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Author Topic:   Waterproof Switches
TommyWhaler posted 11-04-2011 01:23 PM ET (US)   Profile for TommyWhaler   Send Email to TommyWhaler  
I am in the process of redoing [a 1973 Boston Whaler OUTRAGE 21] hull. On the center console the old switch panel was an aftermarket one, 4-1/2 x 6-1/2-inch. Some switches I have viewed are "waterproof", some are not. Since one washes their boat from time to time, wouldn't a waterproof swtich make sense? Has anyone here had good luck with a particular [marine switch] manufacturer? Thanks.
jimh posted 11-04-2011 09:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I don't think you need a waterproof switch for use on the helm console, even on a small boat. You just need a switch that has some splash protection. Of course, the back of the switch, where the wiring is attached, should be well protected against water.

For years boats have used pull switches, particularly on classic Boston Whaler boats, and I assume that in most cases the manufacturer was probably COLE-HERSEE.

Unless you have the mechanical shop facilities to make unusual cut-outs for mounting fancier switches, it is probably best to stick with switches that can be mounted in a round hole, as a round hole is easily made with a drill or a hole saw. The panel thickness of some instrument panels will dictate using specialized switches which can be mounted in thick panels. If you make an aluminum sub-panel for mounting the switches you will widen your selection, as the panel thickness will only be 0.125 to 0.25-inch; most switches can accommodate that panel mounting thickness.

If you plan on washing down the boat and directing water at the switches, you will probably need to take more precaution with water protection. One simple method with a toggle switch is to add a rubber boot. A rubber boot that is bonded to a panel mounting nut is typically available as an accessory from most switch manufacturers.

Once you leave the realm of marine electrical switches, there are unlimited possibilities for switches. However, specifying switches is often very complicated. And in small quantities custom-assembled switches can be expensive. In most cases a COLE-HERSEE pull switch can provide what you need. Just don't douse it with water all the time.

TommyWhaler posted 11-05-2011 10:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for TommyWhaler  Send Email to TommyWhaler     
Thank you Jim

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