MOTOR YACHTSMEN AHOY!
SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER By PROP SHAFT”
JUDGING from the remarks one sometimes hear;, particularly from new enthusiasts, it might be supposed that motor-boating was a comparatively new form of sport. Actually the first motor-boats made their appearance in the closinc,b years of the last century and the development of the sport has been more or less collateral with that of the automobile. The Marine Motoring Association, which in its early days was the governing body in all matters appertaining to motor-boat racing, was formed as long ago as 1903 ; that body, which fulfilled the same functions for motor-boat enthusiasts as the Yacht Racing Association does for the ” stick and string” brigade, drew up the rules and was responsible for the general code which still applies. Immediately after the war there was a great development in the sport ; thousands of young men who had tasted the joys of life afloat, preferring the hazards of the mine and the submarine to those of the trenches, looked around for some means of keeping up their association with the sea, and the few motor-boat clubs then in existence experienced a large and welcome
addition to their memberships. The Royal Motor Yacht Club at Hythe and the British Motor Boat Club whose head quarters were in London did a great deal to foster the sport in the early days, while the Sussex Motor Boat Club at Brighton, and the Nore Yacht Club at Southend-on-Sea were other centres where motor-boat racing thrived and still thrives. The British Motor Boat Club was amalgamated with The Royal Motor Yacht Club a few years ago and the latter is now regarded more or less officially as the head quarters of the sport.
To those of us who do not aspire to go racing but are content with a speed of eight to ten knots, it is difficult to conceive such speed as that achieved by Gar Wood in America a year or two ago, or the 129.5 miles per hour which Sir Malcolm Campbell achieved in his attempt in regaining the water speed record for this country.
One of course recognises that such speeds have no commercial significance except inasmuch as they reflect the development of the marine internal combustion engine, but just as the pioneers of motor-car racing have played a great part in the development of the automobile so have the motor-boat builders and engine manufacturers profited by the achievements of the late Sir Henry Segrave, Sir Malcolm Campbell and others. In my last article I gave some comparisons between the two-stroke and the four-stroke engines and, believing that many of those who read these notes are
11C N comers to the sport, it may be of interest to develop the idea of technical talks. In considering the general principles of the internal combustion engine it may be pointed out that while the word ” motor ” is nowadays used almost universally to describe a petrol or paraffin engine, actually the term has a much wider meaning and in fact implies any piece of machinery capable of converting electrical, or chemical energy, into mechanical energy. In this sense it may be argued that a steam engine is just as much a ” motor ” as a petrol engine while of course to the electrical engineer the term ” motor ” implies something entirely different from a petrol engine.
This however is by the way and to those in the circles to which this journal appeals the word” motor” has a generally accepted meaning, i.e., the internal combustion engine, and as such it is necessary that all who wish to get the best out of their motor-boats should thoroughly understand and appreciate the principles which govern its working and those essentials which make for satisfactory running.
The practical management of a motor-boat falls under two heads—seamanship and the upkeep of the machinery installation. On either of these, volumes might be written, but practical experience is really the only guide to the actual handling of a boat. No man can become a good helmsman or navigator by reading books and in any case that aspect of the subject does not come within the scope of these notes.
There are hundreds, indeed thousands, of motorists who drive and have driven cars for years but who have absolutely no mechanical knowledge other than that of how to manipulate the gears, etc. When, as invariably happens sooner or later, they have a break-down the ubiquitous and ever obliging A.A. Scout may come to the rescue or the services of a garage are requisitioned. The man who takes his motor-boat out dare not proceed in this haphazard manner. There are no A.A. Scouts on the rivers and remote backwaters, neither are garages encountered on the open sea. For these reasons no one should dream of taking a motor-boat out until be has satisfied himself that his engine is in proper working order and that he possesses sufficient mechanical knowledge to maintain it in that condition. The first and most important question is lubrication; this applies equally to out-board and in-board engines. Neglect of other matters may or may not lead to trouble, but if you fail to keep the engine properly lubricated it will inevitably land you in trouble and possible disaster. Neglect of this elementary precaution means excessive wear of the bearings and
eventually expensive replacements. An even more probable result is that one of the bearings will seize up or some important part fracture, bringing your boat to an immediate stop, and, should you be on the open sea, leaving you and your craft to the mercy of the waves. In the case of out-board motors special care and attention is necessary ; in this case the mixture of oil and petrol should be prepared in a separate can according to the formula recommended by the manufacturers of the particular engine in use. Never, under any circumstances, pour clear petrol or oil into the motor
tank. Important as it is to see to the lubrication before taking your boat out, a little attention after you return from your run will lengthen the life of your engine and make for more satisfactory results. The best out-board engines are just about as corrosive-proof as the resources of metallurgical science can make them but after a day in salt water it will be found advisable to wash the exterior of the engine, afterwards, rotating the fly-wheel while the lower part is immersed in a bucket of fresh water. If it is possible to run the motor in a tank of fresh water this will be even more effective as that will clear out the salt from the interior parts. The motor should then be carefully dried and wiped over with an oily rag. To return to the general principle of lubrication, the first step should be to go over the whole of the machinery equipment with an oil can and grease can; make sure that the engine, gear-box and shaft have an adequate supply of oil. On the question of oil it is poor economy to use a cheap oil as such is apt to lose its lubricating value and while the gauge may indicate the right level, the value as a lubricant may have evapor
ated. In this case the cost of renewing a broken connecting rod or a fractured crank-case will prove a heavy penalty to pay for the sake of saving a possible shilling or so on a gallon of oil.
Again, do not hesitate to wash all the old oil out of the engine with paraffin occasionally and fill up with a fresh supply. This may seem elementary advice but it is surprising how many even of the keenest motor-yachtsmen neglect this simple precaution.
All being well with the lubrication the next step is to start up the engine. Having done so give a look immediately to make sure that the water circulation system is properly functioning. Pumps have a nasty habit of failing when least expected and it is as well to make a habit of glancing at the water outlet immediately the engine is started up. One owner of the writer’s acquaintance used to detail one of his crew to keep an eye on this and when racing or cruising he used, periodically, to call out “How’s the water ? This became quite a joke with his fellow club-men but it will be found something far from a joke if the intake well becomes choked with weeds or mud.
For this reason it is advisable not to keep the engine running when the boat is at rest in very shallow water as there is a danger of the cylinder jackets becoming choked up with mud.
In brief, May 2008
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