Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mothra vs the Installer, the BFTV

I clamber onto the boat, and nearly trip over a large box containing a new TV. Alright, this must be the new replacement for the cockpit, and I push it off to the side. I go down into the salon, and upon seeing the box there, I can feel my very soul being sucked into the ether. It's huge, it's heavy, it's the television equivalent of Mothra. My instructions had been clearly stated, we measured, it will fit, make it work. Like most of us that aren't effete intellectual snobs, I watch TV, and to keep marital bliss, I don't alway get to watch exactly want I want. But come on now, do you really need to sit in the dark, and pretend you're in an Imax theater on your boat? Oh well, it's not my role in life to tell people what I think, unless asked, and then it is a rare occasion I don't have an opinion.

The salon table gets moved, to make room on the floor, and Mothra is unpacked. The minuscule 30" TV is removed, and the new set is horsed roughly into position. The existing bulkhead angle is too steep for a good viewng angle, so with the top of the set against the bulkhead, the bottom is inched out until a good compromise is found. Some quick measurements are made, and Mothra is put to rest on the floor. 

There are hundreds of wall mounts made, and it took several hours of googling to find one that satisfied me. It had to have sufficient range of motion, could handle the weight, and could be mounted in the location. I choose a mount that had a swing arm, although I wasn't going to need it swing much, and I had to tip it down about 10 degrees. All of these mounts stick out from the wall somewhat, and you have to take this into consideration. After wading through endless dimensional drawings an online line order is placed, $300 dollars disappears into the black hole, and a few days later a box appears.

The bulkhead that the TV will mount to is a wood grained looking 1/2" piece of plywood. Although it was strong enough to take the weight of the smaller LCD TV that came with the boat, no way would it take the weight of this set. My imagination kept painting a picture of the TV, along with the entire bulkhead laying in the center of the salon with ripped out wiring dangling, and sparking during a rough passage. Not on my watch!

The bulkhead had a gap of a couple of inches behind it, and then there was the forward interior fiberglass wall of the console. After several passes at getting the mount placed in the right location, and measuring carefully the mount's location was marked. A hole was drilled through the plywood, past the gap, and through the console's fiberglass wall. Using the hole location inside the console to make more measurements, several black boxes were relocated, and the other three mounting holes were drilled. A piece of 3/8th inch SS all thread was used to make custom bolts, and the mount was attached, a hole for cabling was cut, and Mothra was in place.

Two problems now remain. A light switch for the salon is now behind the new TV, and there is a large unsightly gap exposing the innards. This was a Sea Ray MY, and now pay attention Mr. Boat Builders, both large and small to what I have say. To cover the gap, I made a template, and cut out a piece of plywood. I called Sea Ray, gave them the hull number, and asked the question "What pleather-esque material was used inside the salon?"  In almost seconds, the answer was Seafoam, and it is in stock.

Not only did Sea Ray know exactly what was in a five year old boat, by hull number, they had some in stock. Sadly, for many builders, the answer would be "I don't know", I will ask Bob if he remembers. So Pee Wee Herman's secret words of the day are "Configuration Control". This doesn't cost that much, and is invaluable to the long term support of your vessel both for me, and your dealer. Ask the builder about this before you buy any boat, large or small. If they look confused, shop elsewhere. To take this one step further, I think all boats, again large or small, should come with an accurate, and complete bill of materiels, and a full set of construction, and electrical drawings. Think how many technical support man hours you would save.

The second replacement TV, a piece of cake, new simple swing arm mount, added a DVD player under the counter, and job done, Mothra, not so much.

Why Mothra, I don't know, it just popped out. If you have to watch TV, make some popcorn and watch and old Japanese "monster made of rubber" movie, I can assure you this is more fun than fixing boats.


  1. Hi Bill,

    Looks great as always, I just finished installing a new 22” flat panel and had to manufacture my own mount to make it fit flush in the area. Took a few days, but looks and works great. Funny you mention that boat builders should give full set of drawings, both construction and electrical. My correctly dated model year manual that came with the boat, has drawing in it that were over 4 years old, and were incorrect, things that were shown, and on the wrong side or location in the boat. Somewhere in those 4 years major system layout changes happened, and they never updated the manuals, which are so generic they wasted a bunch of paper for nothing. There aren’t any electrical diagrams, and the plumbing diagram doesn’t match what is in the boat.

    My 'X' (name changed to protect the builder incompetence) 31' express, I have tried to get electrical diagrams for it a few times, would be a big help. Coming from an electrical engineering background, its all pretty simple to me, so when I contacted ‘X’ customer service, the response was that they don't give them out, only certified trained dealers can have access to get them. I then questioned them on what exactly is certified and trained mean, is there a class I can go too at the factory to become certified and trained, as I am sure all of the dealers send out all of there people to boat wiring school. Then the next excuse was, they are intellectual property and a trade secret and they can't give them out. I am not sure how you have a trade secret on a published wiring standard that because the builder is certified should be following.

    So now I have to reverse engineering the silly thing and draw them up myself. I have been working on it slowly a bit each season, it has saved me already a few times, and I have about 50% of them complete. I really don’t want to be caught offshore and have an issue that a simple wire has worked its way loose and where I sit. The worst part is the terminal strips buried in the wall somewhere that you can't get too and they change wire color at that strip. Drives me crazy.

    Thanks for letting me vent a bit,

  2. Chris, I understand completely, and I agree. I also agreed with your Panbo comments, re TV's vs monitors, and averred so, but with some typo's, I should re-read before hitting submit. Thanks for the comments. Bill


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