You never know what you’ll find when you open the engine hatch on a used boat. One thing you can count on finding is the need to replace a few items. Hoses and fittings are usually among them, because typically the last guy to touch them was the one who installed them—at the factory. These are critical components because breakdowns occur when they fail. Inconvenient if you’re on a lake. Dangerous if you are offshore.
As I always advocate, you can use deferred maintenance as a negotiating tool, and if you do it right you can lop enough off the price to afford better components when you go to replace them. We all have seen stainless-steel braided hose and AN-style fittings used on high-performance and racing engines, such as those from Mercury Racing, but the prices have come down enough in recent years to justify replacing OEM parts on your runabout with the good stuff.
At one time, a few key players supplied high-performance hoses and fittings. Now there are plenty of companies all competing for a slice of a finite pie. Such a competitive marketplace has created downward pressure on prices, which means it no longer costs a small fortune to get high-quality plumbing products for your engine—or engines—and with a bit of patience, mechanical aptitude, and some free time, you can do the job in your driveway.
In addition to the surge toward higher quality and affordability, plumbing products also have joined in the sprint toward weight savings. Lighter plumbing products now provide additional ways for you to reduce your boat’s weight. Rather than using steel braided hose, some manufacturers such as Goodridge now offer nylon braided outer casings. Its 210 hose is ultra lightweight, and designed for racing and recreational high-performance uses. The hose is reinforced internally with integral stainless steel, and can be used for oil, water, and fuel applications.
As companies everywhere push toward “green” products, so too have plumbing manufacturers. Because U.S. Coast Guard penalties aren’t getting any cheaper, there are now plumbing products that will help keep you from spilling anything into your favorite body of water.
Staubli Corporation’s dry-break connections are great for fuel- and oil-line connections because they won’t dribble petroleum distillates into your bilge—which can eventually be pumped overboard—but also for cooling and coolant lines on closed systems because they won’t introduce air pockets into a cooling system. Staubli also offers an economical new RMI line, which is targeted at price-conscious buyers.
These are just a few examples of how the hose and fitting market has mushroomed over the last several years, which is great news for used-boat buyers. There’s a list of suppliers below for you to check out and choose what’s best for your needs.
Aeromotive, 7805 Barton Street, Lenexa, KS 66214, 913-647-7300
Earl’s Performance Plumbing, 19302 South Laurel Park Rd, Rancho Dominguez, CA 90220, 310-609-1602
Fragola Performance Systems, 888 W. Queen St., Southington, CT 06489, 877-337-2739
Goodridge USA, 529 Van Ness Ave., Torrance, CA 90501, 310-533-1924
Staubli, PO Box 189, Duncan, SC 29334, 864-433-1980