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Old 08-29-2020, 02:55 PM
WoodinvilleWalleye WoodinvilleWalleye is offline
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Washington
Posts: 44
Default Mounting options in covered engine well?

So, for my NMEA 2000 install, I'm going to have some components that will install pretty easily in what I'm calling the "engine well area". If there is a more proper term for this area, please educate me! On my boat, I'm referring to the stern area that is covered and is the space where you have access to the pumps, under boat conduit, etc. On mine, you have to unscrew about a 10 or 11" wide round cover right in front of the outboard motor.

At any rate, I checked last night, and the walls of this compartment area are not sheet metal, but rather composite of some type. In looking at what the Lund factory did, when they mounted anything on it - which is just a few wire holding type clips - they appear to have used some type of adhesive backing to stick them on, rather than anything that would screw into it. I'm not a composite materials expert at all, but I'm smart enough to gather that if a screw would have safely held, they'd have probably done that.

With all that being said, this is what I have in mind for my install of NMEA 2000 components. Pick up a King StarBoard piece that will easily fit in through the access hole, but allow me to comfortably fit all of my components on it. I pre-install all the components to the StarBoard using stainless screws that are shorter than the thickness of the StarBoard (this would be just like a transom saver board). Then, using some JB Weld, or similar epoxy, mount that StarBoard on the inside wall of the compartment. The cables will all be right there in the area already, and they should simply screw in or snap into place on the components as appropriate.

The StarBoard I can get at my local Tap Plastics store for like $15, so that's trivial. It's a composite material that from what I've researched is quite popular in marine applications. Aside from the fact that it'll always be there once the epoxy is set, is there a reason to go a different route? I kind of see this as once this NMEA setup is done, unless there is maintenance reasons, I doubt I'd really access the area again. It's all hidden completely, so aesthetically, you'd never know it was there. Finally, it would allow for easy setup in that except for snapping the connectors in place, all the pieces of the system could be mounted on my work bench, rather than me contorting into some tight place. I rather like the idea of wide open working environment. Anyway, wanted to see if there might be better options, or reasons for not doing it this way.

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Old 09-13-2020, 11:50 PM
WoodinvilleWalleye WoodinvilleWalleye is offline
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Washington
Posts: 44

Thought I'd update here now that I am done with my additions in this area. Well, almost done, still need to connect the down rigger wires, but that's tangential from this.

Anyway, I ended up with two pieces of 12" x 6" x 3/8" PVC piece from Tap Plastics. I initially started with one, and when I tried to lay everything out, there was just too much to fit. Given the lengths of the cables, I realized if I split everything up where it was convenient, all the pieces could still reach and it would make the installation easier.

For each piece, I laid out the components, drilled my pilot holes while everything was on my workbench. I then epoxied the board in place on each side. After that, everything was mounted with stainless steel screws, snap connected into place, and then zip tied down to keep the cables neatly arranged and to the sides and out of the way.

On the port side of the bilge area, I mounted the SmartCraft junction box, and the SmartCraft VesselView that used to be connected under the cowl of the motor.

On the starboard side, I mounted the SmartCraft Gateway and one end of my NMEA 2000 Gateway network. The other end of the NMEA 2000 Gateway is under the steering wheel at the helm. The SmartCraft Gateway simply connects right there to the four port T, and one of the other ports is used by the Lowrance Point 1 that I added. I run a Humminbird graph, but if I wanted to use the Humminbird version of the GPS puck, I would have had to run yet another cable to the helm area and it uses the NMEA 0183 connection on the Solix. The Lowrance Point 1 is NMEA 2000 based, and the Solix can use a GPS device off the NMEA 2000 network, so I thought that made a lot more sense. Also, the Lowrance Point 1 can also pick up GLONASS satellites through the puck whereas the Humminbird model does not. I don't need that extra ability in the least, but since it's there for the taking, why not.

Finally, I do have NMEA blank caps coming to cover the last two ports on the four port T there to protect them from any moisture.

Hope the pics help others who might be looking to do something like this in the future.
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Last edited by WoodinvilleWalleye; 09-14-2020 at 12:25 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 09-14-2020, 06:29 AM
Huntindave Huntindave is offline
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: IOWA.
Posts: 1,632

Looks like a clean install. Thanks for sharing.

On comment I'll make concerns something I see all to often when a design come out of engineering and onto the shop floor.

In the photo I've pointed out the location of one component mounting screw and the presumed location of the other screw for that same component. Should that component prove defective or fail at some point in time, the hidden mounting screw appears to be quite difficult to access.

It may just be the angle of the photo. In the center photo one can see the screw but it still looks to be fairly difficult to get a tool in place to remove and reinstall it. One certainly hopes to never have any issues but It is also nice to plan for good access, should any issues arise. Looks like the component could have been moved just a bit further away from the sidewall? Or as I say, photos can sometimes be deceiving.
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Last edited by Huntindave; 09-14-2020 at 06:35 AM.
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Old 09-14-2020, 10:24 AM
WoodinvilleWalleye WoodinvilleWalleye is offline
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Washington
Posts: 44

You're right on in both accounts - I made sure that everything could still be accessed if needed, and it is an angle issue with the picture. I tried to get as much in the picture as I could, and that lead to a more distorted picture. If I could get the right angle in that limited space, you'd be able to see that all pieces mounted to that board can all be removed. While not easy, it's more to the limited space of the top hole access than it is getting to the component screws once you have your hands inside.

It's the same way with the supporting bolts, I made sure to mount the board up high enough that a wrench can still fit around all the nuts to take them off (the most likely servicing in there, I think). It also helps that the board is only 3/8" thick. The only permanent choice I made was to epoxy the support board to the compartment side. My rationale was since it was a composite side, replacing it was likely an "all or nothing" deal. If that was going to be the case, then having to put in a new support board to hold the electronics again was going to be the small problem in the repair picture.

The interesting part in all of this was that I originally told them that I wanted a 10"x6" board. They mistakenly cut me a 12" wide board. I found that the 12" did actually still fit, and having that little bit of extra length made the layout more manageable. But, you're exactly right, there was a lot of measuring and scouting to make sure everything could still be accessed if needed, and also placed as high as possible to keep it away from any water for as long as possible.

Thanks for the feedback!
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