Filed Under (Boat/Trailer Maintenance) by Debbie on 10-05-2007

As I’ve said before, we own several boats both power and sail. Not every boat we’ve bought has been new although a few have been. The oldest one we’ve ever owned was 48 years old when we bought her! She was ‘our’ first boat. We figured something cheap, old and dinged up would be good to learn on. Boy, did we learn….

Thankfully she had a small outboard engine, I say thankfully because we burned up that engine. You can find out what went wrong with that outboard engine. We ended up buying a slightly larger used engine for her and it worked well for us until we sold her. The newer boats we’ve had have been pretty easy to maintain only because we can find parts. We are very much a DIY type of family. The older boats have proven to be more of a challenge though.

Currently we own our second sailboat. She’s a 1985 Newport 30 with a Universal diesel engine. This engine has had a few maintenance issues. We had a survey done before we bought her and one of the items turned on the survey was that 1-the oil desperately needed to be changed and 2-the alternator was the wrong size, plus a bunch of silly little things filed under ‘deferred maintenance’.

The first thing we did after taking possession was to change the oil. That’s pretty easy, right? Yeah, sure…the previous owner hadn’t changed it in forever and there was a ton of sludge and it took an eternity to empty out the old oil.  We finally managed to drain it out and we (yes, guys I do mean ‘we’. I sometimes look like a grease monkey.) removed the old oil filter and installed the new one. Then we loaded her up on nice, clean, new oil. We fired up the engine to check for leaks and OMG the filter blew oil everywhere!

Hummm….seems that when we went to the local marine store to buy the new filter, the original kind used for this old engine wasn’t available so they looked up in their little book and gave us the new and improved one. Which didn’t fit correctly and of course couldn’t be returned for a refund. Thus we began to look around for a diesel engine shop. Thankfully we found one not too far away and went there and got a different filter, which works fine.

There have been lots of things we’ve had problems find for this old boat. We are getting much better as finding consignment shops. There are also owners groups on the Internet so if you’ve an oldie and haven’t joined your boat’s group then you might want to look around and see if you can find one. I’ve found the one for my Newport and while I’ve not had to ask for help, I have read the email discussions about other problems. You never know when someone else’s problem will become yours.

Sometimes boat dealers can be a source of parts. You’ll want to find someone that has been around a while and hopefully carried your brand of boat for a long time. Hopefully the person behind the counter will know where the old company treasures are buried and can help you out. In the Pacific Northwest I’ve heard that Monty Seidel, with Olympic Boat Centers is very good and helpful.

If you don’t have an owners group, you can always try going to the manufacturer. We had unbelievable good luck with a ‘Google’ search using a parts number on the remote depth finder display unit. Oddly enough we found the part for just a few bucks and had it shipped to us. Yep, shipping was more than the part, but we didn’t have to buy a new depth finder. Yeah!

Salvage stores are another great place to look. I’ve had really good luck with Sexton’s Chandlery in Portland. If you think these places are just junk, then think again. Many times they have both new and ‘previously owned’ parts. They can also direct you to local private individuals that offer repairs on odds and ends. Such as a repair I had done to my compass. I took it to the guy’s house and picked it up a couple days later.

Another really great way to find stuff for old boats is to attend the local ‘marine flea markets’. There’s a really big one in Seattle (I think it’s in the late Winter or early Spring), which you can find out about by picking up a copy of 48 degrees North. It’s a bit like looking for the right grain of sand but sometimes you can find a vendor that specializes in your parts and that could save you time and money. Plus you can always make a sign for what you’re looking for and carry it around with you.

Then again let’s remember that in boating, what goes around, comes around. If you know of a good place to find old boat parts in the Pacific Northwest then please, leave a comment for those in need.

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