The engine control panel on Moonrise had definitely seen better days. After 37 years of sun, rain and the occasional kick, the plastic was cracked in several places. The location of the panel, behind the helmsman’s legs has always been inconvenient for reading gauges. It was always a little embarrassing when we were showing the boat and I started the engine.
What had me stumped was finding a replacement for the panel itself. After our vacation I got serious about finding this part. Sailing Specialties Inc. (http://ssicustomplastics.com/) turned out to have a panel that had dimensions close to the original. The part was about sixty dollars with shipping.
Reading the gauges had always been difficult since they were low and behind the driver. I bought new gauges and installed them in a small project box just inside the companionway. I chose not to install the ammeter thinking that I would buy a digital battery monitor at some point. This freed up a spot for the fuel gauge which used to be tucked in a corner of the quarter berth. This location at the companionway makes it much easier to check the engine’s vital signs but of course it would be nice if they were more visible while steering the boat.
So, with a minor adjustment to the old engine panel opening, I installed the new panel. To update the boat, I replaced the old engine power switch with a keyed switch. That makes Moonrise more secure as well. Since the instruments are tucked away inside, the panel now just houses the engine start controls. If at some point I want to add a gauge, I can always do so. For now, I think I’ll just enjoy the clean, uncluttered look of the new panel.
This weekend, our traditional rainy weather arrived. I buttoned up this project just as it began to rain in earnest. Now I won’t have to worry about water finding its way onto the electrical system, causing corrosion or worse.