Sunday, March 23, 2008

Removing The Original Steering Wheel And Motor, Friday March 14, 2008.

(the original Glastron Boats steering wheel hub cover. click on images for larger size)
Can’t believe that so much time has gone by since my last blog post. It’s time to start blogging about the Batboat project.

Last time, I mentioned difficulty in removing the steering wheel. It was the original that had been in the boat since it was built in 1971. Because of years of extreme variations of outdoor weather the metal in the wheel hub almost became as one with the steering column bolt. This was a big problem for me because the first work I wanted to do in the Batboat was take the huge, 50 year old outboard motor out from under the deck/fin.
(The 1958 Evinrude motor half pulled from under the fin deck with the steering wheel and seat platform in the way)

The Batboat was built with the large, heavy engine laying on the deck sideways, under where the fin is, and no matter what I tried to get it out, the steering wheel was always about 2 inches in the way. So was one of the seat columns. More on that later.

I found some help on the internet. Folks at the Classic Glastron forum had suggested AutoZone’s tool loan program. One can borrow rarely used tools, such as steering wheel pullers.

Early the next day I made my way there and paid a refundable $20 deposit for the steering wheel puller. Very reasonable, IMHO.

I forgot to take pictures of the steering wheel puller in place on the wheel but the tool looks like this. The claws grip underneath the wheel hub and the long black bolt is positioned in the center of the steering column bolt. When being turned, the bolt puts downward pressure on the steering column bolt causing the claws to pull with upward pressure on the steering wheel until it pops off.
I had to destroy the plastic around the center of the steering wheel. Once I broke most of it off I was able to get the puller to grab the metal part underneath. It still took a lot of pressure to get it off.

The wheel is in the trash bag on the curb now. Good riddance to it. While under a tremendous amount of tension the puller tool shot off and hit me in the face on my first attempt. My chin hurt and lip lightly bled until 7 days later. Good thing I wasn’t hit a little higher up, on my lower front teeth, or they'd be gone.

With that out of the way I started on getting the engine out.

I workout and can lift things that have a lot of weight but had a time with the motor because of the awkward angles it had to be coaxed out. Remember, I still haven’t taken the shrink wrap tarp off yet. I get in through a hole cut in the side.

The remaining swiveling bass boat seat platform was now in the way. It took a while and one broken drill bit but it was finally cleared out.

"But then, what did you discover under that?” you may ask. Why, a big hole rotted into the deck.

(plywood floor is rotted where the boat seat column used to be -->)

Being warm outside the Batboat began to thaw out and inside it smelled like a bag of damp potting soil. After getting the seat column out and seeing the hole I ripped up most of the deck carpeting and found that original deck was completely gone to rot. The old sheet of plywood screwed on top of it was soggy and in poor condition, also. Not a big deal, however. All this wood has to be replaced anyway for the boat’s transformation into an Atomic Age Anti-Crime Water Cruiser. More on this in my next update.

The engine must have weighed over 200 pounds but I finally got it out myself with no help and put it against my porch.

The temperature has dropped since Friday the 14th so nothing further has been done inside the boat. The next blog on this Batboat will be on other work done on that day.

All of this took more time than I thought it would, however, it was all fun, I enjoyed it, and it felt great to finally be doing stuff outside all day after three months of extreme cabin fever.

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