Props, Hatches and Monitors

Onne van der Wal continues to upgrade his 1986 Grand Banks 32 for the new boating season
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After Propspeed’s Keith Mayes applied the foul-release coating to Snow Goose’s propeller, Onne removes the green tape that protected the bottom paint. 

After Propspeed’s Keith Mayes applied the foul-release coating to Snow Goose’s propeller, Onne removes the green tape that protected the bottom paint. 

So, how do you keep your propeller free of marine growth? For Onne van der Wal, the answer is Propspeed.

Onne used Propspeed on his 1972 Pearson 36 sailboat, Snoek, and the foul-release coating lasted about three seasons. “Every time I dove on the boat this gold and shiny propeller was staring at me.”

Onne had tried other products to keep Snoek’s propeller clean, but nothing really worked. “Every time I pulled the boat there were barnacles,” he says. Knowing that Snow Goose, his 1986 Grand Banks 32, isn’t exactly a speed demon, and that he would need all the performance he could get from his prop, Onne called Propspeed’s Keith Mayes.

Mayes provides technical and sales support for Propspeed and teaches boatyard employees how to apply the coating. The process is not difficult or complicated, but it requires some discipline and careful timing. Mayes applied the coating to Snow Goose’s propeller so Onne could film the process for an instructional video.

Mayes started by thoroughly sanding the propeller with 80-grit sandpaper, using an orbital sander for the larger areas and hand-sanding the nooks and crannies. Getting the propeller’s surfaces clean and keeping any contaminants, including finger grease, off the propeller is important. In its kits, Propspeed includes a Propclean wipe to remove contaminants and a Propprep wipe to chemically prepare the propeller for the Etching Primer.

When the Etching Primer Base and Hardener are combined, timing and temperature become critical. To ensure optimal adhesion, a second coat of the primer must be applied while the first coat is still tacky. The warmer the ambient temperature, the faster the second coat must be applied. The optimal temperature for applying Propspeed is 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Propspeed provides a detailed table to time the second coat. It also provides a simple tip, which involves using a gloved finger to check the tackiness of the coats.

Once the two primer coats have been applied, which gives a prop its distinctive yellow-golden hue, Propspeed’s Clear Coat foul release coating must also be applied within an identical time frame. If the running gear cannot be fully covered in the allotted time, Propspeed recommends breaking the propeller up into sections, so the coats can be applied in stages. Mayes also applied Propspeed to Snow Goose’s transducers. Some people put Propspeed on their rudders and struts as well.

“You can do it yourself,” Onne says. “I watched Keith do it and I’m definitely on for doing it next time. I reckon I can get two, three seasons out of it. I don’t know if there’s anything as good as Propspeed.”

Onne fits the i70s pod to the flybridge

Onne fits the i70s pod to the flybridge

Onne also turned his attention to the forward hatch, which looked tired. The lens was crazed, and the hatch wasn’t holding itself open anymore, so he decided to install a new one.

A previous owner had replaced the original Grand Banks fiberglass hatch with a Lewmar hatch. Onne believes that was done in the 1990s, but because that hatch had been a little larger, the original opening had been modified. Fortunately for Onne, Lewmar still made the same size hatch.

The whole project turned out to be pretty straightforward. After removing the screws, he carefully pried the old hatch out with a crowbar. The biggest challenge was making small cutouts in the fiberglass to accommodate the slightly beefier hinges on the new hatch, which Onne carved out with his Fein and Milwaukee multitools.

After scraping and painting the old modification, and sealing and painting the cuts for the hinges, he dry-fit the new hatch. Once he was confident it would open and close properly, he added TotalBoat Seal sealant and put the screws in. He reused the old fasteners. “They were nice stainless-steel screws,” Onne says. “There was nothing wrong with them.”

Because the seal on the new hatch will need to memorize its new shape, Onne didn’t clamp down hard on the dogs. “I won’t fully latch it until we get some nice warm weather so the rubber can mold itself into the shape of the frame,” Onne says.

Up on the flybridge, Onne installed a new 12-inch Raymarine Axiom Pro chartplotter and a p70s autopilot controller. The autopilot controller fit in a spot where Onne had removed an old piece of equipment, but he needed another spot for a multifunction display. Onne wanted the extra display so he could monitor wind, water depth and other marine functions. “I wanted the Raymarine i70s up there,” Onne says, “but where do you put it?”

The new hatch sits next to the old one just before installation.

The new hatch sits next to the old one just before installation.

While perusing Seaview’s website, he saw they made accessory pods for various displays, including the i70s. Seaview accessory pods are made out of marine-grade, UV-resistant ABS plastic and are designed to be installed on Seaview’s larger Sail Pod, Deck Pod or Rail Pod.

“The moment I saw it I said, ‘Bingo. I can modify that,’” Onne recalls. He marked the pod up with a magic marker, cut the back off at an angle on his bandsaw, sanded it smooth on his disc sander and put a piece of teak inside the pod so he could mount it on the flybridge console. A little marine sealant around the cut created a watertight seal to the top of the flybridge console.

“Obviously, you have to get your sequence of assembly correct,” Onne says. “You can’t close it up before you mount it because then you can’t get to the mounting screws.” On projects like this, Onne figures out the order of assembly while swimming laps in the swimming pool. “I think the whole thing through while I’m swimming,” he says. “How would I make it? How would I mount it? And then I do it. The whole practical way of tackling stuff is so fun.” 

This article was originally published in the July 2021 issue.

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