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Aft cabin controls

The past few days, I have been working on the aft section of the cabin, where all the controls are.


I started by rerouting the cable for the Wagner engine controls, which was coming out of the wall, hanging inside the cabin and then back inside the wall towards the outside. I had to cut it behind the control box and I got a little worried I was not going to be able to reassemble it. I took a photo to have a reference on where the wires were supposed to go. After rerouting the cable, I made a new waterproof mounting box and talked to a knowledgeable guy that was in the boatyard and he helped me figure the connections out. I was able to learn how the little wire clamps work and I reconnected each wire one by one where they belong to make sure there was good, tight contact. I looked at it as a forced maintenance to inspect everything, so I was very happy to see how it was made and understand for future potential troubleshooting. Never know!

The previous box was super dry and mounted on the outside of the cabin. I hated it, it looked like it was a quick job done in a hurry, very common in commercial fishing boats! So I cut a hole to fit the new box inside the bulkhead. I sealed around it with Sikaflex for now. I will scrape and repaint the entire cabin outside so I did not bother spending more time on a nice finish. It’s already so much better!

There was a very rusty coupling mounted on the hydraulic steering pump‘s shaft and I expected to spend some time trying to remove it, but it turned out the thing just broke in half and fell on deck after a few little hammer taps. haha! This was a great surprise, for once things were smooth.

With a few years of millwright apprenticeship under my belt, this is something I am used to do and I actually quite enjoy playing with these things. Fits and tolerances, scotch brite, emery cloth, WD40, pullers, etc are all things I have used lots at work and I was happy to get to this point on my own boat. After a little effort, the rewards were quite satisfying and I was happy to see a super shiny stainless steel shaft that looked like a brand new one after cleanup!

Cleaned shaft

I went to Harbour Chandler and got an 8 inch sterring wheel, which came with a tapered, 3/4 inch hole. My caliper read 0.8750 inch on my shaft, which means it is a 7/8inch shaft, and it is straight, not tapered. Of course, I could not order a little wheel to fit, so I brought the one I got to Alistair at Head Tek machining in Nanaimo and he milled it to a 7/8” for me, I got the wheel back the day after. He was lovely and great to do business with.

Next job was to make a new wooden cover plate. I made the new one out of 3/4” fir plywood. It took me two cuts to make it right, but the last try was a great fit. I was going to use my holesaw to make the round hole, but turned out I got the wrong pilot drill bit for the set that I got and I had to make the cut with a jigsaw. I was quite impressed at myself, with a beautiful round cut!

I also added two more fasteners for the top part of the plate as there was only two at the bottom of the previous plate and it make the plate lift on top. I will leave this on stand by for now as I have to repaint the cabin and I think the wisest decision for this mounting plate would be to seal it on the new cabin paint with a gasket of sikaflex in case I need to get in there in the future to do some work on the steering pump.

Since my wheel got milled to a bigger size, the key hole was very shallow and I had to spend some time filling it with a hand file. I also filed key holes on several stainless steel washers, since the wheel has 2 centimeters less in lenght then the total shaft lenght. I found the right size bolt to secure the wheel and will shim the difference with washers and cap it with a custom sapele varnished wood cap that I will make later. the wheel came with a black plastic cap and I just can‘t put this on.

Now the issue is that the 7/8” wheel hole feels like a couple thousand of an inch too tight. I tried to heat the wheel to make it expand to install it with a tight fit, but she won’t go further than 1/4 inch in. Steering pumps are finicky pieces of equipment and I don’t want to bang it in, so I will go back to Alistair on monday and ask him to shave a little bit off.

Another thing I have done in this area is install shore power. There was none originally and the previous owner had shore power going through the cabin window. This is not something I wanted to keep doing so I bought a shore power inlet. I picked the “Smart plug” as it is a lot safer. I know this boat will be left alone sometime so worrying about a fire due to bad contact is not something I wanted at all. Doug at Stryker Electronics in Port Hardy got me the cable I needed for it and I wired it inside the inlet. The smart plug comes with a dumb proof colour coding and it is very straight forward to wire it in.

The hole freshly cut with the new shore power cable.

The new shore power inlet in, before I did work on the rest.

It is motivating to see this little area change day after day and I am so glad I attacked it. It will be great once it’s all done!

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