Gear - Stuff that works and some that doesn't

I report on gear that I have owned and come to know over several years.

The Ubiquity Bullet

The Bullet is my go-to device to connect to shore-side WIFI networks. I have had a Bullet 2M-HP for about 7 years and recently purchased the Titanium. It has operated without any major glitches. I have recommended it to a number of other cruisers and they have had good success. It's major drawback is that it was never intended to be a consumer WIFI device mounted on a sailboat. However, if you recognize these limitations it can be used to great success. It is more difficult to setup and use than other marine WIFI devices. It also requires some engineering to adapt it to being mounted on a sailboat. It's greatest point of weakness is the entry point for the Ethernet cable. it is very vulnerable to water intrusion. A little silicone and care in the mounting location helps. With proper care it can bring in WIFI networks from 4 miles or better.

For further information see my article - on the Bullet.

The Bullet
The Bullet

TV Repair

It would seem that a site on Cruising Gear would not have a section on TV Repair. But, many of us have TVs on board left over from the days we were on the dock or used to watch videos. I have a Sony flat screen TV that i mounted on the bulkhead. I used it when i was attached to the dock and still working. There, we had TV cable and i could watch my favorite shows. Once i left the dock, i used it only to watch DVDs or shows on my computer. It is located not far from a hatch and the expected happened - several times - it got wet. About two years ago it stopped working. I looked all through the islands and could not find a replacement. My 8 year old 23 inch TV was obsolete. I could find 84 inch ones (too big) or computer monitors (too complicated to rig).

I happened to stumble on a video on You-tube (the benefits of too good an Internet and too much time on my hands) that told me how to repair a TV. Following the instructions i located the boards that might be a problem. Writing to them i gave the problem and the boards i had in my TV. They wrote back that given my symptoms, it was likely one particular board was bad. They could sell me a new one for 30 US Dollars. I chose a conservative approach and replaced the one that they suggested and one other. Total Cost - 60 US Dollars plus a small amount of shipping. I replaced the boards and the TV worked again.

The company is ShopJimmy. They stock parts for older TVs. Search on You-tube for their videos.

Jabsco Pumps

I have had several Jabsco pumps on the boat since i bought her 25 years ago. I use them for circulating water to the refrigerator and for one of the bilge pumps. The ones i use are impeller pumps driven by 12 volt motors. They suffer from two problems.

They eat impellers. I would expect a pump that is rated for continuous use (some versions are not) to last a year or maybe six months before requiring an impeller change. The new pumps do last that long initially, but as the pump bodies ware, the impellers expire sooner. Often reaching replacement once a month or less. There are two problems. One they no longer sell all the various types of impellers in my size, but only one type. Easer for them to stock, but not good for pumps that run a lot. The second issue is the inside of the pump bodies become rough with time. I have taken to sanding the insides with fine - 1000 grit - wet dry sandpaper on each impeller change. That seems to extend the life of the impellers. I suspect the cause is a low quality of bronze.

The second issue is the motor on the pump. The instructions that come with the pump state that the motor is not meant to be serviced only replaced. The problem is that the cost of the replacement motor is more that the cost of a new pump. So no one replaces the motor; everyone replaces the whole pump. On having several fail within a few months - all due to motors failing. I began to look inside the motor. There were two problems. One the brushes were worn. I tried to find replacement brushes, but with out success. The second is the motors have no bearings. Just simple bushings. Further to keep water out of the motor they use a very cheap rubber disk on the shaft of the motor. it wears and falls off allowing easy access for water to the motor.

My recommendation is not to buy these poorly engineered pumps. If you have to use them, keep a close eye on the impellers and the shaft seal to the motor. Also if you have a bad pump, disassemble the motor (easy to do with two bolts) and see if the brushes can be salvaged. Keep them for a future pump failure.

I'll keep looking for brushes and motors at less than the 400 US dollars that Jabsco wants for them. I'll post pictures at my next failure which may happen soon.

Edison Steps

Aside from the well know binnacles and wheels that they sell for most sailboats, Edison make a lot of other products. One that is not often seen is their boarding step. I have had mine for some 6 or 7 years. Originally purchased at Fawcetts in Annapolis (before they moved to the boondocks). It fastens to the rub rail and gives me one step to make from the dingy to the deck. It is simple cast aluminum with anti-skid on the top. It attaches by two lines (provide with snap shackles). Four rubber bumpers keep the step off the hull. I lost one last year and Edison sent two for free. On my boat the line requires some anti-chafing as it passes over the rail at a sharp angle. Some elk hide has done the trick.