De-winterising tips from River Canal Rescue

It’s time to spring into action by preparing your boat for the cruising season ahead. PHOTO: JANET RICHARDSON

AS WE shake off the cold weather and begin to embrace warmer days, the changes in temperature signal the start of the boating season and with it a need to de-winterise your boat.

This means checking and closing any taps left open through winter, replacing the plug in the water heater (if removed) and switching the water pump on. Test the system to ensure there are no leaks or issues, and open and run water through each tap.

Start with those closest to the pump and work through to the one furthest away – this’ll push any air locks through the system. Drain out any water in the tank and refill with fresh drinking water.


Remember servicing, including the engine, LPG and electrical systems, fire extinguishers and escape hatches. Servicing your engine prior to cruising will generally safeguard against the most common issues, and also pick up any potential problems that 
need addressing.

Although no action is needed for gas pipes at the start of the winter, it’s a good idea to paint connections with 50% soap liquid and 50% water using a small artist’s brush – this will show up any minor gas leaks at the joints.

Water in the fuel is one of the biggest causes of breakdowns and poor engine performance, so before running the engine, check water trap filters and remove any excess water. If water is present or there are signs of diesel bug, black dust or jelly-dip the tank to identify its severity and then treat with a fuel treatment or have the fuel 
polished accordingly.


If you do not have a water trap filter, you’ll need to check the main fuel tank. The easiest way to do this is to use a clear plastic hose. Drop it into the tank (being careful not to disturb the fuel) and when you feel the bottom, place your thumb over the end to seal it and withdraw 
the hose.

This should provide you with a sample of the tank (plus an indication of any diesel bug contamination) and show the amount of water present.

Prior to cruising, check the bolts on couplings, engine mounts (only adjust the bottom bolt) and prop shaft are tight and clean off any corrosion on battery terminals. Check fan belt for tightness and wear, and gearbox oil levels.


Run your engines up to ‘running’ temperature (if a gauge is available on board) or for about half an hour. Check every inch of the cooling system for leaks or escaping steam and if something is found, check jubilee clips are tight. If a split pipe is evident, call out a qualified (RCR) engineer.

Finally put engine into gear and check control lever operation. These should move freely with no tightness or ‘grabbing’, grease the ends and check for fraying and replace if required.

● River Canal Rescue runs boat and engine maintenance courses throughout the year. To find out more visit, email or call 01785 785680.


● Do you have a question on boat maintenance which breakdown and assistance firm River Canal Rescue can help you with? If you are keen to see a particular technical topic covered, contact us at Technical Tips, Towpath Talk, PO Box 43, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6LZ; email


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