Boating! Like most enthusiasts, this is the most exciting part of Spring. However, if you’re too quick to get out on the water, overlooking the safety of your craft can cause preventable challenges this year. Let’s make sure to have fun and be safe all season. With a just a bit of due diligence before hitting the water, you can make sure that all the components of your craft are in top shape, ready for a safe season of fun on the water.

If you’re an owner of a gasoline-powered boat, Racor suggests a full seasonal inspection of your fuel system. When gasoline is not blended correctly, the whole system is negatively affected. This is especially true when inspecting the plastics in your marine spin-on filter fuel bowls. After checking all components for leakage and seepage—such as hoses, fittings, filters, etc.—make sure to repair any problem areas immediately.

Fuel System Maintenance Item #1: Plastic Bowls

One of the most critical components to check along your marine fuel system is the plastic collection bowls on the gasoline filter. These clear bowls will show signs of wear and tear for various reasons, and they must be attended to regularly. Changes in the formulations of gasoline (such as concentrations of ethanol over 10%), the age of the bowl, running with high temperatures, UV Light, and some fuel additives can damage clear plastic filter bowls. Look out for clarity loss, crazing, and bowl shrinkage as signs of a unit requiring maintenance.

Part of the routine inspection of your clear plastic bowl is checking for water, deformation, discolorization, and haze. Plastic filter bowls are designed to last many years, however, if you notice excessive signs of wear or breakdown, immediate replacement is required.

Fuel System Maintenance Item #2: Daily Fuel Filter Inspection

A daily inspection of the collection bowl for water or other contaminants is required. If you have a see-through bowl installed, then this process is even more straightforward. A note of caution: water and gas can look very similar, so make sure not to allow the bowl to fill with water before draining. If you have a metal bowl unit installed, you will need to do things a bit differently. Drain off about a half a cup and inspect for large droplets of clear water at the bottom of the cup. If you see that more than half of your sample is water, drain off more fluid until no more water is evident.

Fuel System Maintenance Item #3: The Filter Element (Check it often and carry spares just in case)

As per guidelines, fuel filter replacement should occur every six months. If you are experiencing power loss, replace the fuel filter immediately. Also, if you notice sediment in the contaminant bowl, or if you can see visible rust, it is wise to replace the filter element as soon as possible. Keep in mind that just one tankful of gunky fuel can clog a new filter faster than you can get across the lake and back.

Pro Tip: Write the date you changed the filter on the unit for your reference.

Final Notes

Hand tighten your contaminant bowl to the filter element; about a half turn after hitting the gasket. The same technique applies for the filter element to the head as well. Never use a strap wrench or other device to tighten the unit in place.

Note of Caution: Only install Racor see-through contaminant bowls on outboard applications where the filter is in the open air. Use Racor metal bowl gasoline filters on vessels with enclosed engine spaces. Also, adequate ventilation is a must; before starting a gasoline-powered inboard craft, run the Engine Blower for at least five minutes.