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Boat building problems to avoid

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There are many issues that can occur when adding new features to a boat or when doing a refurbish. Correct installation is the key to having a boat that remains free of problems for a long time.

ITS ALL IN THE DETAIL

Here are a few solutions to keeping your boat looking like the belle of the ball at the marina. By doing the installation correctly in the first place, you will save lots of time down the line trying to rectify the initial mistakes. Let’s take a look.

UNSEALED WOOD

Unsealed wood, especially plywood endgrain is a common mistake made in boat building. The end-grain is often neglected and not sealed and will turn into a swollen mess as it begins to absorb water. Water will quickly find its way into the laminate and it won’t be long before the laminate begins to separate and buckle. Sealing your wood end-grains will prevent delamination and a lot of work to rectify the problem. Epoxy seals work well for wood end-grains and stop the infiltration of water and the consequent damage.

CIRCUITRY

Modern boat construction uses an increasing amount of printed circuit boards in the DB panels. Are there printed circuit boards able to withstand the rigours of the elements such as sea air? A lot of printed circuit boards come with what is called a Conformal Coating which is designed to prevent corrosion of the components. If your circuit boards have no coating, do a quick online search which will offer up a variety of coatings for circuit board application. Alternatively, ask your local dealer for their input.

CABLES AND HOSES

The use of cable ties should be restricted on boats. These nylon cable ties become brittle over time and begin to degrade and break down. After they fail, the wiring that they support hangs free and is then allowed to come in contact with moving parts or even heat caused by the engine which will eventually spell disaster. Any cables that run over the engine should be secured with metal clips that are not going to degrade and break like the nylon cable ties will. There are also a variety of rubber coated metal clips that are heat resistant and do a great job of securing wiring, particularly in hot areas found near the engine.

BATTERY INSTALLATION

Many boats share a common problem and that is the incorrect installation of the battery. There are several issues that can occur. Uninsulated terminals can cause a short if a metal object falls across the two terminals. Battery terminals should always have insulating covers protecting them.

THROUGH-HULL FITTINGS

Seacocks, through-hull fittings and any other fittings that are below the waterline need to be installed properly and checked regularly. Many boat sinkings are due to improperly fitted or degraded through-hull fittings. These fittings need to be checked regularly, at least a couple of times a year to ensure they are in top condition. Hoses connected to through-hull fittings are also a source of leaks and the hose clamps that hold them in place need to be checked regularly. Fittings that are just above the waterline can go below the waterline during rough seas and when the boat has taken on a lot of weight. These above the waterline through-hull fittings also need to be monitored for any degradation that might occur. Discharge through-hull fittings should have the necessary check valves to prevent water finding its way into the boat.

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