Copyright (c) Marc Dacey/Dark Star Media 2006-2020. Above photo (c) Marc Dacey. Powered by Blogger.


Brain surgery on the nerve centre

The last remnants of Ye Olde Diesel are departing to make way for the Maximal Control Panel of the Beta 60. I say "maximal" because not only does the more dial and warning light-laden Beta Marine control panel convey more information than the old Westerbeke panel,, but it also occupies just about the entirety of the helm's top. Embiggening was required.

How a motorsailer ran its engine only 1,313 hours in 20 years will remain an unknown. We put on 200 hours in two seasons.

Fitting it requires some carpentry, some metal cutting, sawing and deburring, and of course vacuuming of the inevitable deconstruction debris. The old one wasn't exactly tiny...

Good on dials, less so on lights or things that go aa-ooo-gah...and soon to be seen on Craigslist.
Below is the new control panel. After extensive cutting, grinding and reaming out, it should fit in both dimensions. If there may be, as I fear, a chance that the wiring harness may brush against the shifter assembly (currenty a rope hook) on the left side of the helm, I can put together some sort of collar or ring from HDPE or even teak or the black cherry I have in abundance in the backyard and raise the control panel a centimetre or three. The existing trim throughout the boat is black cherry, and a visit from the arborist yields plenty from the vast, about 120-year-old black cherry tree in our back yard.

A well-made panel, on close observation. And it goes bzzt, etc.

This is what the above panel looks like from the front. 
The rather extensive cabling leading to the control panel necessitated opening up the DC panel mountings and carefully snipping away the black ribbed conduit cover from a bunch of power leads.

The general tidiness of this area, plus the very helpful labelling, are habits I've acquired. Mostly.
It's clear that some items were purchased with an aft cockpit in mind. I may, for the sake of easy access, remove these excess leads (I think they are for the KVH AC103 fluxgate compass)
After the EPIRB, the Dymo label maker lets me sleep at night.
The old aperature for the old panel was not only insufficiently wide, but supporting metal bar stock underneath the plywood and plasticized top layer was in the way of some of the new panels gauges and buzzers.

Modification was instrumental to my plans.
That small blue device is a "thumb rachet"; merely the head of a typical 1/4" rachet driver (I have a 3/8" version as well), it allowed the blind unbolting from below of the fluxgate compass display and control panels needed to chop away the excess helm top.

Dry fitting Number 1: Not quite there.
 A tentative dry fitting of the new panel revealed the need to trim back a bit of the supporting steel "box".

Hydraulic steering rules! Grinders rule! Vacuums rule! Sandals...not so much.
 This was done via 4-inch angle grinder followed by sacrificial Dremel cutting wheels.
Yeah, probably not prudent throwing sparks down into the engine bay, but hey.

 The end result was a tight but functional fit. Connections, trim regluing and lighting up to follow.

The key shown is the real key...just add volts. Also seen: the blogger's toes.


Horatio said...

The Beta (Kubota industrial purpose engine) was an excellent choice, not because I also have a Kubota (Universal engine), but because it's common knowledge.

You won't need any engine-related parts any time soon, but when the time comes you can pop over to a tractor dealer and get them cheap.

Rhys said...

Thanks, Horatio. I hope this will be the case. As I wrote in an older post (, the decision to go to a new Beta/Kubota over a rebuild was dictated by several factors, but the primary one was that a rebuild of a 22 year old diesel was very close to the price of a slightly larger, more fuel-efficient, smaller and lighter new one...made from inexpensive tractor parts!

I can afford to purchase a few spares (beyond filters and belts) for the inevitable time when I need them, instead of waiting for parts in some far-off place.

The ability to semi-customize this engine with a second power take-off and a hydraulic transmission were also appealing to me. I expect to actually switch on in the next month or so.