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Author Topic:   Yahoo! Got my boat… Now to drill some holes in it…
Camuyano posted 05-19-2004 01:26 PM ET (US)   Profile for Camuyano   Send Email to Camuyano  
Yesterday I experienced the same exhilaration recently expressed by other members after picking up by brand new ’04 170 Montauk with 90 hp Mercury 4 stroke, bow cushion, swim platform and red Mills top. She is even more beautiful than I remember her! And not soon enough! One more day and my wife would have kicked me out of the house! I have been in an inexplicably foul mood ever since I signed the check, but now I know that it was the “blues of being boatless”.

On the way to the dealer I stopped by West Marine and picked up a Standard Horizon +Intrepid VHF with DSC ($40 mail-in rebate) with flush mount kit, three-foot Shakespeare antenna and rail antenna mount, and a 72 qt. Igloo marine cooler with free cushion (not as nice as the Whaler part but also $350 less). (Boy, this time I really thought that she was gonna kick me out!) I read the instructions for flush mounting the VHF and it said nothing about sealing the hole with any type of caulk. As a former sailor I was always taught that all holes should be well sealed to prevent getting water in the laminate. (Some sailboat repair books go as far as drilling oversize holes, filling them with epoxy and re-drilling the holes so that none of the laminate is exposed.)

Is it necessary to caulk around the area behind the radio’s faceplate or will this just gunk up my shinny new radio? If not, what type of sealant should be used? I had assumed that the radio would have some sort of gasket but I saw nothing like that one the box. Additionally, I plan to fashion a bracket for the cooler out of wood similar to the factory one that is mounted on the front of the console but, if I were to use the generic Igloo tie downs, I would have to drill into the sole. How do you properly seal holes in the sole and gunnels that are foam-injected so as not to get any moisture into the laminate? I have heard that the foam can absorb water over time. Is this correct?


Moe posted 05-19-2004 01:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
After drilling a small pilot hole in the deck, I tilt the drill and plunge the bit in and out of that hole in a circle, removing foam in a cone shape under the fiberglas. I then drill the hole to the diameter of the screw shaft inside the threads, and follow that with a shallow plunge (1/32" or so) of a bit slightly larger than the diameter of the screw threads to keep them from cracking the gel coat. Before ANY drilling, the fiberglas should be covered with masking tape to help prevent chipping. I insert the sealant nozzle with just the very tip of it cut off, and squirt some sealant in there, removing the nozzle periodically to let air escape. Unfortunately, so does some sealant.

On the Igloo corners, I covered the bottom of them with 3M 4200 sealant, trying to get it so that when screwed down, a little would ooze out the edge. I then wiped that off with denatured alcohol. I don't count on the screws in the cockpit sole to have a lot of strength with no backer board underneath.

I only used two of the corners to keep the cooler from rocking in one direction, and the throwable cushion behind the cooler between it and the wall behind it to keep the cooler from rocking in the direction the tie-downs were pulling in.

I strongly advise getting the new factory 170 cooler mount that attaches to the console, rather than the cleats that mount to the floor, or using the Igloo corners.

I'll have to let others answer with regard to the radio, but if it were me, and there wasn't a gasket in the kit, I'd go to the hardware store, get the material, and make one.

Marlin posted 05-19-2004 01:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
When I mounted my Standard Quest VHF in the console, I found that the console was about 1/8" fiberglass on either side of 1/2" or 5/8" plywood. While the Quest has a rubber gasket on the back side of the flange behind the faceplate, I also put a bead of 3M 4200 around the edge to keep the water out. 4200 cures flexible and has enough bond strength to hold things nicely in place, but is also relatively easily removable unlike 5200.

If you drill cooler mounting holes into the cockpit sole, be sure to line them up with the phenolic backing plates. Your owner's manual should have a diagram of backing locations, or you can download one at . If I recall correctly, the recommended method is to drill and tap as if it were aluminum, then install stainless machine screws. I'd be sure to use enough 4200 on the screws and on the bottom of the cooler cleats to ensure that you get no water intrusion in the floor.

Two more hints I picked up along the way- if you use a jigsaw (aka sabresaw) for the radio cutout, use a blade with very small teeth and cover the fiberglass with masking tape to minimize gelcoat chipping. For holes, drill them with the proper bit, then use a larger bit to slightly countersink them; that prevents the screw from causing gelcoat chips (which can sometimes be surprisingly and distressingly large!) when you run it into the hole.

Good luck making your first hole. It took me two days to work up the nerve to drill and jigsaw the console for that radio!


Moe posted 05-19-2004 02:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
Make sure you use eye protection and a respirator mask, especially with the jig saw. It will help to have a vacuum cleaner nozzle next to the blade.


Steve M posted 05-19-2004 08:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Steve M  Send Email to Steve M     
Congratulations on the new Whaler! What a great boat, I share your excitement.

I used a marine grade silicon around the opening, and then wiped the excess off after I had snug the flush mount. I noticed on my Standard Horizon Spectrum + that the template was way too loose in one direction. So I marked my own tighter set of marks on the template and was happy with the results. I will echo what was said earlier to tape any gelcoat surface that you cut, drill, saw, etc. I taped under the entire template with clear packing tape. I used a roto-zip for the radio cutout and it was very easy. I highly recommend using a highspeed (over 20,000 rpm) type cutting/routing tool for this kind of work.

davej14 posted 05-20-2004 09:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
I agree with the roto type tool for the cutout being best, but without using a template these tools sometimes have a mind of their own! As an alternative, you can find jigsaw blades that cut on the push stroke rather than the standard ones that cut on the pull stroke. I haven't tried them on fiberglass but with luan plywood at least the "chipouts" are on the side no one will see. Keep reasonable pressure on the saw and go slow. I would still tape the area to be cut and drill the corners with a hole saw to match the radius of the radio.

Now for a question. I have a Uniden VHF radio with a mounting bracket intended for surface mounting. Has anyone mounted a radio in a cutout with just a sealant to hold it in place? There is a flange on the bezel of the radio, but no means to hold it into the bulkhead. The original owner installed it right where I want to put a compass and I want to move it to the bulkhead. Comments?

kingfish posted 05-20-2004 09:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

I agree with Bob (Marlin) above about 3M 4200 for sealant and adhesive, but I also want to go a little bit further with part of a question I sensed you were asking. (In fact I want to go a little bit further whether you were asking it or not.)

Once you have cut the opening for your radio in the console face but before you finally mount the radio in the opening, ESPECIALLY IF THE CONSOLE FACE MATERIAL IS WOOD OR PLYWOOD BEHIND THE FIBERGLASS, coat the exposed edges (laminate) of the new opening well, either with epoxy, or with 3M 4200 and let it cure before mounting the radio, so that any water intrusion (which could occur even with a gasket) won't delaminate your console face and or migrate to some other place where you don't want moisture.

Marlin posted 05-20-2004 09:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     

You make an excellent point. I remember thinking about that when I installed my radio, but now I can't remember whether I did anything about it our not. I guess I'll have to pull the radio back out and check, darn it.


kingfish posted 05-20-2004 10:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

It is the voice of experience (which is how I learn most things) - I ruined two FM radios before I realized what was happening. I had thru-mounted a VHF radio directly above the FM unit, the face seal didn't work as well as I thought it would, and I hadn't sealed off the raw edges of either opening. Water was entering behind the face plate of the VHF, migrating downward through the console laminate, and toasting the innards of the FM radio.

Sadder but wiser...


Camuyano posted 05-20-2004 10:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Camuyano  Send Email to Camuyano     

Thanks for all your suggestions. I will keep them in mind when I attempt the installation, hopefully this weekend. I bought a tube of 3M 4200 at my local boating supplies store yesterday and will head for the hardware store today to buy blades, tape, etc.

On the subject of cutting tools, would an angle grinder with a cutting blade be better than a jigsaw? I agree that a high-speed tool will minimize chipping on the edges but the grinder is a frightening tool!

BTW: I took the boat out yesterday for the first time. What a rush! I was afraid that a thundershower might roll through but by the time we got to the ramp the sun was shinning and the sky was clear with a few high clouds. I was so exited that I almost forgot to call Boat US to activate my new insurance policy! Thankfully, I called them on my cell from the marina and they hooked me up right away.

I was hesitant at first since I haven’t driven a motorboat in like forever, but once I got the feel for the boat I was a lot more confident. We ran for a little over an over alternating speeds and not exceeding 3500 rpms like the book said. On the way back I eased her up to 4500 since we had passed the hour mark and it felt like we were flying! (Well, for an ex-sailor anyway.)

Overall, she performed like a champ, accelerating smoothly and getting on plane quickly. The ride was smooth even in the slight chop that was building as the wind picked up on our way back to the marina. I wasn’t sure how to trim the motor and kept it all the way down for most of the time (any advice?).


davej14 posted 05-20-2004 02:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
I would think that a grinder would be the last thing that I would use to put a hole in my console. Especially if this were the first time I tried it. Use a tool that you are comfortable with. Since you are questioning the grinder it sounds like the wrong choice.
Chuck Tribolet posted 05-20-2004 03:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
I'd use a Dremel MotoTool with their base that turns it into
a tiny router, and a roto cutting bit. It will have a
tendancy to drift one direction (don't remember whether it's
left or right), just cut in a direction so if it drifts it
drifts to the inside.

The MotoTool has a very small foot print compared to a jig
saw, making it easier to use in confined places.

Be sure to compare radio location to where your knees are
when driving. I've got a buddy who had the dealer install
the radio and they put right where his knees are. You can't
hear it under way, and you bang your knees on it.


Maximus posted 05-21-2004 10:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Maximus  Send Email to Maximus     
I second the use of a dremel tool to cut holes in the console. Having cut two a total of four holes todate.

The lower part of the console is very easy to cut through, as it is only 1/8 fiberglass. I was surprised by the addition of 1/2 plywood behind the 1/8 of fiberglass on the vertical section just above the cup holders.

By adjusting the depth of the dremel router tool cut, I made several passes to get through the material.

I mounted a Standard Horizon Eclipse+ by my right knee, just clear of the control. Two 6 in speakers near the bottom corners and the AMFM CD behind the cup holders.

Thanks for the tip on epoxy or siliconing the exposed plywood...I forgot to do that.

Camuyano posted 05-25-2004 11:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for Camuyano  Send Email to Camuyano     

Thanks for all great input. I completed the project this weekend and everything went surprisingly smoothly. (Murphy says that a project like this normally involves sweat, blood, tears and cursing, not necessarily in that order.) I was meeting some friends for a cruise in the afternoon and completed the entire project in about 4 hours including a trip to the boat shop for supplies. I got so exited drilling holes that I went ahead and mounted my Garmin GPSMAP 76 to the console.

For some pictures of the boat and the installation go to:

I only had two problems: (1) Even though I masked off a large are of the console, I still scuffed the area under the installation with the back end of the jig saw’s “legs” (see close up of the VHF in the photos). I need to try buffing the area with rubbing compound but it doesn’t seem like it is going to come out. (2) I could not screw the antenna all the way down into the mount. I think I can screw it down some more but it is hard to get leverage on the antenna’s smooth base.


Divedog posted 05-26-2004 03:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Divedog  Send Email to Divedog     
This is a little off topic, but looking at your photos I was curious about the location of your spare tire. Does that work well for you? Any problem launching/retrieving? I tend to do some trailer walking to keep my feet out of the water.
Camuyano posted 05-26-2004 05:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for Camuyano  Send Email to Camuyano     

I haven't had any problems with the location of the spare tire but I don't mind getting my feet wet. (Maybe I should since the water in the Potomac doesn't look that great. My wife will have nothing to do with it.) I guess that if you wanted to walk on the trailer it might be problem although it is pretty secure and it would be okay to walk on as long as you don't step on the bolts (Ouch!).

This is the location where the dealer mounted it. I talked them into throwing it in as a "freebie" because I've never understood why trailers are sold without spare tires. I wouldn't travel very far without a spare tire. The best thing about mounting the tire in that location is that it is protected from UV rays by the boat, which can deteriorate the rubber. Hope this helps.


Aucilla posted 06-15-2004 10:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Aucilla  Send Email to Aucilla     
Buddy, that is one beautiful boat! My dealer says I have "two-footitis." I got it worse now!
Camuyano posted 06-16-2004 12:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Camuyano  Send Email to Camuyano     
Thanks for the complement. I think that the Montauk may be just the cure for you. So far the boat has been able to do everything I expect it to and it is so easy to handle. I don't see myself moving up anytime soon unless I move some place where I would have the chance to go offshore often.

However, I must admit... Those Nantuckets sure look sweet and have plenty of space for goodies in the console... What about that new that 205 Eastport... Must resist two-fooitis... :-)


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