Suzuki’s National Service Manager
By Peter Zeroni
Chris Guppy’s role is to look after Suzuki’s Australia-wide dealer service network. As a result, he is well placed to say that the optimum level of servicing on offer to owners of Suzuki motors is via this network.
As a fisho, it’s not every day that you get a chance to sit down over lunch and chew the fat with a guy who knows outboard motors better than most...to the point that he’s become the National Service Manager for one of the world’s leading outboard manufacturers: Suzuki Marine. Well sitting across the other side of the table was that man, Chris Guppy. Chris has a long history as an outboard technician and, for a number of years, has been the go-to man in charge of looking after the servicing arrangements for the Australia-wide network of Suzuki dealerships. In fact, Chris was in town for that very reason: to provide training and service updates for Darwin’s two Suzuki dealerships — Frenchy’s Marine and Quality Marine NT — both located in the Winnellie industrial precinct. Over a bite of Cantonese cuisine and a few refreshments, I had an opportunity to pick Chris’ brain on a variety of outboard topics.
First-up I asked Chris about servicing intervals and why was the magic number of 100 hours selected as the service interval for four-stroke motors (apart from the fact that it’s an easy one to remember). Chris replied that 100 hours of operation for an outboard motor was in fact the equivalent to travelling 13,000km in a car! Well, I must say that certainly was something I didn’t know. Given the potential wear on outboard engines, Chris said it was vitally important to use the correct high-quality marine motor oil as those designed for car engines do not give the required level of lubrication to an outboard engine. He explained that oil in an outboard operates best at temperatures between 62 and 70 degrees Celsius whereas, for car engines, it’s around 90 degrees. The good news is that, with the right marine synthetic oil, modern outboards are happy being left on all day...which is great news for a bluewater jigger like myself who never turns his off until I’m back on the trailer (probably why I have 1600 hours on my motor in 6 years).
Chris made the point that, in addition to using the right oil, your engine needs to be regularly serviced by appropriately-qualified-and-skilled personnel. This is to ensure your outboard keeps operating at its peak performance, and importantly provides reliable service — especially for those of us fishing in remote areas where, if something goes wrong, assistance can be very far away.
As mentioned earlier, Chris’ role is to look after Suzuki’s Australia-wide dealer service network. As a result, he is well placed to say that the optimum level of servicing on offer to owners of Suzuki motors is via this network. His statements are backed up by the fact that the Suzuki dealer-network is continually provided with training and manufacturer updates on how to best service existing and new technology incorporated into its engines. Further they use specialised diagnostic and calibrating equipment to identify any issues as well as allowing motors to be tweaked for optimum performance. Lastly, service dealerships are able to purchase genuine spares at the lowest price and thus help keep the costs of motor servicing lower.
I next asked Chris what was the sweet spot rev range for most four-stroke motors. He replied that, for most hulls correctly trimmed, Suzuki outboards worked most efficiently in the 4200-4800rpm range. While on the subject of engine performance, Chris said that Suzuki has introduced Lean Burn technology into its engines. It first appeared on the new DF70A, DF80A and DF90As, and now extends to cover the flagship DF300A model as well as the smaller DF40A, DF50A and DF60A engines. Chris explained that Lean Burn technology is similar to that employed in vehicles where the placement of multiple sensors throughout the engine system keeps the on-board computer abreast of what’s happening at all times. This feedback loop allows the engine computer to optimise the injection of fuel to reduce consumption while still maintaining excellent engine performance. With increasing fuel prices, it is imperative that manufacturers continually strive for more-efficient engines and Suzuki is playing a lead role in this regard.
In addition to my questions about servicing and the like, a specific one I wanted to ask Chris was regarding the towing of other craft by your own vessel. Over the years, I have towed a number of boats back to the ramp — including a 35km tow from the mouth of Shady Camp back to the launch site. Chris said the towing of another craft puts a big load on the towing engine that otherwise would not be there. A small boat trying to tow a larger one is no different to a small car being used to tow a bigger vehicle (ie in most instances, you wouldn’t really contemplate doing it). He said that, if you do need to tow another vessel, then the key is to take it nice and slow. Also the motor on the boat being towed should be tilted up to a point so that water is not being pushed through the water intake located on the leg of the motor. If the intake is left submerged, then water can be forced high up into the motor which risks significantly damaging engine components. Good advice indeed.
Unfortunately, space constraints limit imparting more of Chris’ oracle-like knowledge and understanding of outboards, generously given during our relatively short but enjoyable chat together. However, if you’re a keen boatie and ever get a chance to meet Chris, then make the offer to take him out for lunch. Apart from his pleasant company, you’ll learn a hell of a lot too!