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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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March 01, 2017

Step-By-Step Spring Commissioning for Outboard Engines & Boats

by Bob Banfelder

Springing into Action ~ Part 1

If you had followed my 2016 winterizing procedures in Nor'east Saltwater for November 1st (Part 1) and November 2nd (Part 2), titled STEP-BY-STEP WINTERIZING WIZARDRY FOR OUTBOARD ENGINES, the majority of the work is now behind you. Let's move on to Spring Commissioning, referencing both your outboard engine and boat for this 2017 season. I'll continue using our 90 horsepower Yamaha TXR 4-stroke outboard engine and 18-foot Nautic Star center console as a generic model. If you hadn't followed those winterizing instruction as a general guide, you may want to copy those earlier pages for future reference. If so, please log on to Part 1: and Part 2: for complete details.

Let's uncover the boat and continue where we left off. It would be a good idea to first read through each procedure carefully before proceeding so that you will be familiar and highly organized. You will receive several useful suggestion as well as very important information that you may not be aware of. This approach will save you time, money, and frustration.

Come spring is when I change the Fuel/Water Separating Filter, address touch-up primers and paints for fiberglass and underwater hardware, check and reinstall batteries, replace zinc(s), reinstall prop, wash and wax exterior/interior of boat, clean the bilge, polish on-deck fixtures and fittings, and protect vinyl seats. Therefore, these are the steps we'll be covering referencing Spring Commissioning.

Let's get started.

PHASE ONE: changing the Marine Fuel/Water Separating Filter


Items: Yamaha MARINE FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER-High Performance 90 GPH/10 Micron Filtration ~ oil filter wrench ~ rags ~ paper towels ~ aluminum pie pan ~ glass jar ~ ¼ pint fresh gas

Step 1. Raising my outboard engine allows access to where the FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER is located. Doing so shifts the group of cables out of the way for easier accessibility.

Note: The location of the spin-on/-off FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER is rather difficult to reach and remove because it is practically touching the stern/starboard corner bulkhead—deep within the recess of my 18-foot Nautic Star.

A metal looped band-type filter wrench is required to remove the filter in that narrow space. No other type of oil filter wrench worked. I needed the thinness of that band to encircle the filter. However, the wrench would not properly grip the filter and kept slipping. What to do?

I took a thin sheet of cork gasket material, measured and cut two narrow strips to fit neatly within the metal band, and secured them in place with Gorilla Glue. The strips have remained firmly in place since 2010. The modified tool is a godsend. Yes, necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention. Hopefully, your filter is located in a more accessible area.

Note cork gasket material strips at one o'clock and seven o'clock positions within filter wrench band

Step 2. While removing the Fuel/Water Separator, it has to be supported in my left hand as I loosen the filter with the wrench held in my right, being careful not to spill any gas as I remove it. I have a disposable aluminum pie pan placed beneath the filter canister to catch any spill.

Step 3. Pour the old gas into a clean, clear jar and check for water, dirt, debris, and other contaminants. The gas should be clear, not cloudy or white in color. If you do have water in the gas, you'll see its separation at the bottom of the jar as the water is heavier than the gas; gas floats atop water. Consult your authorized marine mechanic if this occurs. I never had an issue using a Yamaha MARINE FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER-High Performance 90 GPH/10 Micron Filtration canister.

Step 4. Nearly fill the new Fuel/Water Separating Filter with fresh gasoline to facilitate priming the fuel system.
Step 5. Lubricate the new filter gasket with engine oil, carefully spin on and tighten securely— approximately ½ turn after the gasket contacts the filter head base.

PHASE TWO: touch-up priming


Items: protective clothing and covering for head, face, hands, and eyes [goggles] ~ 2-part Pettit Protect Epoxy Primer (4700 and 4701 Gray) ~ tight-fitting filtered respirator mask (not paper) ~ paint scraper ~ 220 grit sandpaper ~ various size chip brushes (1in.– 4in.) ~ paint-stick stirrers ~ come-a-long ~ large bucket ~ three empty 5 oz. tuna cans ~ craft sticks ~ wide slot-head screwdriver ~ newspaper ~ rubber hammer ~ paint thinner for cleanup only ~ rags ~ trash container

Clearly an excellent primer choice for barrier protection

Let's first examine the all-important barrier-coat primer. I'll start by saying that when I pulled the boat for winterizing during the 2016 season, I did not have a single barnacle on the hull, having employed three coats of both an excellent 2-part epoxy barrier primer and ablative antifouling paint when the vessel was brand-new in 2010/11. What I did initially note at the end of the 2016 season was a light, slimy marine growth buildup, along with a few barnacles (very few) on the metal hardware, at and just below the waterline, which came off easily by immediately pressure washing. Additionally, having carefully inspected the hull after power washing, I noted a few small, patchy-white areas where not only the black ablative paint had worn away, but where the gray primer coat had begun to wear away, too, barely exposing the fiberglass/gelcoat. This was after six seasons. Most of those tiny areas were where the trailer's rollers had covered areas of the hull the season before. Therefore, when hauling the boat, I position it on the trailer so that I can access those worn-away spots come spring.

A few worn-away areas along hull (grayish-white); use come-a-long (if needed)

The magic to maintaining a virtually barnacle-free bottom is to first lightly sand the gelcoat—not with a heavy grit sandpaper, but with a fine 220 grit sandpaper. You want to prepare the area so that the primer will adhere well, not roughly scratched to the point where the protective gelcoat compromises the fiberglass. Next, apply three light coats of gray primer to the exposed area. This sounds like a lot of work. Actually, it's not. The initial step takes longer because you have to first lightly sand then wipe clean the area before applying your first coat of primer, allowing it to thoroughly dry. The second and third steps go quickly because you need not sand and wipe clean; however, you do need to apply all three coats with a brush—not a roller.

Allow those three colors to serve as your guide: white (fiberglass/gelcoat), gray (primer), and black (ablative paint). If you are not down to the exposed white surface of the hull, you need not prime. If you have only small areas of gray primer showing, with a chip brush, hit those areas with one coat of black ablative bottom paint. If no gray is showing, simply forego bottom painting until the following boating season before rolling on a single light coat of ablative bottom paint to the entire hull—with a roller—right up to the waterline. Why add unnecessary weight (paint) to the hull? That's the bottom line.

Note: In fact, I wrote an article for Nor'east Saltwater back in April 2013 titled Barrier Epoxies & Ablative Paints ~ The Bottom Line. You need not read the article to proceed with any of these Spring Commissioning procedures. I mention it simply because it covers Barrier Epoxies & Ablative Paints in depth. If you're interested, log on to

For hull touch-up, I'm going to stick with the 2-part epoxy barrier primer and ablative bottom paint for the 2017 procedure (stick being the operative word).

Note: Here is how I went about doing this touch-up job without making it seem like work. Call it a rationalization if you must. I pick a warm day between fall and spring. You could be raking leaves or cleaning up the garden, washing and/or waxing the car, cleaning screens, et cetera. In between these chores, I chip away at this important touch-up priming project.

Step 1: Scrape any loose paint from hull area.

Step 2: With a wide slot-head screwdriver, open up both cans of 2-part epoxy primer.

Step 3: Using separate stirring sticks, mix each can well. After noting the mixture ratio stated on the label, use the same sticks with which you just stirred the contents to simply dip and drip a small amount of primer and catalyst into an empty tuna can. A little bit goes a long way in covering small areas. With either newspaper or rags, wipe the sticks clean and save for next time.

Step 4: With a wooden tongue depressor, mix the combined contents well; discard stirrer. That's all the primer paint you'll need for applying each coat with a 3-inch chip brush to those small, well-worn painted areas. Allow to dry overnight.

In a large bucket, have all the items needed neatly stored and handy for repeating two more applications.

Tomorrow we'll continue with Part 2, Phase Three: Ablative Paints.
Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon

Available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon

Comments (2)

Connection Failure wrote 6 months ago

Great series of articles here Bob. You use the different brands of Primer and Antifouling with no issues, correct? Pettit epoxy primer with Interlux bottom paint? Thanks

flytier wrote 5 months ago

Thanks for the kind words. You are correct. No issues with using the two brands, Pettit for primer and Interlux for bottom paint.

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