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How can I keep the engine control panel dry?

2015 April 30

Dear Boat Doctor,

I installed a new engine in my boat a few years back, but the control panel often stops working. I suspect this has more to do with the amount of water in the cockpit than the control panel. How do I fix this once and for all?

Greg Hammerstone

Rockport, Maine

Dear Greg,

Start by bedding the interface between the panel and the substrate it is mounted on. I suggest using a  silicone sealant in this instance because you may need to access the back of the panel.

Once you clean up or replace your existing panel, you can put a protective coating on the back of it. It will help keep things dry but even the best coating will fail in the presence of repeated saltwater drenching. 

I like CRC Industries Heavy Duty Marine Corrosion Inhibitor (www.crcindustries.com, 800-556-5074). This is a heavy, waxy spray that repels water and protect the metals from corrosion for a while. In your case, I would apply two coats, letting the first dry before applying the second one.

You may also want to consider adding an acrylic splash cover over the front of the panel. 

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