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  • Writer's pictureDave LeGear

Maximizing Efficiency: Tracking Fuel Burn and Maintenance Costs for Your Toys.

As discussed in past articles, tracking fuel burn rates and other maintenance work will help you find what is operating best in your engines no matter the application, be it the Boat or Tow Mule you employ to move her to your favorite ramp.

The maverick and her past tow mule

Fuel anymore has become an investment, so getting the best ROI (Return on Investment) for those purchases is essential. Some fuels (detergent packages mostly) perform better in X engines, and of course, some of that is based on how dirty those engines are when you start using that brand and octane level of fuel.

And speaking of octane, click here to read a recent article, which may help you further understand how those octane levels can change as time progresses.

To help go along with the above article is another found here with more tips and ways to help keep more money in your wallet when you stop at the dreaded filling station and must elect if you are going to get gasoline or eat that day... 🤨

So, to this end, the best way to ensure you are getting the best return for your fuel expenses is to track how each tank performs, and we have some Excel sheets that will help you do just that! They also make for a great way to track maintenance and upgrades and see if that last service work, tire air pressure adjustment much less, or installation of that higher performance air filter that flows air better in your tow unit will pay for itself by watching the cost-per-mile trends.

The first sheet is for your Boat/Skiff, and with that one, you are looking to watch the "Cost Per Hour" of operation; you must have an hour meter so your readings are as accurate as possible.

Boat Fuel Burn Template
Download XLS • 57KB

So, let me explain the fields I chose for these sheets and why; you will notice that all you have to do is enter the primary data in these sheets, and it will calculate the data we are looking to acquire and create future graphs with.

  • The first field on the Boat fuel burn sheet is Brand, which should be self-explanatory. Just type in the fuel brand name, and in the future, as you start to type that same word again, it will try to auto-fill the box if you allow it to do so.

  • The next box is the Octane rating, and here again, that is self-explanatory; select the two-digit Octane rating at the pump, which is pretty much just four grades depending upon your location and brand of choice. They are 87, 89, 91, and 93.

  • Next box, you type in gallons. When I enter the amounts, I usually go over two places, such as 10.63 instead of just 10 gallons.

  • The next box is the hour meter reading. Get one if you do not have an hour meter on your boat. Not only does this sheet not function as designed, but you are also missing out on a critical engine monitoring tool. Not only can you not measure accurate fuel usage without an hour meter, but your preventive maintenance schedule is done pretty much by guesswork. Tracking such trends can pay off much sooner and save you money in the long run IF you take just a few seconds to log how much fuel you just bought along with some comments.

  • Average GPH (Gallons per hour burn): This is an auto-calculus field we want to monitor and graph as we collect more data.

  • Prop Installed is a simple field used to enter the size and pitch of your prop. I use the entry of 4x20 (use what you need) to denote my current usage.

  • The following field is Fuel Gauge Read. I stumbled upon this one by wanting to know just how accurate my fuel gauge is. Now I know that when I get down to ¼ of a tank, I have X gallons of fuel (simple subtraction) left. Now, If I want to take a long run, I know at a glance if I have enough fuel on board to make that run. I also do not carry a full tank at times to save on weight, which equals less draft since I fish in the skinny stuff. Besides, the less fuel I have, the less fuel I will burn to move it all (simple physics) … It is also nice to know that I only need X amount of fuel to safely run X miles (better stated X hours) before I will need to fill up. These trends will take a few tanks to grasp but think how much longer it would take to get this information IF you were not tracking such.

  • The comments field is another excellent tracking tool if you take the time to fill it out. You should notice a decrease in fuel burn (all things being equal) after you replace the spark plugs, change the oil, etc. You can find out if other fuel and oil additives you install give you a good “ROI” by denoting when you put them in. This field is also a perfect place to tell when you had service work done so you can see when it may need it again.

The only thing left is to rename the bottom tab to your configuration. Just right-click on the tab and use the backspace key to back out and rename it.

So much for the spreadsheet to track fuel burn for your boat… To afford to use the boat, we need to monitor and conserve fuel in our Truck (you can also use a separate copy for your car). Besides, the less fuel we use on our daily trips, the more we can dump into the boat to go fishing! 😎

Vehicle Fuel Mileage
Download XLS • 742KB

Now, the sheet for the Truck is pretty much the same in how it is used, but some additional fields come in handy.

  • The MPG field is another auto-calc field once you enter the gallons and miles. Now, I got into the habit of resetting the truck's trip meter every time I got fuel, long ago when fuel gauges used to fail more often, so I would know how much fuel I always had. Nowadays, most modern cars and trucks have two trip meters, which is nice. So, I use the trip “A” display setting for fuel burn and the trip B setting as an oil change reminder, which works out quite well.

  • The tank cost field is critical, so the next auto-calc field of cost per mile will work. Here again (all things being equal, hence the use of the comment section), different brands and octane fuel levels may give you a greater return per mile as you experiment with what works best in YOUR engine. Some engines will give you a lower cost per mile IF you run them on 93 octane fuel; thus, it is not wasted money. To me, the detergent package in fuel is the most important element, and from my past studies as a service director for several German import lines. Chevron’s Techron was the only one that removed carbon off of the valves, injectors, and (if not too thick) piston crowns and kept those Porsche 911s all Fast and Healthy, and this is why it is the only fuel I will run in my boat (and if possible my Truck) since it is a lot harder to get a tow when on the water! Besides, that is one of the main purposes of these sheets, to help avoid such issues and thus have the maximum time possible on the water through the use of “Preventative Maintenance” while also getting the best bang (it is gasoline, you know) for the buck! 👍

  • The last two fields I will combine… Driving Type has to do with City, Highway, Combined, or whatever choices you want to use and wish to denote. I also note when I tow the boat and how many miles there are in the comment section. The comment section is just that: use it as you wish, though even simple entries like “Found tire pressure low” or “Hot and Muggy,” though they may seem unnecessary at first, will become valid data elements over time. You may find that your Truck gets better MPG when running on Shell 93 when it is Hot and Muggy outside. Or the money you spent for that bed cover or K&N air filter installation is paying you back in better fuel economy. You don’t know until you start tracking every tank and what changes you made from the last fill-ups...

We hope this helps you save on both fuel expenses and maintenance costs at the same time by having a better understanding of how they perform by tracking each tank of fuel. The sheets also come in handy when you sell your rides by showing how well they operate and how well they have been maintained, all in one simple-to-follow sheet. 😊

These sheets, combined with some simple yet logical steps, should help you decrease your fuel burn and thus leave you with more money for your favorite fishing pursuits! If you have any questions about these tips or the use of the spreadsheets, please feel free to drop us a line and let us know how they worked for you!

In the meantime,

We invite you to take in a few Flats Nation Podcast Episodes to help "Scratch that Fishing Itch" when working or traveling and you cannot hitch up the Skiff and go, on these links:

Our main podcast page works well for your mobile devices since it will stream (or download) right on your phone/tablet. It can be found by clicking Here.

Our newer Flats Nation YouTube Channel can be found by clicking Here and sharing them with family and friends if you find them Entertaining and Educational! We have some great guests in the works and planning stages on a wide range of topics and product coverage soon.

Our store has some excellent new clothing and items you can review and order by clicking here.

Tight Lines, and God Bless!

Dave and the Team

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