Thursday, February 16, 2012

Toddler "Proofing" My Jon Boat - Pt 2

I had to refit my Jon boat this year due to an enormous amount of neglect on my part. Almost everything except the hull had to be replaced. Since I had to start over, I decided to make the boat as toddler friendly as possible for my daughter, Lila. You can read about the mess it was in part 1.

My goal is not to make it look pretty. That would cost way to much money and take a ridiculous amount of time. Time that I do not have. I simply want to make the boat as simple and clutter free as possible. I don't want Lila to trip over loose wires or random pieces of gear.

Since all of the wiring was corroded and broken, I decided to tear everything out and rewire. I used to have the boat wired from aft to stern. This way I could transfer the trolling motor to the front or back, depending on what I was doing. I constantly had problems with loose or disconnected wires, and the boat was not designed for a front mount. So, I decided to keep all of the wiring in the back of the boat this time. Some of the lakes I fish in do not allow gas motors, so this boat is 100% electric. Call it eco-friendly if you like!

I was able to salvage the fuse box and most of the sockets. This saved me a good bit of money.

I made a frame made out of oak and mounted it next to the rear seat. I covered the frame with corrugated plastic. This is the same stuff that political yard signs are made out of. It is cheap, strong, and 100% waterproof. I made all of the connections with outdoor rated, waterproof connectors. These are much more expensive, but totally necessary. This electronic box will not survive being submerged, but it will still work in a rain storm.

12v socket for the GPS or Spotlight

I use two batteries. One is a deep cycle marine battery. This is dedicated to the motor. I also use a smaller automotive battery. This is to run the bilge pump, live-well pump, and other electronics.

I also have the secondary battery wired as a backup for the motor. To switch from the main battery to the secondary I simply have to unplug the motor from the left socket and plug it into the right socket. I'm not sure exactly how much run time I have between the two batteries. I rarely fish more than four or five hours at a time. When it is time to switch to the secondary battery, I head home.

My fuse panel works remarkably well. Figuring out how to wire it correctly took some time. I am very comfortable with electronics and electricity, but it was still a bugger.

One of the problems I always had with my previous boat build was the bilge pump. I could not figure out a way to attach the pump to the bottom of the boat. It came with suction cups, but those simply did not get the job done. To fix this I bolted the base of the pump to a piece of  corrugated plastic and then glued the plastic to the hull with silicon. It worked amazingly well.

Another problem I had was with the battery clips constantly coming loose. This time I am going to use the wing nuts on the battery to keep the wires connected. It will take a couple extra seconds to connect the battery, but I think it will be well worth it.

I am very confident in the wiring of my boat now. Plus, everything is out of the way with nothing to trip over.

Next, I will show you how I created the padded Toddler section of the boat. Stay tuned!

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