Duck hunters who use boats in the late season must perform proper maintenance on their rigs to keep them running in subfreezing weather. Barney Myracle runs Beech Lake Marine in Lexington, Tennessee, and he's an avid duck hunter.
Here's how Myracle keeps his boats operating dependably when the temperature plunges.
"First, most of today's motor fuel has ethanol added to the gas," Myracle says, "and it's important to use a fuel additive to prevent ethanol separation, which is more likely to occur in cold temperatures. When separation occurs, water is released into the gas, and if this water freezes, it will block the gas line and prevent the engine from running. So, use a fuel additive that's specially formulated for ethanol-based gas." Specifically, Myracle recommends Sta-Bil Marine Formula Ethanol Treatment used according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Myracle also advises adding extra oil to the fuel mixture for two-cycle outboard engines. "A cold engine needs more lubrication," he explains. "In the winter, I add 20 percent more oil to my gas than the normal 50:1 mixture."
Myracle says boat owners should get an engine tune-up before the season begins. New spark plugs provide a faster, hotter starting sequence. The gear case lube should also be changed, as water sometimes collects in the lower unit, and if this moisture freezes, the gears will lock up. Also remember to replace your battery if it is more than three years old. Three years is normal life for a marine battery. A weak battery will often fail on the first truly cold morning.