Sunday, 11 March 2012
Strut Your Stuff
Some time ago, I invested in a kit from Catalina Direct which included 2 gas-charged struts to assist with raising and lowering the pop-top. On installation the plastic clips that attached the struts to the pop-top failed, but the kit sort of worked OK, and did make lifting the starboard side of the pop-top easier. The port side however, the one where the plastic clips were no longer holding the ball joint was only lighter if the boat was listing such that the gas charged strut stayed on its ball.
You kinda had to be there to understand.
It was like lifting a slab with someone helping on one side, but you were alone on the other, and things were always off balance. Catalina Direct wasn't able to replace the broken clip for me, so I thought I was on my own on this. That was until I noticed a number of uncannily familiar gas charged struts and ball joints at my local Princess Auto
Could it be that the part I needed was here at an auto parts store?? A discount auto parts store at that? A few days later I returned with the broken part, and realized that although the struts here served the same purpose, and were the same length, they weren't exactly the same. For starters, the clips on them were steel instead of plastic. Also, the part code on them was different, likely because they weren't a "marine application." I bought 2 that were the same length as the ones that came from Catalina Direct, and did what happens with most parts I buy - I put them on a shelf in the basement.
Today it was a glorious day of sunshine outside, so I took the tarp off the boat, raised the top, and replaced both struts. Apart from dropping the top on my head a time or two, and the concussion-like symptoms I am now suffering, the process was pretty simple and things are all together again.
The top now lifts and closes well. The new struts aren't as powerful as the ones from Catalina Direct, but that's not a bad thing. I still get enough support to make it easy to open the top, but now I have the advantage of not having to overcome the lift system when its time bring the top down - which was sometimes an issue before, especially for SWMBO.
I will have to keep an eye on the new struts for wear, and rust, and to be sure they stay lubed and no oil escapes them, but they seem to be working well after 1 hour of use. Oh and their cost was about one tenth the cost of Catalina's kit.