Engine Maintenance Class with Bellevue Sail and Power Squadron


There is one thing you can count on when you have an engine-powered, waterborne craft: you’ll spend money! Sometimes, that money is spent needlessly either because we aren’t familiar with a particular problem we’ve come across, or because we didn’t understand the maintenance required for upkeep on our vessel. Thankfully, the Bellevue Sail and Power Squadron is here to help solve this problem. They have a class specifically for those who would like to understand how to maintain their own boat engines, aptly yet generically named “Engine Maintenance“.

Yesterday was the first meeting of an eight-week class that meets once a week, has a few homework assignments primarily targeted at reading and answering questions, and mixes in hands-on activities with interactive instruction.

I’m very impressed so far with the knowledge of our instructor. I am, by no means, an engine expert, but this is something I’ve been reading a lot about for a few months. To hear his hands-on and practical knowledge put to use in the class is something to be admired — particularly since the instructors are paid nothing for their help!

In our first class, we learned about the differences between diesel and gasoline engines. Gasoline engines insert fuel and use a spark to ignite the fuel, causing the movement of the piston and cycling of the mechanisms to power your boat. Diesel engines don’t use a spark, but instead rely on compression creating heat and well-timed fuel insertion to cause the explosion necessary to move the pistons. We learned about 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines and how they differ. One interesting fact that I got from our discussion about “horsepower” was that we only get about 30% efficiency from our engines. That is, of the fuel expended, only about 1/3 of that is converted into work. The rest of the energy is expended without benefit, creating heat and noise, among other things.

The second part of our class focused on the types of drive systems available: inboards, outboards, and stern drives (I/O) and talked about how each of them differ.

There was far too much in this class to convey in a simple blog post. I guess that’s why we have a class instead of just reading material and course instruction! I’d highly encourage you to consider taking this class if you haven’t already. I should note that this is a United States Power Squadron course offered by the Bellevue Sail and Power Squadron. So if this is something that interests you, but you don’t live on the east side, I’d encourage you to look for a USPS unit that is closer to you and inquire about their classes.

Until next time!

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