July 8, 2011
Today, I traveled over to the marina in Calvert County to pick up the new start button and assembly for Hercules, the outboard motor on Ilya. I expected to pick up and little 1 inch cubic item with perhaps a couple of inches of wiring attached to it. The objective was to take out the broken item, and simply plug the wires into something, then install the new item. Suffice it to say I was quite surprised to see that the replacement item was over a foot long. Clearly, the place where these wires would attached was way in the nether regions of the engine. I considered twice going back to the marina and asking the guy who had originally helped me if I had to replace the entire wire, or if I could just take the 1 inch cubic switch and attach it to the wires already on and in the engine. I really thought about that when I went to the boat that afternoon to replace the switch.
As I may have mentioned in a previous blog, I am not “handy,” like some people. Anything I have replaced in our house, like faucets, or fixing a paneled wall, I’ve learned either out of necessity, such as the faucet is going to flood the kitchen, or because someone has taken the time to show me, so once I took off the cowl of the engine, and saw the little spaces I would be working with, I cringed more than once. Fortunately, I could make a couple of decisions easily. First, I knew I needed to take the rubber handle cover off, and second, I figured I could flip out the rubber stopper that kept all the cords nice and tight. Got it right on both counts. After opening a few other things, losing one screw to the water and unscrewing the electrical connection panel from the engine, I was eventually able to figure out where the existing wires connected. The really smart thing (or simply what someone does who isn’t naturally “handy”), was that I put twist ties on the three wires with a code, so I could put the right new wires on the proper connections. This was smart, since by the time I got the old wires out, and finally threaded the new wires through all the appropriate openings (with one mistake — more on that later), I would have had no idea where the dang wires connected.
I threaded the electrical tape covered wires through the little teensy space first, then realized that I hadn’t threaded the wire through the hole the switch goes through. So, I had to re-thread the wire through that proper hole, and after about 10 minutes of gentle and not so gentle tugging, I finally connected the wires to the proper places. Only then did I realize the real threading mistake I had made: there were actually two spaces through which the wires should have gone before getting into the engine compartment, and given how tough it was to get it into the engine compartment at all, I ain’t gonna redo it!
In any case, I put the rubber handle cover back on, though the third screw wouldn’t go in because of the threading problem. Not a big problem, since that was the crew I lost to the water, anyway. I put the engine cowl back on, and lowered the engine into the water. I knew the switch would actually go to “run.” What I didn’t know was that when I cranked the engine, it would actually turn over. And it did! About an hour of thinking, pushing, tugging, and dropping, and Hercules was whole again! (I’m still gonna buy another switch as a spare just in case.)