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Better Filtration and Longer Intervals Give Sport Fishing Captain More Confidence
Captain Nick Millsap has been around sport fishing boats, many of them with Cat® power, most of his life. He grew up fishing in Orange Beach, Alabama, started working on charters as a teenager, then spent a decade as a mate on private boats. In 2015, the owner of the Rascal, a 60 Hatteras GT, asked Millsap to come aboard as captain. Two years later, the owner upgraded to a 63 Hatteras GT with Cat C32 engines — and Millsap immediately spotted a problem.
“As soon as we took delivery of the boat, I started noticing that the transom was really sooty,” he says. “You could see it sooting when we cranked the engines up.”
Millsap called Jamie MacDonald, the marine account manager at Cat dealer Gregory Poole, to investigate.
“A dirty transom usually means something isn’t running right with the engine,” MacDonald says. “When you see a sooty transom that means unburned fuel, which means you’re wasting fuel out the tailpipe.”
MacDonald sent a service technician onto the Rascal to adjust the fuel injectors, hoping that would solve the issue. Millsap ran the boat to Marathon, Florida, then to the Bahamas — still sooty. He replaced the fuel filters — still sooty.
As luck would have it, Caterpillar’s filtration expert, Tim Styfhoorn, introduced himself to MacDonald at a Cat event around the same time. When he heard about the sooting problem aboard the Rascal, Styfhoorn had a hunch the new fully synthetic fuel filters just introduced for Cat machines might be the solution — so he pushed the internal Caterpillar development team to fasttrack the marine version.
“The next thing I know, we’re at the Fort Lauderdale boat show, and there’s a guy from Cat standing on the back of our boat with a case of fuel filters saying, ‘Try these,’” Millsap says. “We put them on and it cleared up the problem immediately. It also fixed a little priming issue we were having, too.”
That case contained Ultra High Efficiency Plus (UHE+) Secondary Fuel Filters, which Caterpillar designed specifically to provide higher levels of filtration efficiency and capacity inside today’s high-performance engines. They come standard on the new C32B 2025 mhp engine launched in August 2020 and are available as an upgrade on previous C32 engine models.
“As we keep pushing to get more horsepower out of the same size engine packages, tolerances keep getting tighter,” Styfhoorn says. “That means systems need to maintain even higher cleanliness levels than before. UHE+ filters are more efficient at removing smaller particles of contamination, which means components last longer.”
For Millsap, the UHE+ filters deliver more than just a clean transom. They also give him more confidence that the Rascal’s C32 engines will perform as expected no matter where the boat travels.
“Fuel in the islands isn’t always the cleanest fuel. It gets shipped to a terminal, loaded on a barge, and you’re taking on 1,800 gallons that may have come from the bottom of the barrel,” he says. “These fuel filters help keep us going.”
There’s another benefit to using the Cat UHE+ filters as well — one Millsap is looking forward to taking advantage of when the newest Rascal, a 65 Hatteras GT also powered by Cat C32 engines, is delivered in the fall of 2020.
Because he’s diligent about always using Cat filters and fluids, and works with Gregory Poole to take and analyze fluid samples through the S•O•SSM Services program, Millsap should be able to extend his oil change intervals from 250 hours to 400 or even 500 hours on the new Rascal.
That will save time, money and hassle — no more rushing to squeeze in an oil change before a big fishing tournament. And a trip to and from the Bahamas, for example, will no longer require an oil change along the way.
“We won’t have to carry the supplies with us. We won’t have to figure out where to dispose of the used oil. We won’t have to shut the boat down,” Millsap says. “We’ll be able to go longer — and that means more time fishing.”
More time fishing is what Millsap has come to expect from Cat marine power over the years.
“Cat engines and Cat support are incredible,” he says. “In the five years I’ve been captain, we’ve never had to shut the boat down or cancel a trip due a Cat engine problem. That’s averaging about 1,000 hours a year.”
That means he doesn’t have to turn to Jamie MacDonald at Gregory Poole for support very often — but when he does, Millsap knows he’ll get an answer fast.
“Anytime I need Jamie, first time the phone rings he picks it up and puts me in the right direction quickly,” Millsap says. “I don’t see why we’d ever go with anybody else.”
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