014, 11:29 AM   #4
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Greetings,
Mr. t. Depending on where on the Chesapeake you are, conditions could be quite variable. If on the hard, I would certainly remove or replace the raw cooing water with RV type AF "Just in case". Remember past ice storms? Power out for days at a time....Don't forget your domestic water system. MY feeling is it should be winterized as well.
We leave oscillating fans running 24/7 in each of the larger areas (bedrooms, galley/saloon, ER, pilot house etc.) Keep that air moving!
Rats! From the above good advice, too slow in keying....
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Old 09-18-2014, 12:39 PM   #5
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I only have a general idea of conditions in your area so this is somewhat general but is what I do.

Do not depend upon power to prevent freezing. It can go out and stay out long enough to cause damage, serious damage.
Engine:
-Pink A.F the raw water side of the engine from the seacock up. That will or should treat all items in the cooling system including any low spots in the system and exhaust.
- Open and close the seacocks a couple times and/or use the drains if equipped. Ball valves and taper plug seacocks will trap water at the sides which needs to be drained.
-Ensure the coolant is much better than the expected temps.
-I remove the air cleaners and stuff WD-40 dampened rags in the intakes and same for the exhaust to stop air interchange. I also cover the intakes after with an alum. plate.
======PUT A NOTE OVER THE START BUTTONS/KEYS ======
-Engine Oil and filters changed
-New fuel filters
-Fuel tanks full.

-Don't forget the fresh water system, pumps, lines. Pink them, drain them/blow out if you can.
-Drain water tanks and hot water tank. and blow/treat the rest of the system
-Toilet and its hoses including the holding tank and its pump. Same as above.
-All liquid food items and boat supplies that can freeze are taken home or at least put in the galley sink or a bucket/bin so if something leaks it doesn't ruin the interior.
-Look at your boat for natural circulation. You do not want a buildup of humidity as that will ruin the interior. Cover windows so some openings can be maintained but protected from rain/snow/ice.
-As for the engines pan heaters will work well at low wattage. They only need keep the engine a few degrees above ambient. If power goes out the engine mass will hold that for a day or two. Lots of boat engines do just fine without any heat.
-I do also have a bunch of small muffin fans to force circulation and a heater aboard on a thermostat. But the first thing is protect everything that can be damaged by freezing, not rely on heaters.

So ask the storage yard. D. Marchand has a good point that is applicable to your area. Mine will allow power but even so we must protect assuming power will go out. Plus the amount of power we are allowed is quite low so must set up accordingly. Find out.
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Old 09-18-2014, 02:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
Then winterize the raw water system (sea water freezes at 28 deg F) by closing the seacock, opening the strainer, starting the engine and pouring a gallon or two of RV/Boat antifreeze- the pink stuff, into the strainer. When it comes out solid pink, you are done.


David
My CAT take 10 gallons of RV Antifreeze before I get solid pink from the exhast. I would expect the Cummins to be similar. I figure there is about 5 gallons of water in the engine, muffler and hoses that needs to be pushed out and then replaced with another 5 gallons of antifreeze. Also be aware that most of the cheap RV antifreeze is now 50% alchohol, which isn't the best to leave laying in your engine all winter. Look for 100% propylene glycol on the label.
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Old 09-18-2014, 02:55 PM   #7
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If you don't know how or if you even need to winterize, maybe you should pay someone, watch and learn for next year. I'm from cold New England if the job is done incorrectly it will cost Many Boat bucks to repair in the spring. The Yard might even stand behind their work? Or use latitude sail south until it stays 80* and use your boat.
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Old 09-18-2014, 03:28 PM   #8
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FWIW, for the freshwater system, we drain tanks (including the water heater) and then I made up various short hoses/fittings so we can use an air compressor to blow everything out. I only use a little pink AF through the onboard filter/pump/accumulator. Saves cost of AF, and also flushing time in the Spring...

Essentially the same for the raw water washdown system.

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Old 09-20-2014, 06:51 AM   #9
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Thanks guys especially to David and C lectric. I've read over these posts a couple of times and will use them as a checklist as I'm winterizing. There was a lot I didn't think about. And perhaps like capecodder said it's worth hiring it out the first time especially if they guarantee their work.

I'm still worried about mold and mildew. Will just air circulation do the trick. I have fans and can get more but I don't have a window I can keep open that will not allow water in, even if only cracked open a little.
If marina allows I will definitely add a heater but as C lectric said you can't depend on the power remaining on.

From my very limited research it appears hauling is considerably cheaper than a winter slip. Plus I wouldn't have to check on the boat once a month or so if hauled. The only issue I have about hauling is the bottom paint is Interlux Ultra a hard paint that cannot be stored out of the water. It appears if I haul I will also have to repaint when splashing. That still may be cheaper than a slip and I have a new bottom to boot.

Also I have to do some research about turning over the engine with the sea cock closed to winterize the raw water circuit. I guess you unplug the solenoid so the engine won't start and allow the starter to circulate the antifreeze.
And no one mentioned the need to keep the engines warm, so engine block heaters are not necessary as long as the engines are properly anti-freezed?
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Old 09-20-2014, 07:20 AM   #10
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Tim, some of the marinas in Baltimore's Inner Harbor advertise winter special on slips, controlled so the water doesn't freeze, so you might check that out.

For us, hauling/blocking for the winter is an extra expense... since our slip fee is an annual thing.

As said before, you won't find a decent marina that will let you run power to a boat on the hard while you're not present.

Every several years (one out of every 4) we do haul and block. We winterize the engines, genset, and ACs before hauling. Once blocked, no fans, no heaters, no nothing... and no mold or mildew, no particular condensation issues (but engines are usually sprayed with a corrosion protectant). Not a big deal (just has to be done right).

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Old 09-20-2014, 07:50 AM   #11
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Some engines can have the raw water systems drained rather than flushed...my Cat 3208s just needed the zincs pulled (which I did to inspect anyhow and the raw water pumps had a drain plug on them but I just took them off and removed the impellers for the winter so they didn't set or sit in antifreeze. Don't know about Cummins..but running the engines on the hard is no big deal.... just be careful if using a flusher as it's easy to flood the engine if you have water lift mufflers . Better to use the engine running and suck the antifreeze solution through..and that takes a little coordination and proper setup... Once satisfied the engine is drained or had antifreeze run through the raw water system...you just need to be sure the normal engine antifreeze solution is good to at least -10 or -20 for the Chessie area (it did go to zero last winter I believe).

Many but not all others then tape something over the air intake and exhaust to keep moisture at bay...not sure how much that does if the motor is already full of moist air and it's not removed...then some cover the whole engine with a tarp, blanket, canvas all to keep dirt/dust and possibly dew from getting on it....some do spray them down with water displacing spray. Again not everyone does it. For the things not everyone does...their engines don't magically rust or die quicker to any great degree or even provable that I know of. People do stuff something in their exhaust tubes to prevent animals from getting in.

Many boats are open and airy enough the mildew isn't huge if you get back and open up before the warmer days of spring take hold...but many are. So yes fans help but only solar ones if the marina says no power. Some will build a plywood box with vents and put it over the front hatch and then leave engine room hatches open as a suprising amount of air blows through when the wind hits the flat sides of the boat. Of course it depends on some outside airflow so that may be pretty marina dependent.

I think most of the Dri bags type water removers don't work unless you tape up the boat completely air tight and change them out as soon as they have dissolved. Otherwise...keeping humidity out is a losing battle so light and fresh air are your best weapons. Also clean surfaces will help as much as anything. A good wipedown with the bleach impregnated Clorox wipes can only help. Obviously make sure about color fast. Turn all cushions on end and open seat locker hatches.
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Old 09-20-2014, 08:50 AM   #12
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Thanks Paul, I'll check with the Cummins guys and see what they say.

Nobody has mentioned batteries. I have 6 AGM batteries, 3 of them new. If hauled out and you can't use electricity how do you keep them charged, remove them. Mine are a pain to get to and why they are AGM's.
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Old 09-20-2014, 08:59 AM   #13
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get them fully charged, disconnect and clean them up so there's no salty residue on the tops...

Not much else you can do except install a solar batt maintainer. As useful as they are...I would buy a decent one considering the costs of AGMs...but then again I have no experience with AGMs.

The big question is how long is the boat going to sit?
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Old 09-20-2014, 09:28 AM   #14
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Timjet:

I have started and sucked antifreeze through a number and types of engines: Yanmar, big and small, Westerbeke's etc. No problem. The engine running and pushing exhaust through avoids any problems with water build up in the lift muffler. And you would have to crank for a long time to suck up a couple of gallons of antifreeze. So run the engine. Won't hurt a thing.

For the batteries, charging fully and then throwing the disconnect switch or removing the cables from the terminal is probably the best bet. Any battery that won't live for 5-6 months with no charge probably is junk anyway.

There are a couple of solutions for mildew. One is to install an integral solar powered vent fan on one or more of the hatches. It will move a little air. If you really want to be creative you can install a bigger 12V fan on a piece of plywood that covers the entry hatch. Then buy a solar panel that more or less matches the amp requirement of the fan. Rig the fan to blow out of the hatch and crack a few overhead hatches to let air in.

That is much more work than I am willing to put up with, so I just rely on one integral hatch fan. It does mildew, but a wipe with bleach removes and kills it.

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Old 09-20-2014, 09:49 AM   #15
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here's a FAQ about AGMs so David is giving good info on the AGMs...

An AGM battery when left unattended will only discharge at a rate of up to 3% per month and even after 12 months sitting idle can be recharged and put back into full service with no ill side effects. A normal wet cell battery discharges at a rate of up to 4% per week

FAQ about AGM Batteries - First Start Batteries
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Old 09-20-2014, 11:25 PM   #16
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Hey guys, Don't forget that to get antifreeze thru the engine, the thermostat has to be OPEN, so you must run the engine to get the antifreeze properly circulated. Run it till it's good and warm and then disconnect the intake hose from the seacock and stick it into the antifreeze bucket. Didn't see that on any of the posts. Ben
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Old 09-21-2014, 08:28 AM   #17
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Quote:
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Nobody has mentioned batteries. I have 6 AGM batteries, 3 of them new. If hauled out and you can't use electricity how do you keep them charged, remove them. Mine are a pain to get to and why they are AGM's.
Fully charge before haul out, nothing else required. I have specifically tried that; purposefully did not charge our AGMs over winter, the last time we were hauled and blocked. No discernible problem. (We're close enough; in the past, I've come down and connected a power cord temporarily so I could run the charger for a while.)


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Hey guys, Don't forget that to get antifreeze thru the engine, the thermostat has to be OPEN, so you must run the engine to get the antifreeze properly circulated. Run it till it's good and warm and then disconnect the intake hose from the seacock and stick it into the antifreeze bucket. Didn't see that on any of the posts. Ben
I don't think the thermostat controls sea water through-put... at least it doesn't on ours... so feeding purple anti-freeze through the raw water system doesn't take very much engine run time. Once purple flows out the exhaust discharges, it's all good.

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Old 09-21-2014, 10:27 AM   #18
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Hey guys, Don't forget that to get antifreeze thru the engine, the thermostat has to be OPEN, so you must run the engine to get the antifreeze properly circulated. Run it till it's good and warm and then disconnect the intake hose from the seacock and stick it into the antifreeze bucket. Didn't see that on any of the posts. Ben
That's because his Cummins is not salt water cooled (and most of the guys here with trawler engines...inboard diesels) ...it has a closed cooling system with antifreeze in it where the thermostat is. It also has a raw water side that is simple and just goes through a pump a couple of coolers maybe and a heat exchanger...they are all hit with antifreeze as soon as it starts being sucked through...no warm up necessary.

But brings up a good point that if a lift muffler is installed...that should have plenty of antifreeze through it too or just be drained when all is said and done.

I just read somewhere that be careful just waiting to see pink out the exhaust...wait until it is REALLY pink as someone did a quick check of the solution in parts of their engine and it had been diluted enough that it was only good to PLUS 10 degrees F.

Tim - don't forget the air conditioning system too...while many are self draining to a point...always good to either make sure or run pink through them too.
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Old 09-21-2014, 11:02 AM   #19
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Rather than just looking to see if the pink stuff stuff is coming out, perhaps use a refractometer. I was somewhat chagrined a couple of years ago to see that what I thought was a sufficient concentration of anti freeze was not after the yard checked it with one.

Refractometer
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Old 09-21-2014, 11:12 AM   #20
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And don't forget the windshield washers if you have them.

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