effect on battery level because smart chargers simply cut back to a
fixed-voltage charge, so the batteries continue to get fed current at a
low rate. The source is unimportant. On my boat, when the battery
charger is operating at near-full charge, it gives my solar regulator
arrhythmia. The only solution is to turn off one or the other.
Can I keep a fire extinguisher exposed to the sun on the aft deck?
JOHN ADEY: I don’t think continuous exposure to the elements
is good for a critical safety item like an extinguisher. Imagine for a
second lots of UV exposure creating brittleness in the plastic handle.
One day, you have a fire aboard. You pull the pin, clamp down on
the handle, and instead of opening the valve, the handle cracks. Not
a good day at the office. I’d keep it protected, out of the sun, yet easy
to grab in an emergency.
I have a very dirty pontoon boat. The boat wasn’t taken out of the water
for years before I bought it. There are calcium deposits and heavy staining on the pontoons. I’ve tried many cleaners that haven’t worked.
Any suggestions? Matthew Ware
DON CASEY: Where they work, household cleaners like Spray
Nine or Simple Green are easiest on the metal. Some use either oven
cleaners (Easy Off) or bathroom cleaners (Soft Scrub) with mixed
results. Pontoon-specific products such as Toon-Brite, in concert
with power washing, reportedly do a good job of cleaning stained
pontoons. Some pros use diluted muriatic acid, which will clean
the metal, but also etches it, making the discoloration come back. A
common choice for cleaning pontoons is air-conditioner coil cleaner,
specifically Cal-Brite, available from HVAC suppliers. This is safer,
easier on the metal, and often more effective than muriatic acid.
Whatever you use, don’t do this with the boat in the water, and after
cleaning you’ll need to apply a protective coating of some kind, with
Sharkhide being perhaps the easiest. If you don’t protect the aluminum, you’ll be doing this again next year.
GETTING A GRIP
I have two-inch seawater hoses on my main engines that need replac-
ing. What’s the best way to remove the old hoses? I tried heating
them and they still won’t slide off. Charles Ruddy
TOM NEALE: This is a tough job with old hose, especially if it’s
hose with wire insert, but you’re doing the right thing to replace it. I
use a towel and a large pot of hot water. Soak the towel in the water
and wrap it around the hose where it covers the barb. Keep doing
this, renewing the hot water as needed, until the hose becomes soft
enough to pull off. I wear tough work gloves to do the pulling. If this
doesn’t work, cut the hose where it goes over the barb, carefully, with
a knife with serrated blade or a hacksaw if there is a wire insert. If I
have trouble with the wire, I cut it as it coils around with wire cutters,
usually several times. Be careful not to cut into the barb.
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