Dec 26

On jankiness

Tag: boat workjonny5waldman @ 8:35 pm

In the course of the last few months, Matt and I have regularly taken pride in removing janky parts from the boat. You could say that’s how we’ve prioritized our refitting projects: by endeavoring to eliminate jankiness. Whenever we discovered a severely corroded wire or a screw that had rusted into a pile of dust, we’d throw the offending part onto the cabin floor, and yell, "Jank removed!" We took immense pride in casting off such crap from our boat. But really, like many people, we were using the term generically, and incorrectly.

Another example: Over the holidays, I heard a friend ask for a janky beer. I asked her to clarify. "You know, like Bud Light, or PBR," she said. What she meant by janky was: thin or weak. This, too, is an incorrect usage of the term janky.

Matt and Jon and I mistakenly used the term janky to describe corroded or rusty parts — but corrosion and rust are just wear and tear, the type of decay that you expect on any boat. Truly janky stuff is a step above (or below, depending how you look at it) — parts or repairs that were improperly concieved and poorly installed — and our boat was (and still is) laden with such things.

Some recent highlights:

*Unlabeled wiring that ran from the engine, 20 feet forward to the cabin, and right back to where it came from — with corroding terminals covered in layers of soggy electrical tape rather than heat-shrink. Who calls that a fix?

*A tiny (12 gauge) corroding wire with a huge (300 amp) fuse on it. Can you say not safe?

*Dozens of unlabeled wires behind the old electrical panel all connected to the same terminal with one tiny rusted screw — such that repairing one circuit (say, the lights in the cabin) requires removing everything else just to begin. Matt got a headache just looking at it.

*Cracked hoses of the wrong size glued on to fittings without hose clamps. Was someone aspiring toward a leaking vessel or a chance to test the (formerly non-functioning) bilge pumps?

*The old engine exhaust hose, which was not only at the water line, but was glued on to an poorly attached through-hull. Was someone eager to suffocate, drown, and sink all at the same time?

*Wood screws in the deck where machine screws with nuts and washers and/or backing plates were called for. This one’s obvious, and common.

*A bilge pump screwed onto a flimsy piece of untreated plywood, mounted on two tiny wooden strips of untreated molding with two tiny woodscrews. How’s that supposed to survive — let alone work — in a wet environment?

These are the small battlefields in the search-and-destroy mission against jankiness.

Before we leave, we endeavor to have a boat in which:

**every single thing that goes through the deck (stanchions, hardware, chainplates, etc.) will go through a hole that’s been cored and filled with epoxy.

**all hoses are properly sized, fitted and hose-clamped, such that they don’t leak.

**all wiring is fused, properly sized, sealed with heat-shrink, led to its own circuit, and labeled.

In our mechanical, electrical, and plumbing-dependent world, these will be major victories.

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