Marine News from the Great Lakes

Fall Propulsion Checklist

Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2019
By: Professionals of Henry H. Smith Co.

With Labor Day in our wake, we’re dreaming of an extended summer, but the grim reality on these Great Lakes is that we must now start thinking and planning for colder weather. With fall, our thoughts turn to preparing our boats for storage and, while some tasks can be postponed, addressing these issues in the fall can make for a much smoother start to the next boating season.

Lower Units (I/O’s and Outboards)

  • Clean and inspect for any leaks or damage
  • Touch-up paint on any spots to prevent corrosion (It also looks much better)
  • Check for damage to the case’s leading edge and skeg
  • Replace sacrificial anodes that are more than half worn
  • Check the oil for moisture when draining oil, which can indicate leaks requiring seal replacement
  • Replace the gear oil to eliminate any water and ensure the drive is ready to go in the spring

Shafts and Seals (Inboards)

  • Clean shaft and inspect for damage and straightness
  • Inspect stuffing box packing for seal wear or leakage at the stuffing box
  • Ensure coupler is secure and without corrosion
  • Replace sacrificial shaft anodes that are more than half worn

Struts (Inboards)

  • Inspect to ensure the struts are straight and undamaged
  • Check for stress cracks at the hull connection
  • Inspect for stress cracks at the bearing housing
  • Inspect the bearing for wear resulting in excessive shaft movement

Rudders (Inboards)

  • Wash the rudder and inspect for damage
  • Check the rudder-port for a good seal and security
  • Check and replace any rudder anodes that may be worn


  • Clean away any algae or growth and inspect for damage
  • Check for dents and dings along the edges of the blades indicating impacts that can result in deformation
  • Recall any vibrations or unusual performance when last run; these would certainly need to be addressed
  • Check surfaces for pits that may be cavitation “burn” or could be electrolysis, requiring improved anode use
  • Consult your favorite propeller specialist and have them inspect your propellers for issues that may not be very obvious, such as imbalance and hub condition
  • Check all propeller attachment hardware to ensure solid condition and secure attachment

Spring and summer can arrive quickly, so it is best to be prepared well ahead of the spring rush. Thorough inspection and preventative maintenance in the fall will ensure you are ready to go when spring arrives.

About the Author

Founded in Detroit by Henry H. and William H. Smith, the company continues to employ 3rd and 4th generation members of the family, carrying on a legacy established in 1900 - to be your Marine Drive Specialists.


This article first appeared in the Fall Issue (Sep/Oct) 2019 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.

tags: Winterization, Propellers, Service & Repair

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