Swim platform fixing and improvements

In early 2016, we discovered a hydraulic leak from the rams that deploy and stow the swim platform.  After a time, this stopped the swim platform working and we knew we would need to do some work to get it fixed, as a long term fix rather than a short term bodge.  Immediately after it happened we thought we wouldn’t be able to use the swim platform and this meant that on one occasion I abseiled down the stern on the passerelle line to get to the rib, and back up again when we returned.  Shortly after this we discovered that you could open the swim platform and close it by hand, which is difficult because it is heavy but not impossible – D’oh!  You do have to remember to open the valve in the hydraulics, or you cant do it at all, and reduce the resistance, or it is incredibly difficult.

For the next year, we opened the swim platform by hand when it was required while I worked out how to fix it.  I had searched the internet and spoke to the manufacturers of the 20170829_161458original hydraulic rams, Bennetts in America.  After sending various pictures and measurements, they were able to find the rams I needed (HL12CDA).  I then had to wait for the next available transport to the UK, unless of course I wanted it delivered airmail which would be double the cost the of the rams themselves!  I waited.  The rams arrived and were ready for fitting and then I discussed with Lindsay when we could go about fitting them and getting the system working again.  In the interim, Matt, a marine engineer and very good friend of ours, was visiting and I picked his brain.  He persuaded me to do the ram swap myself and actually this transpired to be a lot easier than I imagined. I then needed to add hydraulic fluid (automatic transmission fluid) into the reservoir and bleed the system by using it and adjusting the flow to eliminate any air left in the system.

Unfortunately this uncovered another slight issue.  When the steering binnacle electrics had been changed, we couldn’t test the swim platform switching due to the failed rams and it seems that no matter which direction the switch was pressed the platform moved in the same direction.  However, you wouldn’t have thought that would be too hard to overcome!

Shortly afterwards though I was forced to recall my fathers advice – never put a new engine into an old car.  The stress of the super efficient new parts causes other items to fail further down the drive train – gearbox, clutch etc.  We were having similar problems with the hydraulic pipes after they had been re-bled with the new rams.  IMG_6448Most of the pipes are metal sheaved flexible pipes but there is one copper pipe and unfortunately the (olive) joint was faulty and hydraulic fluid was squirting out of it and making pretty patterns in my lazerette.  I took a look at this with Lindsay at Seapower and we discussed how to resolve the problem. The sensible decision was to replace the copper pipe with a new stainless steel flexible pipe. I went to the local specialists, Pirtek.  After one false start, when i pressurised the system and the new joint failed spraying hydraulic fluids everywhere, we were able to pressure test the remade pipe and get the hydraulics sorted.  I was back to being able to lift the platform but not drop it.  Most importantly, after nipping up a couple of joints, we don’t leak even a drop of hydraulic fluid.

In the interim, Maria and I had been speaking about how we can deploy the swim platform and had decided that a remote “garage door entry” would be useful for security when we are at anchor. We had also discussed about how to get on to the boat in the dark and although the spreader lights provide excellent light, we had decided to add lighting for the swim platform and the aft section onto the solar panel gantry. Again the courtesy lighting for the swim platform would be controlled remotely so that we could stay safe and secure, as much as possible.  The remote control was linked to some lighting work we were having done at the stern.  This meant a four button remote and a little bit of clever electronics since we also wanted to be able to switch these manually using buttons on the davits, similar to the ones that control the davits themselves.  Ollie was booked to fix the switch wiring and also to fit the remote.  Step one was identifying that two of the wires were incorrect at the switch and a quick swap around and these tested fine.  The remote was also a little more complex since we wanted it as additional to the switches.  We chose a bright LED light similar to our spreader lights for the swim platform and a softer light for the aft deck and we were in business.  We can now approach the boat, lower the platform and switch on lighting remotely.

So in the space of a week all of these issues were addressed.  It just took eighteen months to get to that week!

post blog note: I am outraged….I have been conned….betrayed by the woman I hold dearest!

Let me explain, Maria once mentioned that she would quite fancy underwater lights for Mariadz, similar to some of the larger motor boats.  I refused. We are talking another hole in the hull (there are already 20!) and I don’t think it is a good idea anyway.  Little did I realise that when Maria ordered her spot light on the stern it had a dual purpose. Firstly it provides a light to help you get back onto the swim platform. However, Maria suggested that we could “see what the light looks like if the swim platform is up…it will light up the water…..just like I wanted….” the sneaky so and so has got her own way (again!) 🙂


3 thoughts on “Swim platform fixing and improvements”

  1. Adam, feel free to msg me if you have any further conundrums with sourcing bits. I could have saved you a lot of hassle as we replaced one of our rams and they were stock items in Southampton.

    Btw we had an issue with a new one just recently. It appeared to fail. On testing it, it transpired the shaft had come disconnected from the piston inside. Actually a 5 minute fix, but initially looked like having to source a new one!

  2. We have a remote for ours as well but never thought about the lights. Great idea. We also have a leaking ram. Can you tell Mr where in the US you got yours? Also how you went about bleeding the system. Thanks in advance

  3. Hi Walt,

    It may be worth getting them in Southampton, Derek knows where….. I got ours from Marine Components international, a very friendly person called Chris sorted it out for me (sales@marinecomponents.co.uk). The Bennetts part number is HL12CDA.

    As for bleeding, there aren’t bleed valves so it is just using it and opening the valve that’s allows the hydraulic fluid to go into the different parts of the system. The method I used, other probably more efficient methods are available…… 🙂

    Top up hydraulic fluid (I used automatic transmission fluid) in the reservoir. Start to try and lift the platform using the button. After ten or fifteen seconds open the tap valve and let the liquid equalise. Use the button again for a similar period. Close the valve and repeat. Keep an eye on the reservoir, I noticed when it had 3/4 inch left in, it was pulling through air – that caught me out for a while! Eventually the platform will start to lift. Repeat opening and closing the platform until it is a smooth operation. Any jerkiness is a sign of air in the system.

    This is how I did it, happy for anyone to correct me or come up with a better way.

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