Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Spring maintenance for Spring break

With the onset of spring there is always things that need to be done such as taking the boat out of winter storage. The desert's mild dry winters make it a pretty simple job, which includes charging battery, lubrication, new fuel and new spark plugs. I will spare you a lecture on all the details and focus on just one important aspect that almost anyone with a recreational machine can relate to. I am taking about the spark plug, that small hot thing that ignites the fuel in your recreational power plant , be it motorcycle, boat, or ultra light, the spark plug can be a showstopper if fouled. Until recently long life spark plugs made with platinum electrodes have been reserved for passenger vehicles (cars) but for most recreational toys the spark plug of choice seems to have always been the standard NGK or Champion spark plug which works fine for a while before the electrodes deforms and foul. So my special order of the new NGK iridium electrode spark plugs have arrived and will be tested in my Speedster and Suzy DRZ.

   Basically an iridium electrode can be made much smaller since it is a far better conductor allowing more current in the form of plasma to burn fuel more effectively with little resistance, hence no electrode deformity for about 30k miles.  Picture 2 above shows the Speedster’s twin 718 engines, which produce about 90 HP each, or together about 180 HP for a top speed of 70 MPH on the water. Before this can happen reliably the boat has to be serviced which cost about $400 dealership spin, or about $50 in parts if you do it yourself.

   With the maintenance done it was time to light the fires for spring warm-up. Replacing the charged battery I accidentally fumbled the connectors and crossed the battery leads momentarily (a millisecond) but alas it was enough to shut down the control module that starts the engines. I knew this because the audible beeps from control module were not making their usual noise, beep! = Ignition ready, beep-beep! = Ready engine start, beeeeeeep! = Engine shut down.  Nothing, no sound, my only hope the 5 amp fuse that protected the control module and thankfully upon inspection to my delight the 5 amp fuse was blown and burned, yahoo! A new fuse and the control module was beeping. Beep- beep! = Ready engine start, fuel valves on, chokes pulled and ignition switches thrown. Starboard engine turns, then port engine turns, then starboard, then port. Then fires the starboard engine both cylinders hammer to life at 12:1 compression shaking in its mounts like an angry pit bull. The port engine finally joins in and beautiful music is being made as the engines run better then expected. After that initial warm up the engines were shut down for 20 minutes and restarted immediately so all that is left is next weekend for a ride down the Colorado to lake Havasu to join the spring brake crowd and get a few pictures.