Genuine faults or my mistakes !!!
Generally, problems happen when we least expect them. We've all heard of
Murphy's Law. Anything that can possibly go wrong, will.
We had many
problems on our journey across Australia, but fortunately nothing major
that was life threatening.
No oil pressure.
Lock Nut not
Your boat is on fire
Engine stalled when approaching marina
The ECM switched the engine off because there was no oil pressure.
(A costly exercise)
A few months prior to departing on our long journey across Australia, I decided to service the engine
as a precautionary measure. There was no need to replace the oil as the engine had then 32 hours. Before that at
10 hours I did change the oil (Mineral Marine grade15W-40) as recommended in the manual as well as
adjusting the tappets.
I prefer mineral type oil over synthetic. Over the
internet, I read many articles on the matter and many car owners
especially in the US, commented that one should never ever use
synthetic oil in a new engine. That arguments was not an issue with me as
I did not need to be convinced or converted. I was already a believer
mineral is better than synthetic oil.
When I went to purchase the new oil, the shop only had marine
synthetic. I was hesitant but the sales person was very convincing that
synthetic oil is far superior than mineral. That's why it is also more
expensive, he commented. You get the best protection for your engine. I
explained that the engine is new with low hours. He showed me that the
oil 10W-40 was suitable for the Yamaha marine engines. As I was in a
hurry, I went against my belief and fell into the sales trap. I replaced
the oil with expensive marine grade synthetic oil and also the oil
After checking the oil level and connecting a water hose to the
bottom leg, I started the engine and immediately noticed tappets noise
which I definitely did not hear before. Off went the switch. I waited a
few minutes and started the engine again. Same noise. Clack, clack,
clack. Not normal. What the hell did I do? Switched off again and
checked for leaks and everything looked normal. Third time lucky. The noise
had diminished but I was very confused. I placed the cover back on and
the noise seemed normal. The engine run for about five minutes with no
sign of malfunction. I attributed the noise problem to the fact that it
took time for the oil to fill up the new filter and eventually
lubricated the tappets. Time for a proper run on the water.
We launched the boat at Mornington and went for an half an hour power
cruise. When I got close to the marina, I slowed the engine and to my
complete astonishment, the engine stalled. No power and the wind was
pushing us towards the boats on the swing moorings. A collision was inevitable. I tried
to restart the engine and again to my compete shock, it started. We got
What the hell went wrong?
In my mind, it had to be something with the oil. Back at home, a
complete check-up was carried out. The oil level was normal and there
was no leaks. Time to put an oil pressure gauge on this bloo.. engine. I
installed a T junction and added an oil plug whilst keeping the existing
sensor on so as not to interfere with the electronics of the engine, the ECM
(Electronic Command Module). First test showed that the idling oil pressure was
less than recommended in the manual but acceptable. Time to rev the engine a bit and
the pressure went up. A big smile was on my face as I was very pleased that
it was not the synthetic oil after all. So I pulled the throttle back and sh..., the pressure
dropped to zero and the engine stopped. My bottom jaw followed the
direction of the pressure gauge needle and dropped into
a wide open mouth wiping the momentary smile.
Conclusion. The ECM switched the engine off because there was no oil
for drastic action. I purchased new mineral marine oil 15W-40, of course
from a different supplier, to replace the synthetic one. I drained the
old oil completely before adding new one and redrained again so that
there was nil or negligible synthetic oil left. Not taking any risks, I
also installed a brand new oil filter. I started the engine (water hose
on) and there was no tappets noise. Switch the engine off and did the
test again and
there was oil pressure all the time even when slowing the engine to
below idling speed.
I connected the Yamaha Software Diagnosis to the engine and all
readings were normal. Quite a relief!!!
That is why I now have four gauges on the pedestal, oil pressure,
water temperature, rev and vacuum.
In my opinion, synthetic oil is thinner than mineral for the same grade.
Did using the lower grade 10W-40 synthetic instead of 15W-40 mineral affected
the oil pressure? It was summer when this service was done and
the temperature was about 29°C.
What do the oil numbers mean?
Multigrade oils are those oils that have two
numbers on the grade, indicating that the
oil is able to maintain engine performance
in high and low temperatures. A multigrade
lubricant minimises viscosity differences
under temperature variations.
number on a multigrade oil is normally
followed by a W, which stands for winter.
This number represents the lubricant’s
viscosity under lower temperatures, giving
an indication of how the oil will flow in
the winter. The lower the first number, the
thinner it is at low temperatures.
The second number, which appears after
the W, represents the oil's viscosity under
high temperatures. The higher the number,
the thicker the oil will stay at high
temperatures. Using the correct viscosity
for the engine increases performance,
reduces wear and increases fuel efficiency.
The experts say that synthetic oils
usually have better low and high temperature
properties than normal mineral oils. This
maintains protection while allowing better
fuel economy and cold starting.
No one will ever convince ME to change to marine synthetic oil again.
It is a very personal issue.
Throughout our journey across Australia, the
Yamaha 60HP 4 stroke fuel injected engine performed like a Swiss clock
Lake Argyle Western Australia (North)
While retrieving Jorjia from Lake Argyle, I heard a loud bang. At
this stage, the boat was completely out of the water and the ballast was
just started to flow out. The boat was heavy. As I pulled up on rocky
surface, the strap broke. Fortunately, I had the
chain on otherwise the boat would have slid off the trailer and
fallen onto the rocks with engine first and I would hate to guess the
possible damage that would have occurred.
Safety Chain !!!! YES
When we last retrieved the boat, I noticed that the strap was damaged
by the cogs of the winch wheel digging into the material. While at
Broome, I visited the marine shop but they did not have stock of a new
strap and the price was excessively expensive. So I postponed the
purchase of a new one until the next town. But we didn't find any on the
way to Lake Argyle.
Looking at the strap before launching, I took the chance that it
might still be ok. Bad decision on my part.
It does not pay to cut corners.
Take a paper clip and bend it back and forth a few times. Eventually
it will break. Without going into extensive scientific explanation,
metal fatigue is the weakening of a material caused by repeatedly
applying loads on and
off. It is the progressive and localized structural damage that occurs
when a material is subjected to cyclic loading.
The front guide on the trailer was built and installed to facilitate
retrieving the boat in high winds.
When we reached the west coast and we had completed the first part of
the journey, crossing the Nullarbor, the vibration was an annoying
problem that needed attention.
Whilst driving, I noticed from the rear mirror that the aluminium rod
was constantly vibrating. There was no cause for alarm as it was not
a safety issue. I mounted the blue PVC tubing to reduce the vibration
but it made no difference.
To reduce it, I attached a rope from the top of the aluminium rod to
the boat. (Must not forget to undo before launching). This had
dampened the effect, but there was still vibrations.
Is that bad luck, stupidity, poor design on my
part or what?
Before we reached Broome, at a filling station, I noticed that the
bracket was loose. Before I could checked the bolts, the complete
structure came off in my hand. That was definitely not something
that I expected. The whole things was just about to fly off and damage the
hull. Fortunately the rope would have stopped it from hitting a car or a
person on the road. OMG....
At this stage, for safety reasons, I decided to remove the other
bracket until we get back to base.
Metal Fatigue. The constant vibration which is
equivalent to bending a clip up and down, eventually weakened the
aluminium tubing where mounting holes were drilled. The bottom end of
the tube was fixed on the trailer whilst the other end was pulsating.
- Leave the bracket out completely
- Redesigned the whole structure using steel instead of aluminium.
Steel was not an option for me.
A front bracket was mandatory as it had proved on many occasions to
be an advantage when retrieving the boat especially in high winds.
I choose to rebuilt a new bracket except this time I inserted a smaller
aluminium tube inside the main one before bending the structure to shape.
As per the photo on the right, this act as a brace on the inside of the
main tube and has greatly reduced the vibration. Also I made the tubing
Other parts that suffered metal fatigue on our journey touring the
great Australian outback were the port and starboard
middle mudguard brackets.
mount the mudguard onto the trailer, I used heavy duty aluminium L shape
brackets at each end of the mudguards. But for the middle, I used thinner
U shape brackets. ( I run out of the L shape length and had spare
thinner U shape).
The metal fatigue happened in the centre of the bracket where the
hole was drilled.
were drilled on the bottom of the bracket to tie the 12V wire for the
side light mounted on the mudguard.
To repair the damage temporally, I purchased two small plates to join
the broken brackets. It lasted until we got back to base.
definitely a poor design on my part. I thought that the middle bracket
was just to hold the two mudguards together and onto the trailer. Never
thought that metal fatigue would test my beautiful design !!!
Replaced the thin U shape bracket with stronger L shape ones, same as
used at the ends of the mudguards.
Locknut not so locking
To upgrade to dual axles, five brand new light truck tyres and rims were purchased to replace the
US made single axle system (four tyres on the trailer and one spare.)
Aligning the axles were done from the centre of each hubs. Before
departing on our long journey across Australia, I checked the
measurements and they were less than 1mm between the hubs on each side
of the trailer. Also the axles were aligned to the back frame and
checked against the front towing bar. Measurement from axle to axle was
spot on. This confirmed that the wheels were
rotating in line with each other.
about 5000Kms from Melbourne, whilst on the west coast, the above photo
showed what the
port rear tyre looked like. I was a bit surprised and could not work
out what was the cause. I decided to proceed up north to Darwin keeping
an eye on the wear of the tyre. By the time we reached Broome, the threads were much thinner. At
it was time for a new tyre.
I was offered a good price for a new light truck type and decided to
also change the rear tyres of the Kia.
When we got back to Melbourne, before parking the
boat at home, by pure luck or coincidence, Margaret was following me in
her car and noticed that the port rear tyre was wobbling.
(The new tyre bought in Alice Spring).
At first, I suspected that the tyre was mounted incorrectly in
Alice Springs but the whole tyre/rim was not turning evenly. Could it be
loose or faulty bearings but that was not the
I traced the fault to the rim. Undoubtedly a manufacturer's fault. The other rims were perfect.
Regrettably, too late to return to the company for warranty. Although
there was no sign of hitting something, they would without any doubt
blame me for having damage the rim.
I checked the measurements of the axles and notice an
increase in the alignment on the port side while the starboard side
had barely moved.. This could have contributed to the wear of the tyre. The bolts and
locknut was still tight but in my opinion not tight enough. I attributed
the movement of the rear axle on the port side to the fact that maybe the wobbling of the rim would
have loosen the
bolts slightly. It could also be possible that I did not tighten the
locknuts properly and that was the
cause of the excessive tyre wear. Further more, no Loctite®
was used before as I though it was not necessary when using locknuts.
faulty tyre with the spare for now which will ensure that all wheels on the trailer are
in good order. Realign the axles and this time use Loctite® (Blue) on the all
bolts and nuts.
Breaker, Breaker, your boat is on fire.
couple of weeks before we departed on the 'journey', we just left home
on our way to Painesville, Gippsland Lakes when a persistent voice came
out of the CB speaker shouting, "breaker, breaker, your boat is on
That's not the sort of jokes anyone would play on the radio. "Hi there,
good buddy, did you say my boat is on fire", I replied in a nervous
voice. "Yes, mate, there is smoke coming out at the back of the boat".
"Thanks mate" was my reply.
We immediately pulled over on the side of the road and to my complete
astonishment, there was smoke coming out of the port side of the
The front bearings hub was excessively hot. It's probable that the smoke
was caused by grease overheating. That can only be attributed to a
faulty bearing, I estimated. But that impossible because I checked them
only days before. Brakes were only installed on the front axle wheels.
Rear brakes were added after our journey. I decided to wait for the hub
to cool down for more diagnosis. Ten minutes later, I could not visually
see any problems and decided to slowly drive back home. All seems to be
going well but after about five minutes, the smoke appeared again and at
this stage, the car was struggling to pull the boat. No doubt brake
locking was the cause of the overheating. As we were only about 20Kms from home and I decided to backtrack at turtle
speed with emergency blinkers on, keeping an eye on the hub temperature.
am I cooking the brake pad?
I regularly greased the bearings especially after the second or third launching and
During the previous maintenance, I also sprayed the hub and
surrounding parts with 3-in-one Lithium Grease to prevent rusting. I've
done this for many years and never had any problems even when the white
grease got onto the pads and disc surface. This time things were
Grease came out at the back seal and ended being sprayed everywhere. Not
a problem because, that would prevent rust and a good insulation against
water entering and damaging the rear bearing, the more grease the
better. But there was so much mess that I decided to do a bit of
cleaning and sprayed Heavy Duty Degreaser before washing with water. I thought that
Lithium grease onto the pads did not
cause any problem so degreaser would also cause no problem especially
after washing the whole thing using high water pressure.
Degreaser penetrated inside the pads material like a sponge soaked in
water. When driving, heat
generated by the rubbing of the pads against the disc eventually
increased the thickness and locked the brake.
In an attempt to get rid of the degreaser-soaked pads, I tried to cook
them on a portable gas stove. After many attempts, it seemed that either
the gas heat was not hot enough or degreaser was too deep below the
surface of the pads.
Time to replace the pads with new ones. Where do you get new Macgregor
trailer brake pads in Australia at a reasonable price?
After lots of research, I discovered that brake pads for the following
cars were identical to the ones on the Macgregor trailer. The metal springs
had to be removed.
Mentor 10/96 - 6/00
Kia Sephia 1.8L 1998 on
Kia Spectra 5/01 - 6/2004
The brakes never gave us any more problems
during our journey across Australia.
The morale of the
story is, I WILL NEVER USE DEGREASER ON BRAKE PADS AGAIN
Copyright © 2015, Sylvio