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Old 01-04-2014, 17:27   #1
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Capt Gary's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: CT
Boat: Pearson 39-2
Posts: 62
Free Chartplotter (or why we love projects)

So I have a good friend who gave me his old Raymarine C120 Chartplotter, radome and wires/connectors from his nav station, so I could upgrade the monochrome unit at the helm of my boat.

I was able to get a discontinued weatherproof instrument pod from West Marine for about $99 made just for the C120 unit. I was in heaven!

Removing the old unit went relatively well, but I had to cut the radar wire because I didn't have ready access to my radome (mounted on my backstay). (There seems to be plenty of extra wire should I need to re-use it, so I'm not too worried.)

Then the fun started:

The new unit wouldn't fit the short Edson pedestal guard that was original on my Pearson 39-2. So I got a new, higher offset pedestal guard from Defender (about $200+), but it was really nice. I was careful to match the on-center measurement of the old pedestal guard so I wouldn't have to drill new holes in my cockpit floor. What I didn't measure was the diameter of the pedestal guard which ended up being a little thicker than the original. No problem, except now I needed to replace the brace that comes out of the binnacle. No problem, because the new pedestal guard came with a new stainless brace. Piece of cake!

Unfortunately, I needed to take the binnacle compass off and disconnect my throttle and shift connections in order to access the brace. No problem, until the 4- 1/4 x 20 4 inch stainless machine screws holding the compass onto the binnacle were frozen and wouldn't budge. Based on a post I read here, I bought a dremmel tool (about another $90) and cut the heads off the frozen screws. Once the heads are off the screws, both the compass and the casing for the throttle and shift levers come right off. (Except you have to disconnect the cables from the levers.) This actually went well (just be careful not to drop anything into the binnacle itself). The new brace fit perfectly, and 4 new stainless screws fastened everything tight again! While the throttle and shift levers and cables were disconnected, I took the opportunity to lube everything (as well as grease the steering chain). Now I'm starting to feel pretty good.

At this point, I want to stress what an adventure it is to drill a stainless pedestal guard to mount the instrument pod and run new wires through the pedestal guard itself. Too small a hole and the necessary cables won't fit. Too large and I'm worried that I will weaken the guard. On one side, I ran the power cable and GPS feed (into the sea talk connection), as well as an extra wire for a sea talk 2 connector I don't need now, (but you never know). On the right side of the pedestal, I ran the new Radar connection.

This weekend, I get to mount the new guard with the pod mounted and connect all the wires. My big challenge will be to connect the new radar cable to the radome. (I haven't decided whether to replace the whole radome or not). Not sure how to reach the radome (bosuns chair or ladder?) The boat is currently on the hard.

All in all, I had an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000 to do this job by a professional. In all likelihood it would probably have been on the high side of that.

Bottom line, although I spent a few hundred extra dollars and spent a winter puttering in the cold, I have a brand new chartplotter at my helm and I learned a lot of great lessons. I also have a few new tools that I'm sure will not go to waste.

Every time you struggle with a project like this, you learn more about your boat and know how it is put together when something goes wrong in the future. Much better to spent the time and struggle a bit than to spend the money (even if you have it) to have someone else do it.

If anyone else is considering doing this project, contact me and I will give you some more handy hints to make life easier!
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