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DavidK

Trickle: Good Idea or Dumb Idea to Prevent Engine Freeze?

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1st year owner/Newbie.    I keep my boat (2005 Chapparel 190SSI Sport w/ Volvo Penta 4.3 GL-D) on a JetDock at my home in SC.  I'd like to keep it out there all winter, so I can take out the boat in the fairly common 60-degree weather during the Winter.  But we do get an occasional light frost and I certainly don't want to crack the block.  Let me know what you think about this idea:  If the forecast calls for a freeze, I was planning to attach the hose to the engine port and trickle water though it until the outside temperature is above freezing.   --Good Idea or Dumb Idea.  When searching the internet, I couldn't find anyone else who hatched this scheme. 

Thank you!

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Never heard of that method either, although in theory it might work. I don’t know how cold it gets there, but I think it would be safer to just drain the block and manifolds when a cold snap is expected or maybe try a bilge heater or light bulb. I’m sure there is a few members from your area that will chime in on what works for them.

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A mechanic I am not . . . but I'd be a bit concerned about some low spot where water could collect, but not move.  Also, once you commit to this strategy you're gonna have to stick with it every dip of the thermometer.

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Thank you @chap243.  I just move here from your neck of the woods.   We probably only get 7 evenings of below freezing temps here and usually just a few degrees below freezing at the most.

@Futzin' , I figured that the warmer water from the hose trickle might conduct through the engine even if some of the water wasn't directly in the flow path.  I suppose I could always do double protection and put a light bulb in the engine compartment as well (I've got juice on the dock).  I figure its only going to be 5 or so nights during the year, so not too much of a pain

 

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The bilge heater is definitely the safest way to go.  The water won't circulate through the entire engine because of a closed thermostat etc. I've done the light bulb as an emergency set up , but with an approved thermostatically controlled bilge heater you can set it and forget it.  Simple just as unplugging if you will be using the boat.

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1 hour ago, Boatman609 said:

The bilge heater is definitely the safest way to go.  The water won't circulate through the entire engine because of a closed thermostat etc. I've done the light bulb as an emergency set up , but with an approved thermostatically controlled bilge heater you can set it and forget it.  Simple just as unplugging if you will be using the boat.

+1 on the heater.  Denny.

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Drain it now every time ?   Or risk forgetting & buying a engine ?

How  many drains does it have  ?  My V8   2002.  Piece of cake to reach every one on a 186 SSI.  I can pull all  plugs in under 3 minutes.  At 80 years old.  I put them in in 6 minutes.  I would NOT risk a split open block or pushed out  freeze out / casting  plugs. If you do not want to do it ?  Have a marina guy do it after each ride. 30 years of paying him is less than the cost of a replacement engine.

real cold days in a row ?  Will freeze the water in the hose. 

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You will sleep better if you simply drain the block. Takes 5 minutes. If your boat is on a lift, put it in the water overnight. Lake water is above freezing and keeps the block warm. Does not help any onboard water system if you have a galley or head.

brick

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I would go for the heater. But it must be wired in a safely. On you next boat, I would go with a closed cooling system. Worst case than, new heat exchanger.  

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Bilge heater for sure.  Even if you drain the block and manifolds each trip, you still end up with water laying in the bilge that could freeze and do damage to bilge pump base, float switches, or even the hull itself if it finds a small crack in the liner material.  W

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Thank you for the great advise everyone.  @Boatman609  and @Denny you made a GREAT point that I never thought of with the trickling hose idea -- The thermostat would be closed and not all parts of the engine would get the water!  I completely overlooked that point!  I'll likely go the bilge heater route.  I'm thinking of just putting a light bulb in the engine compartment for those rare nights when it drops a few degrees below freezing.  Will my outdrive be OK?  The boat is on a JetDock with the outdrive in the raised position.  I wasn't sure if the water drains automatically  from the outdrive so if that component is safe.  Will the the bulb in the engine compartment be enough, or is there any risk of outdrive damage?

Of course, I can always just fill the engine and outdrive with antifreeze, but I really want to use the boat all winter.

2005 Chapparel 190SSI Sport w/ Volvo Penta 4.3 GL-D

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11 minutes ago, DavidK said:

Thank you for the great advise everyone.  @Boatman609  and @Denny you made a GREAT point that I never thought of with the trickling hose idea -- The thermostat would be closed and not all parts of the engine would get the water!  I completely overlooked that point!  I'll likely go the bilge heater route.  I'm thinking of just putting a light bulb in the engine compartment for those rare nights when it drops a few degrees below freezing.  Will my outdrive be OK?  The boat is on a JetDock with the outdrive in the raised position.  I wasn't sure if the water drains automatically  from the outdrive so if that component is safe.  Will the the bulb in the engine compartment be enough, or is there any risk of outdrive damage?

Of course, I can always just fill the engine and outdrive with antifreeze, but I really want to use the boat all winter.

2005 Chapparel 190SSI Sport w/ Volvo Penta 4.3 GL-D

Lower the drive so all the water drains out.

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Amazon sells a camco marine quick winterization kit with a 5 gal jug and t valves. I keep both of my boats hanging in cradles in my boat house all year. My boats sit in the cradle slightly nose high so bildges will drain. This however tilts the blocks and possibly will not allow them to completely drain if I pull the plugs. With this kit, you fill the jug with antifreeze and hook up a garden hose to it and another hose to the earmuffs that slide on the outdrive. Turn the valve off on the jug and warm the motor up on the garden hose. Then garden hose off and open the flow of antifreeze with the motor still running. It circulates through the block. Make sure pink antifreeze is coming out of the exhaust. Then when it s warm drop the boat in and use it. Do this again when you are done. The process takes me about 20 minutes. I have done this in the slip and on the driveway. I have pulled the plugs and hoses afterwards and pink antifreeze comes out of everywhere.  It the best solution I have found and I wish I would have been doing it years ago. 

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@Iggy if I lower the outdrive, it will be in the salt water.  I suppose that would prevent it from freezing (the water will be well above freezing).   Or, I could leave the outdrive up and trickle water into the hose inlet which would then flow out the outdrive and prevent it from freezing as well.

 

 

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Thanks @dwboater, I actually have the kit which is the most through way to go.  But the main point it that I'd like to use the boat all winter and just prevent a freezing issue for the few evenings it is below freezing while out on my JetDock

 

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30 minutes ago, DavidK said:

@Iggy if I lower the outdrive, it will be in the salt water.  I suppose that would prevent it from freezing (the water will be well above freezing).   Or, I could leave the outdrive up and trickle water into the hose inlet which would then flow out the outdrive and prevent it from freezing as well.

 

 

I don't see that trickling water will work. What comes to mind is icicles off a roof. The water just gets so far and freezes.  Remember to, salt water freezes at 28 degrees.

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Bingo Iggy.

Remember about antifreezes.  NONE are ALWAYS guaranteed to be made correctly !!!   I remember bad batches being in boats in Barnagat Bay, N J when I was a  teenager.  Lots of arguing about fault & paying. Air does not freeze. Draining works if the block passages are not sand or muck filled.

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Thinking out loud but up here in the North many folks put coolant line heaters on diesel  engines.    Most of these work on thermosiphon principle (passive heat exchange) and don't actually pump water. 

Generally sold as "Hotstart" systems.   Perhaps there is a way to plumb one into your cooling lines.  Much better than trying to trickle water thru them (and as noted won't get past thermostat)   They sell these things on amazon - perhaps talk to the manufactures of a few and see.  These things are usually not expensive - like $150 for a 1500watt system. 

From what you are saying you really don't get all that cold.  You most likely would be just fine with any type of heat source down in the engine compartment.   Light bulb, or simple magnetic block heater.     Put in a remote thermostat in your engine compartment so you can easy monitor.  Most of them also capture min/max so you can see what was going on.

I don't know your boat but if your drain plugs are easy access then just pull them also.

 

Off topic but related:

Years ago when I lived outside of Minneapolis , (like 1991) I had my boat still in the water when a freak winter storm hit.  Froze the lake and my dock.  Dozens of others on Lake Minnetonka lost their boats to this storm.    I put a simple small space heater in my engine compartment and ran it for the week or so.  Put a few bags of salt around the hull to keep it from crushing.  Temps went well below zero.    When we went to pull the boat the ice was 6" thick.  Took chainsaws, cut a small path.    I don't remember the boat manufacture 22' cutty of somekind or another with  a small block chevy engine / mercruiser.     When ready it fired right up.  Was able to manuaver the boat to the breakwall and pull it out onto the trailer.     I got some great pictures of people standing on ice with chainsaws as we pulled the boat.    Years later when I moved more south,  I used to show it to people and say - here I am icefishing in Minnesota, it took forever to cut a hole big enough for the boat.

 

 

 

 

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I’m the same, boat all winter here.  But less frequently on nice days.  Typically for us is 5-6 hard freeze warnings and 1 or 2 may actually do harm.   I tried to buy a boat from a guy that thought winterizing consisted of just pulling the blue plastic tabs, then he wrapped the engine with a sleeping bag, threw cover on and set in open yard.  He got by with that for the winters of ‘06-09, but 2010, 3 weeks prior to me looking at the boat, we had a 3-4 day snap that lasted 4 days with a high of 27 deg.  It broke my heart.  I wanted that boat.  I’d still take it over mine today.  So sexy.  Sorry, I digress.

i realize it will be harder, but this is doable even if having to modify an engine that is already in the boat.  Mine was not when I modified my setup.  I got some black and red heater hose from auto part house. And brass nipples to fit them in the same size as the plug that came out of the engine, I don’t recall but I do remember one was bigger than the other.  Then went to hardware store and picked up brass ball valves with same size as hose and nipplesadded a brass barb and a Y and now I have bilge hot running water, nice for  rinsing down the bilge.  But also one valve drains the block on both sides.  Pull the blue manifold drains and lower your lower unit.  I have added t- lines to the pre and post fresh water pump, these are black, telling me cold water.  once everything is open I give engine a turnover or two, with lanyard pulled to prevent engine start. Now pump is dry enough.  Before I would actually pull the hose off the recirculating pump and drop it to bottom of bilge.  I also got rid of the hinges on my doghouse now.  I lift the whole thing away for access.  Old way took a good 25-30 minutes.  New setup, takes 30 seconds.  Now I go to the lake with no dread in the winter.

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On 1/13/2019 at 8:03 PM, JPW said:

Thinking out loud but up here in the North many folks put coolant line heaters on diesel  engines.    Most of these work on thermosiphon principle (passive heat exchange) and don't actually pump water. 

Generally sold as "Hotstart" systems.   Perhaps there is a way to plumb one into your cooling lines.  Much better than trying to trickle water thru them (and as noted won't get past thermostat)   They sell these things on amazon - perhaps talk to the manufactures of a few and see.  These things are usually not expensive - like $150 for a 1500watt system. 

From what you are saying you really don't get all that cold.  You most likely would be just fine with any type of heat source down in the engine compartment.   Light bulb, or simple magnetic block heater.     Put in a remote thermostat in your engine compartment so you can easy monitor.  Most of them also capture min/max so you can see what was going on.

I don't know your boat but if your drain plugs are easy access then just pull them also.

 

Off topic but related:

Years ago when I lived outside of Minneapolis , (like 1991) I had my boat still in the water when a freak winter storm hit.  Froze the lake and my dock.  Dozens of others on Lake Minnetonka lost their boats to this storm.    I put a simple small space heater in my engine compartment and ran it for the week or so.  Put a few bags of salt around the hull to keep it from crushing.  Temps went well below zero.    When we went to pull the boat the ice was 6" thick.  Took chainsaws, cut a small path.    I don't remember the boat manufacture 22' cutty of somekind or another with  a small block chevy engine / mercruiser.     When ready it fired right up.  Was able to manuaver the boat to the breakwall and pull it out onto the trailer.     I got some great pictures of people standing on ice with chainsaws as we pulled the boat.    Years later when I moved more south,  I used to show it to people and say - here I am icefishing in Minnesota, it took forever to cut a hole big enough for the boat.

 

 

 

 

Love it

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On 1/13/2019 at 11:05 AM, Iggy said:

I don't see that trickling water will work. What comes to mind is icicles off a roof. The water just gets so far and freezes.  Remember to, salt water freezes at 28 degrees.

Is trickling when they use air from below surface?  If so I’ve seen videos of it working but as the ice grows close and it keeps getting colder...makes me cringe at the thought.

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Water bubblers are used & effective.  Up to a point !!   Yellowstone has massive water falls & hot water springs that freeze solid............ Russian Roulette anyone ?

Draining always works . Simple & cheap.

But it is too cheap compared to Slick Willy gadgets & additives.

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Thanks to everyone for all the response and ideas!   I completely missed that the thermostat would not open with a hose trickling through the engine, so you probably saved me some big bucks.  Since I am only looking at 5 or so days a year where the the temperatures fall just slightly below freezing, I'm just going to put two light bulbs (1 for backup) inside the engine compartment of my I/O engine when the forecast calls for cold weather.  This should be easy to do and still allow boating all year (this Saturday 70 degrees in Charleston!).  The ocean temperature is in the 50s, so I'm thanking that the out-drive will be fine since it is slightly immersed in the water hanging from the JetDock.

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