Because trolling motors can run so quietly and efficiently, it can be easy to forget that they need some attention from time to time. In order to keep them running so well, it’s important to spend some time giving them the maintenance they need. You can do this at home in just a few quick minutes, and it will make a big difference to the life of your motor.
When caring for your electric trolling motor, you will want to follow a basic maintenance program. You will want to perform tasks like keeping the propellor clean, checking your rope and moving parts, rinsing off saltwater, charging your batteries, and checking the tension in your cables.
In the rest of this article, we will take a closer look at each of these steps. We will see how you can easily perform trolling motor maintenance at home without investing too much time or resources.
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Keep the Propellor Clean
If you use your trolling motor often, it’s easy for the propellor to become clogged up with debris you might come across in the water. This includes bits of line, weeds, leaves, and other debris. You can develop the habit of checking your propellor after each time out on the water. Giving it a simple visual check and removing any visible debris will help keep it clean and functional.
If you haven’t been in this habit, you may want to give your propellor a deep clean. Using a wrench and an appropriate socket, you’ll need to undo the bolt at the side of the prop. Take the propellor off and carefully save the washer and nut. Using your fingers or another tool, remove any debris found inside.
It’s important to perform this maintenance step from time to time in order to keep your motor running efficiently. If there is too much debris inside that the propellor needs to compensate against, you are in danger of your motor running too hot. Additionally, if too much debris gets inside, it can damage the seals, allowing water to enter the motor. If that happens, it could easily be the end of your trolling motor’s life.
To see how exactly this is done, you can check out this Youtube video. Here, you can see the process of dismantling, cleaning, and reassembling the prop:
While performing this propellor maintenance, you also have the opportunity to check the propellor blades themselves for any damage. If you see spots that have been nicked or damaged, it is good to care for these areas. You can use fine-grain sandpaper and gently buff out the problem spots.
Check the Rope
You will also want to check the trolling motor rope from time to time as well. This is important because this piece of your motor is most likely to wear out and, when that happens, will need to be replaced. It is a part of your motor that you will repeatedly use each time you switch from deploy to stow.
Give your rope a visual inspection, and keep an eye out for any well-worn spots that are starting to fray. You will be better off replacing the rope before it breaks than waiting until it snaps unpredictably. You can purchase steel cables with a plastic coating that works quite well for durable replacement ropes. You can always keep an extra rope in your onboard tool kit in case of emergencies.
Rinse-Off the Salt
If you take your boat out in saltwater, this step particularly applies to you. Even though many electric trolling motors come with a special coating that should protect them from saltwater, it is best to rinse them with fresh water after every use to prevent corrosion. By rinsing away any saltwater residue, you will be able to prolong the life of the protective coating and thus the life of the trolling motor.
Strap the Motor Down
Your motor is built to be easily pulled in and out of the water. When you pull the motor out of the water, it should lock into place. However, you must remember to fasten the motor with the provided velcro straps as well.
This is important because most trolling motors are designed to have a lot of down pressure, meaning that they are weighted to go down and stay down in the water easily. If it is not well secured when out of the water, it could slide off unexpectedly, potentially causing damage to the motor. In order to take preventative care of your motor, it is best to secure it with straps as well.
Tip: Sometimes the stow locking mechanism can fail and release so always secure your motor with something as simple as a bungee cord. If you want to get more elaborate you could invest in a motor stabilizer.
Clean and Lubricate
Another way you can keep your trolling motor running smoothly is to clean and lubricate it regularly. You will want to pay special attention to the moving parts of the motor. You can inspect and lubricate any brackets or other places that allow the parts to move.
You will want to pay special attention to the area that allows the trolling motor rope to move. Be sure these bolts and brackets are well lubricated. This regular lubrication will allow your rope to come up easier when you pull it.
When this area is well oiled, it will lessen the wear and tear on the rope and allow it to have a longer life. The rope is usually one of the first things to break on a trolling motor, so it is important to perform rope-related maintenance regularly.
From time to time, you can also glance over your motor and check for any parts that seem to have become loose or need attention. You can oil any areas that seem to be getting stiff and tighten any spots that can become loose over time.
Keep Batteries Charged
Always remember to recharge your batteries after a day out on the water. If you are storing your motor for a long time, remember to check your batteries when this storage period is over.
They may lose some of their charges in storage. Anytime you go out on the water, you will want your batteries to be fully charged. This is to avoid any possible inconveniences that could take away from your relaxing day of angling.
Tip: A battery maintainer or battery charger with a maintenance mode will significantly increase your battery life. If your battery is below 50 percent charge over a winter of storage you could lose half of your charge cycles. So keep your batteries connected to a charger in a well-ventilated area during off-season storage.
Cable Tension Adjustment Screws
If your trolling motor has a pedal, then this maintenance step is for you. The more you use your trolling motor, the more the cables will stretch out over time. This increased length in the cables can make the pedal move a lot more than it used to. To tighten up your cable tension and have a more responsive pedal, you’ll want to find the adjustment screw. It’s essential to do this bit of maintenance to be able to have the best possible control over your boat.
Your trolling motor may have a sticker or a tag on it somewhere that guides you to the location of the adjustment screw. You will often find this screw by lifting your cable and placing a Phillips head screwdriver beneath it. Fit the screwdriver head into the screw and begin to tighten it. You will feel the pedal become tighter and tighter the more you turn the screw.
To see a guided tutorial on how to tighten this screw on a Minn Kota trolling motor, you can check out this Youtube link:
Anglers love trolling motors for their quiet and easy way of operating. By following these simple steps, you will be able to keep your trolling motor well maintained. Regular maintenance will contribute to your motor running at maximum efficiency as well as prolonging its lifespan.