Mon. May 27th, 2024


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Handy tips for boat tractors

3 min read
Boat tractor maintenance

While most people service and upgrade their fishing gear before summer, the humble boat tractor is often neglected

With boating and fishing a key part of the summer lifestyle for many New Zealanders, it is also the ideal time to spare some thought for the trusty boat tractor. Frequently, this usually ancient steed is ignored for most of the year until it is fired up in summer for towing duties. Many people spend time making sure boats and fishing gear are well serviced and ready for action, but the humble boat tractor is often neglected.

There is nothing more frustrating than preparing for a day out and find the boat tractor won’t start. Commonly boat tractors are older machines such as David Browns and TEA Fergusons – simple reliable machines that can be easily maintained by owners with basic mechanical knowledge. Following are some handy tips to help your boat tractor perform reliably:

Diesel fuel treatment

Diesel is prone to a bacterial contaminant commonly called ‘diesel bug’, which is a bacteria that can damage engine components over time. Diesel sitting in tanks for extended periods is susceptible to the bug, so if your boat tractor sits around for months without being used, it is recommended that new diesel is used or a Diesel Fuel Treatment product such as Fuel Master is added. Not only will it prevent engine damage it can also improve fuel economy and power.

Fuel filters

Some simple tips involve checking fuel filters and rear tyres before taking the tractor out

Replacing diesel fuel filters is not difficult on most boat tractors and doesn’t require a lot of mechanical knowledge. The fuel filters are relatively inexpensive and changing them regularly is effectively cheap insurance against potentially expensive repairs to the injector pump in the future.

Glow plugs and glow indicators

Glow plugs are effectively small heaters that assist in getting the diesel fuel temperature up to a point where it self-combusts. In colder temperatures and for early morning starts, having properly functioning glow plugs makes starting your tractor much easier. Ensure that the set of glow plugs are working properly, as if one fails it can cause the others to overload and burn out.

Rear tyres

Did you know that fitting the rear tyres so the tread points backwards will help if you are negotiating very soft sand as the tyres won’t dig in the same?

Be seated

If your boat tractor seat is getting a bit uncomfortable, it is simple to replace this with a large range of waterproof seats available.

Lighting up

Upgrade your old tractor lights to LED tractor lights. LED tractor lights can reach three to four times higher light output than conventional filament work lights and result in a wider and longer beam. A wider beam gives you better peripheral vision at night which means you can see your surroundings easier. A longer beam gives you more warning of what is coming ahead so you can react sooner.

LED tractor lights have other advantages over standard work lights: a longer life expectancy, greater vibration resistance, and less pressure on an alternator working close to its limit. These improved lights are ideal for the boat tractor for those early morning launchings. All LED lights are 12/24 volt and are very easy to retrofit.

For more information on tractor maintenance or to find replacement parts for boat tractors of all ages and models (including fuel filters, mufflers, oil filters, tow bars, and tyres), visit

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