Editors’ Picks: Top Gear

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ProBoat editors highlight their favorite new tools and materials from 2014.

Fall is not only the occasion for haulouts but also the time for marine-industry trade shows. The next season will begin soon, with the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference (IBEX) in Louisville, Kentucky, Sept. 15–17, followed by the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) in Amsterdam, on Nov. 17–19. For ProBoat editors, that means producing and moderating the technical seminars at IBEX, and also searching the aisles to find new gear and materials we think would interest our readers. As we get ready for IBEX 2015, here are some of our top finds from shows over the past 12 months.

Diesel Outboard

Built in Sweden, the Oxe diesel (named after the bovine mammal for its endurance, stubbornness, and toughness) is billed as the world’s first high-performance outboard diesel engine. Its advantages over gasoline engines are the same as for an inboard marine engine, automotive engine, or other: namely, greater fuel economy and efficiency, and nonexplosive fuel. The manufacturer claims “42% less fuel than a comparable modern 200-hp [150-kW] 2-stroke outboard.”

oxeThe General Motors automotive power head has proven itself in production cars. The gearbox has electrohydraulic controls. Interestingly, rather than transferring power to the propeller via bevel gears, the Oxe utilizes a belt drive that “allows for fully scalable torque transfer capability.” A multi-plate clutch “allows the unit to seamlessly run from 1 rpm to the end of the rev range.”

This outboard also answers, at least partially, technical editor Steve D’Antonio’s yearning for a diesel outboard, as he shared in his Parting Shot in Professional BoatBuilder No. 151. He’s still holding out for a smaller hp model.

The Oxe is compliant with Tier 3 regulations, as well as those from the IMO (International Marine Organization), the RCD (Recreational Craft Directive), and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Principal specifications: displacement 2.0 liters, torque 370 Nm (273 lb/ft) at 3,500 rpm, power 200 hp at 4,100 rpm, weight 295 kg–320 kg (649 lbs–704 lbs), gear ratios 1:66, 1:47, or 1:29 by changing pulleys on the belt drive. It sells for €35,000 ($38,850).

—Dan Spurr, Editor-at-Large

 

Total Torque Control

torque

While on a recent sea trial I noted a leaking exhaust water injection hose, at the hose clamp, which was clearly under-torqued. When I reported this to the techs commissioning the boat, they told me that just the previous day the hose had been installed by a coworker, who clearly had not tightened it sufficiently.

Under- or over-torqued hose clamps are all-too-common occurrences in the marine industry. Despite the clamps’ importance, the level of effort to tighten them is always at the discretion of the installer—a less than ideal scenario. As a former boatyard manager, worry about inadequately torqued raw-water hose clamps could keep me up at night. So the CDI (a division of Snap-on Tools) TorqControl Torque Tool caught my attention, as it’s ideally suited to installing hose clamps. Adjustable from 2 Nm to 8 Nm in 0.1-Nm increments, it includes 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, and T25 Torx bits in 1” length; and 4”-long (102mm) 4mm and T25 bits.

The sample I received from Snap-on performed as advertised, releasing tension (rather than clicking like a conventional torque wrench) when the torque value was achieved. It’s lightweight yet durable and practical for those who carry tools when traveling by plane, as I often do. While it’s ideally suited for hose clamps, it’s appropriate for all fastener types up to ¼”, and with an adapter it can accept ¼”-drive sockets. In addition to Snap-on, it’s available from Amazon and other online retailers.

—Steve D’Antonio, Technical Editor

Awaited Measure

gauge

The LPG Gauge—from the Gaslox division of Sundquist Metall AB, of Örebro, Sweden, which has been designing LP gas products since 1946—responds to an age-old need of LP gas users: determining how much gas remains in a tank. Because the pressure in an LP tank remains nearly constant until the tank is virtually empty, pressure gauges are all but useless (a fact that’s lost on many boat owners; ask them what the pressure gauge is for, and they’ll invariably say it’s to see how much is in the tank, rather than for leak detection, its true mission). Liquid level gauges work; however, few small marine tanks are so equipped. Weight is the best and most accurate way to measure LP content, and it’s used by retailers of this fuel.

If you know the tare weight, i.e., the weight of the empty tank (this is embossed on every tank), anything above this is LP gas. It’s that simple. The gauge’s stainless steel scale with remote digital display clearly shows the user the weight of the tank and its contents. With a display located in the galley, the cook never has to worry about running out of fuel mid pasta boil. The scale is low profile, roughly a 1” (25mm) tall; in retrofit installations the tank might be too tall for the locker. I suspect that the gauge would be supported by most installations, and could certainly be designed in for new builds.

Gaslox has no North American distributor but is looking for one.

—S.D’A.

Filter Keeper

fuelguardThe basic design of the Fuel-Guard Decontaminator looks familiar: a filter element on top with a clear water-separating and -accumulation bowl at the bottom. The difference is the Decontaminator’s “element,” a 30-micron stainless steel mesh screen, which is cleanable and infinitely reusable. The element is quickly and easily accessible without tools, and it can be replaced in less than a minute (having a spare clean element on hand would make sense). The bowl includes an optional water sensor and alarm.

I met with Ian Currie in the Fuel-Guard booth at METS. He’s an enthusiastic proponent of the Decontaminator, knew its features inside and out, and confirmed that it meets U.K. Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) regulations, including flame resistance. The manufacturer neither belongs to nor claims compliance with American Boat & Yacht Council regulations. However, provided the component meets the flame resistance requirement, and with a plug inserted in the metallic drain, I see no reason it would fail to comply.

While I’m not yet ready to replace the existing primary filter arrangement with the Decontaminator, I envision it serving as a tertiary filter, located between the tank and the primary filter. In cases of severe contamination it’s not unheard of for a vessel operator to exhaust the entire supply of onboard replacement elements, making a reusable element a potential lifesaver. It would capture the bulk of contaminants in its cleanable 30-micron screen while separating water, and thereby reduce the need to change the standard pleated-primary and spin-on secondary filters. That in turn reduces the number of filters entering dumpsters and landfills. Fuel-Guard also has no North American distributor, and they too are in search of one.

—S.D’A.

Dandy Davits

h30

Next to anchors, dinghy davits are, perhaps, one of the most intriguing pieces of boat equipment for inveterate tinkerers and inventors. Determined to build a better mousetrap, over the years we’ve seen many self-styled engineers offer different solutions to the challenge of bringing a dinghy or tender (inflatable, RIB, hard) safely and easily out of the water. Other than at slow-speeds in protected waters, towing is not recommended.

Todd Hurley, from Michigan, designs and builds a retrieval system for yachts with swim platforms. The H30, one of three models, utilizes a pivoting high-density polyethylene bunk/cradle and a removable winch. Designer/manufacturer Hurley says, “The stainless steel retrieval arm is adjustable from 3′ to 5’ [0.9m to 1.5m], depending upon the length of your tender, and is easily removed for storage while under way. This rugged davit system lets you winch your dinghy on for easy storage or just push off for launching. The stainless steel mounting system provides a quick release, leaving a very small footprint and a clear deck for any activity. Easily mounted on the swim platform.”

Hurley Marine’s other davits have two pivoting arms that lower into the water; the dinghy is brought alongside the swim platform and onto the arms, which then pivot inward, bringing the dinghy aboard. They are best suited to platforms close to the water. The H30 was developed for higher platforms, requiring mechanical advantage (the winch) to more easily lift the dinghy out of the water.

The H30 system has a 425-lb (193-kg) capacity, comes with a two-year warranty, and sells for $1,789.95. Made in the U.S.

—D.S.

Go-To Cutting Tool

wolff scissors

Reviewing the selection of scissors and sharpeners in Wolff Industries’ booth at IBEX, one model in particular caught my attention, the 7280 series. I picked it up and cut a selection of fiberglass reinforcement fabrics. Comparing it to other scissors, it felt like going from a ’40s-vintage vehicle with manual steering and brakes to a 2015 Mercedes; the blades cut like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Wolff sent me a pair to try out in my own shop, and I’ve used them to cut everything from fiberglass fabric to sheet aluminum, and I remain impressed.

What could be new or interesting about a pair of scissors? Salesman Dennis Wingo explained that the 7280 scissors are laser cut, and unlike many other scissors, because they are made of high-carbon rolled stainless steel, they are hardened throughout the blade, rather than just on the edges. The handles and blades are cut as one, for added strength. What sets them apart are the high quality of the steel and the hardening processes that result in an exceptionally long-lasting edge.

There’s more. The 7280 and many other Wolff scissors are modified with an “alligator”-tooth serration or groove along one or both cutting edges. When working with hard-to-cut Kevlar or glass fiber, it serves two purposes: it grips the material to keep it from sliding while being cut (sliding, a common problem with smooth-cut scissors, is caused by cutting only the outer bands of fibers, which then “clog” the blade); and the serrations allow for the fibers to “seat” in each groove, so more fibers can be cut simultaneously. Wolff offers models with fine and coarse serrations that will be chosen based on the predominant material to be cut, with coarse being used primarily for thicker fabric. The company is also able to modify any other scissors manufacturer’s design at its facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

—S.D’A.

Odor Slayer

I’ll admit I’m a skeptic, which is why the box of sample TEAgel sat on the coffee table in my office for months before I opened it. What changed my mind? A couple of months after IBEX, when I was in New Zealand touring a sheep farm on horseback, my guide offered a running commentary on all things Kiwi, including tea tree oil—the main ingredient in TEAgel (the farm was studded with white tea trees, which grow about 30’/9m tall.) She related the oil’s many uses on and off the farm, from healing skin rashes to preventing infection in injured farm animals, and, of course, odor control or removal.

teagelWhen I returned home, I decided to try the samples using my two dogs—the ideal testing ground, particularly when the dogs were wet. Opening the gel containers released an immediate and strong-but-not-unpleasant minty aroma. This dissipated quickly, leaving only a slightly detectable and again not-unpleasant after-smell. Once the TEAgel is opened, dog odors and other odors also dissipated.

According to TRAC Ecological, tea tree oil has a natural ability to kill or degrade odor-causing mold and mildew spores, and bacteria, which abound on boats. I also tested samples in the laundry/dog room and in air-conditioning return vents. Each lasted about three weeks. My wife, who has an incredibly sensitive nose, agreed that it worked, eliminating rather than covering up odors.

—S.D’A.

Cork Boards

corkline

At the 2014 METS in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, we saw exhibits of a number of alternative teak products and even a few purveyors of traditional teak lumber for decks. Corkline is manufactured and marketed by Nautic Line, a Croatian company with offices in the cities of Zagreb and Split. Cork products, of course, originate from cork oak trees (Quercus suber), largely grown in Portugal, which supplies half the world market, and Spain. Its advantageous properties are several: it is somewhat elastic, difficult to burn, impermeable, and it floats. The cork business is considered sustainable because the tree continues to live and grow even after the cork tissue is stripped from the trunk.

Nautic Line says its product “combines the best properties of rubber and cork granules with special binders” to form a floor covering suitable for marine applications. Installation follows guidelines familiar to those who’ve dealt with coverings before: clean and prep surface; trace shapes and/or make a paper template; cut planks with a sharp utility knife; test fit; apply adhesive and place planks; apply masking tape to sides of joints; fill joints with grout; lightly sand with #30–#60 grit sandpaper, and apply teak oil for a “fresh and natural appearance.” Nautic Line recommends annual application of teak oil.

Besides the Corkline 25 TG intended for DIY installation, Corkline is available in bulk packages in the form of planks and sheets, already sanded and caulked or not caulked. For customers who provide a deck template Nautic Line can supply the product produced to fully fit the shape and the size of the vessel. Cost is €180–€230/m2 ($21.50–$27.50/sq ft).

—D.S.

Advanced Teak

dek king

Dek-King, made of PVC, same as NuTeak and Flexiteek (described in Professional BoatBuilder No. 125, “The Unteak Deck”). It’s said to be “virtually maintenance-free,” stain and abrasion resistant, 100% recyclable, and won’t change color due to the addition of UV inhibitors. While Dek-King has been around for a number of years, a recent variation, Dek-King 2G, is 32% lighter and 30% cooler. It’s available in six colors; standard profiles are 5mm (7/32”).

Dek-King 2G is supplied in tongue-and-groove panels edge-bonded and glued to the deck. Black caulking completes the installation. No other coating is needed. Prices begin at $47 per sq ft. The company also markets handrails, toerails, top caps, and fendering made of the same material.

—D.S.

proboat dingbat

Article Category: Tools