“Not So Spare” Parts

I can’t help but think that the term “spare parts” suggests that they are “extra” which diminishes their importance – of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Lately, we have seen some yachts embark without proper spares outfitting. The result can lead to voyage interruption, require expensive parts logistics, or create equipment or safety consequences. In most cases, these situations can be avoided.

Proper spares outfitting is some of the best insurance you can buy for safe and reliable cruising. And in the grand scheme, a good spares outfit doesn’t have to break the bank. Coastal spares outfitting can usually be done for less than $5,000, while yachts heading into remote areas or offshore can outfit for $10,000 and up, depending on where they are going and the owners/captains risk tolerance and ability.

MMS identifies all the recommended spare parts for coastal and offshore cruising. Coastal spares recommendations include one year worth of service parts plus common repair parts. Offshore parts recommendations include coastal spares plus additional repair parts recommended by the manufacturer and our fleet experience.

To stay on top of the spares game we monitor MMS maintenance history across a fleet of over 150 yachts. We investigate common or repetitive failures and update maintenance recommendations accordingly.

MMS provides online parts ordering with quote requests turned around in usually 24 hours, and delivery anywhere in the world. Parts are individually labeled and can be kitted as well. We stand behind the parts we provide –if we recommend the wrong part number, or if the part is defective, it will be replaced at no cost. Of course, MMS always provides OEM name and part number so you can purchase locally as well.

If you haven’t experienced SeaKits Parts Outfitting we hope you will give it a try. Whether you outfit with us or do it yourself, don’t go to sea without a proper parts inventory as specified in your MMS.

Maintenance Planning for Wing Engines

Wing engines are notoriously under-operated, under-loaded, and under-maintained, all of which can lead to sudden and catastrophic engine failure. An under-used wing engine may exhibit out-of-spec oil and coolant chemistry, a dry and brittle raw water pump impeller, long expired zincs, and corrosion and pitting of engine internals.

Recommended maintenance on diesel engines calls for run time OR calendar time maintenance intervals, whichever occurs first. Even the most disciplined operators are challenged to run their wing engine more than 25 hours per year. Run time maintenance intervals simply will not provide for the proper care of the engine.

Instead, follow “calendar time” service recommendations for your wing engine by changing engine oil and filter, transmission oil and filter, primary and secondary fuel filters, and the raw water pump impeller at least annually. Check your coolant chemistry using coolant analysis or test strips and recycle stale day tank fuel back to the main tanks. If you haul-out in the winter, change oils in the fall to prevent low pH or moisture-laden oil from wreaking havoc on your engine.

Like any diesel, the wing engine should be operated under load. The engine may not be sufficiently loaded if run in tandem with the main engine so shut down the main and enjoy the quieter wing engine—they work great as trolling motors too!

Three rules for your wing engine: 1) run often; 2) run under load; and, 3) perform maintenance on calendar rather than run-time intervals.

Inventory Strategies For Reliability

Is it better to stock repair parts or invest in complete component replacement? We get a variation of this question quite often during spare parts outfitting. The question can apply to a wide range of equipment on the boat including engine-mounted raw water pumps, seawater pumps, toilet components, and bilge pumps.

Repair/service kits for most OEM and aftermarket raw water pumps are available with kit names like Minor, Major, Service, or Rebuild. For example, a typical Sherwood Minor Kit includes a seal assembly, o-ring/gasket, impeller, key, and retaining ring. A Major Kit includes the parts in the Minor Kit plus bushings, bearings, cam, and wear plate. The basic Impeller Kit usually includes just the impeller and cover o-ring/gasket.

Pricing is highly variable depending on the manufacturer and the specific pump. As a general guide, a Minor Kit can be 25% of the cost to replace the pump, and a Major Kit 75%. The incremental cost to carry a replacement pump compared to a Major Kit is negligible. Instead of rebuilding the pump while the associated engine is out-of-commission you just replace the whole pump. This eliminates the chance that the one part that is failing in the pump is the one not included in the rebuild kit. For offshore or extensive cruising we generally recommend a couple Impeller Kits and a complete pump (wet end). For coastal cruisers a spare impeller kit is usually sufficient.

The same analysis can be applied to A/C seawater pumps, hydraulic cooling pumps, toilet systems, and many other components. In the long run, having replacement components may save time and money and get you cruising sooner.