Ideas & Improvements to Boats, Trailers, etc. That May Make Life Easier


Sometimes it becomes painfully evident if a situation could have possibly been avoided by foreseeing / or doing maintenance on your boat or trailer.  Other times by doing a little forethought, and being better prepared, things may have came out different or at least a lot easier.  One thing you may think about is, it could be hard to make things FoolProof, as idiots and fools can be very ingenious at times.  Listed below are a few items that could be done to help a situation or make life on/off the water a bit more enjoyable.


Preventing Boat Trailer Theft ;  It can be rather disheartening to return to the launch after a day of fun / fishing only to find your boat trailer missing from your towing vehicle.  Many of us do padlock the trailer hitch lever down so it can not be disconnected from the ball.   This can also be a good thing to get used to doing as it is a reminder to not forget to snap the lever down onto the ball.


But what about securing the hitch extension into the bumper's receiver?  If you just use the original spring snap clip to hold the pin in place, it is rather easy to pull the pin, slide the trailer rearward enough to get the extension out of the receiver and then transfer the extension to a waiting vehicle that has the same commonly used receiver.  To prevent this, I have drilled my extension pin out enough to also accept a padlock bail, as shown in the photo below on the right. 


It is nice to purchase 2 or 3 padlocks using the same key for this situation.  You do need to remove the extension padlock occasionally and clean the padlock up so it will function when needed.  I have found that if you don't, the lock may become hard to unlock.  Therefore it may be prudent to smear some Vaseline around where the bail enters the base to keep out water (which turns metal into rust) and over the key slot to keep the dust from getting inside the tumbler.


For those of you who may wonder what the upper license plate frame says, it is "Crime Control" on top, and the bottom as seen, "Not Gun Control".


During the hot dry summers we seem to be having regularly, if you are towing a boat or trailer, make sure the tow chains don`t drag on the pavement (as properly seen in the photo on the left below) which could produce sparks, which then can start a fire.


Padlock on the hitch Padlock securing the extension to the receiver


Don't overlook padlocking your spare tire to the trailer as shown below.  Here a short section of 1/4" X 1 1/4" flat steel was welded onto one of the securing nuts, a larger hole drilled so the bolt would have clearance and another hole matching the next wheel lug bolt hole that is then secured with a padlock.  On this unit, the padlock hole end needed to be bent down to give enough to snap a standard shank length padlock lock into.  Also the upper part of the hole above the bolt threads was packed with wheel bearing axle grease so as to not provide a reservoir for water to collect allow the bolt/nut to rust. 


You will also notice that this wheel is turned upside down as to protect the valve stem from being stepped on and broken off.


Padlocked spare wheel


Some boaters have even had their tires/wheels stolen right off the trailer, so after the fact and to secure them next time, they run a heavy chain thru the wheel spokes and around the axle and secured with a padlock.  


Possible Detouring Theft While Moored ;   Or just plain keeping the battery from becoming run down when setting for a while, where possibly there is an electrical drain.   Here I installed a main power line disconnect right off the battery.  I happened to be shopping at my favorite locally owned shopping center that is also a True Value hardware store and came across a bargain table that had this high amperage disconnect switch.  You guess it, I envisioned a need for it immediately.  And the price was $6.99.  However later found the same switch in a Car Quest Automotive store for $19.19.  This switch came with a removable red plastic key that has a small brass ear on one side.  You push it in, making contact between both inside terminals, twist 90 degrees and the ear holds the key in place giving you continuity.


I was making the finishing touches to a old 16' aluminum Hewes Craft open boat that I had told one of my grandsons that I would give to him when he graduated from high school, if he got a job and was a contributing member of the household.  Since this would be his first boat other than a 10'er, maybe I had better add a few safety features, this one twofold because of where they live.


Inside this vented side seat, is a 12 gallon fuel tank and with the 12 volt marine battery right next to this rear wall inside a plastic battery box.  It just took drilling a hole in the rear of the seat, and bolting this disconnect in place, then a short 8" heavy duty battery cable jumper between it on one end and the positive terminal of the battery.  The existing battery cable was bolted to the other disconnect terminal of this switch.


Master inline power disconnect, along with all the other bundled power lines & fuel line


Freon Signal Horns ;   These devises are way better than most electric horns commonly found on recreational boats.  As long as the canister is intact and filled with Freon, these horns are very effective, producing a signaling noise that can usually be heard even above the sound of operating a boat.  They are relatively cheap and can be refilled by purchasing a new canister.


However not all of these horns/canisters are the same and canisters of different brands may not interchange.  Even ones of the same manufacturer may be different IF the model is not the same.  These canisters screw onto the horn body, however the threads are not universal.  Most of these threads are about 7/16" in diameter, some are fine threads while others are course threads.  Then of the smaller PWC style, there is one style that uses a longer course threaded plastic tip.  However this horn has the push button on the rear, not on top.


The three that I have are Falcon brands, the small one in the photo below on the left is designed for Personal Watercraft, while the one on the right is more for conventional watercraft.  Both are Falcon brand and use the fine threaded canisters.  One brand was encountered that uses the same fine threads as the Falcon, and that is SeaChoice.  The other small Falcon brand unit that I have has a belt clip and is called a personal protection model, (this may be good for ladies in a urban area or hunters in bear country) however it has the course threads.


West Marine also sells an almost identical larger horn, the only apparent difference is that it is red, however it uses the course threads.

Somewhere I saw an add for refillable canisters using compressed air.  But I do not know which threads these use. 


In my search for a compatible threaded canister, I even contemplated soldering or Epoxying a tire valve stem into the canister and making my own refillable compressed air unit.


Freon signal horns, both of these are falcon brand



 Power Flare ;   If you ever get in a situation where you need to have your boat located on the water, sure VHF may notify the Coast Guard, but what if it is dark and you are so busy (or you have not programmed your GPS/sonar unit to show the coordinates on the sonar screen) that you can not give an exact (GPS) location directions?  Sometimes you may need all the resources available to be identified/located. 


I saw this happen close-hand in 2015 on the lower Columbia River during the Buoy 10 fishery before daylight one morning.  A fishing boat radioed the Coast Guard that they were dead in the water AND taking on water.  Communication was sporadic from the boat in distress, as he was apparently very busy.  He finally answered that he had drained the fuel filter and had the motor running, AND was trying to get into the Chinook channel.  We were still tied to our berth in the Chinook boat basin waiting for daylight (being a newbie there) before I attempted to join the crowd and head out the narrow channel.  The large ribbed Coast Guard boat came flying into the entrance of the basin looking for the boat in distress.  He was not here, which meant they had passed by him on their way in, as apparently they had came from downriver and he was coming in from upriver.  More radio communication and this time the distressed boat gave a more recognizable location.  The Coast Guard boat had then turned and was headed back out the channel, and then soon had visual contact as it started to break day.  


Then as daybreak came, as we exited the basin, the distressed boat, (about an 18' or 20' aluminum convertible topped I/O) under it's own power was escorted in.  It did not have a lot of freeboard at that time.  My best guess is that they had forgotten the drain plug when launching in the dark that morning, and in the predawn the first clue that they were in trouble was that a fisherman's feet got wet when they began rigged up.


From our vantage point still tied to our dock, it became obvious that I may need to expand my resources of emergency boat safety devices.  My nephew then introduced me to PowerFlare .  This is an ingenious identification device.  For the price of about $55 plus shipping, it has many uses, being designed basically for emergency responders, and for being used in a situation described above, automobile emergency, being in a hunting pack, or left on your dash for you to relocate your vehicle on a night clam dig.  These can be had in various colors of light, are waterproof and uses a Lithium battery.  It has an outer case made of 16 Nylon/rubber protective rings.


Then just a few months later, I found a knock-off of the above, but less light modes (5), non waterproof and uses 3 AAA Alkaline batteries, for $12.99.  This one comes with a hook and magnet on the back.  It looks similar but only has 12 protective rings.  This one is simply called a LED Safety Flare and sold at some automotive hardware stores and distributed by .  Brightness on both is comparable however.


PowerFlare in one of the ten flashing patterns available
PowerFlare PF-200 Unit


 Bilge Pump Indicator Light ;   I made this installation after finding the bilge pump had died and probably had not been turned off after running it.   In my old age, even hearing aids do not solve all problems and if you can not hear it from the helm, forget to turn it off, who knows how long it can run.   Sure the owner's manual says you can run it dry, but for 3 or 4 hours?   And then when you need it, you get nothing.  This may not stop the motor failure, but it sure can not hurt if it helps you remember to turn the switch off.   OK, I went to Radio Shack and purchased a small red LED indicator light.   This light is about the size of a lead pencil.  The installation was made in the dash right above the bilge pump switch. 


You can purchase these in either red, green or amber for $2.19.  Installation is simply drilling a hole .272" diameter, inserting the light unit, tightening the nut on the bottom side then connecting the red wire to the outgoing switched terminal wire (usually black) on the switch and the black wire from the indicator to the grounding strip.


As shown in the photo below this LED light is really bright, now there is no doubt if the pump is on or not.   Some of the boat manufacturers are now using a switch that has a built in light in it when turned on.


Bilge pump indicator light on


Extra Bilge Pump ;  It can be sickening  when you turn the electric bilge pump on and nothing happens, especially when your bilge is full of water.  This happened to me when I had just replaced the bilge pump 10 months before.  I knew it had to be working !!   The next spring on our first tip out, were washing the deck down after a day of bottom-fishing and my crew was being liberal with the wash down hose.  What they did not know was that when my self-bailers were unplugged in the rear deck, that with lots of weight on one side, (them) that the deck water could not get out fast enough but ran under my rear hatch cover and into the bilge.  OK, but in this instance, the new bilge pump was defective in that the shaft seal had leaked, allowing saltwater from the previous fall fishing trips to get in and rusted the pump shaft solid during the winter. Another thing to check during your spring check-up.


We hand bailed as much as we could out of the bilge, then borrowed a hand bilge pump to clear the balance.  I had just taken my old hand pump out a few months before and put it on my jet-sled.  Time to buy another back-up one I guess.


Many boats now days have a wash-down pump.  With this in mind, I got a bright idea, if I slightly altered the suction of this wash-down pump and could have a emergency bilge pump.  This pump suction hose did not go thru the transom, but up and over it outside to just under the waterline on the outside of the stern.  As shown below, I utilized a common plastic 2 way garden hose splitter that has shut-off valves on each side.   Pictured is the original suction coming in from the top into this "Y" with the valve on allowing the wash-down unit to function. Off the other side of the "Y" is a plastic line going down into the bilge.  It has that valve turned off until needed.  If the emergency bilge pump is needed, all I have to do is turn the main suction valve off, and the one from the bilge on.  This new suction end, I cut the bottom on a taper allowing  a better suction nearer the hull.  In the center of the photo is the battery disconnect main switch.


I also have a short section of a regular garden hose which can be changed to divert this water over the side instead of utilizing the smaller higher pressured coil hose.

One word of advise.  The smaller red looped wire happens to be the main battery power to the forward fuse panel.   It had a crimp-on splice just out of sight.  It took 2 years after the salt water in the bilge to completely corrode this connection thru and  terminate all power to the main fuse panel.   It is now has a soldered connection, shrink wrapped with liquid tape and then also taped.


The white box & black wire in the bottom center is the electric bilge pump.


Wash-Down Pump ;   Once you use one of these little jewels, you will not go back to the bucket on a rope to wash down the deck.  Getting the fish blood and scales off the deck while it is still wet makes life a lot easier than waiting hours or days until trying it.

There is one requirement however, and that is there has to be some way to get the water you just sprayed onto the deck to be removed.  This can be accomplished in a couple of manners.  One would have usually been incorporated into the original boat design.  That is called a self-bailing deck that usually has drains in the rear outside corners of the deck.   Many times this deck is at or near water level and if so the drains will have means to install simple drain plugs to keep the sea water from entering the boat if the fisherpersons happen to be an uneven weight distribution.  If they do, the water could just flow into the bilge and your automatic float bilge pump switch takes care of the situation, but you don't really want it running much of the time.


On these boats if there is sloshy water on these decks, you usually just run the boat fast enough to get the stern up high enough to drain and pull the plugs.  Reinstall them when the water has been drained out.


The other and more convenient option can be added to most existing boats, either fiberglass or aluminum.  The photo for the above section is on a fiberglass boat and the factory simply ran a vinyl tube from the pump up and over the most of the transom, out high thru and under a large clamshell, with the suction end clamped in place a couple of places then terminating below the water-line outside of the hull.   This could have just as well have used a brass thru-hull fitting with a shut-off valve below water level.


The installation shown below is on a aluminum boat that required wire-feed aluminum welding the aluminum suction pipe into the transom.  In the left hand photo below, the suction line and in-line strainer are mostly covered by the fuel tank filler/vent hoses in front of them.  You can see the suction line coming thru the hull, with a 1/2" brass ball shut-off valve (with the red handle).  The 1/2" aluminum pipe goes into a street Ell which then goes into a in-line raw water strainer.  Out of that there is a 3/4" vinyl hose that is clamped in place and into the diaphragm pump to isolate any vibration or chance of the pipe breaking off.   Another 3/4" hose on the pump outlet, up behind the panel and into another street Ell that the garden hose fitting is attached to for the coil hose connection.


Behind the clear vinyl pump outlet hose is a fuse block for the pump.  The wiring goes thru the aluminum panel inside a plastic grommet to the rocker switch near the hose outlet.   The switch has a red indicator light in the rocker that shows when the pump is turned on.


This pump unit was made to fit into the space where the 2nd battery would have been.  You may notice that the metal at the juncture of the kick-panel and the hull side has been relieved to allow blood, scales and water to be washed rearward.  Behind this hole it was made sure that the foam insulation was not blocking the water escape channel.  On this installation, I lathe turned all the aluminum pipe and fittings, simply because I had the metal lathe, it was a challenge and I was not sure I could purchase any aluminum fittings, much less the proper length ones without making many 100 mile round trips to the nearest marine store.  A later note - the upper close coupled aluminum Ell fitting deteriorated to where it fell apart after the first year, probably because with this pump being pressurized, that salt water stayed in this area even when shut off.  I then made a replacement out of Nylon which solved the problem.


Here the coil hose is unscrewed from the panel fitting and stored until needed, with a protective cap attached onto the hose fitting when not being used.   A regular rubber drain plug was ground down to fit the water inlet that was welded into the transom as a emergency plug in case of a failure to the pipe system inside. 


I am amazed at the pressure and volume that this pump produces, it even has a built in high pressure cut out when no flow is being demanded.


And later I installed a 2nd battery in the center over the rear of the fuel tank.  Believe it or not, but there is still enough room in this area for 2 rubber boat fenders. 


Shurflow wash-down pump installation in a pre-existing boat location behind a fold-down door & nestled in with the fuel tank fill / vent lines. The coil hose, nozzle & rocker switch mounted on the front panel, the switch is protected by the rod-holder when the hose is off.


Another option is do what I see on large aluminum pontoon boats, and that is to mount a bilge pump in a protected bracket off the transom.  Kind of cumbersome, and unsightly, but functional.  I also know of one boater who's boat had an extended transom with a well.  He just put a bilge pump in the well and run the hose up where he wanted it and uses that for a wash down pump.


Drain Plug ;  If your drain plug is the standard 1" rubber stopper and you have trouble getting it out at times.  It may not be the plug, even though you have twisted the lever untightening it.  In all probability, the hole this plug goes into has some corrosion on the inside.  Most smallish fiberglass boats (up to 18' or so) usually use a brass tube that is swaged over on both ends.  Others would be made of aluminum and welded into the boat if the boat was made of that material.  Either can get corroded if the plug is not removed frequently.  The aluminum will be worse if the boat is used in saltwater.  Therefore, it is a good idea to occasionally pull the plug and run your finger inside to see if you can feel any irregularities.  If so, emery cloth around your finger is the answer.  DO NOT GREASE this hole if the plug resists, but dip it in water as a lubricant instead.


Smelly Bilge ;  There is a downside situation in using this type of wash-down unit where you wash the deck down and into the bilge where your bilge pump then pumps it over the side.   But in use, if you are a fisherman, you will get blood and fish scales washed into the bilge of most boats that are not equipped with self bailing scuppers. 


Then after a while, you may well have an unpleasant smell coming from your bilge/battery access area.   After using the boat for a week-end and then parked it in the garage during a hot summer, have you climbed aboard only to smell a not so peasant aroma of decaying blood?   You may want to wash the deck down with some soapy water, raise the tongue jack high enough to facilitate draining, pull the drain plug and open up your hatch to the bilge to let things air out.  You may even need to put some bilge cleaner in there or at least a small amount of detergent soap and or Lysol to help this clean up process.

If you happen to have a self bailing deck, possibly you need to be sure that the overboard plumbing and scupper flaps are clean also.


Also your one of your winter jobs may be pull part of your deck and scrub the inner hull down, if possible.  This is also more of a necessity if your boat is made of aluminum and you on occasion use it in salt water.  Salt corrosion that is in hidden places make for unexpected and expensive repairs.


Bilge Ventilation ;  While we are at the bilge, may boats also have an access door to the batteries under the motor well and into the bilge.  If your boat is a aluminum, it may draw moisture or have a lot of condensation in this area during winter storage.  It may be beneficial to install one or two louvered vents, otherwise you may need to open this cover (which may be a invitation for small critters) to let things dry out better.


You might consider placing a couple of 6" plastic ventilation louvers in the battery door, (as seen below) or where-ever the door goes into the bilge. 


Two louvers installed in the battery/bilge cover door


Carry a Spare Fuel Pump ;  If you are a boater who does a lot of time far away from land, like chasing halibut or tuna, here is something to ponder.  If your fuel pump goes bad 30 miles from shore, squeezing that fuel line bulb for an hour or better can get tiresome if you intend to get back to the dock on your own.  And replacing the original fuel pump at sea may become a near impossible task.  So consider buying a electric fuel pump of the same capacity as the original, and having it ready to install in a fuel line near the motor.  This would the proper size fittings, even do a pre-plumbed in, capped fuel line Tee and wiring long enough to reach from your battery with alligator clamps for quick attachment to the battery.    Maybe an insurance policy that you never use, but something to think about for those who think they have taken care of everything. 


Clear Windshields That Do Not Have Wipers ;  How many times have you wished you had bought a boat that had dual windshield wipers? You get water spray on the windshield, that does not run off, then dries, (especially if it is saltwater).  This can actually become hazardous if you or your lookout passenger can not see floating debris or crab pot buoys.


There is a product that helps so much rectifying this that you will be amazed.  It is called RAIN-X.  It is a wipe on product that is so amazing that you will wonder why you had never heard of this product before.   I am sure it is some kind of a wax dissolved in alcohol.  The water beads up in small beads and runs off best in heavy water conditions.  The water runs off so good, that it normally does not allow any blotchy discoloration when the windshield dries.  There are a couple of sizes of bottles, but the small 7 oz. plastic bottle that has a pivot out nozzle sells for less than $6 and is more suited to those of us that are boaters.   It does have a disclaimer to not be used on plastics or painted surfaces that are not approved by the manufacturer.


I DO NOT like what I see on windshields that have been treated with RAIN-X that use windshield wipers however.  It seems that the area that the wipers function at it seems to imbed this stuff onto/into the glass and the rubber wiper blades to the point the wipers need to be run more of the time to maintain a clear windshield.  The wipers can not remove the miniscule small drops.  So you may encounter in boating where you get a occasional spray instead of like a constant rain, your windshield gets smeared.   I purchased a used pickup that apparently had this treatment to the windshield.  I could not safely drive at night in rain, because of the glare from oncoming headlights.  Try as I may, nothing took this stuff of.  The factory never responded to my internet question.  I finally replaced the windshield.   However on the non-wipered boat windows, the water just runs off like it is sliding off a waxed sheet, leaving very little water remaining and that does stay is in small bubbles.  This is especially good when the boat is being used on salt water.


This product can be purchased at about any automotive supply store.  And can be researched and view an actual demonstration at . 


Windshield Defroster ;  There are permanently mounted heater/defrosters available, but if your boat is smaller and you do not have the room on your dash, consider going to a RV store, purchasing a 12 volt hair dryer.   These sell for less than $20.00, and usually come with a fold up handle for space saving and they work just great.  They plug into a standard cigarette lighter power source.


Portable 12 volt windshield defroster


Another Defroster Trick ;  Here is a trick I recently learned to keep the inside of your windows from fogging up.  Use some liquid soap on a paper towel and wipe the inside of the window, BUT do not push hard enough to remove all the moisture.  The theory was that if there are many minute soap bubbles on the glass, they deter any fog from forming.  A rather cheap method that works.



Proper Tire Inflation? ;  Since most of us do not use out boats as often as we would like, can you REALLY remember what the tire people told you to keep the tires inflated to?   If you are not sure, read the recommended pressure off the tire and inflate to that.   Then just use a felt marker and on the trailer fender/frame or what is near, write your tire inflation there as a reminder.


Rusted Lug Bolts or Wheel to Hub ;  Every year before you start your season, it is a good idea to pull the wheels, check the lug bolt/stud threads, clean if need be and apply anti-seize on the threads.  Highway de-icer in the winter IS NOT your friend in many ways.


Another thing that can happen, especially if you launch in saltwater, is your trailer wheel can become rusted to the axle hub or brake drum.  This can be close to impossible to break free out on a busy highway and the trailer jacked up with a wimpy jack.   About the only way to break it loose then is to loosen the lug bolts/nuts about 2-3 turns out and drive it a short distance.  Usually this will break the rust loose but the slightly loosened bolts keep it from falling off.


To prevent this from happening, when doing your spring checkup, pull the wheels, clean and grease the rear surface of the wheel at this location with a bit of marine axle grease.


Along this line, be sure to check you lug bolts/nuts oftener than occasionally.  A loose wheel can put you out of commission at an inopportune time.


Salt Corrosion on Galvanized Wheels ;  OK you have galvanized wheels, but if you launch/recover anywhere near salt water, take a look at the wheels after a few years. They will start to deteriorate the galvanizing.  What I have found is that if I use Lower Unit gear box oil, (even used 90 weight oil) and lightly wipe the whole wheel down, inside and out every spring that this gives me some retardation to this salt corrosion.


Emergency Long Handled Knife ;   There WILL become a time if you boat long enough when you could get a anchor line, crab pot line or even a dangling mooring line, wrapped around your propeller.  It could even be in a situation where if in a swift river current or ripping ocean tide where the situation could become NASTY very fast.    Just how far can you safely reach from your boat with a knife in your hand and who is going to hang onto your feet?  The photo below is pretty self-explanatory to an seasoned boater.


It also works great for removing a lot of wound on fishing line from the prop hub that you are afraid will get in to and ruin the seal shaft when you are 20 miles offshore and it is only 8AM.  (Been there -- Done that)

You do not want a regular sharp edged knife, but the serrated blade type.  The one below is an all stainless lock blade sold thru West Marine.   This particular one has a couple of slots along the back that make it easy to attach to a boat hook with tie tapes.  With the knife closed the boat hook can still be used for what it was intended.  But it can be deployed in a very fast time if need be.  The brown coloration on the knife itself is from a heavy duty corrosion inhibitor spray compound that was used to ensure that it does not become inoperable at the wrong time.  Yah, I know stainless is not supposed to rust, BUT !


It has come to my attention that West Marine is no longer carrying this knife as it must have been a special when I bought 2, sorry guys but there has to be other brands out there.  However I have found that they still occasionally come up with a knife sale similar to this.


Boat hook modification.


These Ideas Could Save Your Life ;  How many times have you fished alone?  One thing that you may consider in this case is to use the emergency kill lanyard that is on most small motors or boats that if attached to you if an emergency happens, the motor's ignition is killed if under power.  This could have many life saving scenarios from taking a large wave which could knock you out of the seat which could put the boat in danger to having a heart attach or falling overboard.


There may become a time when you could get distracted or ??? and fall overboard when reaching to retrieve a downrigger ball.   Even if the boat was not under power, and you could get ahold of the boat, depending on how deep sided it is, could you even pull yourself back into it.  Or if someone else was in the water, if they were exhausted, could you even help get them in?  In the photo on the left below, Tim Miller a US Power Squadron boating instructor, shows the idea that if the overboard person may be able to get their foot into the loop and thereby somewhat help themselves back into the boat.  The idea here is that this short rope is always attached to the boat but kept inside except when on the water.  Just let it drag.


In the RH photo, this operator (ME) does fish alone numerous times, and I do use my inflatable PDF all the time, however I troll the majority of the time, so my method is to use a 10' section of 1" nylon strap that by having a loop sewed into one end, I attach one end to a railing of the boat (on the off side of the trolling motor).   On the other end, I use a quick release snap (normally used for horse leads) that attaches it into the Dee rings of my heavy duty commercial or offshore inflatable PDF life vest.  This strap is long enough so that I can perform the majority of my time aboard unhindered while still being tethered to the boat.  It may be best to also tie some knots in the line above the water line to give you something extra to keep your hands from slipping if attempting to climb back aboard.


1/2" line as a possible assistance to get back in a boat or onto the swim-step if overboard   Here the idea is a little different approach


Fire Extinguisher ;   If you are like most of us, your fire extinguisher is pretty well out of sight-out of mind most of the time.  Yes, we look at them every year when we get our boat safety inspection (YOU DO THAT, DON"T YOU)?  They need to occasionally need to be removed and shook enough to dislodge any of the contents that may get juggled into compaction, especially if you frequent saltwater wind/waves.  Remember the vertically mounted ones are more subject to this than the horizontal ones.


But one thing most of us neglect is, it's outside physical condition.  By this IS IT STARTING TO CORRODE under the paint if you are a saltwater boater?  The Coast Guard does not really like this corrosion.   Sure it is not bad you say, but they have to cover their behinds and any corrosion could be grounds for it being condemned by them.  And very possible, at an inopportune time for you.  OK, there are two things you can do.  One is to replace it.  The other would during your winter down time, if it corroded, to sand it down and repaint the outside.  You would need to preserve the integrity of the model / information / identity decal on the side, so you would have to mask it off and after the paint job, remove the masking tape.  The idea is to make it look as good as new (IF THE PRESSURE GAUGE STILL READS IN THE GREEN).


Most of the ones sold today for vehicle and boats can not be recharged if the internal pressure has leaked down and the gauge is into the red range.   The simple rule of thumb as to whether it can be recharged or not is, is the handle and nozzle made of plastic or metal?  If those parts are made of plastic, it CAN NOT be recharged. 


Grapple Hook ;   If you are on the water enough, you will loose something of value over the side.  Depending on what it is or where you are, you may be able to recover it before Davy Jones or the Fish Gods take possession.  The photo below is very similar to a LARGE triple hook and is the result of loosing a sturgeon rod over the side in 40' of water.  This sure beats trying to snag it with large treble hooks (which we did, by the way).   It is made of 1/4" stainless steel round rod and welded together along the shank  with the total OA length about 12".  The hook openings are about 4" each.  Being made of 1/4" stainless rod, it is relatively strong, but would bend to unfoul itself if it really gets hung up.   I have seen these made using 4 hooks, but for me the 3 hooks allow it to be stored in a smaller area.   I have added a lead weight in the form of 3/16" round lead drift fishing sinker material to the shank.


Weighted recovery grapple hook


Trailer Brakes/Outboard Flush Pump ;  Those of you who have boats and trailers that are large enough that require trailer brakes are well aware of the situation called rust, especially if you launch in saltwater.   Many times there are no slings available where you want to fish.   Other times (most often it seems) there is no wash-down facility at the take-out, or someone has ran over the male hose coupler smashing it.


This can mean that by the time you may travel for a minimum of a couple of hours to get home, that the saltwater has pretty well hardened inside your brake drum unit and on the trailer axles.


Here then is another gadget that can be made from scraps for under $40 that can be a lifesaver for the brakes, the exterior of your trailer and your high blood pressure.  It is simply a 5 gallon plastic jug that had a large fill bung, a live-well circulation pump, a short section of garden hose and a electrical fitting that connects to your downrigger plug-in.   An inline electrical switch also helps.   In use, mix the required mixture ( 2 to 4 oz. per gallon) of Salt-Away (or other salt dissolving chemical) with fresh water for the size of the container before you leave home.   Heck even just fresh water will help.  When you pull out of the water while tying down and prepping the boat for the trailering trip home, attach the garden hose fitting to your trailer axle fitting, plug the connector to your downrigger plug in and if you have a dual axle trailer, flush part the liquid into one axle.   Change axles and do the other side.


Most trailers prepared from dealers seem to do one axle at a time, meaning the flush hose fitting is on a front axle and the same side on the rear axle.  It seems to me that there is wasted pressure drop in doing this with this system as compared to a home/city water pressure system.   Therefore, I simply re-plumbed the plastic tubing so that I now have both fittings at the rear axles, one on each side, which also is closer to the downrigger plug-ins.  I then flush the front and rear brakes as a unit per side.  These push on fittings for plastic tubing and fittings can be a bear to redo if the tubing is getting old.  Simply smear some liquid soap on the fitting and then push it onto this barbed fitting.


This can also very easily be used as a motor flushing unit by attaching flushing muffs to the hose outlet.


The unit needs to be mounted horizontally on something (even a plastic milk carton as shown) so the pump is pushing water from the bottom of the tank as these live-well pumps are not a suction pump, just a circulation pump so they need to be flooded by the water.  These could be used without a pump, but without much pressure unless the jug would be located higher, (say at the gunwale) and let gravity do it's thing. This would not be as efficient, but better than dried salt on the boat or in the motor.  It also works great as a motor flusher without the live-well circulation pump running as the outboard has it's own.


Shown here set up for trailer brake flushing

The same unit as on the left, but used for motor flushing


Extra Fuel ;  How many times have you wanted another tank, but had no convenient place to put it or a way to connect to your main motor in a hurry?   Here I have made a manifold block using (2) 1/4" brass Tee, (3) 1/4" brass ball valves with Teflon seals and (2) 1/4"barbed fittings to match the hoses and hose clamps.   The center outlet being a 3/8" barbed X 1/4" pipe fitting, solid connection going to the main motor.  One Tee (the inlet from the main  tank) is screwed into the center outlet Tee.  On each side are ball valves and quick couplers matching my motor's version. 


The handles are painted different colors for clarification.  In the photo below the center red valve handle is FROM the main thank.  The left red valve supplies the trolling motor and the yellow valve handle goes so a spare separate tank can be attached.  I have made a small deck cover on the opposite side of the trolling motor that has enough room to slide a 6 gallon plastic fuel tank under.


Here I can run fuel normally from the main tank with it's valve open.  If that tank becomes low or empty, I can valve off the main tank, and open the auxiliary tank's valve giving me an extra 3 or 6 gallons depending on the tank.  This extra tank can also be used for the trolling motor if wanted separately.   The one thing to consider is that IF you do not have the auxiliary tank connected all the time, then you will need to have a plastic cap covering the fuel line connector to keep corrosion down and make a tight seal when you really need it.  The extra fuel line is just capped off using a rubber/plastic automotive vacuum line cap.


One thing to be sure that you have ALL of these fittings gooped good with pipe dope and tightened in VERY TIGHT and the quick coupler to the trolling motor is securely snapped in place, so there is no chance of air leaks into the fuel system.


The aluminum clamp shown simply holds the unit in position in the motor well.


 In this case shown below the valves are arranged to draw fuel from the main tank & feed both the main & trolling motors.


Optional Fuel Can ;  How many times have you wished you had a extra, or smaller fuel can with fittings for your outboard?  I came up with this idea when I wanted a auxiliary smaller 6 hp motor on my 14' lake/river boat, but would only use it as a emergency get back to shore situation if I ruined a prop, but did not have a lot of extra room for any gas can.   Here even a gallon would be plenty, which with that small a can could be fit in nearly anywhere.


OK, I hatched the idea of using a 1 gallon plastic gas can that I had been using for my chainsaw, but modify the gas cap for marine use and the quick connect coupling to the fuel line.   I disassembled the cap/nozzle unit and using dimensions off the nozzle base, lathe turned a  3/4" thick Nylon unit that the Neoprene U shaped gasket fit over.   I drilled and tapped for 1/4" National Pipe thread near one side for the fuel coupler and on the other side threaded a 1/4" course hole for the vent as seen in the photo below.


I did screw up as the outer cap hole was larger than the inside, (I did not measure and assumed they were the same).  The outer hole was larger, which was needed to align this unit correctly.  So I found a section of 1 1/2" aluminum pipe that I lathe turned as a sleeve and pressed over the outer Nylon.   I purchased an aftermarket tank coupler of the proper make as many manufacturers use different sizes.  The vent was simply a 1/4" stainless steel Allen bolt that I Dremel tooled a slot lengthwise of the threads with a slitting wheel.  To get right up under the head, I used a dental burr again in the Dremel tool.  Then under the bolt head was placed a 1/4" X 3/8" neoprene O-Ring.   Now with the knurled bolt head, by tightening it down, keeps it from leaking, and 1/2 a turn open gives me a vent to the can.


Under this unit I found that I could twist a 1/4" automotive fuel line into the bottom threaded in 1/4" fuel coupler far enough to secure it, and then cut it off long enough to rest on the bottom of the can for a pickup tube.


Using this idea you could use about any size a gas can for an extra, or like in my case a small emergency fuel supply. 


 Here you see the fruitation of my idea



How to Not Run Your Fuel Tank Over When Refueling? ;  OK, you want to fill your boat's fuel tank full but but not overfill it, you are at a fuel dock and the wind is blowing (isn't it always on the water) boats coming and going detracting you from being able to hear as it nears getting full.   Or you are filling up at a noisy freeway gas station.  If you rely on the automatic fuel nozzle shut off, sometimes the tank will be too full, maybe even near overflowing and if the boat is left sitting in the hot sun for a while the fuel will expand and overflow onto your gunwale creating a mess and possibly ruining the paint. 


A solution is to make a simple stethoscope out of about a 24" piece of 1/2" clear Vinyl tubing.   3/8" size may work, but I think you can hear better with the larger one I am using.  Now while you are refueling, you can hold one end of this tube to one ear and get the other end in the fuel fill opening next to the nozzle.  You will now be able to hear the fuel being poured into the main tank and when the noise changes as the fuel starts up the fill tube hose from the tank, stop the filling process. 


You may have to learn what to listen for, and concentrate on listening.  This will at least give you the length of the filler hose for later expansion and no spill at the fueling area.  This works well if the fuel tank is below the deck where you have a longer hose to the filler, but for those above the deck, you may not have enough time to discern the noise change.


This tube shuts out most outside noise & you can hear the filling process.  The longer tube gives you something to coil up, adjust & hold onto while listening.  Just remember to put your hearing aid in your shirt pocket & not ON the boat.


Winter Layup Steering Cable Seized ?  The worse thing for a boat is one that sits all winter.   It would be worthwhile to  once a month  go out and shift your shifter/throttle and turn the steering wheel back and forth.  There is nothing worse in the spring when you find everything is froze up !  Better yet, start it up every 2-3 months.


One thing that usually gets overlooked on the spring inspection is the steering.  Again if you frequent saltwater, occasionally lubricate the steering cable at the motor.  The lubricant can even get dried out creating some corrosion.  You do not realize it until you launch the first time next season and it is hard or even IMPOSSIBLE to turn the motor.  And it really needs to be lubricated on both sides of the motor.  There are large nuts on each side of the motor cable (some even with a Zerk fitting attached).  Sometimes you may be able to simply spray WD-40 on the exposed shaft end and move the motor back and forth if it is not really bad and solve the issue.


If your boat is smaller and has mechanical cables this may not be as bad, but if you have a larger boat that has hydraulic steering, this can get to be a MAJOR issue.  I had happen at Neah Bay on my first trip out one season.  We launched the boat, my son pulled the trailer up the ramp to the parking lot, and I started the main boat motor, backed it out from the dock and COULD NOT TURN it motor.  The wind blew me off enough that I could not motor right back to the dock.  I had to quickly drop the kicker motor in and use it to motor around to our slip.   Then it took a lot of careful persuasion to get it un-seized without popping the hydraulic seal at the steering station.  

You can also experience the same basic situation if you forget to grease the main motor pivot shaft if you use the boat in or near salt water.



Need Internal Lights? ;  How many times in dim light or even if your boat is on the trailer that you go aboard and need better lights to find something?   Some of the needed locations would be prohibitive to run wiring to, so enter the small stick-on battery operated lights.  The one in the LH photo below that I chose is powered by (3)  AAA batteries, has adhesive backing, can be stuck to about any surface and the lens acts as the push-button on/off switch.


For this application I made a base out of Nylon that clamped onto the top bow of the convertible top over the helm.  This base could also be made of any hardwood.  This is screwed onto the bow, just tight enough to hold it, but so that it can be adjusted to shine in a more forward location if needed.  It being that high does not provide a lot of light, but provides enough to find things at the helm in the dark and not blind me.


It's brother was then stuck under the opening and behind the doors under the bow opening.  But the self adhesive on the back may become lazy allowing the light to fall off, if so the use contact cement to secure it.


In the RH photo, you will see a combo of many things incorporated in this old 16' riveted sled.  You will see the end of a boat hook handle, fire extinguisher, cup holder, rod holder, a PFD attached to the rear of a boat seat and a boat paddle.  The rod holder base is extended downward to accommodate a internal light.


Battery powered light inside boat's convertible top bow On this boat, the mid light base was extended upward allowing a rod holder bracket to be also incorporated


In the bottom LH photo below a 12 volt LED compact light is wired into the aluminum side rail behind the captain's seat.  The toggle switch is under the rail and just ahead of the light.  This thing is small but bright enough to be valuable when rigging/tying gear up early in the morning before hitting the water.


In the RH photo below small automotive amber fog lights are mounted on the rear of the radar arch, and pointed so the whole rear deck is illuminated.  These two lights have a single toggle switch placed under the Port gunnel so as to not being readily flipped on accidently.  These really help if you want to be on the water at daylight, and need to get your boat ready before the sun comes up.


Here is a small mid LED light installed in the starboard side rail Here we have rear deck lights mounted on the radar arch's outer corners


Drain Plug ;   About all of the trailerable boats I know of have a drain plug low on the transom.  For fiberglass boats they may, or may not have a threaded plug similar to a 3/4" pipe plug in size but finer threads.  Or they could be like the aluminum boats that use a rubber an expandable plug, kind of like the old Thermos bottle plugs.


If it uses the threaded in plug, it will behoove you to lubricate the threads, with a anti-seize compound in case you ever need to remove it without damaging the hull.  If the rubber plug is used, you should carry a spare AND inspect the one in there more than occasionally.  These use a threaded internal rod that is either tightened by twisting the Tee handle or pulling a lever handle over center to expand the rubber.  These rubber plugs are mass produced and over time can become worn to where the center rod may become disconnected.  Not that bad if you are boating, but what about if you leave it moored for a week.  You very well could come back to a sunken boat.  You could loose your $40,000 plus investment for the price of a $5.00 drain plug.   Carry a spare, Hell, carry two spares.


However if your boat is made of aluminum, don't think you can simply leave it in all the time, or even over the winter.  What I have had happen is that it can get salt corroded to the inside of the hole, making for difficulty when you want to remove it, especially if you put it in from a confined inside.   If you do have problems and when you get it out, I suggest that you use some medium sandpaper and remove any salt corrosion, then squirt a bit of WD-40 in the hole.  You might at this time check the structural integrity of the drain plug, or at least clean and adjust the tightening nut.


Most drain plugs are designed and installed from the inside, while others can be installed from the outside, depending on your hull design.  However if you do place it in from the outside, be sure that the lever is in the UP position so that it does not accidently tripped (if the lever activated type) by debris and fall out.  The inside ones could be hard to get to if you have a fuel tank and water separator/fuel filter, bilge pump, batteries and even possibly a wash-down pump in a confined area.   


Have You Ever Forgot To Put The Drain Plug Back In? ;   Here a simple cord with a snap attached to the drain plug that is snapped into a convenient hole that is positioned VERY CONSPICUOUSLY when the plug is removed is a reminder when you launch.


On a PSA fishing club outing at Neah Bay in May of 2009 as my fishing partner and I came out of the boat basin, arounded Wadda Island, headed into open water of the straits.  We were heading toward the slot between Tattosh Island and the mainland 5 miles away for a morning of halibut, sea bass and ling cod fishing with the other 6 boats of the club.   I was waved down by a boat that was dead in the water.  This boat was not in the normal travel path, but out in the straits farther than normal, but I was just curious enough as to what he was fishing for THERE that I ventured farther out of a direct line to the slot and closer to him than the other boats had that were ahead of me that morning.  Had he found a halibut fishing spot this close in?  I just had to check him out for a possible new halibut spot?


When I got close enough, one fellow on board waved me down and over to them.  When I got close enough, he hollered do you have a plug?  Drain plug of course.  Yes, I am one of those guys that carry way too much gear,  I just happen to carry a new spare.  These two fishermen were overjoyed.  The one that took the plug handed back a wad of $1.00 bills that amounted to $5.00.  I would bet they would have paid way more than that later on if we hadn't have came by when we did.   As we left and headed out to the slot trying to catch up with our other boats, we noticed that the boat was setting a little low on the stern.  Now mind you that they were out from the launch / boat basin by over 2 miles in the Strait of Juan De Fuca and the tide was running out (seaward) quite fast.  They had an inboard/outboard with no kicker motor.


A simple drain plug reminder on my boat

I have now resorted to just putting the plug in from the outside of my boat, which can be seen clearly by all, before we launch. 


Catch-All Box ;  Where do you put fishing gear, etc. during the day when the action is on and yet keep the lures/leaders etc. out of the way.  On one of my previous boats, (LH photo) I made a raised combo captains seat base that under it I have my tackle box, spare downrigger balls under and against the front, and a place for a 5 quart plastic paint bucket all out of the way.  Above this base where the captains seat is attached is a 1" lip all the way around.  This lip makes a catch all for removed spoons, Smelly Jelly plus about anything else that needs a quick temporary home.  At the end of the day, I then clean this stuff up and put it away (or try to).


Shown in the RH photo is a little different twist but the same effect was the result.  In my current boat, I like to sit on this and use my kicker motor to troll.  On this chair the legs needed to be lengthened 5" so that the seat would swivel over the transom's splash well when used as a seat for operating the kicker motor for trolling.  This extra height provided enough room to have a galvanized sheet metal pan made that was then brazed onto and between the legs.  Now an update for this one, since I am near salt water at times, the bottom of this pan seems to become rusty, no matter how many drain holes I drill in it.  My recent addition as seen below is to cut out most of the bottom, leaving about 1" bottom lip, kind of like it is now angle iron.  Inside this I have now added expanded stainless steel metal that has 3/8" openings.  OK, the small stuff may fall through, but that is what the plastic tray is for.  The plastic bucket is a 5 quart paint bucket that I keep fresh water and Lemon Joy in.


Also it would be nice to get the whole chair frame galvanized if you are near saltwater, but that is for another day.


Under the seat catch all Here is another adaptation, but to a movable swivel seat


Here in a small lake boat, a catch-all tray in front of the motor & the portable depth-finder unit are shown along with a removable deck plate under the seat

One small item that can be helpful on a boat is one of those shallow round stainless steel magnetic pans, usually sold at a auto parts store.  These could be placed near the fishing area and when changing lures or hooks, drop the item in this pan where the magnet will retain it from sliding out.


A Place For Your Scent Bottles ;   If you are like many of us, your scent bottles may never be in the right location, or get tipped over with the lid/nozzle not being tight, creating a mess.  Here is a thought that may help.  As seen in the photo below a 2" X 6" was cut to fit in this shelf.  The holes were drilled with Fostner wood bits using 1 11/16"diameter for the tall liquid squeeze bottles and 1 1/2" for the smaller Smelly Jelly bottles. 


The holes were made with 2" spacing, with the front offset 1/2 of that and drilled about 1/2" deep.  For mine, it just happened so that the wood slid under the existing Ball Baby base, which pretty well holds it in place.


One thing I found that after a summers use, that this wood swelled up after being exposed to wash-down water etc.  Where the wood got swollen and the holes became smaller.  OK, wait until next spring and redrill the holes again, but up to 1 9/16", then paint the wood.


If you are wondering what the salt shaker is doing here, it is a toothpick container with the salt holes drilled out to accept the toothpicks.   Here I occasionally use a toothpick to run laterally down a whole herring's spine to maintain the bend required for a good bait action.   I can pop the lid open and shake it, the toothpicks poke out the holes and I grab one. To the right are small cannonball weights secured in the downrigger Ball Babies base.


Here in a small boat, a wooden scent rack made of a 2" X  6" then shaped to match the contour of the hull side & lower shelf, which provides an orderly place to keep your scent bottles


Extra Fishing Area Floor Space ;  If you happen to have a boat that has those "steps" at the transom that take up floor space, you might investigate what is under and behind them.  Usually the reason as I understand it is that the USCG requires floatation in all boats under 20'.  Under this step  behind it under the splash well was foam flotation for the rear part of the boat.  However the space where this foam was inserted on this particular boat was not utilized to it's full extent.  The splash well is tapered to the rear for the water to run out.  The foam under this splash well appeared to be cut with a chain-saw very undersized which left way more space than could have been utilized.  I guess that is what you get in a modern day production line.


The floor space in the 18' North River shown here was crowded at the rear where most of action would take place in landing/netting large fish.  So removing this boarding "step" provided much needed extra floor space.  By careful measuring and fitting the large section of foam that was under the step it was inserted under the splash well.  This foam was simply sawed with an old fashioned carpenters hand saw. 


Also there was about 2 1/2" of space left on one side, where an extra sheet foam was inserted into completely filling that compartment with the exception of a 1 1/2" channel on the bottom outside for water run-off into the bilge.  Now the left over foam was again fitted and inserted into the space above under the gunwale and the rod tray and again extra foam added as seen in the RH photo.  The side of the aluminum step was cut off and the front simply moved rearward.  In the end, no floatation was actually lost and the much needed extra floor space was improved immensely.


You will also notice the Ball Babies for securing downrigger balls tucked out of the way and placed in the corners on the rod trays.


Here is the original Starboard "step". Shown the Port "step" is removed for more floor space.


More Storage Space ;  For most dedicated fisherpersons with small boats, the boat does not have enough storage space.  In the photo below on the left all the space under the seat that is on this pedestal type mounting is really wasted.  On the right is the same boat and seat but with a revised storage arrangement.  The seat boxes are made from 1/8" aluminum and have a 2" stainless steel piano hinge on the front for the lid and are held in position by 2 snap on rubber straps that were designed to hold firearms into gun racks mounted on a Quads front ends at the handle bars. 


There is just enough room under one of these seats to now store a Coleman Port-A-Potty, much to the delight of the ladies in the family.


Before -- Note the wasted space under this seat on a pedestal After --  Here the same boat & seat as on the left photo, but using a Lazy Susan type swivel setting on top of a 16" X 20" welded aluminum storage box with a hinged lid


Outfit Your Boat with Comfortable Seats ;  Here you can be ultra conservative to extravagant.  A simple board bench seat has sufficed for many of us on older or even many current smaller boats, but consider purchasing the best you can afford depending on the boat involved and the circumstances.  Sure, a 12' aluminum skiff has no room for a air ride $1000 seat and could not even accommodate one if you so desired.


But if your boat is a 26' offshore and you run in rough water a lot, one of these air ride seats may just be the ticket to convince your wife to accompany you since many times you need to cover 20 plus miles in unpleasant water conditions.  Or a person with a bad back would be laying on the floor in pain after the first couple of wave encounters.


Somewhere in between there is a seat that can accommodate most of us.  However the cheap plastic fold down clamshell type do not give much back support for even a few hours of fishing.  Part of owning a boat and doing the fishing thing is enjoyment.  If you are not comfortable, then the enjoyment curve declines rather sharply.  Good boat seats can make a difference.



Salt Air Corroded Seat Hardware ;  Most of the swivel seats you will encounter (at least the economical type) will have aluminum brackets and hinge units.   If the boat is even exposed to salt air for any length of time, this aluminum will become oxidized.  The photo below shows two identical chairs, same age but one was in a saltwater environment part of the time, while the other was a freshwater chair.


Once this oxidation starts you will probably never get as new again, however you may be able to clean it up somewhat and stop any more from happening, IF you are now aware of the  situation and take steps to keep it that way.


What I use on these is a product called AkumaBrite.  Mix it 50/50 with fresh water, wipe it on with a old paintbrush, let it set for 10 minutes, then scrub it with a Scotch Brite scouring pad.  Rinse it with clean water and allow it to dry.  Then I spray a on corrosion preventative (like CRC-6-56, Boeshield, or even WD-40) and let that dry.


Then remember to wash this down when you wash off the boat.  An occasional re-treatment with your corrosion preventative will go along way.   Or simply wax it.  If it gets really gross, then clean i tup good and spray paint it.


On the left is a swivel chair that was on a boat that was used on saltwater, however not extensively over 2 years.    Notice even the steel screws are rusted.  On the right is it's freshwater brother.  


Replace Rusted Bolts/Screws ;  Replace rusted screws with stainless steel ones.   If you look at the photo above those six lag screws holding the seat back to the hinge are getting rusty.  The same goes for the ones on the bottom into the seat frame.  These were standard cadmium plated 1/4" X 3/4" lag bolts.  The True Value hardware store I frequent did not have this size but did have #14 x 3/4".  A quick look at my cross reference dimension chart reveals the #14 is only .013" smaller than the 1/4", so they fit nicely.


While doing this repair replacing the bottom screws, I noticed the staples holding the cover to the wooden/treated bottom were so rusted so badly that MANY were completely gone.  Time to re-staple these until next time. 


Waterproofing Bad or Frayed Wiring ;  If your transducer cable sheathing becomes partly cut, (or any other connection) electricians tape is not the real answer.  Here is a method that may save the day.  Inspect this area to ensure the wires are still intact, if OK, then lay the aluminum coil outer wrap back as good as you can and then cover the whole abrasion using a heat glue gun, then wrap the repair with electricians tape.  If the cable is cut in two pieces, before you do your spice, slide a heat shrinking tubing over one end so after it is spiced, you can seal it better than just using electricians tape.

Salt Corrosion on Convertible Top Bows;  After any amount of time on OR NEAR salt water, the anodized aluminum convertible top bows can very well become corroded, especially where they come in contact with the canvas or about anything that can accumulate even a smidgen of salt air.  About the only thing I have found is to every couple of years to clean any corrosion off with a 3M Scotch Brite scouring pad (DO NOT use steel wool as you will then have lots of small rust spots later).  Then wax these bows with a good paste wax.


Maintaining Convertible Top Snaps & Zippers ;  Again, for those of you who do any saltwater fishing, you need to purchase zipper lube, which appears to be a silicone substance.  Star Brite, Snap and Zipper Lubricant #89102, which says just one light application protects against corrosion, reduces wear and friction, prevents binding and repels salt spray deposits and that one application lasts for months


The instructions also suggests to apply it to the center of the zipper and work back and forth to equalize it.  My thoughts are also to sure to liberally apply this on your zipper zip unit (which is usually made of metal) at it's usual normally closed position and check it out again before the winter lay up.  This material is also used on the convertible snaps to prevent them from seizing together.  However if you procrastinated, and the zipper is stuck with salt corrosion, you might consider making up a concentrated solution of warm Baking Soda to help dissolve the salt.  Then during the season, remember to slide this zipper occasionally AND at winter layup treat it again.


Again if you run in any saltwater, before winter lay up, clean the outside of the exposed snap also.  However DO NOT use steel wool, but a plastic kitchen 3M Scotch Brite scouring pad.  By using the steel wool, minute parts of this steel will break off and can then start to rust on your aluminum or fiberglass hull, which can be VERY HARD to remove.


Also unsnap the convertible top, clean, lightly oil the female snaps.   Some boaters use Vaseline but even trailer bearing grease will work.  You can simply smear a little inside the female snap using a Q-tip.


If you don't, very possibly next year when you try to take it off,  you can tear the canvas/vinyl at the snap because the inner spring that holds the snap together has become corroded and does not want to let go.   Or the male snap will become seized will break off of what it is attached to.  Sometimes even getting the two parts apart after they break, in order to repair things can be a task.  They make a metal U shaped tool that is very helpful in doing this, otherwise a flat bladed screwdriver may be helpful.


Also you may consider cleaning and waxing these snaps before winter's layup.


Also do not remove the convertible top and leave it off for any period of time in the winter if you may want to re-install it early in the season before things warm up, as the vinyl/thin Plexiglas has a tendency to shrink when cold, you may have a problem re installing it AND get the snaps onto each other until you take it inside to warm it up.


While on the subject of convertible top snaps, a couple of things I noticed on the recent addition to my boat ownership is that on North River brand of aluminum boats what they have done to help preserve the snaps longevity when securing the female end to the aluminum window framework.  Here they use a thin (about .025") round plastic washer 1/2" in dia. UNDER the female snap.  This is apparently to help isolate the aluminum from corrosion to the stainless snap.  These snaps were Pop-Riveted to the aluminum using aluminum rivets, but they also filled the inside of this male snap with silicone.  This appears to be there to seal over the head of the aluminum rivet if the boats are used in a salt water environment, again protecting the rivet from corroding.


PFD at Ready ;  If you have your boat inspected, you will find that the Coast Guard wants you to be able to access your life preservers within 30 seconds.  This does not mean that you can have them stored under all your other gear under the bow.   In the photo below you will notice that a strap of 1" Nylon was made up using snaps and it is attached to the top rear of the boat seats, holding the PFD onto the rear of the seat.


Here the PFDs are out of the way & readily accessible



Passenger Grab Bar ;   If your boat is not equipped with a hand rail / grab bar on the passenger side, it might be a good idea to install one.  As when running, if you encounter any waves, this gives the passenger something to hang onto.  You as the skipper have the steering wheel to help you in rough water.


Hand-Rail installed on port side with chart book & black box in tray below


Convert Boat to Camper ;  Have you ever thought that if you just had enough room to throw a couple of sleeping bags on the deck that you could "rough it" if the conditions were right instead buying a camper top for your pickup or trying to find a motel?   Or maybe you would like to explore a large lake or reservoir and would like to stay on the boat for a few nights?  This top could be used either on or off the water.


Shown below is a answer to those questions.  Here the existing convertible top rear door panel is unzipped, removed and the new camper top is zipped in place onto the existing zippers on the top.  On this one there is a zippered door on the starboard side behind the existing side curtain.  A support for the section at the zipper is a 3/4" PVC pipe bolted to a bottom spline of an old rod holder and set into a rod holder base at the location on the rail needed for the door's zipper. 


On the rear is a zippered clear plastic window  for ventilation, which happens to have a window screen over it for when the window is opened.  This unit has a short support bow that is pinned into bases at the rear gunwale.  This bow is made in 3 sections so it can be taken down, then stowed under the bow deck.  There are loops made into the bow to attach the rear of this top and held rearward by a ratchet strap on each side.   It is made to fit over the raised motors and  secured at the rear by a bungee cord on each side.


Side view of camper top installed on 18' North River Rear view of the same top


Cleaning Station 1 ;  For my previous ocean boat, on the stern I have a hinged lid that has nylon on it for a bait cutting block.  Under this lid, I have cut out part of the fiberglass and made a hole that will accommodate a Rubber Maid plastic refrigerator juice container, but without the lid.  During the installation, around this container I wrapped it in Saran Wrap, then poured in spray foam insulation to make this my own insulated bait container.  The lid then covers this container and the lid also has a 3/4" wood protrusion hanging down that just fits inside the container making a better seal.


Now on top of all this I made up a 16" x 24" aluminum frame and mounted a 1/2" plywood with a sheet of 3/16" nylon cover.  It has a rear lip, holes for knives and blood to escape.  All this lays on top the bait container lid and the front corners have 1/2" aluminum rods welded in place that just fit into my rod holders that happen to be strategically placed.  Here is my cleaning station for bottom-fish or salmon.


Of course the wash-down pump hose was close by.


Insulated built-in bait box, note rod holder bases also used for cleaning station attachment Removable cleaning station installed, note the cooler mounted on the extended stern motor deck


Work /Cleaning Station 2 ;  Here since this boat was only a 18' and after modifying the floor space as shown in a previous section, the idea of adding more usable area seemed like a good idea, so a 3/16" aluminum cover was made bent, welded that fit over the transom and forward over the splash well.  The idea was to provide a cover for a 6 gallon trolling motor fuel tank, create a cleaning station, work area, seat or a platform where with a davit/pot puller positioned just forward of this location, a shrimp or crab pot could be pulled and the swung to the rear allowing a location to place the pot when removing the contents.


Shown in the RH photo, the yellow under the seat is a sheet of 3/16" polypropylene (could not complain about the color as it was free) that is to be used for the cleaning station.  First thought was to make the polypropylene removable, but then, why, so now it is screwed down?  On top is shown a Outer Banks 24" seat pad that is designed to fit on top of a 48/54 quart ice cooler.  It has Velcro strips for fasteners.  This cushion seemed to be a good idea at the time of building the shelf, however as a fishing boat it was removed after the first trip, and now just sets in the garage gathering dust.


Here you will also note rod holder bases and other stuff including a fish bonker.


The LH photo below is taken from the stern and shows blood relief slots milled on the back lip before it was welded onto the base.  The stern mooring line passes thru a hole on the edge to the underneath compartment that it shares with a 6 gallon fuel tank and the wash-down hose.


Shown here is the lip all the way around the rear and sides with rubber protective molding on top & blood slots in the back lip Cleaning / work station / cushion viewed from the front with the removable cushion in place


Combination Seat & Ice Cooler/Fish Box ;  Space again being at a premium, the use of a 58 quart Coleman Xtreme ice cooler and a Outer Banks 30" seat pad on top was the choice.  To keep the cooler from sliding around in the boat, I had some 1/8" aluminum bent into 1 1/2"angle and I then cut wedges out in the inner corners as to be able to bend it to fit the bottom of the cooler.  These corners were then Heliarc welded together.  This angle frame was then screwed to the floor where I wanted the cooler to stay.  Now it is secure from moving around, along with being able to be removed for cleaning or carrying any fish ashore.


I left enough room behind it and the inside of the boat to to allow a floatation throw cushion (Coast Guard required) to just slide in and the landing net handle to fit over the cushion when under way.


To secure the seat pad to the lid, I originally snapped the cushion to the lid using the provided straps on the ends of the cushion.  This proved to be not so good of idea when invitees tried to lift the lid, they always just grabbed the cushion cover, tearing off the snaps.   So the next year's plan "B" was to take the unit to a upholstery shop and have him cut the cushion down to match the cooler lid better (about 2" off the length).  He then sewed a double (folded over) skirt and I snapped the skirt all the way around onto the cooler lid, (using pop rivets) leaving access between the two center snaps for opening the lid at the same time, as seen in the photo below.  This now secures the cushion to the cooler and kind of forces invitees to use the lid as re-designed by being able to see the hand location.


Cushioned side seat with cooler underneath, setting in the formed aluminum angle frame to keep it from sliding around.  This unit is now usually used for storing lunches, smaller bait coolers or clothing.


Large Fish Box ;  OK, so you have found that the above 58 quart cooler is too small.  I found this out in 2011 when my son and I had 5 salmon to 16# in it.  The only way to close the lid was to remove the ice to make room for the fish. 


If you have a boat that has an open bow, here is another idea.  A Coleman 100 quart cooler can possibly be mounted in the forward part of the open bow, and held in place with a trucker's bungee cord.  It took a lot of looking and measuring, but the one I now have still allows me to open my center windshield to access the cooler from the rear and yet be able to board the boat from shore.  And I still have room for my Columbia River rocker anchor, anchor line and puller ball, forward bumper and 3 bow lines, plus a 10# anchor used for securing the boat to the shore when launching when alone, rather crowded, but functional.


I still keep the 58 quart as the basis for a padded seat, but it also now doubles as storage for my small bait cooler, or lunch box, even a place for rain gear storage if I take passengers along.


100 quart Coleman cooler in the open bow as a fish-box


Fish Box Ice ;   So you have spent a lot on all the other things it takes to catch a fish, but when you catch one, or more, how much thought have you given to taking care of the fish and preserving excellent table fare after it is bonked? 

Depending on the size of your cooler,
 1/2  or even 1 gallon plastic milk jugs when filled with water, then freeze them works great.   However they take up way too much room.  You can also refill and freeze 16 oz. water bottles.  The good part of this, is that when they thaw, you have cold water to drink.  And in keeping the fish box cool sure improves the quality of the fish.  For a link to extensive tests on cooler temperatures, CLICK HERE.


My main fish box is now a 100 quart cooler mounted in the open bow as seen above, and I have standardized on 1/2 gallon plastic apple or cranberry juice jugs.  These are a more convenient size and 4 of them keep it cool for 2 days before they melt to about 1/2 but even then the cooler is still cool.   What I usually do now, is to rotate two of these ice jugs each day.


After fishing, I don't even remove the cooler, but just pull the drain plug and wash the cooler out, let it drain out the boat's bow scuppers.


Bleeding Bucket ;   If you happen to be a salmon fisherman who frequents the Columbia River or other locations where Seals or Sea Lions frequent, the old method of bleeding your fish over the side on a bleeder rope could lead to a decrease in your take home catch.  Even a few minutes could be disastrous.  Enter a bleeding bucket.  The 5 gallon plastic bucket that you have under your seat for a "Port-A-Potty", works great.


Here a 5 gallon bucket is used as a "Bleeding Bucket" 



Garbage Container ;   Again space always being  short on a small boat, and what do you do with used lure packages, candy bar wrappers, etc. ?   In the LH photo below you will notice what is left of a 5 quart Pennzoil motor oil jug that is Velcroed to the bulkhead under the glove box.   It being out of the way, but close at hand is very convenient.  In this case the Velcro strips were attached to the bulkhead and plastic jug using contact cement.


View of the Port side cockpit The placard here is self explanatory


Dual Battery Installation ;   Depending on your needs/usage a 2nd battery could be beneficial.   If you venture out in the ocean, or even a large bay and use a older 10 hp or lower, electric start motor for trolling that does not have a high amperage alternator like the new motors do to recharge what it uses from the battery, you are in for a learning  experience.  You may find yourself in a situation where initially that when you restart your main motor that you sonar dies, this would be an indication your battery is getting low and draining power from your operating sonar unit.  If you need to rope-start your main motor, once they get over about 75 hp, your efforts may prove useless.


Depending on your boat, you may have to be rather inventive to find a location that you can add another battery close to the original one.  On mine the logical location would have been under the splash well and opposite the existing one.  However that side has the gas filler hose so close that a regular battery could not have been placed there.  I had looked this over before placing the wash-down pump there anyway.


By relocating the fuel/water separator 6" to the starboard, I was able to place a 1/8" aluminum sheet with ends bent 1 1/2" down on the front & up on the rear to form a platform over my fuel tank suction hose elbows with enough clearance so they did not rub.   The rear end of this plate is bent so that it just fits the angle of the inside of the transom and is bolted to it.  The front downward lip is covered with a vinyl edging to insulate it from the top of the fuel tank.


A section of this base in the rear had to be cut out to accommodate the now relocated fuel/water separator.  A battery box holds the battery in place.   The battery boxes are to fit a size 27, which will be the replacements for these size 24 batteries when they deteriorate.   There is still enough room to get to the drain plug on the right and to the bilge pump on the left if need be.  Rather tight fit, but doable.


Here I labeled the batteries with instructions for normal operations.   You will also notice on the upper inside of the opening there is a 3 position switch that is connected to a 2 Amp trickle charge battery charger.  Here I can toggle the switch to maintain either battery when at home in the RV bay for long term battery maintenance.


On the starboard side of the battery box, is a aluminum 6" X 6" lip that the new battery disconnect/selector switch is located on.  There are more than one battery wiring system when it comes to dual batteries.  Here is a link to one that I have settled on.  CLICK HERE  Go to the bottom section for this information.


Battery Terminal Nuts ;   Be sure to remove the wing nuts on the batteries and replace them with stainless steel nuts  AND tighten them down snug with a wrench.  This simple thing may save you a lot of hard to find electrical problems because of a loose connection. 


On my boat I have a main disconnect switch (the red thingy shown below), I have each battery labeled and instructions as how to set the disconnect switch, when running, using #1 battery as the operational battery charged by my trolling motor and supplying power to my forward dash electronics, while the #2 battery powers the main motor and backup if the selector is located in the ALL position.


You will notice that there is not a lot of extra space left in this compartment, however there is just enough room for two bumpers on the right


Extended Battery Cable Connectors ;   OK, so you have a electric trolling motor, or even a electric start kicker motor on a small boat that you want to relocate the battery differently to balance the boat better.  How do you isolate these connectors so they do not arc, even though you separate them laterally a few inches apart when you solder on the eye connectors?


I use Velcro fishing rod raps to cover the wing nut connectors.  You will notice in the photo below that one is wrapped, while the other is unwrapped, but the cover just laying there.  The eyes are soldered onto twin #10 marine grade wire and protected by heat shrink tubing over the solder joint.  This protects from any chance of arcing the two together (which makes the Coast Guard inspectors happy), yet readily available to disconnect if need be.


To provide for ease of connecting, the stainless steel nut has a short (2") 1/4" dia. rods silver soldered onto the head, so no wrench is needed.


Here are the protected wire connectors using rod wrap Velcro


 Control Using a Kicker Trolling Motor ;   There are a few methods of usage here.  Since most large "Get There" outboard or inboard motors do not troll down slow enough, you may see usage of the Happy Troller plate, or actual drift socks, even drags made of 5 gallon buckets to slow the boats down to a trolling speed.  Others oblivious to fishing/trolling requirements just troll fast with the main motor hoping to chase down a fish. 


(1) One suggestion is that many times wind and or tidal movement contributes to a steerage problem, that if you are using a smaller trolling motor, it may at times be hard to control the boat UNLESS you lift the large motor's/outdrive up out of the water.  Jet motors are less susceptible to this as there is less hanging down.  On larger boats or those with even canvas tops, your smaller trolling motor does not have enough power to overcome the big rudder that you still have in the water right next to this smaller prop that you are trying to do the steering with especially since the troller motor is running slow and IF the wind is pushing the boat beyond your slow moving control.  This can be very counterproductive at times, hence the raising the main motor increases your steerage ability when using the smaller motor for power.   Just remember to lower the main motor when you start up to make another run, if not the motor will sound loud and could possibly ruin a water pump impeller if not in the water.


Here the main 200hp motor is lilted UP with it's lower unit as much out of the water as possible & all steerage is done manually by the smaller 8hp trolling motor


Those of you who are running a TR-1 autopilot unit on the trolling motor may also find the above method beneficial.


Depending on the location, proximity of other boaters and the weather, I usually like to sit at the rear on a swivel chair, run the trolling motor, thereby looking forward, watching the rods and being able to see where I am going all at the same time.  And some fishing areas we may not have the luxury of trolling in wide open spaces, but you are pushed (by other boaters or water depth, even floating weeds) into confined areas like a river channel in a bay or a hot spot at a special water depth.  Don't get me wrong as I also like the comfort of a cabin as much as the rest of you, but I have a problem of being able to pay attention to the rods at the rear (the reason I am there) while still watching forward trying to stay out of the way of those idiots who are running a TR-1 and do not watch where they are going because of it.  Also many times since I am retired, when the fish are there, I fish even if I have to be there alone.


(2)  The other method is to connect the trolling motor to the main motor by means of a quick disconnect coupler, leave the main motor's lower unit in the water to act as a rudder but without this main motor running and steer it from the steering wheel, as shown in the photo on the below.  This method is used especially if the weather is nasty and you can sit inside under the convertible top if so equipped. 


Here a stainless steel quick disconnect tie bar connects both the motors with main motor down & steered by steering wheel if in inclement weather


(3)  Another method used by some would be to lock your trolling motor in forward position (if the motor has that capability) and steer the boat by the steering wheel using the large motor's lower unit as a rudder (main motor not running).  However using this method, you may not have fast enough response time for boat control if there is a current or wind blowing when using this method.


(4)  Another thing to do if you happen to have a boat with a center windshield that folds out of the way for bow access, is to open this window allowing the wind to flow thru the boat.  This helps somewhat by eliminating the sail effect of the convertible or hard top.   This can be used in addition to the above trolling situations where you may be encountering some wind problems occurring in trolling where there is wind involved (and on the water isn't that about always)?


Prop Guard ;   Have you ever tangled fishing line around your kicker motor's prop?  Or worse yet downrigger wire?  What about loosing expensive lead downrigger balls because of this tangle?


Sometimes even though you try hard to have this not happen, things just go wrong.  Maybe you are trolling and happen to go thru a rip tide with the current pushing you one way while the wind is pushing you another way with 2 downrigger wires not where they should be as the bottom came up on you faster than expected.


Here comes the use for a propeller guard.  These are usually made of 1/8" stainless steel about 2 1/2" wide and bent into a circle with about 1" of clearance around the outer edges of the prop.  They are bolted onto the top of the cavitation plate of the motor with 1/4" stainless bolts.   There is a welded tab on the very bottom that is bolted to the bottom of the skeg for stiffening front to rear.  These may seem to be expensive at the retail price of over $150, but what if you loose a couple of 12# downrigger balls that retail for $40 each.  This device may also save the day by keeping your spider wire line from getting into the prop shaft seal and cutting it to shreds and you have just started fishing on the first day of your vacation.


Somewhere it was said that these also improve the thrust because it does not allow the water to be pushed off the ends of the blades.  Also the steerage is improved because it kind of makes it's own contained thrust channel.


The one shown below is a Home Do It Yourself Endeavour copy of a aftermarket factory version fitted to a Yamaha T8.   Thank you Cabelas for having an open box so I could get measurements.


Consequences of a unguarded prop Prop guard installed on trolling motor


Oxidized Aluminum Hull ;   Those of you who own an aluminum non-painted boat if you use it in salt water really need to put a coating of Shark Hide on the new aluminum sides and bottom before it goes in the water.  However if you happened to purchase one used that did not have this process done on it, before too long it will start to corrode.  I have found a product that may help.  It is not the cure, but does stop most of the bad corrosion. 


I use very fine 0000 steel wool and clean up any discoloring or starting of pitting or oxidation.  Then I use a product made by CRC  which is called  Formula 6-56 Multi-Purpose Lubricant and Corrosion Inhibitor in a aerosol can.  "Longer lasting lubrication that resists water and salt spray".  Just spray this on the aluminum sides and let it dry.  Do this a couple of times and it really helps protect the bare aluminum.  I fished saltwater for 16 days after applying a coating of this and after the last day just washed the boat down with soapy water.   A month later there was no oxidation.  Not the absolute answer, but it helps.


OK, I know that down the road a bit I will need to decide what to do here, really clean this lower section of the hull and paint it with a good marine paint or Shark Hide.


Before using this spray on product I was getting minor corrosion and pitting after 2 days in saltwater.  I was staying at a friends lot and had no way of washing the salt water deposits off.  So I just used a wet rag and tried to do the best I could, but to no avail, as the next day it was as bad as before.  When I got home I washed the hull toughly, did the steel wool routine and sprayed 2 coats of this product on about 3 hours apart.  After 3 months I now needed to clean again, do the steel wool again and reapply this product again.  There is minimal corrosion and very little discoloration.


However the cure was to have it hull stripped, polished and Shark Hide coated.


Removing Coast Guard Hull ID Numbers ;   Your Coast Guard, or boat Identification numbers are by law required to be 3" high and of a contrasting color.  Most boaters will use single self adhesive stick on numbers, readily available from well stocked hardware stores.  One brand is Hillman, which can also have a reflective background.  One thing that I have found is that over the years some of the lettering may wear off.  It is a well known fact that by using a heat gun, most of these type of stickers, the attachment glue will be softened  enough so that the sticker can be peeled off.  OK FINE, UNLESS YOUR BOAT HAS A VINYL WRAP.   Here you need to be VERY careful not to overheat and melt the Vinyl under the letter, or at least soften it to the point where it will become damaged. 


I found on my Hillman numbers, if I slowly heated it to where I could just peel the outer layer color off, then by again lightly heating and using my thumbnail to scrape, (using many passes), that I could remove the reflective backer AND some of the adhesive.  Then by using a small amount of Acetone on a rag that I could remove the adhesive.


Trailer Step ;  I was once told that necessity was the mother of invention.  Actually in my case PAIN was the mother of invention.   After a day of fishing with my 20' Tiderunner, I forgot to lower the radio antennas after the boat was out of the water and on the trailer, so climbing onto the trailer fender and then hopefully up into the boat, my foot slipped on the wet fender and my leg went into the narrow space under the chine but above the trailer fender.   It barked LOTS of skin very badly off my shin enough that there had to be a better way to board this boat while on the trailer.   Hence the picture below on the left.


In the photo on the left, you will also see a roller attached to the upper end of this step.   Here I was afraid that when reloading, if the boat did not align properly that the side of the hull near the flared bow would gouge into the top of this step, so I utilized an old wringer washing machine roller to ward off the bow.  I can now step onto the base of the trailer fender and then up to this pad and on into this deep boat without needing a stepladder.


In the right hand photo below is basically the same situation only on a shallower boat.   Here a lot simpler step was fabricated using just a 2" X 2" angle iron was arc welded onto the side guide with brace straps also welded supporting the under outside edge.  On top of this was a section of galvanized expanded metal cat-walk.   This was then spray painted with a cold galvanizing paint for rust prevention.  Just be sure that you keep the inner edge far enough away so the hull does not get gouged when loading.


Expanded metal step with roller, on rear cross-member of trailer frame Expanded metal step welded onto rear of the side of loading guide


The photo below shows another idea of a step.  This one is used on a trailer for a river jet sled, and again is used for entering/exiting the boat, either in the driveway OR on the ramp.  This one being mounted on the front, is especially useful when launching/recovering on a ramp.  It is covered with the self adhesive sand imbedded tape to decrease the chance of slipping.   The owner of this boat later moved the spare tire rearward, and lowered the side step, giving a more secure footing on the upper step.


Here the aftermarket step is bolted onto the trailer tongue winch post for this jet sled


Out of Sight, Out of Mind ;  This old adage can come out and bite you IF you have an aluminum boat, but even occasionally use it in or near salt water.  Here I am referring to a boat trailer that was supplied with carpeted bunks.  If you submerge these bunks in salt water, (which will soak up and retain the salt) and you then let the boat sit on the trailer for extended periods of time, (like during the winter months) this salt can start to corrode the bottom of your boat.  My trailer was an EZ Loader, so I went to my dealer and ordered these factory 18" plastic/Nylon bunk channel glide covers which just overlay the carpet and are screwed onto the bunk from the sides. 


These are not cheap, (like $15 each) but they are very worthwhile and accomplish two things.  (1) It Makes the boat easier to slide off the trailer AND winch back on if in an area where the trailer can not be backed down far enough to ease the offload/reload process.  (2) it gives the aluminum hull a better place to rest without getting subject to the salt trapped in the carpet bunk AND the corrosion associated with this situation.


Here plastic/Nylon overlays were added to the carpet.


Trailer Hitch Pin Clip ;  OK, on your trailer pre-check, you have checked all the usual things like lights, tire inflation, hitch latched down, safety chains etc.  There is one more check that for those of us who keep the hitch extension with the ball on the vehicle all the time.  Double check the receiver to extension cross pin's retainer snap clip.


I recently had an eye opener.   Since my wife has been ill and I am her 24 hour caregiver, my fishing time has dwindled to ZERO unless I can find someone to stay with her.  And with the hitch extension in my pickup IN the garage, I hate it when I forget, and walk behind the pickup so close that my shins get banged on the extension.  So I took it off.  I normally retain the cross pin with a padlock.  However in my sprucing up her lawn, I needed to use my small utility trailer to haul a few loads of Beauty Bark.  OK, now where did I put the cross-pin and padlock, so I just used a different one which used a spring clip as a retainer.


On my fourth and last load, I got a clunk sound and slight jolt when I started out.  I did not really think about it until almost home and slowed for a corner.  There it was again.  Well I only had 2 miles to go, so I will look at it then.  When I drove into my driveway and onto the lawn, I stopped short of getting the trailer off the turn-around, so I pull ahead a few feet.  CLUNK  again, but this time with a JOLT.


The pin had came completely out and apparently in the process, the pin may have been only in one side, allowing this slop and noise.  And when it fell out, the only thing holding the extension in was the safety chains, here the tongue weight was in my favor.  But here and partly on the lawn, when I accelerated more, pulling the whole extension out of the receiver.


My MORAL OF THE STORY here, is double check that snap retainer OFTEN and especially if you hear a non-normal noise of feel a clunk.  And even carry a few extras snap clips.


Right Under your Nose ;  Opposite of the above "out of sight -out of mind", when it is right under your nose, but you don't see it.  The tongue jack may become hard to crank up after considerable usage.  You might want to remove the plastic cap on top of the shaft and grease the gears inside before it gets so rusted up that it may be non-salvageable.  Also raise the jack as high as it will go and grease the shaft with boat trailer axle grease or pour a small amount of lower unit gear oil inside it.  These two simple things may well extend the trailer tongue jack's life and make your life a little easer later on.


Also I have found that it may be beneficial to know the height of the tongue jack before you back the tow vehicle up.  What I have done is to raise the jack as high as it will go and paint the extended shaft with aluminum paint.  Now crank it down to the needed height to be able to back up and drop the hitch on the ball.  Using a black felt marker, mark a line on this shaft at the bottom of the outer housing.


The cap off the outside housing showing the bevel gears The jack raised high to allow the inner shaft to be greased

Having Problems Seeing the Trailer When Backing down? ;   How about not being able to see an empty trailer when backing down for recovery ??    Here I welded a 5/8" tube to a plate that was bolted to the loading guide brackets at a slight angle, which I stick in divers flags that protrude outward, allowing me to see the trailer.

Here, you can see my backup flags in position


Moving a Trailered Boat for Storage ;  The usage of a trailer dolly can be a blessing for many boat owners.  It may not work well for boats over 3000# or if it stored on gravel unless you happen to be a gorilla.  But if you have a concrete garage or storage area, this sure beats trying to roll it on just the trailer jack wheel.  You can find them in many places, I got this one at Harbor Freight for about $50.


It also helps in getting the trailer close and lined up for the towing vehicle when attaching the trailer to the ball.


Trailer dolly in use


Bird Management ;  OK this is not really a boat idea, but if you store your boat in a slightly open building during the summer, birds (especially barn swallows)  happen to take a liking to building a nest above the boat/motor and deposit poop all over.   Preventative measures may be appropriate.


Shown on the photo on the left below, there is a light fixture in the peak of the roof directly above the boat.  Birds seem to favor building on top of this fixture box.  Plastic owls only work as a deterrent for a couple of weeks.


Now down to drastic measures as I don't want to shoot holes in the metal roof.   I found that by taking a 5 quart plastic paint bucket, cutting it diagonally from the one side of the bottom to the other top side, that this makes a tight fitting slippery cover.  By fitting it above the fixture box, then cutting out a small notch for the Romex wire, then sheet metal screwed the bottom edges to the 2" x 8" to secure it works great.


The photo on the right, just stapling a cardboard under the nest kept the bird poop contained.


Here a shield was placed over the light fixture OK, let them stray, but no poop on my stuff


Side Window ;  Have you ever wanted to talk to some other skipper who is alongside without leaving the helm of a curtained convertible topped boat.  This is especially useful in larger boats that have a convertible or even some hard tops.  Ventilation can even be a blessing at times.   Have your upholstery person cut the thin Plexiglas side in an big arc starting at the top front and ending at the top rear.  Now have him put in a zipper.  He can then attach a few snaps so this flap can be snapped inside to your top to keep it out of the way when opened.


Zippered opening for side curtain


Better Securing of Convertible Top ;  If you need a new top made, have your upholstery person shorten the distance between the snaps.  And also have them place a Velcro strip on top inside of the windshield frame, then have a short flap of the top material extending down inside the top and Velcro attached to it.  This way you have a more waterproof top.  With the existing largely spaced snaps, and no inner Velcro flap, IF you ever get a wave over the bow and it comes up onto the windshield, much of the water will also go UNDER the wide spaced snaps even if the top is snapped down to the top of the windshield.  This can put lots of COLD water right in your lap.  BEEN THERE, DONE THAT.


Snaps placed closer than normal, 4" apart Inner flap Velcroed to windshield inside top


Improvement to Trim Tabs ;  Most trim tabs seem to not be large enough when factory installed on a deep Vee hull.  A problem can be that if your passengers move around or the engine lugs climbing out of a trough, the boat will change stability and want to tip onto one side or the other until the trim tabs are repositioned.  Then when the speed returns or the passenger moves again, the whole process starts over again.


A simple addition is to have your sheet-metal man fabricate a larger set of tabs.  It also works best for me anyway to add a 2" downward lip on both sides.  This lip tends to prevent sideslip.  Not being sure it would work, I had him fabricate a set out of galvanized sheet steel.  I tried this for a season, it worked so good I then had him make another set out of stainless steel.  These new larger tabs are just bolted onto the bottom of the existing tabs. 


Mine needed to be shifted inward to prevent a rooster-tail of water when running so they now  were not evenly spaced on the existing tabs.   Since the hinge could not be changed on the existing units because of the extended transom, it required an extra pivot point be made and attached to the stern for the longer inside end of the new tabs.


Trim tab additions for better stability, note the considerably larger tab now & with 2" fins


Water Spraying on/into Motor at High Speed ;   OK, this one is going to take some explaining.  Essentially the transducer and water temp/speedometer senders were creating a situation where they spraying water on the motor, enough to short out a ignition coil.


One day of fishing saltwater off Washington's Westport created no problems, the best safe speed was 13MPH because the water was choppy enough that.  And the next day was the same until we headed back to the boat basin,  Now we had the milder waves and the wind was on the stern and the water was calmer.  A speed of 20 MPH was then achieved.  However after about 1/2 hour the 75 hp motor lost power on one of the 3 cylinders.   It would sputter back onto the 3rd cylinder occasionally, then finally go back to running OK for 10 minutes or so, only to revert again back to missing for 20 minutes or so.  The reduced speed was 9 MPH.  We had about 10 total miles total to go including cross the bar before we could get to the boat basin.   A cell phone call was made to the boat mechanic for reassurance that we could make it that far without creating damage to the motor.


As it happened, we regained full power while crossing the bar and then again as we approached the boat basin.  It was then when nearing the boat basin that my fishing partner noticed all the water spraying onto the side of the motor.   It was coming off the area at the transducers.  At the dock I took the cowling off and there was water dripping off some of the motor components.


Now came the detective work.  This GPS/Sonar had came off my previous boat and was known to not cause that same problem.  There had been some slight problem initially on this newer boat, but they had been adjusted so there was no excessive spray on the lake trials.  What we have here, it is now on a aluminum boat that the bottom metal extends about 1 1/2" beyond the transom.  There is a 1 1/2" X 4" aluminum channel welded onto the bottom of the transom for mounting this type of transducer hardware.  HOWEVER there is a 1/4" gap between the bottom of this channel and the upper edge of the extended bottom aluminum.  It appears that when we were running out that day it was choppy, we did not go fast enough as compared to running with the waves and WIND pushing us the second day.  I suspect when we ran at the faster speed, this hollow channel against the transom and the narrow gap below created a venturi then sucked air down the transom, inside the channel and against the water traveling just under the bottom.   It was then diverted up against the back of the transom by the wind.  This wind on our stern then blew this FINE spray against the side of the motor which was then sucked into the motor breather location on the upper rear of the cowling.


When this fine spray was sucked into the cowling cavity and onto the rear of the motor where the ignition coils are located, the moisture shorted out the bottom coil where the inner cowl air ducting terminated.  When we were forced to run at the slower speed when it was missing, the warm motor dried the water and we were off and running OK again at the higher speed until more misty water was sucked/blown in.


Apparently the boat factory felt that this gap at the bottom was to not allow any place to trap water when the boat was hauled out.  I had repeatedly tried before to adjust the transducers, but could never get a 100 % non-spray as compared to when they were on the previous boat.  I have finally given up trying to solve the problem and concentrated on just patching the situation so it does not effect the motor.   I thought about trying to plug this gap with foam, but these transducers are attached with bolts and the nuts are in this cavity.  So my remedy was to make a 1/8" aluminum hood extended rearward about 3" to go over the transducers, diverting the water back down & off the motor.    This 3" did not do the job totally so another was made (shown below) that extended 6". 


This is a 2005 boat, a friend bought the same boat but a 2009 but the factory had made changes in the mounting bracket, placing the transducers closer to the transom.  Maybe I was not the only one with a problem.


A metal deflector over the transducers diverting water spray.  The welded hole just barely visible immediately to the right of the hood is the wash-down pump inlet mentioned above.


Corrosion Under the Cowling On the Powerhead ;  As a addition to the above situation, it is recommended that after a day on saltwater as you will get salt air moisture inside the cowling that will dry on the warm motor to remove the cowling, wash the motor down with Salt Away, let it set a while and then wash with fresh water.  How many used motors have you seen that have been used on salt water that once the cowling is removed, there is a massive amount of peeled paint and rusted bolts which surely devalues the motor when you want to sell it.


If and when you need a mechanic's services, this is embarrassing for one and very possibly expensive to you also.  One way to also help prevent this situation is to be sure the outside of the powerhead is clean, and then coat it with a protective spray in the form of Boe Shield.  This is a product developed by Boeing Aircraft Co. to be applied to parts of airplanes to eliminate corrosion.  It dries to a thin clear non-sticky protective film.


It is still recommended that even after the above treatment that you still wash the powerhead down with freshwater after saltwater usage.

Corrosion Under the Convertible Top or Bow Cover Snaps ;  When I bought the used aluminum open bowed boat, since I occasionally fish the ocean and have seen water come over the bow, this could be disastrous in this instance, so soon afterwards I had a upholsterer fabricate a bow cover.  Since this aluminum boat was new to me as a somewhat ocean boat, I noticed that the convertible top's male snaps had a Nylon washer between the snap and the aluminum hull.  I mentioned this to the upholster.  His comment was that they are not needed.  OK, I found out 3 years later that he was right, FOR FIBERGLASS BOATS, but he did not know what he was talking about for aluminum boats and of course he is now out of business, but drilling wells.


I got a corrosion under about all of these snaps.  This entailed drilling all of them out, sanding down to bare metal, spraying zinc chromate on the aluminum, priming and then repainting much of the forward deck.    After the painting was done, I used anti-seize compound on any surface that came in contact with the aluminum.  This was coated on the new Nylon washer that went under the snaps and all the pop rivets before they were installed.


Then the open center of the male rivets were filled with Silicone caulking to again try to keep out any salt corrosion.  Any bolt on fastener was also coated with anti-seize.  And any bolt on unit was separated from the hull by placing sections of plastic milk jugs between it and the hull.


Here you can see the corrosion under the paint around the snaps More corrosion at this one Here is the one on the left, showing all the corrosion that was scraped loose

Here all the snaps are removed & metal sanded Here part of the aluminum is zinc chromate primed


Here the matching paint is covering all the damage Here is the finished product, with the splatter paint finish coat


I won't go in to a lot of detail in the above project, except the worst was to get a matching paint for this faded out original paint.  When I had bought the boat 5 years before, I took a sample of the paint where I had cut out metal to create louvered vents and had a somewhat close match made in a quart size.   Over time, this was paint was pretty much used up or had became scummed over and it needed to be slightly a lighter tint anyway.  No big deal, just take the old can back and with the code on the bottom have more made in a slightly lighter tone.   Problem was the person who matched it originally was no longer employed there and the new person was new enough that he could not decipher the code.  And if he could, I would have to buy a gallon.


I covered about 6 hardware or paint stores in two towns, and either YES they could do it, but again in the gallon size, and they would have to rematch as their code was the new style and not compatible with my old code.


I finally found a Rodda Paint store.  Same as above.  I gave up and turned to go, mumbling something about doing it myself.  The young man behind the counter asked if I had samples.  Yes, and I had the original aluminum painted cut out metal with my somewhat matched paint on the 1/2 of it.  He put it on his scanner, compared the two and said you need a tad bit of green in this.  OK, I can do that, then he poured off some of this green coloring in a paper cup and said don't spill this on the way home.  No Charge.  WOW.


When I got home, I found that I was so low on this contaminated somewhat matched paint that I made up my own using a can of machinery gray and black to get it very near the matched original can.  Now add the green tint.  Looks great but I got a bit generous with his tint.  A couple of days later I took the sample and my mixed paint in to him and explained my predicament.   He asked if I had the can of paint in the paper sack I had placed on the counter.  No, it was in the pickup.  But in the sack was 4 large pieces of smoked salmon.  This got him interested enough that he took my can and after about 3 tries, had a VERY GOOD match.  And as before no charge.  I later drove by and showed him his matching job.  This year you can be assured that he got more smoked fish as a partial payment on my debt.


Then the problem of how to match the black/white splatter paint over the gray base coat.  He said there was only one shop he was aware of that did that and 60 miles away.  A bit of reading on the internet and I come up with using a narrow 1/2" stiff bristled brush and cut the bristles off to about 5/8'.   Nylon proved to be better being stiffer than hog bristle.  Also you may have to thin out about 1/3 of the bristles. 


Take a margarine tub lid and pour about 1/8" of the black paint into this lid.  The paint needs to be as thick as possible (non-thinned).  Wear surgical gloves and dip the brush vertically in the paint in this lid.   Now holding the brush with one hand close to the intended surface, (about 4-6" for a full brush and down to 2" before refilling) use your index finger to pull back the bristles, letting the bristles snap forward which gives a splatter type appearance. 


TIP #1.  Try this on a sample piece before you start on the boat as this may take a bit of learning.  Be prepared to clean up the splotches that seems to want to be overly generous.  Let this dry and then do it again with the white.  You will note that it may easy to overdo the white but to each his own, and don't become too aggressive, who knows, you may just like the outcome.



You will probably not have the same splatter pattern as when the boat came from the factory, as there appear to be more than one style of this application, but with some trial, error, AND time, you should be able to do a respectable job.   I actually like my splatter job better than the original.  Just now have to find the time to do the rest of the deck.


Here is my splatter coating on the bottom, with the original still on the front window frame above, which is more of a lot of small colored specks.


Open Bow Cover ; One of my previous small boats was a 16' Hewescraft jet sled.   I made a vinyl bow cover with the snaps close together and put 2 inflated kids swimming pool rings under it to support the vinyl from underneath to keep any water from coming over the open bow if the weather gets nasty and filling the front compartment.  One of these is pretty well inflated and the other only as much as needed to bring the height up. the recovery anchor float could be inserted in the center of these rings.


For my current boat a 18' North River Mariner (shown below) the forward deck is the right height that with the anchor puller buoy in the center, it raises the bow cover enough so that when snapped tight the cover is has upward tension in the center thereby allowing any heavy spray not to pop the snaps and to run off.

This bow cover uses the anchor puller buoy which is secured in the center of the opening as a center support


Bow Mounted Anchor Nest ;  In the photo above, along with the bow cover and removable docking lights, and below you will notice the bow mounted Columbia River style rocker anchor.  These are mounted on the bow and in a situation where they can be securely carried but yet deployed readily.


This anchor nest is a copy of Motion Marine's commercially made unit, even to the point where I purchased their rubber shank stabilizer.  This was merely a thick rubber "C" shaped clamp probably laser cut from 1" thick rubber and held onto the base with a 1/4" bolt.  After two years of use, this rubber broke thru the bolt hole so I purchased a Y shaped 2" x 2" rubber bow stop designed for boat trailers for a price of $4.99 and modified the base to accept this newer rubber that now is retained by one 3/8" cross-bolt.  This new Y functions well, plus it is readily replaceable if ever need be.


Anchor Type ;   In many of the photos of my boats you will see a anchor that may be different than may of you are used to seeing and may need some explanation.  These are what are known as Columbia River rocker type anchors.  These were developed for use in a river that could have debris, such as logs, trees and even old abandoned cable laying on the bottom.  Under these conditions, anchor retrieval can at times be difficult or even impossible.


These anchors are made with 2 flukes that are made like a rocking chair, the crossbar is long enough so that when the anchor is mounted in special anchor nests that the flukes do not rub the boat.  They have a eye welded into BOTH the bottom and the top of the shaft.  There is usually a section of 3/8" galvanized chain from 8' to 10' secured to the bottom eye by a clevis.  The chain is ran up the shaft and secured there by a heavy tie tape (shown below as the orange).  In use when after anchor has been deployed and is later recovered, IF it appears to be fouled on the bottom, the boater then can motor (usually upstream) AND with the anchor line secured to a stern cleat.  Applying power from the motor, if the anchor does not pull free, the tie tape will break, allowing the pulling pressure to now be applied to the bottom of the anchor and allow the anchor to be pulled out in the same direction it was sucked into the debris.  The rounded parts of the flukes provide no obstacle for it to be remained snagged.


The anchors and the nests are designed to match each other.   The anchor shaft is long enough to lay on the bow in a rubber Y nest and the anchor usually has a short rope attached to the top eye for securing it to the boat.  The front of the nest will have a large rubber roller which assists in guiding the anchor and rope off and back on.  Not easily seen in this photo below is a set of "hooks" that the crossbar nestles into, but is shown in the 2nd photo below.


In the photo below you will notice a small wedge welded onto the juncture of the crossbar and the anchor shaft.  These have a tapered wedge and are fitted so there is not a lot of side clearance in the hook area of the nest when the anchor is pulled in and secured by the small rope on the cleat.


Also in the photo below you will see a couple of round yellowish things with a stainless screw in the center.  These are "cam locks" that have opposing spring loaded serrated cams that secure the anchor line when the anchor is deployed.  For this type of anchoring system, the anchor line is never permanently attached to the boat.  In use, the excess line is stored in a nylon laundry bag with a float attached.  If for any reason, the boat needs to be disconnected from the anchor in a hurry, the line is lifted out of the chocks and the bag is thrown overboard, allowing the boat to drift free.  After fish is landed or the downriver log danger is over, the boater returns and can either re-anchor or retrieve the bag and anchor.


Not seen here is in the nest,  it is opened up just enough to allow a 1/2" vinyl tubing that is split lengthwise to be spread, then attached over the nest's opening to cushion the anchor when pulled into place.  This also cuts down on repainting the anchor each year.


Birds eye view of the anchor & final nest mounted on the boat


Need a Heavier Anchor? ;  Have you ever dropped anchor, but the current was running faster than you expected and the anchor was dragging?  You may not normally need a bigger anchor and in a small boat, and space is at a premium.  A simple solution is to also carry a 25# lead pyramid drift boat anchor.  When needed, simply snap it onto your regular anchor for better biting into possibly a rocky bottom. 


For better holding power, snap the drift boat anchor, or even a standard small 10# mushroom boat anchor into the upper eye of the chain.  However if you are in this dire need of being secured to the bottom if you are fishing, you probably should not be there, but setting on the shore around a campfire exchanging fishing lies & indulging in a cold one instead.


Here a 25# lead drift boat anchor is attached onto the standard medium Columbia River rocker style anchor for that occasional extra needed holding power.


Depending on the boat and conditions, another, and probably better method would be to utilize the smaller second anchor, but attach it to the upper end of the chain.  With this smaller anchor attached to the chain, it will hold the chain down, which then provides a straighter line pull on the main anchor digging it in deeper instead of an upward pull of the anchor line on the main anchor.


Here a regular 5# mushroom river anchor is snapped into the upper end of the chain to the regular anchor


Anchor Line ;  NEVER attach your main anchor line directly with a spliced in eye end and a clevis to a bow eye or anything securely attached to the boat, either internal or external.  If for some reason while you are anchored, and things go from bad to worse, you MAY NOT want to be attached to your anchor.  This will of course depend on the size of boat and configuration of it. 


OK but if you happen to have a below deck anchor line locker and you do not want the anchor line to be fed out of this locker whereby you loose the end before you are aware of it, try this.  If it has to be tied off, try tying a smaller diameter line (3/16") about 20' or 30' long into the end and then tie off this smaller line to your inner eye or cleat.  Now you can tell when the end of the main anchor line is nearing when the smaller rope appears.  This smaller line will break a lot quicker under stress than a 3/8 or 1/2" one and may save the boat from being pulled down if in adverse weather and you have to break free.  You may well have other issues afterwards, which may be better than being pulled under.


Quick Release For Anchor Line ;  For those of you who may anchor in a river you may consider a quick release of one kind or another if a situation arises where you need to detach the boat.   This needs to be readily available from the helm.  The two shown below on right are cam locks.  You will note in the RH photo all of the line is contained in the plastic bucket and any line not payed out when anchored is contained in a mesh bag with a float inside.  The LH photo, this boat has no bow cover, thereby providing no location for a chock, so this skipper mounted his chock on the dash in the passageway through the windows.


Cam locks mounted at helm for ready deployment if needed Cam locks mounted on bow behind the anchor nest (showing the old style rear rubber)


Attaching Rod Holders to Railings ;  I am assuming that you are a fisherperson otherwise you probably will not be looking at these articles.  So, under most conditions, rod holders are usually a necessity.   Some types of fishing require that you hang onto the rods, but read on.   Just one rod holder per fisherman is not really enough.  Salmon fishing with more than one person aboard may get hectic if the bite is on.   At times you do not have time to reel in and secure the rod out of the way.   Here you may have to move one rod out of the way so that the fish can be netted.   


DO NOT just lean it against the gunwale with the tip over the side.  This can very well be the basis for donating a favorite rod and reel to the fish gods (been there, done that).   While fishing off a friend's boat that had no rod holders it was a very heartbreaking moment seeing your favorite rod and reel disappear in the water and you can not do a thing while you are netting his fish.


I recommend having many rod holders strategically placed around the fishing area.  Or at least have the bases attached, and the new type removable holders can be moved as need be.


There are many different type of rod-holders on the market today.   The ones shown in the photo below are the popular Fish-On brand.  However if you have a boat that requires these be mounted onto a pipe type railing as shown below, look at the one on the left.  It is twisted so that the rod-holder would be pointing lower than normal.  This base being attached to the railing bay an adapter sold by the same company has a problem.  Both parts being plastic appear to be slippery enough and the slotted head screw can not be tightened enough to keep the unit from slipping if under pressure of a large fish or being snagged on the bottom.  The company supplies a plastic shim that appears to do little in improving the situation.  On this unit the nuts are so close to the rounded outside boss that you can not use a wrench to tighten them, only a large screwdriver to tighten the bolt heads.  And you can not get enough leverage on the screwdriver.  These factory adapters usually sell for about $7.00 each.


In the LH photo you will see the adapter mentioned, and a standard hardware U bolt that sells for under $2.00 each for attaching the base.  This U bolt is 1/4" dia. and is very close to fitting as it comes.  You do not need the flat bar that comes with it.  The outside width of the ends of the U are slightly wider that the holes in the base, but a few passes with a small rat-tailed file opens the plastic base up.  This U bolt can be tightened down by the nuts to the point that you can start to bend the base, but that is enough and I have not had any of these slip yet.


The threaded ends of these U bolts are usually longer than needed, but a hacksaw can quickly remedy that situation.  Be sure to file of any sharp edges however.  I suggest that you do use a flat washer under the nut and if you really wanted to secure it then use the nylon lock type aircraft nuts.


Original manufacturers rail adapter on the tipped forward unit as compared to the rear unit in position. Here on the right is a simple & cheaper fix.


Attaching Rod Holders to Downrigger Base ;  I have a neighbor who for a number of years has been frustrated because he could not keep a salmon on his line after being hooked and the fish had made a run or two.  He tried many different things, even purchased the new Sickle hooks, which he used to replace the hooks on all of his lures.


It never occurred to me his possible problem until one day he and I were fishing in our separate boats in the same location.  His boat was equipped with Cannon downriggers and the boat is an Arima outfitted with permanently installed plastic rod holder tubes buried into and even with the top of the gunwale.  The angle of these were OK for when he was using a downrigger, but for ordinary trolling, the rods were mounted to where they were pointing toward the sky.   The 8' 6"rods being pointed up and slightly out had the line entering back a considerable distance.  My thoughts were that IF he was not paying very close attention to the rod, was using a slightly lighter rod, that once the fish hit, there was enough rod/line/lure movement that if the fish did not take the bait deep, that the rod would move considerably during the takedown and IF the fish was hooked in the jaw, the lack of force from the rod to the hook was minimized, allowing the hook to not get into the jawbone, but only into the tissue, which pulled out when the fish made a run or two.   Add to that that he usually is running the boat from the helm and relies on the fish to self hook itself by the time he gets to the rod.


For this type of fishing, he needed the rods to set considerably lower and pointed rearward some, with the tips within a few feet of the water so when a fish hit, there would be a lot less rod movement resulting in more solid hookups.


The photo of the boat below is not my neighbor's, but this one was encountered before I could get a photo of his and the principle is the same.


Here the high mounted rod holders can be a detriment.  They are fine for downrigger fishing but normal trolling your takedown to landing ratio may be large


And the type of fishing that he now normally does, he has gotten to where he rarely uses the downriggers anymore, but was locked into using what he had for rod holders.


Upon inspecting his boat's layout, he really did not have enough room to mount a rod holder base near the downrigger base which was the only practical location.  Upon looking at the downrigger bases, and he had decided he would probably use the downrigger very little anymore, if he removed them we could use the base for a adapter location.  I figured if he would find some 3/4" X 4" aluminum, that I could make an adapter plate whereby he could mount a rod holder base on top of the downrigger base.


OK, since he already had one Scotty rod holder mounted facing center rear, that it would be prudent to purchase 2 more of the same brand.  We found just that at Cabelas, made by Scotty but with Cabelas name on them for a decent price and in their bulk box.


It took me 1 1/2 hours each side to mill out this aluminum and do a undercut for them to be mounted on the Cannon base.  The Scotty rod holder base was mounted directly on top of this adapter plate, and secured to the downrigger base using the same 3/8" center mounting bolt threads.  This 3/8" X 1 1/2" Allen head stainless steel bolt had to have the head lathe turned down to where it just slid inside of the bottom of the rod holder itself when installed into the base.


In the photo on the left, the adapter is shown with all the machining finished.  You will note that on the inside corners I had to mill out metal to relieve the radius left by the 1 1/2" diameter woodruff cutter and allow to the smaller radius's of the downrigger base to clear inside the slot.    The center hole accommodates the 3/8" bolt and the 4 base mounting holes are drilled and tapped for 1/4" X 20 TPI.


The photo on the right is the rod holder base mounted onto the unpainted adapter.  These adapters were then painted with a aluminum primer before given the final black paint coating.

I am sure that this same principle could be used on about any downrigger base.


Final machining finished The rod holder base bolted onto the adapter & setting on a sample Cannon downrigger base


Landing Net Storage While Fishing in a Small Boat ;  You need the landing net's handle extended and ready when needed.  You will see nets being positioned in many locations in order to provide quick access to them.  But with a small boat just where do you put it?   I personally do not like to see a net positioned upright on the side of the boat.   For one, it makes me think that that boat is ready to net a fish and two it can very well be in the way of the many fishing duties during the course of the day.  Also many a net has been lost because it was stashed along side and outside of the windows and railing, or just laid on the top or the bows. 


For small boats with a higher, walk under convertible top, the photo on the below may be appropriate.  Here the net net hoop and bag is simply inserted over the middle bow and pushed forward, being held in place by the pressure of the fabric itself and against the rear bow.  Here it may be best to simply wrap the net bag around the hoop before placing it in this position to keep from having the bag in your face.  When needed,  you can pull it rearward and be in use rather quickly while yet being out of the way in the meantime.



Here the net is simply held in place by the tension of the top against by the rear bow, with the net going over the center bow.


Another twist to this method is if the top smaller and is rather low as seen in the photo below, lay it on top of the convertible top, but attach a 2" strip of Velcro to the top where the net bag will lay.  Then place a 1" nylon strap that has the other side Velcro hooks that also is snapped to the lower Velcro and the top in the front.  Here the net bow is laid so the 1' Velcro strap can be pushed thru a loop in the net bag and then over it with the 2 Velcros securing the bag and possibly a part of the bow.   For the handle take another 1" nylon strap and put snaps so that it can be wrapped around the net's handle a couple of times and snapped back to a snap on the rear of the top.  Many of these tops have a rear curtain.  Many times you can utilize these snaps.


Solo Netting ;  In any netting process, the surrounding area needs to be clear of ANYTHING that the net bag can become entangled in.  Many times I fish alone and have to net my own fish, so to somewhat rectify this possibility, I made up a 3/4" PVC Tee with the bottom of the Tee reduced to 1/2" PVC.  This was made from scrap PVC pipe, with the overall length of the upper arms to be about 3" longer than the net's hoop, (mine being 34" OAL).  And the rear section turned out being about 3 or 4 " longer than the front section. The bottom part of the Tee was only about 6" long, or enough to not bump anything below.


On my boat there is an extra Tempress rod holder base at the rear of the boat next to the kicker motor.  I had removed it  because of the far aft position, but in surveying things, I have now replaced it and it acts as a support for this PVC Tee, which is free floating when in place, but just high enough to allow me to steer the kicker motor under the Tee arms if I need to jockey the fish into position.  I had to drill out the internal pivot lock tab inside the rod holder base and open it up just enough top allow this 1/2" PVC pipe to slide in.  My movable swivel seat is near the rear for steering the kicker motor.  Now when fishing solo, when I am getting near the netting time, I may slide my chair away a slight amount, grab the PVC Tee and drop it in the rod holder base, then lay the net bag on top of this Tee, which makes for the net readily available and a lot more tangle free.


You will also notice that this net bag is secured to the handle with a Scotty "Net Minder", which helps keep the net bag in position.  This net minder is simply a rubber figure 8 that attaches tot he handle and has a small downrigger clip attached to it which is simply clipped into the bottom of the bag.  This eliminates the need for the netting hand to also hold the bag during the netting process and gives the netter the ability to reach approximately another 2 feet.


Here the net is simply laid on top of the PVC Tee just prior to net time


Landing Net Maintenance ;  How many times have you reached for the net to extend the handle, and aluminum shaft is stuck rather tight to the aluminum bow base unit?  For those of you who never fish saltwater, this may not be of any concern to you.  But for saltwater fishermen, it maybe a good idea to learn to flush the net shaft and bow base off with freshwater and soap at the same time you wash off the boat/trailer and your rod/reels.  Even a little WD 40 surely can not be a bad thing for preventive maintenance here.


The above can also be used on the EXTENDABLE boat hooks.  However be careful to not het a lot of oil on the extendable shaft otherwise the twist lock feature may be defeated.  They need to be washed off and stored in a unlocked position.


Another trick here is to make the landing net handle into a floater.  Do this by purchasing one of the spray cans of household spray foam insulation.  Find a 24" section of 1/4" plastic tubing.  Attach this tubing to the nozzle of the spray can, remove the end caps of the handle then reach inside to the depth of the tubing.  As you spray this foam inside, slowly back the tube out leaving enough foam inside to fill the handle.  This stuff expands A LOT, so you do not need to fill it completely  Change ends and repeat the procedure.  When you are finished, you will have a floating salmon net.


Warm Water Sink In Your Boat ? ;   Here you can install another line from the overboard water indicator off the motor and run it into a small receptacle nearby that can be used as a hand warmer if fishing in cold weather, or as a sink using Lemon Joy soap to wash off any Smelly Jelly or scent  that you have applied to your lures.  There is a overflow outlet tube that puts the excess water over the stern.  This overflow is about 1" below the top & another used as a drain tube near the bottom which has a plug in it.  On the ones not having a shut off valve, you may have to experiment with the diameter of the outlet hole (as there is no shut-off) before finding the right size so the sink does not overflow when the motor is at a higher speed.  This water will not be hot, but warm enough to help on a freezing day on the water.  And it also works for washing your hands of fish slime and removing jelly-fish parts.


One well known fisherman uses his sink to warm up food, (precooked sausages, boiled eggs, etc.) as he apparently does not eat breakfast until fish are in the boat.  The food is placed in sealed Zip-Lock bags & not directly into the water.


When not using the water feature into it, it makes a good catch all for sinkers, lures etc. and a base for the leader spool.   It also in the photo below for the Johnson, serves as a cover to restrict easy access to the motor mount retainer bolts.


Warm water sink using the overboard water indicator as a supplier from a 1994 9.9 Johnson


Shown below is a simple adapter on a Yamaha T8 using the flush tube with a ordinary garden hose ball shut-off unit (in yellow) and the 1/4" fitting / tubing tapped into the flush base that has been drilled thru to allow water to flow into the tank when the valve is open.  The shut-off valve allows it to be either used as a warm water tank and to adjust the flow to match the outflow, or to shut it off if not wanted as a water tank.


Using this warm water tank, after the motor has ran for a bit and warmed up, I crack the valve allowing about 1/8 of the flow to go to the tank.  I also squirt some Lemon Joy soap into the tank.  Now I have warm soapy water that I can wash my hands with, even deposit any of the take off lures/flashers into.  This cleans the gear, removes scent plus providing a convenient location for temporary storage.


Here water is tapped off the Yamaha T8 flush fitting


Shown below is a Nylon catch all tray that has a 5/8" deep recess on top which sits on top of the warm tank shown above.  This tray just nestles into the upper tank opening, while still allowing access to the warm water and at the same time providing a small catch all tray for sinkers, changed lures etc.  The notch on the RH side adds security for retaining the floating non metal pliers pouch.  Oh yes, you may have to drill 2 or 3 small (3/16") holes to let any rain or accumulated water drain down and out.  Also note the foam leader spool attached to the front.


Catch all tray over the warm water tank


Oily Film at Fueling or Mooring ;  This one is not my idea but very well worth passing on.  Those experienced yachters probably have known this since they first set foot on the boat, but sometimes us fisherpersons are a little slower (more important things on our minds). 


If you are in a boat basin where there is minimal tidal movement and there is an oily scum on the surface in your slip, or you happen to spill some fuel when refueling, here is the answer.   Get a Windex bottle or something similar with the pump sprayer, mix up a solution of water and Lemon Joy dishwashing soap.  Spray this on the water and it will help dissipate this oily film.   Here I found a spray pump unit that screwed right onto a 12 oz. Lemon Joy bottle.  I left about 1 1/4" of the Joy in the bottom & filled the rest with warm water to get it to mix readily.  This seems to do the job quite well.  


It also works for washing your hands of fish slime and removing jelly-fish parts/slime and smell off your lures.


Here is a pump bottle of Lemon Joy in a convenient size for boaters


2nd Line When Launching/Recovering ;  How many times have you launched, or tried to retrieve a boat onto the trailer and the wind or tide wanted to move the boat in a direction other than where you wanted it to go if you only had a bow line attached?   And the wind or current is always pulling the boat away from the dock.  The answer is to use 2 lines, the bow line and one on the stern.  When you tie a boat to the dock, you always secure it with both a bow and a stern line anyway.  Use the same stern lines, (they now may have to be a tad bit longer than when just for moorage however) in conjunction with the stern line to pull the boat forward and the bow line to position the bow in line with the trailer.   Here one person can now walk the boat down the dock/launch area even with the wind blowing if you choose the proper side of the dock.   If the boat gets too close to the dock because of lack of wind, just kick it out a bit.  It really helps when reloading if you get the wind blowing or a side current.


By having the trailer a tad deeper than normal and pulling on the stern line, guiding with the bow line, gaining some boat speed, you can slide the boat up onto the trailer far enough to snap the winch line into the boat bow eye and winch it on from there.  


Matter of fact, I keep 2 stern lines permanently attached, one to each stern mooring cleats along with the bow line also attached to it's cleat at all times.  The bow line is 30' and the stern lines are 20' long.   This way I can use either side line at the rear, depending which side the wind is blowing when I come into the dock to.


It is a good idea to get into the habit of putting out your fenders (bumpers to you landlubbers) before you put your boat in the water and before you approach a dock.  This saves scraped paint, dents and scratches.  Sure you may be a good skipper, but on a busy afternoon, other boaters may not be as concerned as you and may be making waves that you can not avoid, pushing you into the dock.  Plus not all docks may not be the same height above the water which can scrape your hull.


Here relatively easy maneuvering is accomplished along the dock, using the wind to your advantage of pushing the boat AWAY from YOUR dock, and by you pulling the stern line while at the same time, guiding with the bow line.  This helps maneuver the boat in position as you gain momentum and pull it onto the trailer, making for a less hassle when non-power loading in windy or tight conditions


Docking Lights For a Small Boat ;  Have you ever came in later than you had expected?  Sometimes it can be REAL BLACK out there.  And a hand held spotlight might be OK for coon hunting, but it sure is worthless if it is black, midnight, raining and cold when you are trying to hold it by hand outside to get your location and yet keep the glare away from you (Been there-Done that).   Or you have to launch before daylight because of a minus tide at your normal launching hours where the ramp is short and or shallow with a drop-off at the end of the concrete.  If you did not launch at 4AM, you would have had to wait until about 9AM and then miss the 6AM morning bite.  Then just off the launch area some do-do heads placed their crab pots, so you need lights to prevent tangling the crab pot ropes in your prop just to get out into open water out in front of this launch.


I have now mounted 2 rod holder bases on the bow.  I have had 2 boats of which one had hand rails.  On this one, the clamp on rod holders were attached to the rails.  The other a jetsled, has a squared off bow, perfect for attaching the rod holder bases.  Economical automotive driving lights from Wal-Mart were affixed to a donor rod holder spline unit off of a set of old rod holders and attached by a 3/8" bolt threaded into the plastic   A set of electrical wires was run forward under the deck to a cheap rubber 4 prong trailer connector.  This way these lights can ride in my storage location and can be utilized only when needed.


I get some funny looks at times because of these bases being in unusual locations at the bow, but they are there for a reason and that is to get me home easier and safely.


On the boat pictured below you will notice the Columbia River rocker anchor setting in a anchor nest designed for secure storage and yet readily available.  The wide roller is a benefit when retrieving the anchor.  These anchors have the chain attached to the BOTTOM of the anchor and the chain is affixed to the top of the anchor shaft only by a large tie tape.  This is so in case your anchor becomes fouled in something on the bottom, you can motor upstream, breaking the tie tape and then pull the anchor backwards out of what it may have become fouled into.


This worked so well that when I installed a radar arch on the same boat, I moved these lights to a permanent position on the outer front of the arch as seen in the right hand photo below.


Rod holder bases used to mount removable docking lights Here the lights from the left photo were moved to the top of the new radar arch


Launching Light for Your Trailer ;   There may come a day, either morning or evening when you would wish you had backup lights on your trailer.  Having your buddy walk behind the trailer wheels with a dim flashlight showing the launch and your tires is not ideal.   Occasionally you may be in a situation where you may need to launch before daylight if you have to reach your intended fishing area for the daylight bite at tide change.  


(Option 1)   Is to mount a set of sealed backup lights to the rear lower part of the trailer fender and wire them in with the backup light wire of the towing vehicle.  This way they come on every time you back up.  My thought was not to go for the more expensive and much brighter LED lights, but stay with the regular incandescent type bulb, not only because I do not think it would be necessary for that bright a light when it only is only to identify the ramp's edge a few feet away, but the LEDs may pretty well blind anyone near you or on a double ramp when backing up.


I chose to mount one on each trailer fender step.  These units that I picked are oval shaped so they can  fit under the fender's rear or can be bolted onto a galvanized plate that is in this case bolted to the top of the plastic fender step.  They come with a rubber grommet to hold them into a Ell shaped mounting bracket.   I wanted a sealed type type light (these are not sealed beam, but a regular incandescent bulb that is sealed inside a plastic unit) because of them being near or possibility immersed in salt water.  The brand I that suited my needs was made by Peterson Mfg Co.  purchased them thru Car Quest automotive for a total price of about $65.  The light unit kit itself is #416K where the replacement light itself would be #416.  This included the light unit, rubber grommet and 2 wire pigtail right angle plug, but needed the Ell bracket as a separate item.  Then of course a new 7 wire plug in and matching 7 wire RV cable.


These units consist of polycarbonate lens, sonic welded to housing to form single unit, so supposedly being waterproof.  12-volt lamps are designed with single filament, 2.1 amp, 32 cp bulb.

Most towing type vehicles will be pre-wired for a towing package which will include the standard 7 prong receptacle on the vehicle.  One of these wires will be from the vehicle's backup light to the receptacle.  HOWEVER identify it with a 12 volt test probe and connect a wire from the wiring harness going into the trailer tongue, then extend that wire from there to your backup lights.   NOTE, locate the wires to the terminals by function only as color coding may not be the standard with all manufacturers.


If you wanted to be able to manually turn these lights on, you would need to run a switched fused wire from the battery or splice in to these wires at the tongue of the trailer to install a switch below the winch.


Assembling the light to the grommet and bracket is only accomplished by using soapy water as it is a very snug fit.  The pigtailed wire plug to the light uses bayonet type connectors and comes with dielectric grease already on the female ends.  There are 2 wires, a red and white.  The white is ground. 


On this installation, a sheet of galvanized 1/16" sheet metal was used as a base and was extended rearward enough over the step to accommodate the light unit.  This was then bolted on top of the original step while being sure to utilize the step bracing under the plastic fender. 


A piece of old carpet was cut to match the galvanized metal and 1/4" stainless steel RH bolts, lock washers and nuts were used for attaching both the step plate, the light unit, and the carpet to the trailer.   On top of the carpet at the light  attachment, a piece of galvanized metal 1 1/4" wide was bolted down using the same light bolts.  This was to provide a more secure rear edge of the carpet, which now did not need any other means of attachment.   This carpet provided for better foot traction when climbing in or out of the boat when on the trailer.


The light unit had the wires coming off on one side.  It was inserted into the grommet/bracket so that the wires were closest to the frame of the trailer, thereby not hanging down.  Wiring was ran up inside the trailer side rails using a electrician's snake and connected inside the tongue to the wiring pigtail was terminated.


One bit of advise, when locating the mounting holes, if your trailer has fender guides to facilitate reloading the boat like the one illustrated, be sure you locate the mounting holes in a location where you can get a drill motor in close enough to align up to drill the holes.


Now let me tell you if you launch in or near salt water more than a year or two, the steel bracket this light is mounted in will become rusted.  Therefore, I had a sheet-metal friend of mine cut out stainless steel material and then took this to a neighbor who operates a machine shop specializing in farm and logging equipment repair.  He also has a plasma cutter that I had him cut the oval hole out and then bend it.  So now the light bracket and the top strap are made of stainless steel as seen below.  You will also note that the light is angled a bit to the outside of the trailer, this helps give more lighted area to the side where needed.


Peterson #416 backup light kit unit mounted on an EZ Loader trailer


(Option 2)   However if your need and budget dictates otherwise, a cheaper light unit can be made by utilizing one of the docking lights (or automobile driving light) shown previously above, a aluminum bracket can be made that attaches to the downrigger base that has a rod holder base mounted with only one bolt and a wing nut.  This unit has a adapter cable plug in that connects the light to my downrigger power plug in.


The unit is designed to go on the port side of the boat, so that the vehicle driver can see the ramp/trailer wheels when backing down the ramp.  The reason for only one mounting bolt on the rod holder base, is depending on the slope of the ramp, it can be adjusted so this light can accommodate any boat ramp.


However it is a pain to get the light out from under the bow storage and hooked up in a hurry if you forget while others are waiting to launch, hence the move to option #1 above. 


Here the docking light is mounted on downrigger base for a launch light

These lights also come in real handy when backing the trailer into a dark or not so well lighted a storage bay as described below.


Backing the Trailer Into a Dark Building ;   The situation I have is that my driveway is not square with my RV bay in my barn.  The driveway goes all the way alongside my long shop/ garage & then divides to go past one side of the barn to the corral behind and the other into my RV bay on that same side of the barn.  The posts on the bay are 9' 6" apart so this leaves me with about 7" to clear on each side.  Getting the pickup backed into the bay STRAIGHT all the way back is the chore.   No problem getting the wheels into the opening, however getting the trailer STRAIGHT and parallel once it is in the slot is something different.


Now to locate the initial position of the trailer as compared to this crooked driveway, and laid out lines into the driveway extended from the posts, painted white stripes on the gravel.  I now measured from the center of these stripes then calculated the distance from the center of my pickup to the center of the steering wheel and painted another stripe, but this time in blue.  Now extended out across the lawn and into the wife's rhododendron bushes is a wooden blue 2"X 2" in line with the blue mark on the gravel.  Beyond this reference post in the neighbors property is large limb extending off one of his large fir trees that I can now align these 2 to see to back straighter into the RV bay.


I then came up with using reflective tape in the rear of the bay just inside of the posts.  Now to see the fenders is another thing.  I just happen to have a set of Hitchin' Rods mentioned above.  They have a magnet on the bottom, since my trailer fenders are plastic, I simply sat a 1/2" X 4" X 6" price of steel on top of the drivers side fender and plunked the Hitchin' Rod on it at the very outside edge of the fender.  This gives me something to locate the outside of the fender with.


Now in the mirror, I can see both the rod and the reflective tape in the rear of the bay.  And by using the painted rocks in the driveway and the alignment post in the flowers, this helps lower the blood pressure considerably.


Then I place a wood block on the floor which will be behind the trailer tire to stop me from going in too far and bumping something expensive, (like the motor).


If you have added a set of backup lights to your trailer as described above, this will help illuminate what is behind you.


Here are the alignment rocks painted white extending the sides of the barn posts & the reflective tape inside Shown here is the Hitchin' Rod on the fender & the reflective tape in the rear of the bay


Drain Holes For an Open Bow ;  Many original open bow drain holes that you may find on these river boats are smaller than I like to see.    If you happened to be in an area where you maybe really should not be (because of a sudden weather change) and you happen to get lots of water over the bow into this boxed in area, it would take a while to drain out.  This may put you in jeopardy with all that weight up front and little steerage control (possibly even with your prop out of the water) until it drains out.   On the photo at the left below shows what it looks like originally and a close-up on the right.


The original small scupper drain hole A close-up view of the original scupper drain hole.  If you look close you will see the pencil marks for the enlarged hole to be.


Below on the left is a close-up of the same hole as above but with the water escape hole, (scupper) enlarged to nearly double the size.  On the right is a 4" stainless steel clamshell attached using 1/8" Pop-Rivets, covering this larger hole.  The clamshell does a multitude of things,  (1) it allows any water that gets in the open bow a faster rate of dispersing,   (2) it helps keep some unwanted water from coming in the now larger hole,  (3) it could hold back some items from going overboard, and  (4) it now covers an unsightly hole. 


Close-up view of the modified scupper hole Clamshell covering the larger scupper hole


In looking for a clamshell, most marine stores do not inventory these larger ones and not really knowing the size needed is not to my liking to special order something that I am not sure I want (especially at $32 a pop).  I knew a fellow who had purchased a Hewescraft boat and it had the size I really wanted.  I called Hewescraft and for less than $20 they shipped me 2 stainless steel ones.

Now a year later comes a problem if you forget to put ALL of your bumpers out when you return to the dock with the wind is blowing some.  I will almost guarantee that you will knock one of these off.  No problem, a call to Hewescraft and order another set so I will have a spare.  Well it seems that the lawyers have now entered the scene.  Hewescraft will not sell these anymore, saying that IF one of the stainless steel clamshells gets bumped enough to flatten it to decrease the exit size, that decreases the outward water flow IF you do get water in the bow so they have simply eliminated using them.


OK now I have one good clamshell left, just go find a mate to it or at least one that is near.  Not so easy to do I find.  So on to Plan B.


Plan B is to purchase a container of Plaster of Paris, find a suitable small box and wax the remaining clamshell so it would not be stuck to the Plaster of Paris.   Then cast a Plaster of Paris mould over it.  This will give me a female mould that I can then laminate and lay up a fiberglass clamshell, matching the original remaining one.


Here the mould is shown after usage & with some of the release agent laying to the side. New clamshell to be, still in the mold.


Clamshell taken from the mould & a finished one beside it. The original stainless steel one & a new fiberglass copy


In making this, you need to paint the mould with a few coats of release agent.  Then pre-cut some sections of fiberglass cloth.  I found that one initial layer just larger than needed worked great, but before it set up use a razor blade and cut the saturated cloth at the edge of the lip so it will lay down better and have less air bubbles.  All the resin you need for the initial lay up is 2 teaspoons full.  Do not put too much curing agent in this small amount of resin as you need some time to work this.   I use throw away acid brushes for this lay up work.


Next lay in some smaller sections of cloth, laying them over the lip and down part way into the cavity.  About 3 layers total is all that you need here.  But do it in 2 or 3 lay ups.  The 2nd and 3rd only need 1 teaspoon of resin will be needed.

After the resin sets up for about 20 minutes, remove it from the mould.  You can now trim the lip with a bandsaw and if there are any air pockets, mix up some fiberglass body putty.  Lightly sand the new clamshell then paint it with a good marine paint, (about 3 coats).


Use the old clamshell as a template to drill the new holes.  And for these, I increased the pop rivet size to 3/16" over the older 1/8" size.   Maybe these will hold even a broken clamshell on better when I ram the dock again.  And when I had a helper launch, but did not use bumpers, because it was a quick in, I thought he would be able to keep the boat aligned enough to not damage this clamshell, not so.  But by later removing it and adding more fiberglass resin, easily patched it.


The good thing about this is the mould can be kept and reused at a later date when you need another clamshell.  You will note a chip broken off the mould when the hardened product was removed, in the LH photo.  This can be repaired with body putty.


For those of you who have access to a 3D printer that would be another method of making your own.


Backing Up to Align the Trailer Hitch ;   I have tried numerous inventions to cut down on the getting out, looking, backing, getting out, looking, etc.  But at a Sportsman's Show a couple of years ago I bought a set of  Hitchin' Rods sold by  The reasonable price of $20.00 a set has sure saved much time and numerous get out and looks to see the progress.  These are a set of 2 hollow fiberglass rods 48"long.  They are finished in a bright greenish yellow and are about the size of the front part of a pool que.  There is a magnet attached to the base.  In use you just place one on the top of the trailer hitch ball and the other on to the top of the trailer hitch coupler.  Back up aligning the 2 rods in your center rear view mirror, then if the coupler is high enough to clear the ball, when the trailer coupler knocks the rod off the ball, and you are there.


One word of advise, do not leave a lot of height gap between the hitch and the ball, otherwise since the rod has a magnetic base, the hitch will just push it forward and over-ride, trapping the rod between the two and the rod result will be the rod will be shattered near the base.


Here the rods are aligned by viewing thru the center rear view mirror & the coupler is almost ready to knock off the front one


Transporting Unattached Motors ;  How many times have you seen a outboard motor just rattling around in the back of a pickup truck?  Many shifting levers and props have gotten broken in this manner, not to say paint being scratched off or dents or dings in the cowlings or internal fuel tank on smaller motors.   These will usually be if the owner is using a car-topper or just transporting a smaller motor not attached to the transom of a boat. 


Use an old wheelbarrow inner tube.  Only inflate it to about 3/4 full as you want to make a cushiony nest for the motor, but not have it touch the pickup bed while at the same time not have it bounce out of the tube on rough roads.  You might also want to be sure that the inflating stem is pointing down as to not scratch the motor's paint.  If you are taking a larger motor to a marine mechanic for repairs, move up to a larger old car inner tube.


A cushiony nest for transporting outboard motors,
this one being a 1947 version of a 2.5 hp Elgin where the original pull rope was replaced by a modified lawnmower starter


Winter Storage ;   Any prolonged storage where the boat sets in a unheated building, (worse if outside) you may consider placing a small electric ceramic heater inside the cabin, or under a canvas cover.  This can be especially needed if the boat is aluminum where it can draw moisture worse than if it is a fiberglass hull.  Also you might consider removing your electronics and paper charts, placing them inside in a warm room.  However if you go for the small electric heater in the cabin area, this should suffice.


Spare Trailer Parts Not Normally Thought About ;  Here is something that the average boater may never see, but we were waiting at a launch to take out, where the boat ahead of us on the ramp was being recovered by only the skipper/ driver whom we found out was fishing alone.  We offered to help.   Good thing, as he apparently had NOT gotten this larger boat, (about a 26'er) straight on the trailer as it should have been and when the boat was 3/4 on, then the winch cable pulled the boat more straight, but in the process the ridge on the underside of the hull now being properly aligned, popped one of the front bunk rollers off the self aligning roller unit shaft.  I immediately stopped him just in time, otherwise this bare roller arm, now just a piece of steel, would have gouged a hole in the bow about waterline. 


What had happened was the trailer was an EZ-Loader that used large washers on each side of the rollers and a large hog ring to secure the whole unit to the shaft.   In the recovery, the ridge going down the side of the underwater hull had gotten slightly out of position and when finally pulled straight, had put enough pressure into the wrong side of the roller but broke the hog ring retainer.  We recovered the washers from 18" of water but without new hog rings, had no way to retain the roller.  These shafts do not have the hog ring retainer holes go all the way thru the shaft, so no bolt or nail could be utilized in retaining the roller.


This skipper was inventive in that he found a large pair of Vise Grips in his tool box and used them clamped onto the end of the shaft to retain the roller to the shaft instead of the hog rings.  I immediately mentally added to my spare parts list the extra large washers and hog rings.


Another item to consider is a spare Bearing Buddy or at least a automotive dust cover to fit.  If for some reason someone steps on one while getting into your boat and gets it offset, you may well loose it later down the road.  It is a rather helpless feeling to be gone fishing for a week, only to find that one Bearing Buddy is missing the first night.   At camp, I looked in all my toolboxes and around everywhere but could not find a thing, until I tried cutting the top off a Pepsi can, using the bottom, duct-taping it onto the spindle.  Not perfect but I would remove it every night when I pulled the boat out to let any saltwater drain out.  Then re-tape it the next morning.   Duct tape, NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.    When I got home a thorough cleaning and re-greasing of the spindle bearings and a replacement Buddy was one of the first things I purchased.  If you don't  have a spare, then keep the used dust cover you took off when you added the Bearing Buddys.


Test Tank ;   Many of you who need to run a smaller outboard motor off the boat use a old 55 gallon barrel, if not, you should consider doing it.  This works great except you need something on the front of the barrel to secure the motor to.    Also you can not rev it up very fast if the whole top end is cut out as you will blow a lot of water out the back top.   In the photo below I did not cut the whole top out of this barrel, but only just over 1/2 and then bent part of the remaining top down to divert prop water back into the barrel.  On the front I took a 4" X 4" and band-sawed it to the shape of the barrel.  Then lag bolted it to the barrel from the inside.


Now, even when testing up to a 20hp motor size, the motor can be revved up to close to top speed for a short period of time and not loose a any water as it is just diverted back into the barrel.


You can see just a portion of an old galvanized garbage can lid on the ground behind the tank that is used to cover this tank when not in use.  It just fits inside the barrel, so there is a lip welded onto the front of this lid that rests on the front of the barrel to keep it from diving into the water.  This test tank sets there year around.


Sure beats trying to get a motor into a 30 gallon plastic garbage can.


55 gallon test tank with improvements & a 6hp Evinrude being test run.


OK, Here Are a Couple Not to Do ;   


(#1) Relating to the above photo and my old 55 gallon barrel test tank.  Of course if you even use it occasionally with a 2 stroke engine there becomes an oily scum on and in the water and if you let it set for a while it seems to get worse.  Also mine just happens to be below a bird house on the end of the barn, so I get nest building grass floating occasionally.


Being somewhat inventive, I decided that if I squirt some Lemon Joy dishwashing soap on the water that maybe the floating contamination may disappear or at least dissolve.  MY WORDS OF CAUTION, IF YOU DO, GO LIGHTLY ON THIS SOAP.    I was not sure that I had gotten enough on the first squirt, so I gave it another.  I got so much soap in that when with the motor in gear, there were so many bubbles that the water pump would not even function.  I guess that the water pump was not designed to pump soapy air bubbles.  One thing about it however, I got a very clean motor when I took it out.


(#2)  Not all electric windshield wiper motor assemblies are the same.  Some are totally enclosed with the ability to adjust the amount of movement while others use a external arm like automotive wipers.  I made the mistake of while under the dash, I tried to tidy up the wiring, (excess transducer and VHF antenna cables).  There was not much to tie to so I used the wiper mounting.  Bad Decision, this wiper used the extended pitman arm and when things came tight, it simply cut my transducer cable in two pieces.  Oh well, they say you need to replace them every 5 years anyway and someone once said good judgment comes from the experience of bad judgment.


This Page Always Under Construction When Something New Comes Along

copyright 2006 - 2018  LeeRoy Wisner  All Rights Reserved

Back to Ramblings

Originated 8-12-06, Last updated 01-09-2018

Contact the author