Maintenance Q&A with Warren

Published in the May 2019 Issue June 2019 Multimedia Warren Childers, Sunstar Yacht Sales & Brokerage

Question: In this phase of my houseboat rehab, I need to get my rudders straightened or replaced. I’ve dismantled the shaft log for the rudders to almost nothing; however, I can't get the things to break free. Am I missing something here to get it off that nut? After seeing the shape of the rudders, I am debating on cutting the thing in half and getting new ones made. What are your suggestions? Submitted by Mike Horvath, Deland, Fla.

Warren: I have spoken to a couple of friends who work in boat yards in Florida. This is a common issue for them due to the salt water. Once they have removed the rudder yoke or quadrant and loosened the packing gland, they attach a board to the rudder blade with clamps so they can move the rudder from left to right. They have someone apply force to the rudder blade with another board placed against the hull for leverage at the top of the rudder blade. While applying force down to the rudder, they rock the rudder back and forth from left to right. The rudder should slowly work its way down and loose. I also did a search on the Internet; there are some videos on YouTube showing this method. If you cannot remove the rudder in this fashion, I would suggest you have a mechanic take a look before cutting anything. I hope this is helpful. Good luck.

Questions: I’m having an issue with my generator. I have two fuel tanks on board that feed the generator, each with its own open/close valve. The generator is getting fuel from the right tank, but not the left one. I keep both valves open and the right tank depletes much quicker than the left. I closed the right valve to have the generator run off of the left tank, but the generator died from fuel starvation. I also changed the water/fuel separator and inspected the fuel line from the tank to the separator and I didn’t find any issues. I then opened the valve for the right tank and it ran fine again. Any ideas on what the problem could be? Submitted by Glenn Tisdale, Smithville, Tenn.

Warren: This issue is more common then you might think. The fuel supply for your generator and drive engines have anti-siphon valves to prevent fuel from siphoning out of the tank into the bilge in the event you have a fuel line fail. These are usually located in the hose barb that comes out of the shut-off valve on top of the tank. The anti-siphon valve is a spring-loaded ball inside the hose barb. These valves can become stuck over time. Remove and inspect the valve. If it is stuck, replace it. This is most likely the cause of your issue.

There is a second much less common cause. There are screens on the bottom of the pickup tubes in the fuel tank. On older boats these screens can become clogged with sediment. If this is the case, you will need to remove the pickup tube and clean the screen. In most cases, if this is the cause, it will affect the drive engine first.


Question: I recently purchased a 34-foot Catamaran Cruiser houseboat. It’s a fixer-upper, but seems to be a nice boat. I am going to pull it from the water soon and have a question about the deck bumper on the houseboat. The current owner has carpeted over the deck edges and they are worn and frayed. Carpet doesn’t seem like the right material for that surface, so I am wondering how I should finish the edge. What are your thoughts? Submitted by Maureen Lahoud, Kanab, Utah

Warren: Most manufacturers will use an extruded aluminum rub rail with a rubber insert. That is what I would recommend. However, if this exceeds your budget, I have seen marinas and private boats alike use plastic two by fours that are normally used in home decks as rub rail. This isn’t as clean and neat as the aluminum rub rail, but will certainly get the job done and look much better than frayed carpet.


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

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