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Old 12-01-2020, 02:33 PM   #1
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Cover plate ideas for removed electrical systems?

Wonder if the TF gurus out there have any thoughts on this: I've been working my way through our '79 CHB 41 trawler removing lots and lots of old systems.

As a result I'm starting to accumulate holes throughout the boat: old displays at both helm stations, holes in thin fiberglass, in thick plywood, on my electrical panel (removed battery selector switch). Mostly, I want to just cover them with blanking plates, but occasionally I'd like to cut out a new switch (e.g. my Blue Sea battery shutoff switch).

I'm not likely to find this stuff pre-made, so wondering if anyone's had good experience with particular materials/tools fabbing up plates that look decent. I don't have access to a machine shop.
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Old 12-01-2020, 02:45 PM   #2
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I put shiny screws in unused screw holes. They look like they are supposed to be there.

A small picture can cover a hole in a cabin wall.

Lots of plastic pieces in different colors are available in a plastic shop.

To mount a new item in an old larger hole mount a plastic square over the old hole and cut a new smaller hole for the item. It will look like it was always that way.
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Old 12-01-2020, 03:07 PM   #3
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I have struggled with this same problem for the 22+ years of owning my 1970 Willard 36. I never found great solutions but I could make it better (or less bad). For the most part, repair was some form of sheet plastic trimmed and glued in place. In out-of-the-way places like for speakers, I left the patch. If in a more obvious place, I tried to find a replacement gizmo. For example, maybe a small meter or some sort of readout or power outlet. But even a decent patch looked better than a 4-inch round knot-meter that no longer worked. I used matte-finish white, usually very fine pebble finish.

Down below was a little easier as I could often cut and finish a decent piece of teak or mahogany. For two round gauges mounted overhead the helm, I replaced with a clock and a barometer. For your displaced battery selector, perhaps you can put some sort of multi-gauge meter (Blue Sea Systems State-of-Charge or something). In some cases, combining multiple small/medium holes (car stereo and a small gauge), looked better to make the hole bigger and form a single cover plate out of black or charcoal matte plastic held in place with a teak/mahogany trim bezel. Because my boat is so old, the original holes were pretty big. VHF radios were much bigger than now; the old Benmar A/P display was huge. So really, best I could do was make it less-ugly, but not great.

But in the end, as part of my refit, I had everything hole professional repaired. Fiberglass holes were repaired and painted as if they were never there. Holes in woodwork were filled and veneered over. I also replaced the electrical panel so cleaned-up that area too.

It's a problem on older boats. Its the main reason I love "survivors," boats that have had little to no electronics installed. DIY butcher installs don't exist.

Peter
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Old 12-01-2020, 03:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by socalrider View Post
Wonder if the TF gurus out there have any thoughts on this: I've been working my way through our '79 CHB 41 trawler removing lots and lots of old systems.

As a result I'm starting to accumulate holes throughout the boat: old displays at both helm stations, holes in thin fiberglass, in thick plywood, on my electrical panel (removed battery selector switch). Mostly, I want to just cover them with blanking plates, but occasionally I'd like to cut out a new switch (e.g. my Blue Sea battery shutoff switch).

I'm not likely to find this stuff pre-made, so wondering if anyone's had good experience with particular materials/tools fabbing up plates that look decent. I don't have access to a machine shop.
For many plywood-backed console panels it's not uncommon to create a 'dutchman' to fill the hole from previous hardware and then re-skin the area with a fresh layer of formica or veneer. Had that done to rearrange some gauges on our lower helm station. The old holes were round, so it was relatively easy to just cut a fresh pieces of plywood to fit into it.

To handle a change on the upper fiberglass helm from a Clarion round remote to a rectangular Fusion remote we used a thin piece of black Starboard. That covered the old hole, which was slightly larger than the height of the Fusion.

For larger areas it'd depend a lot on the rigidity of the material. Starboard mills like regular wood, so you could use a thicker piece of it to cover the whole panel. Then use a router to create a suitable round-over to the edge. But the through-holes needed for your new items would have to be planned to not reduce the underlying strength too much. That or you'd have likely need to have some supports arranged behind it to help carry the new load.
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Old 12-01-2020, 04:37 PM   #5
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If the holes are large in the dash then I fill them with the same thickness plywood then make a new front for the dash out of 1/4Ē Starboard. Keep in mind the Starboard will not be structural. But as previously said it works with standard woodworking tools. I make a template out of luan plywood and make it exactly what you want as to size and clean edges. I cut the luan slightly oversize and then use a sander to bring it to the exact size and shape I need. Then clamp it to the 1/4Ē Starboard and use a templating bit in a router to route the Starboard to shape. The pattern you make will be copied exactly to the Starboard. Then mount the dash and replace the gauges, etc. you can make all new holes to suit your needs. I use black so that it doesnít reflect in your face. Have fun!
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Old 12-01-2020, 04:59 PM   #6
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If the holes are large in the dash then I fill them with the same thickness plywood then make a new front for the dash out of 1/4Ē Starboard.
This sounds like a great idea, particularly for the flybridge station - below, the holes are scattered across several surfaces so I'll probably have to make several different covers.
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Old 12-01-2020, 05:02 PM   #7
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If the holes are large in the dash then I fill them with the same thickness plywood then make a new front for the dash out of 1/4Ē Starboard. Keep in mind the Starboard will not be structural. But as previously said it works with standard woodworking tools. I make a template out of luan plywood and make it exactly what you want as to size and clean edges. I cut the luan slightly oversize and then use a sander to bring it to the exact size and shape I need. Then clamp it to the 1/4Ē Starboard and use a templating bit in a router to route the Starboard to shape. The pattern you make will be copied exactly to the Starboard. Then mount the dash and replace the gauges, etc. you can make all new holes to suit your needs. I use black so that it doesnít reflect in your face. Have fun!
One tricky thing to remember about actual Starboard (and not just other generic sorts of PVC lumber) is that it requires it's own special adhesive to get it to stick properly. So if you use it be prepared to either deal with their spendy two-part glue or arrange the design such that you can use mechanical fasteners to hold things in place.

I concur on using black for the helm background, at least for a lower station that's not going to be in direct sunlight.
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Old 12-01-2020, 05:24 PM   #8
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There is a guy in Carpenteria who does custom face plate engraving. They can also just be blank plates with nicely spaced drill holes for mounting screws. I have a VHF hole that I needed to cover and he made me a plate with the boat's hull number and call sign engraved on it so it wasn't just a big blank plate, but rather looked like it was actually supposed to be there.


Something like this might work in some places for you.


Mark Craven, cravenengraven@gmail.com
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Old 12-01-2020, 05:30 PM   #9
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You donít need to glue Starboard for a dash installation since it will be flat. I just screw it to the substrate. I do use pan head screws and oversize the holes in the Starboard to allow for expansion and contraction.
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Old 12-01-2020, 05:32 PM   #10
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You donít need to glue Starboard for a dash installation since it will be flat. I just screw it to the substrate. I do use pan head screws and oversize the holes in the Starboard to allow for expansion and contraction.
Right, just making the point so a design doesn't get started, thinking it'll be something that can be easily affixed using adhesives without knowing the requirements.

+1 on the expansion allowances. Not something you typically need to do when using plywood/formica as they're more dimensionally stable.
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Old 12-01-2020, 06:30 PM   #11
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Probably half my displays and radios have Starboard plates to adapt them to oversize holes. Also have used it to cover a few holes where stuff has been removed. Its very easy to cut on a table saw and quarter round the edges with a router. It's available in 1/4" thickness in a number of colors. Here's the latest job in the shower room.

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Old 12-01-2020, 06:52 PM   #12
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Probably half my displays and radios have Starboard plates to adapt them to oversize holes. Also have used it to cover a few holes where stuff has been removed. Its very easy to cut on a table saw and quarter round the edges with a router. It's available in 1/4" thickness in a number of colors. Here's the latest job in the shower room.
Very slick. I like the idea of making up black covers for the interior (it's a teak forest). Might do white for the flybridge. Probably a pretty satisfying project to bang them all out once I've got the template dimensions noted.

Thanks guys!
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Old 12-01-2020, 07:19 PM   #13
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Probably half my displays and radios have Starboard plates to adapt them to oversize holes. Also have used it to cover a few holes where stuff has been removed. Its very easy to cut on a table saw and quarter round the edges with a router. It's available in 1/4" thickness in a number of colors. Here's the latest job in the shower room.

Attachment 110806

Ted
I did exactly that last year when I replaced the shower faucet. Simple to do.
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Old 12-01-2020, 07:20 PM   #14
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I keep a selection of white and black HDPE (AKA Starboard) on board for that kind of thing. At this point I have 1/8,1/4, 1/2” thicknesses.

It is inexpensive to keep around, easy to work, and looks nice.

I also keep a brady labler on board to print professional looking little plackards to properly identify things.
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Old 12-01-2020, 07:43 PM   #15
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I opened two access holes in my head (my boat head, my head has enough holes already) to be able to access some nicely places plumbing fittings.
I built two plates using simple 1/8 plywood, epoxied and fiberglazed then paint with white bilge kote (and a coat of pre kote before).
I guess it was overkill to fiberglass them and just epoxy before paint would have been enough to make these rock solid.

L
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Old 12-01-2020, 07:55 PM   #16
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Check out Front Panel Express. They can make custom aluminum panels powder coated in color of choice. Pick your size and thickness, add holes or cut outs.

https://www.frontpanelexpress.com/?g...RoCL_QQAvD_BwE

I find black acrylic another nice material for making cover plates.

In some cases I use ABS, especially if I want the textured surface or I need a sharp bend.
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Old 12-01-2020, 08:58 PM   #17
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I opened two access holes in my head (my boat head, my head has enough holes already) to be able to access some nicely places plumbing fittings.
I built two plates using simple 1/8 plywood, epoxied and fiberglazed then paint with white bilge kote (and a coat of pre kote before).
I guess it was overkill to fiberglass them and just epoxy before paint would have been enough to make these rock solid.

L
I can do that in Starboard in 10 minutes and it will last forever and never need repainting.
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Old 12-01-2020, 09:27 PM   #18
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Yes but where would be the pleasure when following the simplest path
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I can do that in Starboard in 10 minutes and it will last forever and never need repainting.
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Old 12-01-2020, 10:19 PM   #19
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Not having to do it again, I have enough to do on the boat without having to do it twice.
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:01 PM   #20
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My helm panel is 1/2Ē or 5/8Ē, Black starboard. The PO used the textured side facing outwards. I think it looks quite slick.

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