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Walleye Boat Rebuild Part 13: Replacing Boat Wiring & Gas Lines

Some jobs sound simple and end up being beyond our capacity, while other jobs that seem difficult are actually easy.

Walleye Boat Rebuild Part 13: Replacing Boat Wiring & Gas Lines

The thought of wiring, compartment fixing and gas lines might make a weekender a little overwhelmed at just the mere mention, but in reality, this important step was actually easy and a step in which you could save money.

Wiring

When I first took the electronics panel off to check on the wiring, I noticed that it was stripped and drywall plugs were used to fill the gap to keep the panel attached. It looked terrible and kept the panel from being sealed firmly, so another project was born. A bit of painter’s tape to seal off the area outside of the panel and some more behind the screw holes had the area prepped for the next step. I planned on using some quick-set 3M 4200 to fill the holes and create some material for a solid fit. I’m sure there was a better way to accomplish this, but it was a quick, easy, and inexpensive fix.

The back side of a boat gauge.
I noticed some loose and corroded wires–taking the time to replace the old fittings with new waterproof connections was the smart choice. (Ross Robertson photo)

The first thing I did was to use a label maker to mark every connection on both sides of the plugs. When doing this I noticed both loose and corroded wires that needed attention. In some cases, simply using some electronics cleaner and a wire brush was enough to make it right, but in others taking the time to replace the old fittings with new waterproof connections was the smart choice. Weatherpack-style two-piece fittings have both a male and female end that connect and make a secure and watertight connection. Each wire is crimped with a connector that permanently fits into one end of the fitting. This makes a waterproof connection that can be unhooked with ease. A little bit of dielectric grease on each fitting before connecting will help reduce future corrosion.

Before putting the gauges and wires back together, a quick sanding and spray paint on the electrical panel greatly improved the overall appearance.

A hand holding a can of spray paint aimed at a black panel cover.
Before putting the gauges and wires back together, a quick sanding and spray paint on the electrical panel greatly improved the overall appearance. (Ross Robertson photo)

Compartment Fix

When I looked into the finished white fiberglass compartments and live wells, it appeared as if something metal–possibly something sharp or maybe sinkers–had been stored there. Fortunately, the result was exposed fiberglass that was not soft or rotted. I felt the easiest way to fix this was to let it dry for a few days and then seal it to prevent future water damage. Due to the small and awkward areas that had damage, full fiberglass repair seemed like overkill and was too expensive, so I cleaned the small areas and applied some 3M 5200. This waterproof adhesive bonds well and it looked good enough.

White fiberglass with some white paste on it.
Waterproof 3M 5200 adhesive bonds well and looks good enough on white fiberglass. (Ross Robertson photo)

Make sure to wear gloves and keep the 5200 on the areas you intend since it is messy and permanent. In my case I applied it by the tube and smoothed it with a plastic razor blade. I’m told it is able to be sanded, but I used just enough to cover the intended spots and tried to keep the mess to a minimum.

Fuel Lines

We noticed a slight gas smell in the floor of the boat and wanted to make sure we didn’t have a big problem. After placing some shop towels around the fittings and driving around the block, it became clear that the fuel sender seal was leaking. A trip to the auto parts store to get a gasket was needed.

A tube of fuel-resistant gasket maker sitting on a boat compartment door.
After it became clear that the fuel sender seal was leaking, a trip to the auto parts store to get a gasket was needed. (Ross Robertson photo)

Since we had access to the fuel tank with the fuel sender removed, we took a bit of time to make sure that the sender was working before reinstalling. This was also a good time to use the Aqua Vu to check out the fuel tank (I had already pumped out the gas not knowing how old it was). We were able to see in the tank and remove some debris that had likely been there for a long time.

Next, we replaced the fuel line from the tank to where it was connected to the factory line. This is a cheap and easy fix that is highly recommended. Ethanol and bad fuel can eat the gas lines from the inside out and actually cause them to collapse. Make sure to purchase a marine-rated fuel line that matches the existing line’s diameter, or that the manufacturer recommends.




A bunch of wires and cables and tubes.
Make sure to purchase a marine-rated fuel line that matches the existing line’s diameter, or that the manufacturer recommends. (Ross Robertson photo)

Due to the small access of the tank and fittings, we removed the fitting from the tank to remove the entire section of fuel line and then reattached that fitting to the fuel tank fitting. It is important to select a material for the fitting threads that is meant to be used around fuel lines.

Some jobs sound simple and end up being beyond our capacity, while other jobs that seem difficult are actually easy. Hopefully this has helped you gain the confidence, or find the knowledge, to know how to fix up your boat.

The next part is the series close where we show the finished project.

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