Monday, July 7, 2014

Engine Controls

I've been putting off installing the engine controls for a while now with no good reason.  There was always something that I thought I should do first but ultimately, I get a little skittish whenever I have to deal with the engine.  Well, I ran out of good excuses the other day and decided it was time to get it installed.

When I first bought the boat in 2001 the engine controls were mounted on the side of the cockpit just aft of the engine instrumentation display.  They were the old style two lever affair that required that you first shift into forward or reverse, then throttle up for power.  I never liked those controls because it required a small bit of thinking when you really wanted to be focus on not banging into something.  The next year I replaced them with pedestal mounted controls that because of their location made it much easier to focus on the task at hand and not worry about taking your eyes off the 'road', bending down and doing a quick multi-task.

Now that I've removed the pedestal though, I need to go back to side mounted controls.  I decided to pay a few extra dollars for a Teleflex CH2100P unit that integrates the shift with throttle (or the other way around if you like).  With this control, it's simply a matter of pushing the lever forward or backward depending on the direction you want to travel.

I decided the best spot for the new control was right where the old ones were, so I taped the paper cutout template supplied with the new control to the spot where I planned to mount it.  It was all pretty straight forward: drill out the corners with a 3/8" bit and connect the dots with a sabre saw.  Because this control is often mounted in areas that are inaccessible from the back side, the cutout is quite large so the control can be fitted from the cockpit.  I wish there were more options for this mount because this spot happens to be one of the few parts of my boat where access is decent from down below.  A smaller hole obviously means less potential water intrusion, but the cover plate for the unit seems to be sturdy enough and I should be able to seal it nicely.

Once I had the hole cutout, I attached the cables to the unit and routed them to the approximate location of where they would attach to the engine.  I was able to reuse the old cables from the pedestal (they are Teleflex 3300 universal cables).  They are a bit beat up, but they slide nice and smoothly inside their jacket.

Fitting the actual unit to the hole was like one of those metal puzzles where you have to separate a piece of metal from another piece of 'pretzl'd' metal.  I had dry fitted the control unit in the hole before I attached the cables with some degree of difficulty, but once the cables were attached, it seemed just about impossible. After a fair amount of struggle with no success, I was laying in the quarter berth with the whole assembly on top of me thinking about how I could cut a much bigger hole, fit it with some wood trim and bolt it all together again.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and I decided to take a breather and work on something else before I made a complete mess of the cockpit.  I returned an hour later and with some well placed words of encouragement (albeit a bit demeaning), I figured out the puzzle and it all slipped into place.  My eleven year old daughter Olivia was kind enough to help me by holding a screwdriver on each of the four mounting screws while I tightened them from the quarter berth down below.

Once it was fastened down, I got the throttle cable attached with a quick release fitting that was already on the cable, but the shift cable didn't have a fitting (it must have gotten lost when I removed it from the pedestal).  I have a new fitting on order and it should be in the mail tomorrow.

All in all, it went pretty well, and I think the design of the control is pretty cool.  It's kind of a Rube Goldberg exercise in levers, but from what I've seen with people who have them installed, they work really well.  I wish that I didn't need such a big cutout for the unit, but I hope to be able to get it waterproof.

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