Friday, March 6, 2015

Xducer finessing. You always need a bigger hammer.

Installing marine electronics on boats requires tools and gear. I have lots of this stuff. So much that often the problem is in locating where things are in the beast truck. Ethernet cable testers, several soldering irons of varying wattage's, a fox and hound for chasing wires, volt and clamp on meters, specialized crimpers, outlet testers and much more high tech gear. Most are rarely used or needed on a daily basis. To deal with many boats you have to throw away the finesse, and use things more commonly wielded by stone masons, or needed by railroad track repair crews. The boat often won't give up its gear until substantial brute force is applied.

To fix the problem with the incorrectly installed transducers I wrote about a couple pieces back it's going to take some real exertion.

To begin with the mad sealant goopologist had been hard at work. There was some good luck however. The hull hadn't been cleaned before goo application so the stuff barely stuck to it. The bad news is the holes had been very thoroughly filled insuring no leaks for all time.

Just to be extra sure the tops of the holes had lots of extra goop to make sure the nuts would be well embedded in the stuff. Just getting the nuts off was a battle in itself since the threads were well coated. Who needs Loctite anyway when you have copious quantities of sticky white stuff? The transducers didn't come out without a fight, and it was an ugly one.

I managed to get the first one out by myself, but the second one was fighting for its life and it took two of us to extract it. Multiple trips to the truck to get ever increasing in size and weight anything to help. Lots of wood blocks, and anything else I could scrounge that could act as a wedge to keep every hard gained millimeter of progress intact. The goop is like a huge rubber band. You get a tiny gain, and then it sucks back against the hull when you let it go. The installer won the battle. The transducers went down screaming and the governor refused to sign the stay of execution.

The second problem with the original install is the hull was notably curved. This didn't really matter if you ignored the installation instructions and didn't use the fairing blocks. Now I'm left to contend with the problem.

Cutting the fairing block isn't a big deal, I split the difference between the hull angles, set the table saw's whirling blade of death angle, and fed it into the machine while keeping my fingers attached to the hands.

But the P in the A is wallowing out the curve into the fairing block. This isn't hard just tedious. Sand on it, then fit it, and it doesn't. Mark the bad areas and repeat unit you get an acceptable fit.

About four passes on the sander for each fairing block did the trick and along the way a few of my nails got a free manicure as a bonus.

Now the damn thing can be finished. The holes through the hull are re-drilled straight up. Apply the sealant, jam it up into hull and a accomplice tightens the bolts inside whilst I clean up the extruded goo mess below.

Yeah, it looks at first blush that I'm doing the menial labor part of the job. If you saw how difficult it was to crawl back in that uninhabitable miniature dark dank space never designed for human egress you would know I got off light by doing the goo clean up.

It was a very expensive fix that shouldn't have been required. $1200 of transducers were damaged, and now add all of the labor costs. All it required was to read the instructions first. I know its a guy thing,.... but sometimes you gotta, or the bill can be substantial. The Famous Marine Installers school promised me glamour. I'm still waiting.


  1. What about applying a sealant remover, like DeBond, several applications over a day or so, followed by a "saw" of piano wire or braided fishing line with dowel handles? Home Depot even carries a similar device for close-quarter cutting of PVC pipe.

  2. Hi Karl, my problems in life are always time and geography. As a rule of thumb each trip to a boat involves about two hours of time. Less in the summer, but much more during the tourist season when Sarasota's population seems to double clogging the roads. All of the techniques you mention are good options at various times depending on the scenario, but for me making a second trip to anything is expensive. So my goal is to always where possible to get r dun on one visit. Hence the bigger hammer.

  3. Unless your clients are all Prima donnas, they could be instructed to start applying DeBond or a similar product, daily for a week, before your ruining a 'ducer. BTW, I have found that lowly dental floss used as a saw can get the job done, with zero hull cosmetic damage...just a thought. I realize that in Sarasota many owners want no personal involvement and have open checkbooks. Up here, at the Quebec border, people routinely get their hands dirty, even if wealthy. Different culture entirely.


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