WheelHouse Partner POLARIS Laboratories™ Announces Software Upgrade

WheelHouse Technologies oil and coolant analysis partner POLARIS Laboratories™ has officially launched HORIZON® 4, its newest version of the web-based data management software application that has been the company’s comparative advantage in the marketplace for the past decade.  Horizon, which has been seamlessly integrated into WheelHouse since 2008, provides improved data analysis through a customizable dashboard.  WheelHouse customers will continue to be able to link their oil and coolant analysis directly to Maintenance History, and seamlessly open the Horizon dashboard from within WheelHouse. 

WheelHouse and non-WheelHouse customers should be aware of the expanded user security provisions in Horizon to ensure the applications continue to seamlessly work together.    You should have received a message directly from POLARIS providing new log-in requirements.  If you are logging into Horizon directly, your new log-in credentials are sufficient. 

For WheelHouse customers, we have reflected the new log-in information so that you can seamlessly link from WheelHouse to Horizon.   We recommend that you update your log-in information (helps you to remember it) in WheelHouse by selecting Admin in the main navigation menu, then select Fluids Analysis in the left pane to update your user name and password.

If you change your password it is necessary to update WheelHouse with the Remote Credential Key to maintain the seamless integration.  You can do this yourself following the instructions below, or contact us and we can do it for you.  To update the Remote Credential Key yourself, do the following (only needed if you change your password or if linking is not working):

To get the Remote Credential Key, login to Horizon http://www.polarislabs1.com/ using your plain text User Name and Password.  Your plain text login will be your email address and password that you set up during your initial fluids analysis registration.  If you do not know your plain text login contact us for assistance.

1. Once logged into Horizon, go to “My Settings” in the top right.
2. Then go to “Remote Login” at the bottom of the left navigation.
3. Copy and Paste the string of characters in the Password field from Horizon into the Remote Credential Key area in WheelHouse.  This information is entered into your “Fluids Analysis” settings found in the “Admin” section of WheelHouse.

4. Save this info in WheelHouse by selecting Update.
5. Test remote login by clicking the “View Fluids Analysis Report” from the Fluids Analysis Page or from any Maintenance History entry that is linked.

Oil and coolant analysis continues to provide critical insight to the health of your engines and fluid systems.  For more information, including User Guides, Wear Metal Guides and other important information go to https://www.wheelhousetech.com/services/oil-and-coolant-analysis/.

Hydraulic Fluid Analysis

When was the last time you changed the hydraulic fluid in your stabilizer system or integrated hydraulic system? If the answer is more than three years ago, are you using hydraulic oil analysis to check the condition of your hydraulic oil?

Unlike crankcase oil systems, hydraulic oil systems are “closed systems” that minimize or eliminate the introduction of contaminants into the oil. Hydraulic systems “breathe” through the reservoir vent cap to allow for the normal expansion and contraction of the oil. As long as the system is breathing clean air from the engine room and the vent cap is fitted with a proper filter, then contamination should not normally be a problem.

Perhaps the worst culprit of oil degradation, after contamination, is over-heating. Marine hydraulic systems may be keel cooled or raw water (or coolant) cooled systems through a heat exchanger. Any reduction in the cooling capacity of the heat exchanger (or keel cooler) will cause over-heating and breakdown of the hydraulic oil. Monitoring the hydraulic oil temperature of your system should be part of your routine engine room inspections when underway. An operating temperature above normal (“normal” varies but is usually less than 150°F) is cause for further inspection. Any temperature over 180°F will cause irreparable damage to the hydraulic fluid and is cause for immediate oil change.

Contaminated or otherwise degraded oil, like a change in viscosity, will accelerate the wear on pump vanes, seals, and other system components. Therefore, most marine hydraulic system manufacturers recommended oil changes every three years as well as annual filter changes (check MMS or your manufacturer’s recommendations specific to your system).

Can you go beyond three years? On my 40’ trawler, Commander, we are on our fifth year on the same oil, BUT, we religiously perform annual hydraulic oil analysis to check our oil’s condition. If you are uncertain about the condition of your hydraulic fluid visit the products section of our website and purchase a cost effective hydraulic oil analysis package that will give you confidence that your hydraulic oil is in good shape (or not!).

Halting Engine Wear

The most common cause of wear in a diesel engine is contamination of the crankcase oil. The number one contaminant is “dirt.” Seen on the oil analysis report as elevated silicon, dirt enters the engine through a perforated or filthy air filter, a leak in the air intake piping, or faulty oil change procedures. Small amounts of dirt (PPM) will immediately result in higher levels of wear metals like iron, chrome, and nickel on the report.

The number two contaminant, water, results in accelerated wear due to the reduced lubricating ability of the oil. Emulsified oil will be seen on the report as a percentage of water as well as reduced viscosity. The most common sources of water are leaky heat exchangers, failed gaskets, or condensation. Water will accelerate wear rates long before you visually detect emulsified oil on the filler cap.

Fuel contamination and soot result from reduced combustion efficiency or excessive wear in the piston/cylinder interface. Fuel contamination reduces the viscosity of the oil and therefore it’s lubricating ability. Fuel dilution and soot are seen as percentages on the analysis report and will quickly result in an increase in wear metal particles.

Oil analysis is the only method to detect minor contamination problems before they start causing major damage to your engine. Visit https://www.wheelhousetech.com/services and download our Wear Metals Guide and How to Read an Oil Analysis Report. Try SeaKits Oil Analysis—it’s cheap insurance for your engine.

The Value of Oil Analysis Trends

How often should I take an oil sample on my propulsion engine or generator? We get this question quite often. The simple answer is “at each oil drain.” The power of oil analysis isn’t in a single sample-it is in observing the trend over time.

For example, if you were to sample an engine’s oil on three successive oil drains you might note that iron and chromium (wear products) and silicon (a contaminant) are in-spec and conclude that your engine is fine. However, if you were to compare these same results side by side and see that all three are trending upward (though still in spec), you could have a serious problem.

On a single sample the analyst wouldn’t flag the iron, chromium, and silicon levels because they were in spec. But if the analyst saw a trend over a couple samples taken at comparable intervals, they would immediately flag the trend and provide advice on remedial action. In this case, the analyst might suspect an air leak caused by a loose air intake fitting or a damaged air filter element that is allowing un-filtered air to enter the turbocharger and combustion chambers. The result is accelerated wear to valves, cylinder liners, piston rings, bearings, and other engine components that reveals itself in upward trending wear metal concentrations.

Unchecked wear reduces the life of your engine and its reliability. Routine oil analysis provides peace of mind and allows you to cruise with confidence!