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How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

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  • How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

    One of my projects (hopefully) before launch is to ditch this 80's looking, barely functional helm with something simple and functional.

    Believe it or not, it appears to be held in place with a few screws. Although the shape is angular and odd, the supporting fiberglass structure is very even and symmetrical. My thought is I could remove the black piece (And toss it), then lay some plywood, and drill holes for new gauges, steering system, switches, etc.

    What I don't know about, is how do I make it look somewhat decent? IDEALLY, I would have a beautiful, white gelcoated helm that blended seamlessly with the surrounding fiberglass. However, after researching this stuff a bit, it's pretty clear there's no way I'm going to be able to do that. I just don't have the skill/knowledge.

    What else could I do? Maybe just a couple fiberglass mat layers, and paint white? Then how would one handle the edges? Maybe just wrapping the whole thing in vinyl would be best? Other thoughts?



  • #2
    Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

    I don't think it looks bad at all. Nowhere near as bad as some of those 80's Bayliners. Are the gauges functional? If not I can see that you'd want to replace it.
    1976 18' Starcraft SuperSport 90HP Evinrude
    Restoration thread http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=357767
    1966 16' Starcraft Jupiter 85HP Johnson
    Restoration thread http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=338633 sold

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    • #3
      Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

      I wouldn't replace the entire dash, just remove the gauge panel and replace with new gauges.

      Use 1/4" plexiglass. Cut to the right size, cut the holes for the gauges, drill mounting holes. Then paint the back side the color you want. Silver, black, white and gold look great. Put down a layer or two of construction paper to protect the painted surface, cut the holes for the gauges in the paper and mount the gauges. Just be careful not to scratch the paint.

      The 1/4" clear plexy gives the painted back side a deep glossy look. Mount with some stainless screws with alen (hex wrench) heads and it will look professional, as well as easy to remove to add new switches, etc.

      Another idea is to use white formica and glue onto 1/4" ply, then cut the holes. Sand the edges smooth, and paint white to hide the ply edge or look for aluminum U channel to dress it up.

      Use hole saws to drill the holes for a perfect fit, that adds to the professional look.

      And your idea of using vinyl is good too. Use 1/4 or 3/8" ply, cut the holes, and use contact adhesive to glue the vinyl on, then cut out the vinyl from the holes. Fold vinyl around the sides snug and staple or cantact glue.

      Any of those methods will give you a great looking dash. I think the simple face gauges look best, and are easy to read. I have the sportsman line in my MFG and I really like how easy they are to read, even when bouncing around in the chop.
      sigpic 1985 Bayliner 1600 Capri Cuddy, 1965 MFG Niagara Custom. >> MFG Video<<. >> MFG Project<< >>Bayliner Hard Top Project<< >>Bayliner Repower Project<<

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      • #4
        Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

        I've done a few with padded vinyl panels, a few with the plexiglass panels as Mark describes, and several finished wood panels with stained veneer.

        I was never a fan of those oddball Bayliner gauges, when they fail, your only option is a complete redo of the dash.
        I also always thought they were hard to read.

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        • #5
          Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

          i don't like the guages, but the rest looks fine to me.
          FLORIDA GATORS
          TEBOW Country



          Please, NO PM's (Private Messages) regarding boat/engine problems. they will not be answered.
          That is what these forums are for. Post your questions, in the appropriate Forum.

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          • #6
            Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

            I like the beer staging mini cooler, lol
            Steve

            My little project: 99 Super Hawk - Repair, Transform, Rig

            http://forums.iboats.com/boat-restor...ig-613763.html

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            • #7
              Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

              If it were me, I'd probably do a wood frame that I could paint white, with the front panels being removable aluminum flats, with holes for gauges.

              One easy way to build a new one and make it look good is to do the basic shape (like a box) in thin ply and glass it, then fair it and paint white. The guages you could buy an assembled gauge cluster from another type of boat from Great Lakes skipper or similar.. then you just mount the cluster.

              My new boat I'm doing an aluminum console with four gauges, all electronic/NMEA2k, plus in-dash mounts for my GPS and a tablet PC. It's just going to be a pedestal shaped box with a sloped front and aluminum panels with the gauges in them.

              Erik
              Sea Ray SRV-210 - Winter refit
              75-85 foot displacement hull trawler - gleam in my eye

              Comment



              • #8
                Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

                Wow, so many good ideas - this is why I love the iBoats forum!

                Originally posted by ezmobee
                I don't think it looks bad at all. Nowhere near as bad as some of those 80's Bayliners. Are the gauges functional? If not I can see that you'd want to replace it.
                It's not awful I guess, but it's asynchronous with the styling I'm going for in the rest of the boat. The fuel gauge doesn't work, and the other gauges are hard to read!

                Originally posted by mark42
                Put down a layer or two of construction paper to protect the painted surface, cut the holes for the gauges in the paper and mount the gauges.
                Mark42... WOW, a host of great ideas I NEVER would have thought of! I lost you a little bit with the construction paper - is that literally just to protect the paint from getting scratched by the mounting hardware?

                What I really like about this idea is something you wouldn't even have known.... I'm planning to ditch the black plexiglass cuddy door (visible to the left in that picture) anyway... How cool would it be if I chopped it up and used it to make my new dash?! Talk about reusing original parts! And I'm pretty sure that's 1/4" plexi too, and black would be perfect. I don't know what's involved in cutting plexiglass, but I'm going to start looking - thanks!

                I also like your other ideas as far as plexi/formica, and the vinyl might work, but I'll keep that as a last resort for now.

                Originally posted by reelfishin
                I've done a few with padded vinyl panels, a few with the plexiglass panels as Mark describes, and several finished wood panels with stained veneer.
                Any tips for the plexiglass construction? This sounds ideal to me considering my supply! And you're right - my boat is a Wellcraft, but similar gauges and they are hard to read (and reaaaally ghetto looking too!).

                Originally posted by erikgreen
                One easy way to build a new one and make it look good is to do the basic shape (like a box) in thin ply and glass it, then fair it and paint white.
                I agree, but having no fiberglass experience, do you think I could do this and make it look good? I'm asking seriously... this would be my ideal finish, but from what I've read it sounds like it's difficult to get a smooth finish right? Any tips if I went this route?

                Impotant related question for ANYone to answer... electrically, should I be able to wire new gauges (haven't picked any yet) using existing wiring (Assume all wiring intact)? Or does this typically require all new wiring? If all new wiring is involved, I may cut this off right here, or put it off to later in the season.

                Comment



                • #9
                  Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

                  I like the look of the panel below, looks like a nice hardwood that the radio gear is sitting in, why not copy that? Should be easy to do with some woodworking tools.
                  There is no replacement for displacement

                  2006 Chaparral 204SSi
                  VP 5.0L GXi-F with SX Drive

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                  • #10
                    Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

                    Yeah, the paper is just to keep the gauge mounting brackets from scratching the paint.

                    I think that the wiring that is there will work, might have to lengthen wires some behind the dash depending on your layout. Chances are even the senders are "standard", but you should check to see what is there.
                    sigpic 1985 Bayliner 1600 Capri Cuddy, 1965 MFG Niagara Custom. >> MFG Video<<. >> MFG Project<< >>Bayliner Hard Top Project<< >>Bayliner Repower Project<<

                    Comment



                    • #11
                      Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

                      Originally posted by superpop View Post
                      I like the look of the panel below, looks like a nice hardwood that the radio gear is sitting in, why not copy that? Should be easy to do with some woodworking tools.
                      Thanks! I made that last year. I plan on keeping it, but I'm going to redo that whole lower panel so it's not carpeted (I'm thinking fiberglass and paint). I certainly will consider using Mahogany for the helm, but I think that's a lot of wood and probably a bit overkill. Might be nice to at least trim it out in Mahogany, which would complement that radio console nicely.

                      Comment



                      • #12
                        Oooh, look what I found!!

                        Now THIS could be interesting...
                        http://www.greatlakesskipper.com/pro...ProductID=8486

                        Comment



                        • #13
                          Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

                          I went from this........





                          to this............. food for thought...





                          more pics...........
                          http://picasaweb.google.com/kelmarray/HelmPics#


                          Mark

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                          • #14
                            Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

                            You could also try using King Starboard, it is like a cutting board material but better. I think it comes in black and you could use it for the bottom panel as well.
                            Rob - 2004 Seaswirl Striper 2101, 175 HP Evinrude

                            Comment



                            • #15
                              Sign up today
                              Re: How can I replace this helm (and make it look good)?

                              Originally posted by stephentyler20 View Post
                              I don't know what's involved in cutting plexiglass, but I'm going to start looking - thanks!

                              Any tips for the plexiglass construction? This sounds ideal to me considering my supply! And you're right - my boat is a Wellcraft, but similar gauges and they are hard to read (and reaaaally ghetto looking too!).
                              Plexi is basically score and snap, and then you can flame polish (partially melt) the edges. It's fairly easy to work with if you can get the hang of snapping it. I personally went to using a fine tooth saw blade and some water for coolant (otherwise the plexi welds itself back together while warm).


                              Originally posted by stephentyler20 View Post


                              I agree, but having no fiberglass experience, do you think I could do this and make it look good? I'm asking seriously... this would be my ideal finish, but from what I've read it sounds like it's difficult to get a smooth finish right? Any tips if I went this route?
                              It's not too hard actually. A simple geometric shape is probably the easiest thing to glass except a flat board. You just need to practice with a couple pieces of board first, to make sure you have the hang of it.

                              Getting it smooth is pretty simple... production boats are molded smooth, but for a one-off you can fair it. Just glass it first, then you smooth putty over it made from epoxy and filler or poly and filler. Sand the putty fair (flat) using whatever method you like, and using a guide coat to tell when you're done.

                              Once it's fair, paint it with a high build primer and sand smooth, follow up with more coats as needed and then the final paint, and you can make it a mirror surface if you take the time. It's not hard, just time consuming.

                              If you don't care so much about mirror shiny, you still get a surface that looks like most "average" boat finishes by fairing and painting.

                              Originally posted by stephentyler20 View Post
                              Impotant related question for ANYone to answer... electrically, should I be able to wire new gauges (haven't picked any yet) using existing wiring (Assume all wiring intact)? Or does this typically require all new wiring? If all new wiring is involved, I may cut this off right here, or put it off to later in the season.
                              You can use the old wiring if you understand it, and if it's in good shape. A lot of boats, mine included, had been re-wired a couple times by questionable individuals with three hands.

                              If your wiring is clean and understandable, use it again. If you buy one of those consoles, it may come pre-wired anyway.

                              Erik
                              Sea Ray SRV-210 - Winter refit
                              75-85 foot displacement hull trawler - gleam in my eye

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