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Keeping track of engine hours

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What is the issue?
Each engine has a recommended run time between services and oil changes, typically measured in run hours on yachts. This means that each time the engine is run, the duration needs to be logged and that log requires monitoring so that maintenance may be correctly scheduled.

Why address this?
The engine is one of the most expensive and critical resources on a vessel. Implementing best practices in servicing will help lead to reliability and longevity of service life.

How to address this?
Implement an engine-hours counter and each time you start the engine it will automatically record the time of use. This low-cost easy to install instrument, will help you track and log your runtime so the engine is appropriately maintained. This makes it easy to keep on top of exact usage patterns and schedule appropriate maintenance.

Digital Diesel Engine Tachometer and Hour Metre
Photo: Courtesy of Runleader
Modern boat engines may already have NMEA 2000 network compatibility feeds, so it is worth checking if the engine hours can be brought up on the current instrumentation. If not, it is very much worth installing one. They are basically a stopwatch with a control circuit and, as such, are not expensive to purchase. Most are electrical, simply wired with the ignition. They can also be connected via an oil pressure switch or alternator which is slightly better because they only count when the engine is actually running.

If you don't have an engine hour meter, simply start your log with zero hours and add the total hours of operation each time you start and shut down the engine. This running tally allows you to schedule maintenance when you reach maintenance milestones based on engine use. During our circumnavigation, we took great care of our engine and monitored the hours. Yet I was far from a log disciplinarian and did not pay particular attention to what I classified as another mundane daily accounting chore. I am sure I was out on most services by 20%. An engine-hours counter would automatically and accurately have taken care of this task.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

Trumeter Electromechanical Hour Meter 722 & 723

AutoMeter Diesel Tachometers

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