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Boat:     Rhumb Do                             Date: September 2021


For sometime now, I have thought about re-positioning the engine instrument panel.  The present position is on the starboard side cockpit seat bulkhead which is both prone to seawater immersion and difficulty in ease of gauge readings.  Originally, it also housed a key operated 'ignition' system, but I had twice stepped down from the seat and caught the key with my heel, breaking it off in the process, so I had removed that and replaced it with a simple switch just inside the companionway whilst in Marmaris, which is coupled to a push button start.  It also had a defunct VHF speaker and a disconnected Stowe speed instrument.  Another recurring problem was the 'stop' cable which because of it's wet position would rust and jam up.

As we cannot go anywhere during this Covid 19 pandemic due to movement control orders, I decided to buy new gauges and move the whole thing to an eye level position to the right of the companionway.  The old gauges are all VDO, and I decided to stay with that make as I wouldn't have to change the sender units.  It wasn't quite that simple!  Firstly, the old instruments only had a simple 3 wire connection whereas the new units have 8 wires each - a technological 'advance' which only serves to make things more complicated and beyond the 'keep it simple stupid' plan.  Secondly, when I got the new gauges and tested the tachometer, it didn't work!  When I contacted Veratron, the makers of VDO, they freely admitted that the tacho I had chosen was totally unreliable and they had stopped manufacture of it.  They recommended I buy their upgraded version complete with hours meter, which I didn't necessarily want, but went along with.

First job........make a new instrument pod to house the gauges.  I made a template from 3mm plywood to get an idea of the size required, then cut out a 12mm ply front which I then made sides, back and top for, using co-axial fibre glass and resin.  I know I could have made a mould, then 'cast' a new pod from it, but it was easier to make it this way, cover it all with filler, sand it and paint it.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!






When that was all filled, sanded and sprayed white, I bolted it down to the coachroof and began the task of running new cables and cutting out the old.  The 'stop' cable was re-routed and is now just inside the after cabin doorway.


It just remained to cover the now sad looking previous gauge site.  The recess is over 25mm deep, so I used two pieces of 12mm plywood, soaked in thinned resin and glued together with epoxy glue.  Over the top of those, I laid two sheets of chopped strand matting and resin, then filled with epoxy filler, sanded it smooth and sprayed it white before refitting to the cut out portion of the bulkhead.





I  know that it looks very white, but I am sure the paint will yellow a lot quicker than the surrounding gel coat and will need repainting again very soon, but I am far happier with the new location of the engine instrument panel.









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