When it comes to most mechanical things-like wheel bearings on a car-its miles that wears em out, as my grandfather used to say. And while there are many reasons why 200,000 miles on a modern car is less remarkable than 75,000 miles was in his day, improvements in lubrication rank high on the list. Lubes of old would oxidize to sludge, stop circulating, wash out, fail to suspend dirt, and drop in pH from acid buildup-or all of these.
Preserving a clear view through clear plastic on dodgers or enclosures is one of the most challenging tasks in boat maintenance. Restoring a vinyl window is almost impossible, but that doesn't stop the tide of products that claim to make this job easy. Practical Sailors eisenglass cleaners test looks at 27 products touted primarily as cleaners or treatments for vinyl windows. The test products were divided into type: cleaners, scratch repairers, polish protectants, and UV protectants. After a week of testing, we found Imar Strataglass Protective Cleaner and Imar Strataglass Protective Polish, distributed by Defender Industries, to be the Best Choice. Collinite No. 845 Insulator Wax and Mer-Maids Plexiglass Plastic Cleaner and Polish were the Budget Buys. The test also included products from the following manufacturers: 303, 3M, Aquatech, Armada, Davies, Marykate, Meguiars. Mothers, Novus, Plexus, Sailors Solutions, Star brite, Turtle Wax, West Marine, and Yacht Brite.
Insulation is a greater energy-saving expedient; if our heater or air conditioner is undersized, fixing drafts, shading or insulating windows, and insulating non-cored laminate are all ways to reduce the thermal load. For boaters, however, that is only half of the equation.
Sooner or later, chafe, UV rays, and sharp edges take their toll on our canvas. A misplaced screw or simple friction will eat holes in a dodger. A seam gives up, a boom rubs through the fabric, and a few snaps come loose.
I am restoring old fiberglass sailing club boats (Rhodes 19s) in a confined, heated space in winter, and I need to paint the topsides, decks, and bilges without poisoning the applicator. What do you suggest for a topside finish (white)? A repairable, long-lasting finish will be valued more than a high-gloss finish. Also, what do you suggest for the bottom paint? The boats will be in fresh water all summer; low environmental toxicity is a high priority.
One of the more popular uses for fairing compounds is for shaping underwater appendages like keels and rudders so they are more efficient. Adjusting the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) profile, or airfoil shape, of a fin keel or rudder can create more lift to enhance windward performance. Altering the trailing edge can yield similar improvements.
There are three basic types of transparent plastics used on boats: clear vinyls, acrylics (the best known is Plexiglas), and polycarbonates (the marine standard is Lexan). Each has advantages and disadvantages, which is why most boats include some of each. Vinyl is actually plasticized, stabilized polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It’s the plastic of choice for any window or clear screen that rolls, folds, stretches or needs to be sewn to fabrics.
Radios occupy an important place in the contemporary sailing scene, supplying weather reports, time ticks, entertainment, and news. High quality radios are also expensive. In other words, they're valuable pieces of equipment and deserve to be protected. One way of protecting a radio is to store it securely chocked in a locker. Unfortunately that means it must be taken out to be used — always a bother and limiting accessibility — and when in use it's vulnerable, since it is not secured as when stowed
Among the more neglected pieces of gear aboard most boats are the primary storage batteries, which faithfully crank the engine and light the lights. In the case of the typical lead-acid battery, even benign neglect is tantamount to abuse. It’s small wonder that many battery manufacturers refuse to recognize the warranty on batteries used aboard boats. The normal marine battery cycling - relatively high discharge rates with no charging, followed by rapid charging at a high rate by high-output alternators - is murder on conventional automotive batteries, and not exactly a piece of cake even for deep cycle batteries, constructed to absorb this type of abuse.