The first thing I tackled after the haul-out was installing the new engine panel that accompanied the Beta. Of course, the dimensions of the hole for the old panel conflicted with those required for the new one. We got to learn all about fiberglass, epoxy, fillers and sanding thereof! We removed two of the none working gauges and filled the voids along with the old panel hole with high density foam core and thickened epoxy. I went by daily during the week in the evening to sand, clean and lay wetted out fiberglass on the front and back of the cockpit, building up layers before finishing of with filler. Once filled and faired, I cut the new holes and dropped everything in place. Much better! We’ll wait to paint it all up when we do the top side paint before too long. In the meantime I may give it a few coats of primer….
The second semi-major project was the engine controls. Coming back from the haul-out it became painfully clear that we needed a big change. The original setup consisted of two levers operating the transmission and throttle independently of each other. Not such a bad thing with wheel steering, but with a tiller at the helm – forget it. I was always short a third hand to finesse the steering and speed whilst entering and exiting the slip. It was NOT fun. Additionally, the old controls made it possible for the transmission to be engaged from forward to reverse at full throttle – probably not good to do too often.
So we ordered a modestly priced single lever all-in-one engine control; something to operate both throttle and transmission in concert with only one hand. Brilliant! However, the first control just wouldn’t fit when I tried to install it. Closer inspection revealed it did not allow for the thickness of our cockpit. Although annoying to be sure, it was a prideful moment to know our girl was thicker than more modern production boats. She’s big-boned, not fat. Still, it meant that I was going to have to crawl back into the recesses of the engine room a dozen more times before everything was done!
With ostensibly no other options on the market, I returned the first control replacement and ordered a (much) more expensive single shifter from Kobelt. While waiting for the Kobelt to arrive, I installed two new deep cycle group 27 batteries from Interstate and got our Adler-Barbour Cool Max refrigerator up and running. The Kobelt arrived sooner than expected, and the initial sticker shock was alleviated when the box arrived. I was more than happy with the looks and make of it, and it installed perfectly. The added feature of having a built-in lock-out button to disengage the transmission as needed has proven beneficial. It looks as solid as it performs and it may outlast us and the boat by a 100 years. To really top it off, I designed a decal reminiscent of old-timey ship telegraphs to indicate direction and speed.