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Old 13-06-2015, 07:18   #1
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Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

I want to know what tools you have successfully used to reach a distant seacock lever.

I'm fitting out my steel 34ft sailing boat. Before we started adding fancy stuff like an engine bay and galley cupboards I could reach all the seacocks easily. Now two of them are a little beyond my reach and as we build in more of the interior I am going to have less space to reach the seacocks without taking panels out. Some levers turn clockwise from where I can reach them and others rotate top to bottom towards me. My taller, longer limbed spouse can reach them all fine, but I can't guarantee he'll always be on hand to do it.

I have a standard oldfashioned boathook but it is too long to use from inside.

What do you do to reach an awkward seacock if you need to open or shut it?
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Old 13-06-2015, 07:40   #2
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

piece of pipe/PVC tubing, something like that. just be sure when you add that lever to the system that you don't wrench too hard
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Old 13-06-2015, 07:59   #3
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

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Originally Posted by jaybird1111 View Post
piece of pipe/PVC tubing, something like that.
Is that not just too flexible to get leverage, and how does it hook on to the lever? Am I missing your meaning here?
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Old 13-06-2015, 08:19   #4
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

Find a used boat hook at a jumble and cut it off?

Use a stick and wrap a large hook on the end with a bit of wire?

PVC? It is available in stronger grades, Schedule 40 or Schedule 80 so if you try that flex would not be a problem. You could get a piece that is fairly large and cut a hook in the end? There are also all kinds of PVC parts like Y fittings, T fittings, splicing fittings, etc. Certainly you could cobble something together with PVC.

No matter, I think you already understand that quick and easy access to all the seacocks is very important. Don't need to be running around trying to find something to reach the handle when a hose ruptures and your boat is flooding.
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Old 13-06-2015, 08:23   #5
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

Do the levers on your valves have holes in the end of them? You might be able to drill a hole in the end of a short length of broomstick and put a bolt and nut through it, with the portruding bolt of a diameter to fit through the hole in the lever of your thru-hull. Be careful with extensions that extend the lever, such as a pipe over the lever. they give you a lot of force and some levers will bend. using the hole in the lever doesn't give you excess leverage, if that makes any sense.
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Old 13-06-2015, 08:33   #6
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

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Do the levers on your valves have holes in the end of them?
No holes in the levers . The levers are like this
Bronze Ball Valve 3/4" bsp

I don't want any extra force - just extra reach :-)
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Old 13-06-2015, 08:56   #7
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

I like Canibul's idea. Wouldn't be too difficult to drill a hole in the end of the seacock handles. Then get an appropriate short length of pipe or hardwood or strong PVC or whatever seems to work, cut a slot in the end to make it like a jaw fitting and drill a matching hole in the jaws. Insert a clevis pin secured with a cotter pin through the jaws and the hole in the seacock handle and you've got a nice, always rigged and ready to go extender. Also easy to remove if needed.
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Old 13-06-2015, 09:31   #8
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

Just completed engineering a set of reach rods for my bilge dewatering manifold, which are too far into the bilge to reach with the engine installed. Took the handles off and drilled 1/4" holes in the handles and found some yokes at me local hyd. shop that are threaded, these were 1/4" NFT, unable to find a threaded rod, got a stick of 1/4" stainless rod and threaded it to fit, worked nicely. You could do the same thing as suggested above with the broom handle and 1/4" bolt, I just needed something more durable. Sorry I don't have pictures right now, am up against finishing up some work so I can entertain the mechanic that is going to perform the install on the main engine.
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Old 13-06-2015, 09:52   #9
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

Quote:
Originally Posted by indiana_ct View Post
No holes in the levers . The levers are like this
Bronze Ball Valve 3/4" bsp

I don't want any extra force - just extra reach :-)
yeah, those are the ones that might bend if you put too much arm on them. I won't go into details, but I know first hand.

You could engineer up a piece of flat stock with a rectangular slot in the end that would loop over that flat handle and let you push/pull. I think most hardware stores these days sell 1" flat aluminum stock. Or you could make it out of a flat piece of stainless and attach that to a broomstick, etc. If the valve is easy to turn, it's possible a cutout in a piece of 1" pvc would work.

Or get someone who can reach it remove it for you and have a hole drilled in the end, but I'm betting you can come up with something that grabs it without having to modify it.
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Old 13-06-2015, 10:25   #10
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

The stick is the easiest way to go. But you may be able to also rig two 1/8" cords (one to open and one to close) that go through fair leads attached to the hull and then to a hook just inside a locker door.

It might take a bit of trial and error to get the fairleads positioned at the right angle to move the seacock handle across its whole range but this solution is much quicker and more reliable than a stick or boat hook in an emergency. A quick yank on the already rigged cord is all it takes to close a seacock. You don't have to find the stick, be able to hold it steady in rough seas, or hold a flashlight to see the seacock.
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Old 13-06-2015, 10:31   #11
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

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...I'm fitting out my steel 34ft sailing boat. Before we started adding fancy stuff like an engine bay and galley cupboards I could reach all the seacocks easily...
Fire your interior designer. They should know better than to build the interior so as to block access to sea cocks.
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Old 13-06-2015, 11:02   #12
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

They aren't blocked - just one of them is potentially slightly out of reach for this sub five foot sailor.
Anyway this is part of the design process. You can't just fire the designer just because she is thinking of solutions to specific challenges.
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Old 13-06-2015, 11:04   #13
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

England's furthest point from the sea....is that near Stony Cove?
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Old 13-06-2015, 11:13   #14
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

Stony Cove is about 20 miles away, and I know divers who talk about it but I've never been. I'm more of a lover of the sea than murky inland waters. I took my PADI in the Caribbean.
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Old 13-06-2015, 11:14   #15
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Re: Reaching a seacock when your arms aren't long enough

OK, then educate the interior designer to not build stuff in the way of accessing important systems. Not only do you need a way to open and close it, you must be able to inspect, service and maintain it.
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