By A customer of Firgelli Automations Inc
As my boating years advanced along with my age I had noticed that a large engine access hatch became quite a bit heaver than I remember. This particular large 75 pound + hatch I needed to lift quite often to check storage batteries, engine oil, store extra anchor lines and whatever.
It was then I decided to find a way to do this electrically
with a simple push of a switch.
I was to plan the idea in steps first locating a company that supplies a wide assortment of actuators and the expertise to suggest the correct length,power requirements (on board 12 volts dc) and also be easy to instal & economical in overall cost.
In todays computer internet world it didn’t take long to find FIRGELLI AUTOMATONS extensive web site.
After searching over their extensive array of product line of rams noted they also stock small hand held “Key Fob” type RF controllers that will allow all their rams to be actuated remotely!. Well that for sure would add a real “WOW” to almost every vessel but for my plan just a simple single switch was in my plans. I called Firgelli and o operations manager Danielle answered & switched me directly to Robbie Dickson..the CEO of the company..Geepers !! a live person & no recordings!!
After discussing my needs Robbie asked a few questions as to weight and lift height requirements and was able to suggest the required ram, 2 plated steel brackets, pins and a spring loaded rocker switch. The price was most fair at less than $150.oo & received in 2 days, installed and operational the next.
I decided to write this DIY with the idea of practicability ,
simplicity and low cost for all our Heartland Boating subscribers . Those that follow my many assortment of ‘DIY’s” for the past decade + can be assured that I actually test the products and self install each before my articles are published.
Firgelli’s actuators are compact, extremely powerful & have internal limit switches (prevents rams from jamming and sets them electrically for the reverse direction of travel.)
A single center pivot spring loaded switch starts the cycle (auto centering off...push to actuate motion..or use a “Bat” handle toggle types as pictured .
Two wire leads from the small sealed motor ( neg & plus 12 volts) are wired along with the switch to the 12 volt dc fused power source from your vessels power panel/fuse box power is all that’s necessary for electrical power or a direct connection to the boats storage battery with a inline fuse. Note that due to the efficient design and minimum power requirements a common 9 volt battery is all thats required to do your basic testing as you adjust the ram brackets fore and aft...or side to side.. and fasten the mounting brackets.
The assorted DIY photos can give you a good idea as to how easily everything is placed into position. A must have is a safety release back up in case of for some unknown reason a power failure or other unforeseen occurs when any hatch is down and locked because of the now locked position ram. In my install a simple and effective latch pin...a common tractor hitch hairpin..is installed in one end of the ram attaching a short steel braided line..or a length of grass cutting/ trim nylon line as shown will work nicely. Route the opposite end through a opening (a deck table mounting hole in our project boat in this instance ) that will allow you to pull the pin and release the linear actuator to gain entrance without power.
Unless you carry a “saws all” aboard this is the only method to release a once closed end of cycle ram!
Wire the switch and motor leads using solder and shrink tubing. Mount the start cycle, close/open switch so your able to reach it comfortably when hatch is open or in the closed position .
A optional snug fitting low cost rubber boot is easily installed by just sliding it over the motor as shown. If in salt water a good and inexpensive suggestion. The motor is below deck in my project so its well out of the elements.
You can also hook up more than one cycle switch if desired and this is detailed on my wiring diagram.
When completed expect your hatch cover to raise or close within brief seconds with almost no sound with a push of a switch.
Safe & easier Boating