Bow thrusters have become increasingly common on boats of all sizes. Bow and stern thrusters are transversal propulsion devices built into or mounted to the bow or stern of a boat to make it more maneuverable. These devices are beneficial when docking and navigating in close quarters with other vessels. Like all essential marine devices, bow thrusters need the occasional maintenance and TLC to keep them working properly. Keep reading for some tips for maintaining your bow thrusters.
Replace the Anodes
This is one of the most essential steps to keeping your thrusters functioning. An underwater thruster with no anodes to protect it from corrosion will erode in days and is hazardous to you and other boaters. You should replace anodes yearly or when they are half-eroded. Before launch, use a wire brush to clean lightly eroded anodes to remove any oxidation after being exposed to air.
Inspect Operating Voltage
The most common problem boaters with electric thrusters face is dead batteries. Since a thruster requires a lot of power during operation, your batteries must be up to par. Therefore, it is critical to confirm that thrusters receive enough power by checking the operating voltage. Let the thrusters run for a few seconds, then connect a volt-meter to both terminals on a motor. If a reading falls below the expected minimum, it could indicate that your boat has a low-voltage issue, which might damage critical components, such as motor solenoids. Therefore, you should take your vessel to a technician for repairs.
Cleaning and Anti-Fouling
Bow thrusters spend a lot of time in the water, exposing them to bacteria and organisms. Prolonged exposure can significantly affect thruster operation and performance. The best way to approach the cleaning process is to remove the propellers for easy cleaning. Once you have removed all marine growth, grease the propeller shaft with a marine-grade grease. If you see signs of paint wearing off, ask a professional to help you apply a fresh coat to prevent the growth of subaquatic organisms.
Clean the Motor Brushes
The electric motor in your bow thruster uses brushes to relay power from a battery to a rotor. As the brushes wear out, they tend to produce a significant amount of dust, which must be cleaned once a year. Without regular cleaning, dust from thruster motor brushes will turn into a frustrating mess and cause inconsistent operation, which is the last thing you need when waiting in line to dock. Blow it with compressed air canisters or an air hose to clean the dust. Also, make sure that the area is adequately ventilated before you begin blowing the dust.
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