Sunday, May 30, 2010


I think there are three levels of dangerous surprises on a boat. They are YIKES!, UH-OH and WHAT THE (insert your expletive here).  Of the three the "What the..." is the most serious and surprising because it happens without warning. Like when you are sailing along and the mast falls over the side. Second in seriousness is the "Uh-Oh" when you discover something is a miss but, you still might have time to correct things and prevent disaster. This happens quite often when sailing. For example when you notice that the boat is about to jibe but, you still have time to prevent it and possibly avoid ripping the sail.  The last level of danger is the "Yikes" moment. This is when you catch something before it could do serious damage but, you also realize how close you would have been to a "What the..."  situation had you not found it. I had a serious YIKES moment back when I was installing the electric propulsion system on BIANKA several years ago.  I spent a lot of time below the cockpit when pulling the engine out and installing the electric propulsion system. I noticed a few flakes of rust under the engine and thought they came off the engine. Since I was pulling the engine out I was not concerned. After the engine was out and I had installed the electric propulsion system I still noticed that there were still flakes of rust gathering in the area where the engine was.  Then I looked  up and had my YIKES moment:
What you are looking at above is the rusted Edson steering idler plate assembly. It routes the steering cables from the Edson pedestal to the rudder post so you can steer the boat. A pretty important function. As you can see this plate was living on borrowed time. It is often overlooked on board because one has to squeeze down and look up to see it. Usually when one is down below the concentration is on some engine maintenance issue and not looking up overhead.  It looks like over the years water leaked down on to the metal plate and slowly rusted it. Because it was out of sight it was easily over looked.  This definitely need to be replaced ASAP!  Below is a photo of all the rust that fell off of this plate as I removed it.

Definitely not a pretty picture.  Even worse is what the Edson plate looked like after I removed it as shown below:

As you can see this was bound to fail very soon. Which is what made it a YIKES discovery. I still shudder when I think what might have happened had the idler plate come apart when under sail. Happily Edson has come up with a a new and improved design and is not using steel for this part now a days. I'll show you what did to replaced this rusted piece technology in an upcoming post.

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