B.o.a.t. – Bail out another thousand – how troubleshooting saves more money

I just got back from a 3 day mini-vacation with family to celebrate our 10 year anniversary where we took the boat to do some fishing and hopefully some tubing. Well, 5 minutes in to tubing and my overheat alarm is going off! Or at least, SOME alarm is. I couldn’t exactly find out what all alarms this boat has or what they all sound like, but with the magic of the internet (the official sponsor of this post) I was doing some research and as best I could tell the solid beeeeeeeep I was getting is an overheat, low oil is a beep-beep-beep alarm. I was pretty confused since I replaced the impeller recently (a pretty easy job the saves TONS doing it yourself). I did have the tell-tale plug up so I thought MAYBE the whole motor plugged with sand, except the motor didn’t really seem hot. Even sitting an hour to a COLD engine and the alarm was still going off. As far as the oil alarm goes, it is only for the oil LEVEL of the alarm, not whether the pump was actually working.

So, I did some research (doing this at a cabin is easy these days with cell phones, 10 years ago? phht) and some trouble shooting on the engine itself. I unplugged the wire going to the temp sensor, alarm still sounding. I unplugged this mysterious yellow wire that T’d into that and the alarm shut off. I couldn’t find what the yellow wire actually was, but I was able to see the part number it connected to and I found out it is the oil alarm module. Its only purpose in life is to sound a system check beep when the boat is turned off, and to modulate the ground signal when the oil level sensor is tripped.

Some people online said that without that module that the overheat sensor wouldn’t work. Well, that is important (maybe not for a specific trip, but in general), and a bit disappointing because it seems that module is something like $100, though maybe off-brands are cheaper. So, I was able to pull the temperature sensor and test it with a blow torch and verify the alarm DOES still sound even with the module disconnected.

This issue would have ruined the trip, not to mention the hassle of taking the engine to a marine mechanic, and the cost? Well, I am guessing the diagnosis would charge an hour minimum at $90 or so an hour. If they took liberty to fix the issue then it’d be another $100 in parts and another couple/few hours labor (this module is in a very difficult spot that’d require removing a lot of other stuff).

But, I can see why the acronym in the title fits though. There was this issue, then there was the impeller that needed changed, re-wiring that needed done because of the age / corrosion, oh, and my voltage regulator. I almost forgot about that! I went fishing with my son a few weeks ago and things were fine. We pulled in a bay, fished for an hour or so and then the battery is COMPLETELY dead. Puzzling for sure, but I pulled a trolling motor battery and fired up the engine without issue , but on the way back I noticed the tachometer had stopped working again. A couple days later I was doing a bit of trouble shooting and had the engine and electrical cover off and started up the motor and quickly saw glowing coming from the electrical area. I shut the motor off and quickly started working to disconnect the battery (I see value in a quick disconnect or remote disconnect). Turns out my voltage regulator had started melting down and had burned through a couple wires and melted a lot of insulation and epoxy potting material. Its by shear luck the motor hadn’t caught fire! But as far as fixing, the factory part is $100-150 (aftermarket on amazon was $25), plus the time to replace it and replace a few wires and connectors would have run me another hour or two. So, I used $30-40 in parts, a shop again would have meant taking the boat somewhere else for a week or so and another $200-300 bill.

So, if you aren’t mechanical/problem solving older boats seem to quickly be able to bankrupt you!

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