Sunday, April 21, 2013

You're kidding me right? You're not?

"Igor, I'm ready, hand me the brain, and my magnifying glasses. Give me a little space Igor, and what have you been using for mouthwash? Road kill? Good I'm done Igor. Throw the big knife switch... AND IT'S ALIVE!.... Hmmm sort of at any rate. It drools a lot, it's picking its nose, and sniffing the acetone. Igor where did you get this brain from?" "Ah that's a long story boss, but you know that bar across from the Magnifico boat factory?"

I'm perpetually flabbergasted at the inane things I find on production boats. They slap them together, and let someone else worry about the consequences. Here is today's prime example of a basic task made excruciatingly difficult, if not impossible. This sail boat came from the factory with the wind instruments and autopilot installed during construction. I'm adding a new Raymarine e7D to the starboard steering station, Ram mount for the Ipad on the port less used steering station, and a SR6 network box with a Sirius receiver for weather.

The weather receiver antenna is a Shakespeare SRA 40. I'm removing the pedestal so what will be seen is just a 3 1/3" white hockey puck. The big plus is its wee small wire, and tiny little connector. It's typically very easy to pull this wire.
The perfect place to mount this little antenna is in the instrument housing above the companion way on this sailboat. There are only two instruments installed, plenty of room on the flat top, and access is really easy.

The two wind instruments are daisy chained together, and a single black and white spur cable leaves the compartment.

This cable routing was done during construction. There was no headliner, no trim yet, and everything is easy to get to. Apparently there was never even a passing thought you might want to add anything else here, for all time yet to come.

The wire passes through the fiberglass. Someone fitted a small piece of pipe that was raised up so water couldn't get into the hole. That was good idea, someone was using brain cells. The wire ends up under the headliner, turns ninety degrees, and then again ninety degrees and ends up behind the corner of the bulkhead heading downward. Hmmm this isn't starting to look good, and it wasn't.

The wire routes downward behind a wood panel strip that has been screwed on with small # 4 screws, but the trim has been installed over it, and the screw holes have been plugged, and finished.

Someone even went to the trouble to make sure the small screws were accessible, by relieving the area around them. The bottom of the panel strip is behind the flooring thus insuring you can't pull the bottom out.

I called the factory and asked, "How do I do the wire pull?" There is a pause from the nice guy I spoke to, "Did they plug the screw holes on the trim? I'm not sure they were supposed to. Well you could pull the plugs out and remove the trim pieces, You know how to do this don't you, You take a drill.....

My inside voice starts screaming at me. "Yes, I know how to do this, and after I've done it, I have to find the matching wood somewhere, make new plugs, glue them in, take a sharp chisel and trim the plugs, sand them smooth, find and apply the exact matching stains and finishes. You're killing me buddy. Why didn't you just make the trim pieces shorter in the first place so they didn't cover the strip? If you had, I might of had a chance of pulling a new wire. It still wouldn't have been easy, but at least maybe possible. The hole at the bottom of the strip was just large enough to pass the spur cable and nothing else. Do you know what conduit is? That round flexible plastic pipe stuff you pull wires through?"

The boat is leaving on a long trip tonight, and I still have other things to do. Reluctantly I go aft and install the antenna on top of the teak combing cap. The teak is thick, and I can't attach the nut underneath so it gets spot welded down with 3M 4200. I do a slithering spelunking run under the autopilot ram, and steering arm to route the antenna wire to the SR6, and get it plugged in. Later in the early evening I make phone calls to the boat while it's still in cell phone range to make sure everything is perfect, and things are not. A spur cable didn't lock in properly, and the auto pilot stopped talking to the e7D. Some brief screwdriver activity exposes the tee, and it's re-seated. I will know later today if there were other issues that need to taken care of.

"Igor, take our drooling friend Frank over to the Magnifico plant, and help him fill out an application for employment, I think he will fit in well there. And the next time get me a baboon brain like I asked for. I wanted an intelligent brain to work with."


  1. It's not called "Marine Installer's Rant" for nothing! This was a good 'un. Thank you and may we hope that somebody about to glue another boat together is listening.

  2. I'm beginning to think it's not the electronics knowledge you need in your job so much as an abiding interest in yoga poses...good grief.

    I concur entirely about the dopey way today's boats are built. It's why I went with a 90% finished custom boat: everything's accessible and all errors are the operator's!

  3. Rhys, I didn't mention that I had to exhale to get under the steering arm the AP linear drive was attached to. Room galore as usual.


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