Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fixing things on a boat

The other day, a friend was working on his boat and he told me that every project he starts seems to cascade into multiple projects as one thing after another breaks...

Today the piezo electric lighter on the oven stopped working. I looked below the oven and found that the plastic battery holder for the little penlight battery that powers the sparkers had cracked and fallen apart where the spring contacted the battery. This sounded like a job for duct tape. So I pulled out the battery holder and removed the battery so as to effect a repair. At this point, the negative wire fell off, probably due to corrosion on the terminal.

No problem - I would get out our soldering iron and inverter to re-solder the wire to the terminal. I waited while the iron heated up and managed to tin the wire and the terminal. But before I could bring the two together, the iron stopped working. It is a cheap unregulated iron and I had this happen before, but this time it did not come back to life with a little waggling of wires, so I drilled out the rivet that held the iron together and removed the AC cord. I recrimped one connection from the cord to the resistance element - still no life - so I took apart the rest of the iron. I noticed that the insulation on the resistance wiring had failed and was flaking off, probably due to corrosion again.

I was going to throw the soldering iron away and had resigned myself to using a match to light the stove, when I realized that I could remove the now-useless electrical cord and heat the iron's tip in the flame from the stove. Doing this, I was able to re-solder the battery connections and finally to tape the holder back together. Thus a two minute job took more than an hour to complete!

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