Mailport: 05/15/04


One More on Solder/Crimp
[Re: “Strippers and Crimpers,” August 15, 2003, Don Grayson in Mailport, February 1, 2004, and “Critical Connections” in “Electric Bilge Pumps,” February 15, 2004] Soldering has a long history in electrical engineering and in a good manyapplications it is well nigh indispensable. However, for use in small boats I would much rather see crimping applied with the proper tool and ferrules properly sized for the wire connection being made.

Boats are notorious for vibrations of one sort and another, and solder issubject to fatigue cracking, which makes any soldered connection unreliable if subject to the least vibration at the point of connection.

Properly made crimped connections will not be subject to fatigue as the connection will have a gradual stress relief from the indentation made by the crimping tool into to the ferrule. Siemens-one of the fathers of modern electrotechnology-once observed that you cannot make a good electrical connection without vaseline, and this is a point to be borne in mind when making electrical connections aboard boats where corrosion is the ever-present enemy. After cleaning the wire, coat it with vaseline, put on the ferrule, and then crimp. If you follow this procedure you will have a connection that will serve you well.

Soldering, more often than not, uses corrosive flux, which in the marine environment is apt to set up corrosion cells, which in the long term are likely to affect the connection adversely.

-Jens Bagh
Via e-mail

Well, that brings us just about full-circle on the topic of crimp-don’t-solder, solder-and-seal, solder-and-crimp, and solder-crimp-seal. As there will never be a final word on the topic, we’ll just emphasize the point that support of the connection is perhaps even more important than the connection itself. If it can’t jiggle, it won’t break down. Use heat-shrink tubing to support the connection itself, and wire ties at frequent intervals, fastened to solid objects, to secure all wiring runs, but particularly close to connections.


Varnish Brushes
[Re: PS Advisor, February 15] I have been varnishing for 30 years and my brushes are almost as old. All I do after use is scrape the extra varnish off the brush and keep it in a jar filled with boiled linseed oil. Before use just take a clean cloth, press out the oil from the brush and handle, and you are ready to varnish, big or small jobs.

-Peter W. Menzel
Via e-mail


Don’t Wax Awlgrip?
I just read your January 1 article on waxes. I had my boat (’65 Hinckley 41) professionally Awlgripped three years ago, and was wondering if waxing it would help preserve the paint gloss, which is still beautiful. I learned from Awlgrip literature that they specifically do not recommend any waxing, warning that the residue can turn yellow, the wax attracts dirt, and any abrasives can cause damage. In lieu of wax, they recommend regular washing with water and Awlwash Wash Down Concentrate, and for stronger cleaning and enhancing of the finish to use Awlcare Protective Polymer Sealer. Readers may want to limit their waxing to gelcoat surfaces or those painted with products that recommend waxing.

-Bob Lakin
Via e-mail


Outboard Motor Locks
I just read your April 1 PS Advisor section on dinghy outboard locks. I too, have had several Master Lock versions rust out.

There is a small company in Florida called Island Marine Products that makes a stainless version with a very unusual brass keyed lock that has only a single straight shackle that is completely covered. This makes it impossible to be cut with bolt-cutters or hack saw, for added security. A very well-designed, and pretty, outboard lock.

-Ric Plater
Via e-mail

It is indeed a nice-looking device. See the company website at: The phone number is 727/698-3938. The cost is $39.95 plus $8.50 for shipping and handling.


I purchased one of the Master Locks when I bought my first outboard, and put it on my first boat. Less than two years later, the Master lock rusted out to the point that a pair of pliers was all that was needed to remove the lock, and thus my motor. The rust was beneath the plastic cover, and thus hidden.

I spent a lot of time looking for a replacement lock, and selected one you failed to mention, a Q-Lok ( While more expensive than the Master Lock, I can tell you from personal experience that the Q-Loc is very resistant to theft.

After the theft of my first motor, I moved my boat to another location. One night, four outboards were stolen from the yard where my boat was. They tried to steal five, but all they could do was dent my Q-Loc. Closeup pictures revealed at least two attempts by bolt-cutters to destroy the Q-Lok, but it survived intact and saved my motor when at least four other locks failed. What more could you ask of a lock? The Q-Lok is a brilliantly simple system of thick interlocking stainless steel tubes and rods. The tubes resist cutting by bolt-cutters (obviously), and the design of the Q-Lok makes it difficult to remove by using a hacksaw. The Q-Lok also helps in keeping the motor from falling off the boat due to vibration loosening the transom clamp screws.

The Q-Lok company provides great service, for when I wrote to them asking to buy a replacement piece for my dented unit, they sent me the part free of charge.

I highly recommend the Q-Lok, and recommend that Practical Sailor obtain one for testing.

-Colin Povey
Clearwater, FL


If you own a Mutineer sailboat, we’re looking for you. Amnesty has been offered for the 8,000 Mutineers that went into hiding after the Mutineer 15 Class Association disbanded 20 years ago.

Four hundred Mutineers have already found each other and are enjoying each others’ stories, helpfulrepair tips, and racing quips. Join us at or visit the Class website:

The Mutineer was designed by the renowned team of Rod Macalpine-Downie and Dick Gibbs, and first built in 1971 by Chrysler Marine. This 15- footer was ahead of its time with a roller-furling jib, spinnaker launcher, powerful sailplan and planing hull. It is a comfortable sloop that the family can enjoy on one day, and can be competitively raced with a crew of two or three the next.

The Mutineer is the “little brother” to the 18-foot Buccaneer. See

The North American Championships for both classes are held together. This summer they will be held at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, June 21-25.

-Gib Charles and Rey Garza


…Where Credit Is Due
To ProMariner, Portsmouth, NH: “I purchased a 2001 Catalina MkII new. Recently, the AC battery charger failed. Even though the warranty period was over, I felt this failure was premature, ande-mailed both Catalina and ProMariner (the charger manufacturer), asking them what, ifanything, they could do for me. ProMariner responded within 24 hours, and their technicians assisted me with troubleshooting. When it became clear that the charger was beyond repair, ProMariner recommended a larger-capacity model, and offered an extremely generous proration on the price.They then shipped without delay. I am most grateful for ProMariner’s gracious and professional response. I was back in business quickly.”

-Colin di Cenzo,
Vancouver, BC, Canada


… Running Fixes
Running Fixes is a new department, in which readers can share information about competent people and worthwhile places they encounter in their travels-diesel mechanics and carpenters, riggers and painters, boatyards with reasonable policies and prices, well-stocked local chandleries, hard-to-find services, and so on.

Keep those tips flowing in. After we collect a goodly trove, we’ll publish them, region by region.

Please send information by e-mail only. Write to us at, and put the words “Running Fix” in the letter header. And please, no commercials.

-The Editors

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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