Electrical, Battery Charger, Part 2: Construction of Splash Shield

The splash shield for the Iota 45 charger
The Iota 45 battery charger draws a lot of power, and it puts out a lot of power. Accordingly, it needs a lot of ventilation to keep it cool while it is under operation. At the same time, it needs to be protected from the elements. In the first part of this three-part article, I described how I was driven, by necessity, to locate my Iota 45 charger on the starboard side of the galley, the same side where the sink is located. In that posting, I also described my concern about the proximity of the charger to the sink, and how a protective barrier of some sort would be needed. In the present posting, I address the construction of this protective barrier, which I, for lack of a better term, have called a "splash shield." In keeping with my guiding principles throughout my refitting of Oystercatcher, I strove to make this addition to my Ericson 25 not only useful, but also visually attractive.
The Iota 45 charger
The Iota 45, located as it was underneath the inset of the cabin trunk, was already in a semi-protected spot, one that also provided adequate ventilation. I was, though, concerned about water being able to splash from the sink into the slits that you see on the side of the charger. I therefore wanted to construct a protective barrier that would keep the water out. At the same time, I needed this protective barrier to allow for adequate ventilation. After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that a hinged partition of some sort would be the best solution. This partition would keep the water out, when it was closed, and it would allow the air into the charger, when it was open. Having figured this out, I next needed to figure out how to make this hinged partition correspond visually to the other parts of the galley.
On the port side of the galley, I had installed various electrical components, each with a trim piece of mahogany or Spanish cedar. I had also grouped these components to some degree in sequences of three. For instance, the three DC distribution panels mounted in Spanish cedar on the alcove box corresponded to the three compartments of the mahogany spice rack which sat beneath them. The spice rack itself had three rails, each with three stainless steel finish washers running vertically. You might have read my article, "Spice Racks, Custom Mahogany." If you did, then you might recall that at the time I constructed them, I only installed two rails on each of the racks. I later altered this design to include three rails, simply for the visual reasons I here describe. I think it was worth the time, and I think it made a big difference in terms of the visual appeal of all of these components.
In terms of the other sequences of three that are evident in this space, I should mention the AC distribution panel and the two bilge pump switches just above it.
Likewise, I should mention the three mahogany trim pieces that support the battery switch, the battery monitor, and DC breaker.
I could talk about other sequences of three that were already present in the boat, for instance, the three spaces in the companionway ladder, and the three drawers in the cabinet beneath the galley stove, but let's focus on those three mahogany trim pieces behind the battery switch, the battery monitor, and the DC breaker. These three trim pieces were located underneath the inset of the cabin trunk, just as the Iota 45 was located underneath the inset of the cabin trunk on the starboard side of the galley. I thought it would be good to mimic this sequence of three on the other side of the boat, so with this in mind, I began to design the protective barrier for the Iota 45 charger.
As is usually the case, I began by making a cardboard mock-up. The duct tape in the picture below represents the hinges. The first thing that I noticed upon installing the mock-up was that the splash shield could not be perfectly square, at least along the side where the hinges would be installed. Why? Because the cabin trunk inset, to which the hinges would be joined, was not perfectly square. This is understandable. Little if anything is square on a boat. If you take a close look at the picture below, you'll see what I'm talking about.
Once I had settled on the proper size and shape of the splash shield itself, I began to focus on the three decorative trim pieces that I planned to install along the face of the shield.
In terms of the shield itself, I decided that I would use Spanish cedar. If you're curious to know more about this cousin of mahogany, see my article, "Electrical, DC Distribution Panels." Why did I opt for Spanish cedar here, for this splash shield, other than the fact that I had some available? Well, I thought that since the three trim pieces would be of mahogany that the Spanish cedar, being slightly lighter in color, would make for a nice distinction.

When it came to marking the line and making the cut for the top side of the splash shield, I had to exercise caution to make sure that I got the angle just right. The mock-up, being of cardboard, was not that precise. Therefore, I made several marks and ended up making several cuts until I got the angle just right. Did this require several trips back and forth to the boat, up and down that ladder on the side of the boat. Yes, it did.
After I had settled on one of the cuts, I grabbed the large sanding block that I had used on the centerboard construction project, and I sanded out all of the slight irregularities that remained along the edge of the wood.
Next, I focused on the mahogany trim pieces.

One thing that I had to take into consideration in terms of the size of the mahogany trim pieces was the size of the stainless steel hinges. Below you see me dry-fitting the hinges.
I took care to orient the ribbon stripes of the mahogany in the most balanced and pleasing pattern possible.
I case you're wondering why I chose to orient the grain of the Spanish cedar horizontally instead of vertically, as I had the mahogany, I will say that I did this intentionally, so that it would correspond to the orientation of the grain of the mahogany and Spanish cedar on the alcove boxes on the port and starboard sides of the galley. As far as the coin is concerned in the picture below, I used it as reference for scribing an arc around the corners.
I used a dime as a reference for scribing the arcs on the mahogany trim pieces.
I thought it looked much better after all of the sharp edges had been altered to form gentle curves.
In keeping with the trim that was original to the boat, I used stainless steel screws with finish washers to join the mahogany to the Spanish cedar.
It took more time than it appears that it would have taken to screw these twelve pieces of hardware into place. I was patient, and I made sure that all lines were parallel and evenly spaced.
As far as the placement of the hinges was concerned, I centered each hinge between the finish washers on the two outside mahogany trim pieces.
One obstacle that I faced was the joining of the hinges to the fiberglass within the boat. I could not simply screw the hinges into the fiberglass underneath the cabin trunk inset. If I had done this, then the hinges would not have worked properly. There would have been no room for them to swing. What I needed was a shim or a stand-off of some sort that would enable the hinges to swing freely. Fortunately, I had plenty of scrap pieces of mahogany sitting around. Many of these scraps were about 1/4 inch thick, remnants of boards that I had ripped for other projects. I cut one of these scraps to the proper length, and it worked well as a stand-off.
Below, we see a nice view of the back of the splash shield and the small mahogany stand-off.
The next small challenge was the installation of the stand-off. It couldn't be too far back. Otherwise the shield would touch the charger. It couldn't be too far forward. Otherwise, it would impede access to the icebox. Likewise, it couldn't be too far to port or starboard. Otherwise, it would leave part of the charger exposed. Needless to say, I did numerous dry-fits with the charger and the shield in place, before I settled on the exact spot where the stand-off needed to be installed. When I had finally settled on this spot, I removed the stand-off from the splash shield and secured it to the fiberglass with duct tape. To screw the stand-off into place, I used my incredibly helpful Milwaukee Tools right angle attachment with a Stubby bit. If you'd like to know more about the virtues of this tool and these bits, just refer to the Labels section on the homepage of this website. In case you're wondering if I ran the risk of drilling all the way through the fiberglass into the cockpit itself, I can say that I did run that risk, but that I did not do it. How did I avoid it? The interior of the Ericson 25 is surrounded, of course, by a hull liner. This liner is relatively thick. As I drilled the hole, I made sure to pause as soon as I felt that I had penetrated the liner. In terms of the screws, I made sure that they were long enough to pass through the liner and into the dead space between the liner and the cabin trunk, but not so long that they would burrow into the fiberglass of the trunk itself.
After I had installed the stand-off, I grabbed the splash shield and screwed its hinges into place. Right away, I was happy with what I saw. The splash shield was not too close to the charger, nor was it too far. Moreover, the hinges worked well, and they allowed the shield to swing fully upward and out of the way of the charger when necessary.
One question that remained, was whether or not the splash shield would swing clear of the top of the ice box, when the lid of the icebox was in place.
Fortunately, there was just enough clearance for the splash shield to swing free. This was not of overriding concern to me, however, because I planed eventually to replace this icebox lid with one that was more fitting for this boat. This lid was simply a household cutting board that one of the previous owners had sloppily converted into an icebox cover. From a distance, it didn't look bad. Believe me, though. Close up, it was a real oddball.
Yes, everything fit together quite nicely. The question that remained, however, was how I would make use of this shield while the charger was in operation. My plan was to install a piece of line on one of the corners of the shield. This piece of line would run to small, stainless steel cleat above the shield. The line and the cleat would allow me to adjust the aperture, as it were, of the shield. When the charger was not in operation, the aperture of the shield would be closed. When the charger was in operation and when the galley was not in use, then the aperture would be fully opened. When, however, the charger was in operation and the galley was in use at the same time (as it might well be when at anchor in the early evening), then the aperture would be half-way opened and half-way closed. This would provide protection to the person in the galley, and it would provide protection to the charger at the same time. Additionally, I should point out that the primary source of ventilation would never be blocked regardless of the aperture setting of the shield. Do you see the black plastic box of sorts on the left side of the charger? That's the fan. It would remain unimpeded at all times.
All in all, this little project, like most of them on this boat, was not without its challenges; yet it was, at the same time, not without its rewards. This splash shield was not only a functional piece of equipment, but it was also one that contributed to the overall beauty of the vessel.
This ends this second of three postings on the battery charger that I installed in Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

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