Monday, April 17, 2017

Navpods and goo

Sometimes things in my truck look like garbage and there usually is some there. But often it's part of my tool kit. No it's not as pretty as my micrometer or as fancy as some of my electrical measurement gear is but nevertheless it does a great job of getting rid of goo. This plain piece of 1/4" acrylic is the remainder of a VHF radio install using a new plate that covered the much bigger hole from a older deceased unit. I have several similar pieces like this floating around in the bowels of the truck.

In the boating world there are two types of goo. Those that can be removed with the aid of solvents, and all the others. The others are what this unimposing piece of plastic is good for. I've pulled out a VDO chart plotter. I had never seen one before but they did exist at least in the past, and this one was long overdue for replacement. The new unit is a Garmin 7612 MFD and because of space issues I'm installing it in a PYI Seaview Power Pod. But I have to get rid of the goo first.

In most cases goo has been applied to a fiberglass or painted surfaces. You can't use razor blades, or metal tools because of the potential for surface damage.

Left over acrylic pieces with sharp edges work a treat. It's tough enough it doesn't dull quickly. This same material is familiar to those who live in northern climes. Acrylic is used to make many ice scrapers. Chunks like I'm using also inherently come in a variety of shapes to help get into tight places. I have some pieces I have snapped off that have close to razor sharp edges. 

These won't hurt most boaty surfaces as long as you don't get roid raged with them. This doesn't get rid of all of the  goo, but what's left after a good scraping can typically be abraded off with some paper towels and elbow grease. 

The old VDO unit was added at some point in the past, and was not the most elegant piece of work I have ever seen by a long shot. The helm structure is aluminum and painted white. A hole was hacked out for the new chart plotter. A new 1/8' aluminum plate was machined and also painted white. The plate was then glued down using prodigious quantities of something that looks like liquid tire. The VDO unit was glued down with the same goo.

It looked cheesy to say the least. White was everywhere and apparently this installer couldn't find any white sealant to match. To top it off this was a tenacious and sturdy material requiring real tools including a hammer to cause more than just separation anxiety.

Here is the shiny new white acrylic cover plate. It's 3/8" thick, and just slightly over sized relative to the original plate. It's thicker than my usual plates because it has to take the load of the new Power Pod. I've also left a 1/8" more or less gap between the other devices to make it easier to do some paint touch up repairs to the adjacent instrument panel.

Seaview's Power Pod was the perfect fit for this application. I don't have the space to do a bail or flush mount mount and needed the movement flexibility to allow for adjustment. There are three major parts. The base, housing, and  front cover. You get all fasteners, base gasket and a special screwdriver I'll come back to later.

I made a little GIF up from photo's on  Seaview's website to show you the range of motion. At this helm the captain can quickly adjust the MFD orientation to suit whether seated or standing.

Before I get into the install these pods were originally shipped with the base partially disassembled, and the instructions reflected this. Somewhere along the line they started to ship them with the base assembled. The instructions didn't change and at first it can be a bit confusing. If you run into this scenario just start at the last step and go backwards. Seaview is in the process of revising the instructions and the device isn't that complex.

There are two other pieces of nuance to pay attention to. The first one is don't lose the screwdriver. It's for Torx security fasteners. It's not that you can't replace it, you can. The problem is you likely can't get one at the local corner hardware store if you need one and what size was that Torx fastener?

You shouldn't do what your Installer did and unscrew the base rotation chrome lever thingy all the way out. It's not a crises, but it takes a little fiddling around to screw it back in. The short story is it never needed to be much more than just loosened in the first place. Doh!

Punch a hole to pass the wires through and attach the base and gasket with the supplied fasteners. Make sure the plastic slip ring is placed on the base. This makes adjustments a lot easier.
There is a small metal clip that has to be removed to set the structure onto the base. The Torx screwdriver you have does this. Remove it, set the upper base onto the lower base, and screw it back into to place.
If you look closely there is a clear shrink wrapped plastic film on the plastic housing. This protects it from being scratched during shipping and installation. Now is the time to take it off, and not later when you have to disassemble things to do it. Just saying.

Things are more straight forward from here on out. Pull the wires through, there is ample room. Take the housing retaining plate (it only fits one way) and use the back chrome lever thingy to screw into it. You will quickly learn how far to screw it in and how tight it needs to be.
Screw the face plate on, attach the template and make your cut out. Attach the MFD as specified by the manufacturer and plug  in the cables. 

This is a nice product. The foot print is small, it's easy to install and has a solid feel. The range of motion is large and it's attractive. The last thing I did was to take the included extra fasteners and taped them to the housing interior. If one of these fasteners goes kerplunk you have spares to use, if you haven't lost the screw driver.


  1. I like using the acrylic as a non-marring scraper. Do you have any plastic razor blades in your kit? they are quite handy too. They can be ordered online or ask your favorite auto/boat detailer for a few.

    Tell Captain Ralph we want more delivery stories too.

  2. Glag that you are back Bill. I missed reading your blog for February, March and half of April.

  3. Hey Bill - like the look of the acrylic. I've often used starboard to cover larger holes. How do the two compare in your opinion? I know the finish is different - how about strength, cost availablity (I usually just go to and order a custom piece. Real easy and arrives quickly. I have no affiliation with them, just like the quality, availability and responsiveness). Thanks - glad to see you back and writing.

    1. Hi Tim, I like acrylics for several reasons.The first is it always looks good when you're finished. I use a local fabricator to make panels. I make a template, deliver it and what I get back is a piece that is beveled, edges are fire polished, it looks great, meaning very factory original appearing. A panel for a CC boat helm costs at the most about $120. The material is also stiff. A 1/4 inch piece of acrylic is way stiffer than its starboard equivalent. I certainly have used more than a few pieces of starboard through the years, but it's a difficult material to finish and get a good looking result. Sanding results in fine hairs being left behind, and it gums up the paper. Both materials have their purposes and each are good at somethings and not good at others.


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