Spending on Clamps Now Can Save on Grief Later

My question to you and to me is, “When was the last time we eye-balled these jewels up close and personal?”

Let me make a maintenance suggestion that could save your boating bucks from floating away down the river from a wet loss. Let us assume the prayerful humble position of inspector and get down to business on your knees where the great majority of boat work begins. I begin at the bow for some strange reason, but if you do it backwards, it’s fine by me.

For those of us who are married, the ring around the finger is a symbol and not a necessity, but for hoses and thru hulls, the clamp is a must and if the ring is missing, there may be a nasty divorce.

Believe me, in my business, I see lots of these blissful unions break down. The man said to the woman (short form). “With this ring I thee wed, forsaking all others in sickness and in health till death do us part.” The hose said to the thru hull, “With this clamp I thee attach; when the ring goes, I go.”

What I look for is the marriage that is showing signs of breaking down. Lots of clamps sold over the counter have poor quality stainless steel. You don’t know where these jewels hail from: Bangladesh, Taiwan, or junk yard.

The most common marine clamp is made by Ideal and is 300 series stainless, which has a relatively high nickel content. These clamps have perforations in the band for the screw to drive on. The perforations are necessary to make this boy work, but this is where they normally fail. The perforations also can cut the hose sort of like many tiny cheese slicers, and they are prone to vibration back off on harmonic devices such as propelling machinery and pumps.

I look for badly rusted screw drives and badly stained bands. You should have two clamps on any fitting below the water line. If there is any doubt to the condition, change out now, not later.

A better, but more expensive alternative is the AWAB clamp. It is constructed of 316 series stainless steel including the screw drive. This clamp has no perforations as the threads are stamped and you don’t cut the hose when tightened. The band is thicker and thus stronger. This band has rolled edges as opposed to the sharp edges on the other varieties. These clamps are also not prone to vibration back off. It has been my experience that once you snug them down, they stay put.

For comparison purposes, a marine catalog price on the 1/2-inch Ideal model is $1.30 U.S. per unit, whereas the 1/2-inch AWAB is $2.99. I know that is over twice the price, but believe me, when compared to an insurance deductible, it’s a real deal.

When you install a new clamp, try to orientate the screw drive on the high side of the hose, so any seepage or condensation doesn’t collect in the drive and accelerate the normal rapid marine environmental wastage, Size your clamps correctly. If they are too large for the hose, you get a lot of band sticking out that can give you a nasty cut in some odd places at some rude times.

While you’re at it, inspect your hoses. I look for splits and age cracks, deteriorating or proud reinforcement wires, delaminations or aneurysms. Check hoses for chafe where they penetrate bulkheads, partials, or liners. Most manufacturers don’t grommet partial penetrations and you should life hoses if possible at these points and feel the chafe.

Add simple shave gear by splitting cheap clear vinyl hose and inserting below chafe areas. Some manufacturers suggest five to eight-year life span on hoses. Pay special attention to exhaust hoses, as a bad exhaust hose can be a killer. Hoses suffer from electro chemical degradation over time. In country boy, that equates to they get “woe” out. Do yourself a favor and change out before they blow out. Remember, all boats float on mercy and mercy for boats runs out at the darndest times.

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