Critical Bow Thruster Maintenance Tips

Posted on: 10 May 2021

Before bow thrusters came into the picture, vessels needed the services of tug boats and experienced crews to navigate in close quarters. However, it is no longer the case because modern boats are built with bow thrusters, making them more maneuverable. Like anything mechanical, bow thrusters need regular servicing and maintenance to operate at peak performance. After all, the last thing you want is your bow thrusters failing as you prepare to dock. Here are critical bow thruster maintenance tips.

Clean Electric Motor Brushes — The DC (direct current) electric motor in your bow thruster uses brushes to relay power from a battery to a rotor. The brushes vary in number depending on the model of your thrusters. As the brushes wear out, they tend to produce a significant amount of dust, which must be cleaned annually. Without regular cleaning, dust from thruster motor brushes will turn into a gummy mess and cause inconsistent operation, which is the last thing you need when other boats are waiting in line to dock. Clean the dust by blowing it with compressed air canisters or an air hose. Besides, make sure that a service area is adequately ventilated before you begin blowing the dust.

Inspect Operating Voltage — The most common problem that boaters with electric thrusters face is dead batteries. Since a thruster demands a lot of power during operation, batteries must be up to the task. Therefore, it is crucial to confirm that thrusters receive enough power by checking the operating voltage. Once thrusters have run for a few seconds, connect a volt-meter to both terminals on a motor. Typically, a 12V thruster should read between 13.3 and 14.8V. If a reading falls below the expected minimum, your boat has a low-voltage issue, which might damage critical components, such as motor solenoids. Therefore, you should take your vessel to a marine technician for repairs.

Cleaning and Anti-Fouling — Bow thrusters spend a lot of time in the water, exposing them to all manner of marine growth. It can significantly affect thruster operation and performance. The best way to approach maintenance and the cleaning process is to remove all propellers for easy scraping. Once you have removed all marine growth, finish off by greasing a propeller shaft using marine-grade grease. If you see signs of anti-fouling paint wearing off, ask a technician to help you apply a fresh coat to prevent the attachment or growth of subaquatic organisms.

For more information about bow thrusters, like Vetus thrusters, contact a local boat supplier.