Boating Safety Is For Life

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Boating Safety - Why Use Marine?

I am currently restoring a 1972 Sea Ray 190 with a Mercruiser 165 sterndrive.  I thought this would make a good subject for some articles on the importance of using marine equipment as opposed to automotive.  Many people have asked me that question over the years, and it needs restating from time to time that there is a significant difference between marine and auto from a safety stand point.

First the boat.  You can follow this at my web site

One of the things I discovered was the previous owners had not been very careful about maintaining the  boat and keeping it up to current standards.  Case in point:  fuel hose.

Automobiles and boats both use fuel hose, but fuel hose for cars and fuel hose for boats are made to different Society Of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards.  Why?  Fuel hose on boats is subjected to a much more severe environment than cars. It is damp, the engines are run harder, the fuel sits in the hose for months at a time (in cars it never stays in the hose for very long, but is used very quickly), it gets hotter, and it is much more subject to attack by alcohol (Ethanol) and other compounds in the fuel than in cars. Boat engine compartments are a closed environment, but car engines are open to the atmosphere.  This boat had SAE J30 hose. That was the fuel hose standard in 1972.  A lot has changed since then. It also means the hose could be 40 years old!  Most experts agree you should change out the hose at least every five years.
SAE J30 hose was not very resistant to alcohol and would deteriorate rapidly.  In the mid 1980's the US Coast Guard, SAE, the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC),  The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Underwriter's Laboratories (UL), developed a new hose standard that would be much more resistant to alcohol and other corrosive compounds in gasoline.  This is SAE Standard J1527.  Since then the EPA has also imposed requirements for this hose to be more resistant to evaporative emissions, that is, some vapor does escape through the hose wall, and they wanted to minimize this.  The old hose had two standards, 100 grams, and 300 grams. (USCG type A-1, or B-1, and USCG type A2 or B2). This has been lowered to 15 grams (USCG Type A1-15 or B1-15)

The A or B indicates the hose's fire resistance.  A1 hose has to be able to pass a fire test.  It must survive without leaking for 2 1/2 minutes when engulfed in a fire.  B hose does not. A must be used from the fuel pump to the engine fuel inlet (the fuel injection, or carburetor on older boats).  B can be used from the tank to the fuel pump, and on the vent and fill under some conditions.  I used all Type A1-15 because of it's fire resistance.

The standard now for hose is still SAE J1527 but with the lower EPA requirement. The USCG standard (and ABYC) is now USCG Type A1-15 or B2-15.  More info here on hose:

This has also been adopted internationally by ISO and is labeled ISO 7840 

Fuel hose for automobiles still meets the old SAE J30 standard (updated) and is not suitable, or safe for boats.  It presents a fire hazard, due to it's rapid deterioration, and higher permeability.  

So I have changed out all of the hoses on this boat to the USCG A1-15 standard.  Now it is far safer from a fuel leak from old hose than it was and more environmentally friendly.

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