Sunday, May 28, 2017

Some Timely, Sage Advice

Though we don't do this very often, below is a link to a very good article touching on an issue that is dear to the hearts of all cruisers, spending money wisely while working to stay ON the water, not IN the water. It is also an honest admission of mistakes (unwittingly) made that ended up costing money while leading to mechanical failure that could easily have led to losing the boat.

Courtesy of Morgan's Cloud
As we are supplementing the cruising kitty by my working on boats as a professional marine technician (after a life time of working as a professional aviation technician) John touches on an issue that I run across on a near daily bases; the quality of parts supplied by an owner.

The quality of such parts or units is often completely unknown. Where did this thing come from? What is quality of the steel, how accurate was the machining, what (if any) quality control procedures were used? The salt water environment is brutal. Even high quality stainless will eventually surrender. But I have seen "stainless steel" parts start to corrode within weeks of install. Indeed, on occasion I have picked up "stainless steel" hardware with a magnet. Some of this stuff has no business being within 100 miles of a salt water boat. Our parts manager knows who he can trust as a supplier. Something that simply can't be inferred from an Internet search for the "best price."

Often customers have little idea of what units can be used with other units, particularly when it comes to electronics. It has become a standard joke in our yard. If a customer supplies a bit of electronics there is very little chance that it will actually plug into anything already installed on the boat. Just last week, we (as in I and another tech) were tasked with installing a depth transducer on a large trawler; transducer supplied by owner. It has become our custom to find the plug that fits said unit before getting too deep into any install, and there was no such plug on this boat. 

Somehow or the other, it came to pass that the owner was sure it would work, that there was a patch cord or a magic box that would get this unit talking friendly with the others on his boat, and we should just install the part as requested.

So we did, punching a much larger hole through the hull than the original unit required, mounting the thing, and running the wire as close to the helm as it would reach. Maybe the "patch cord" would be long enough to fill the gap to...something.

Alas, no such patch cord exists. Hopefully the new, new unit will be big enough to fit in the same hole. But if not, we know how to sling glass around here; can fix the old hole in the hull better than original, then punch another hole as required. After all, we get paid by the hour.

But it still surprises me how often we get told what to do on a boat by someone who doesn't do what we do. There are stories galore of "minor" problems taking hours and hours of serious structural repairs, engine problems that "cleaning the injector" can't fix, vibrations that "aligning the engine" will not quell, and leaks that will never be staunched with "a little 5200".

Anyway, enjoy a good, honest article about a mistake that didn't turn out as badly as it might.

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