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On Powerboats – Systems accessibility

A pictorial view

On Powerboats - Systems accessibility - a pictorial view

Read the other story in this package: On Powerboats - Systems accessibility and installation



1. The aft engine room of this Volvo IPS-powered boat is an owner’s (and mechanic’s) dream. Note the large stairs and all the wide, open space around the engines. Headroom is essentially unlimited until well forward.



2. A flat walking surface several inches above the bilge is a welcome feature in any inboard engine room. The dual fuel filter/separators are easy to get to, the sight bowls are clearly visible, and they can be shifted on the fly without shutting down the engines if the one online becomes contaminated. The all-white interior also improves visibility, as does ample fluorescent lighting overhead.





3a, 3b. One thing to look for in any inboard is an emergency bilge suction valve like the one on the right. Avoid the one on the left. If both valves are open — the cooling-water intake through the bottom of the boat and the emergency bilge suction valve — a pathway from sea to bilge is created, and the boat would sink in short order. The seacock on the right eliminates this pathway issue. In order to pull the plug and open the bilge pickup, the through-hull has to be closed first, eliminating the potential for the seacock causing the boat to sink.



4. Here’s something to avoid like the plague: a foamed-in aluminum fuel tank. While not prohibited by the American Boat and Yacht Council, it should be, considering the potential for water to become trapped between the foam and the tank. The water will stagnate, deoxygenate and corrode right through the outside of the tank. Once the tank corrodes through, fuel starts leaking, creating the potential for an explosion and melting of the foam. Aside from the obvious complication of having gasoline outside the tank as well as in, removing a foamed-in fuel tank is a laborious process you’d rather not have to pay for. Notice the crevice between the tank and foam to the right in this picture. Aluminum tanks should be mounted on non-absorbent neoprene (or equivalent) rubber strips to prevent aluminum abrasion, with air space all around the outside to keep it ventilated and dry.



5. This boat has a nice, flat, dry walking surface on centerline between the engines, but it’s not much good with the batteries in the way. If the batteries have to live here, better that the builder install a shelf that you can walk on without peril.



6. The rudder in this single-screw inboard boat is wide open and easy to get to, as is the seawater washdown pump, to starboard. I’m of the old school that stipulates having a means of emergency steering in case of a hydraulic failure. In this case, such a design would involve a means of attaching a tiller to the rudder stock through a hole in the cockpit hatch above and disconnecting the steering ram.



7. The fuel filters on this boat are going to be tough to get to, mounted to the transom in the bilge some 30 inches from the hatch.



8. High-pressure hoses and fittings make for a secure and highly chafe-resistant fuel system. The fiberglass tank on this diesel sportfish, laminated with vinylester resin, should last forever, and it doubles as a structural hull component.



9. This outboard fishing boat has seacock valve handles that make it easy to open and close the valves from the cockpit. This is a great design that includes clear valve labeling and will make regular cycling of the valve more likely.



10. Corrosion-proof polyethylene fuel tanks are becoming more popular, and they’re found in bigger boats as capacities continue to increase (around 200 gallons now). It’s important that the builder leave space for the tank to grow when filled for the first time (about 3/8 inch per foot of tank) and that brackets used to hold the tank in place also allow for expansion. The brackets, along with any other supports in contact with the tank, should be covered with a soft, non-absorbent rubber to prevent abrasion.



11. Here’s a single-engine sterndrive boat with excellent all-around engine access. Both the engine box and the side deck walkthrough to starboard lift up high out of the way (38 inches in this case).