Monday Maintenance Tips

Published in the October 2018 Issue October 2018 Multimedia


I have a Westerbeke generator EFI that quit working while running. It sputtered and stalled out as if it ran out of fuel. We did all of the recommended self checks as advised by the manual. We know the fuel injector works, the oil sensor is good, the fuel lines were bled, and the spark plugs are dry. I’d appreciate any advice you have to get it going again. –Submitted by Sunny Atkins, Las Vegas, Nev.


Here are a few things you can check. First try changing the fuel filter. If the fuel filter is dirty it can allow enough fuel through to start but not enough to run properly. Also, as fuel flows through the filter it can stir up sediment in the filter, causing it to plug up. Then when the generator stops the sediment settles back to the bottom of the filter. Another problem I have seen on some generators is that the fuel line has been moved too close to the exhaust manifold. The heat from the exhaust manifold can cause the fuel to vaporize in the fuel line causing vapor lock. If you think this is an issue, you can reroute the fuel line giving it a little more space from the exhaust manifold. Should you do this, be sure you inspect the line for leaks. If this doesn’t fix the problem, you should probably call in a tech.


I took my houseboat out last night and noticed a vibration in my cabin as I was underway. I cut the trip short due to this but by the time I got back if I was above 2000 RPMs, the whole cabin was vibrating. In addition, the vibration got substantially worse if I increased the RPMs. I had the wheel straight forward. Would a U-joint cause this? I don't think there is anything in the prop or wrong with the prop. I have Volvo Penta Outdrives with 5.0 L V8's. Only the starboard motor is doing it. What are your thoughts? –Submitted by Tony Clawson, Falmouth, Ky.


The first thing you should do is make absolutely sure there are no dings or dents in the propellers. It doesn’t take very much damage to throw a propeller out of balance. This will cause a vibration that will get worse as you give it more throttle. You can check your props with the use of a dive mask. Be sure to remove the ignition keys from both helm stations while you do this. If you do not find any damage to the propeller after a closer inspection, then more than likely it is either the U-joint or gimbal barring causing the vibration. The boat will need to come out of the water to have a mechanic service the drives.



We are reconditioning our 1997 Sumerset houseboat and need to replace the two locker doors on the rear deck. These are doors on upright fiberglass lockers—closets we use to store fishing equipment and all manner of maintenance equipment (and normal boat junk). I haven’t been able to find doors in my searches online and I’m hoping you can tell me where I might be able to get replacement doors along with any other advice on the subject. –Submitted by Andrea Williamson, Old Hickory, Tenn.


You should have no problem ordering these doors through one of the houseboat manufacturers. We still use the same style doors today on the new boats here at Sunstar Houseboats that we used in the 1990s. Be sure to have a measurement of the door when you call as there can be a slight size difference. Most manufacturers order these doors from the same source.


If you have a question about houseboating, shoot Warren an email at

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