Monday, November 21, 2011

A tale of two trim tabs

It's right, it's wrong, or it's gray. In this case it was wrong, and it was grayish on the wrong side of the fence, which meant it worked only for a while. Installing trim tabs are not difficult because things can only go where they go, in theory. This boat has a pocket built into the hull that the trim tab retracts into. If I was installing it, I would have attached the tab to the boat, and then bolt the fully retracted ram to the tab. You lift the whole assembly up, and use a pencil, or marking device of your choice to mark the three ram screw holes. Drill the holes, and then use the template to mark and drill the hole for the hydraulic tube. This is not hard to do at all, I've done it many time with notable success. So looking at the picture below it worked perfectly, no matter how the plant worker went about it. But something went awry at the factory when the other trim tab was installed.

Unfortunately on the starboard side the trim tab ram is located 3/4 of an inch more inboard than the other side. Assuming the pockets for the tabs were in the same place on each side of the hull, and they were, somehow the trim tab ram was put in the wrong place. You can actually stand behind the boat and see it. There is also what appears to be a new screw installed at the top of the ram.

The end result of all of this is that when the tab was lifted to meet the ram, the mounting holes in the tab missed the mounting holes in the bottom of the ram by 3/4 of an inch. So I suspect there was a meeting right there on the factory floor about how to fix this problem, and the emphasis would be on not spending any money if possible. There are now two choices. Take the ram off of the boat, get someone to properly fill the holes, fix the gelcoat, and reinstall it, or wait a minute, doesn't Bubba take steroids? Bring him over here. Okay Bubba you pull the ram over, John you lift up on one side of the tab a bit, and Sam you screw in the bolts. See, that's why I'm the floor supervisor, now get back to work.

Now I wasn't actually there, but I have seen this type of stuff before in boat factories, and this is a likely scenario. I tried to pull the tab over, and I could with both hands, but it would take a second person to get the bolts in, and I wasn't happy with the solution, or the forces involved to do it. This tab has had problems before. At some point in the recent past, the plastic pin that acts as the pivot between the ram and tab had failed, and a dealer for the boat had replaced it with a SS bolt. They should have corrected the problem right on the spot, but they just forced it over again like the plant originally did.

I come onto the scene, but now there is no trim tab at all. The flange that attaches to the bottom of the ram is still there, the part of the tab that screws to the boat is there, but the tab has torn away from the hinge, is missing, and now in Davey Jones locker. Even worse there is now a hole in the hull right next to the tab hinge point. I don't know where the hole goes, or exactly how it got there, but it's appearance doesn't appear coincidental. There is some staining on some of the edges, mixed with fresh torn edges, so it looks like it may have been whacked over time a bunch before it broke off completely. In the end the ram flange bolt holes stripped, and the bolts fell away leaving the tab less then wafting in a forty knot aqueous gale.

So what to do? The hull number is found, and a call is made to the boat manufacturer to get the trim tab part number. This tab was custom made for the boat. A pleasant call is made to the nice folks at Bennett Trim Tabs and a new tab is ordered, fabricated, and shipped. I get the tab and screw it on, and that's when all of the problems were found. Another call was made to Bennett Trim Tabs to discuss options. The tab is taken off, and new holes are being drilled in it by a machine shop with a 3/4' offset so the ram will meet the tab properly. The hole is will be fixed by a fiberglass repair guru, and the owner will take all of this up with the manufacturer. All of this was unnecessary. The builder's personnel knew there was a problem in the first place, but apparently the name goes on before the quality goes in. 

Dear boat builder, take good care of the owner, he's a nice guy, me not so much, I've seen far too much of this crap. Curmudgeonly yours, Bill


  1. Bill-
    Whenever I click "Read More" the continuation page has a truncated left margin, cutting-off the first two characters of every line of text. Changing my screen resolution does not help...the left characters are still missing regardless of screen sizing...IE8 browser, BTW.
    Tried viewing in Firefox 6.x and same deal. No problem on Panbo's site, which yours seems to emulate with the "Read More" format...

  2. Sorry about that, I am looking into what is going on. Will advise. Tnx Bill

  3. This happens with Firefox as well.

  4. But the reload after commenting made the problem go away....

  5. Regardless, the stories are worth the effort of fixin' your browser. BTW - I've not had any problems with Chrome.