My LED combination masthead tri-color and anchor light (whew!) recently arrived. It came from an ebay source that seems to have disappeared and strangely enough ebay won’t even show me the transaction history. The light itself bears no identifying markings and came with no papers, not even a receipt. Unsurprisingly, it’s not perfect.
Electrically it seems convincingly constructed with a heavy, solid casing for the LED bulbs and proper fasteners but the construction of the housing has a couple seriously weak spots. The heavy bulbs are held on by just these two tiny screws going through the copper sockets which are screwed into the plastic.
Fortunately all it needs to be reasonably solid is a couple bolts with washers on either side. I drilled it on my drill press for convenience but a hand drill would have worked just as well.
The lower bulb was a little trickier because I couldn’t thru-bolt the socket which is raised up on plastic fins with empty space between them.
Instead I drilled and tapped them to accept a beefier 5mm bolt but this deformed the plastic a bit and won’t be as secure as the top. Also in retrospect it probably would have been stronger to just screw into the plastic rather than tapping it. Still, I think it’s enough reinforcement to keep things in place.
As the mounting holes on the light were wider than my mast cap I needed some sort of attachment plate. This I cut out of the same $20 piece of scrap stainless I’ve been using for months.
So there’s the slightly improved version of the $40 nameless tricolor. Many questions remain. Are the LEDs well constructed? Is the housing strong UV-inhibited plastic? Are the conductive rails stainless or properly protected? Like so much marine hardware there’s no way to know this stuff unless you pay a premium for a brand that has earned its reputation. For $40 I’ll be happy as long as this gets me through a year or two. When it breaks it will be a lot easier to spend $200 on a quality replacement if it’s the only boat part I have to buy that month (and by then it better be!).
This article was syndicated from Safe At Harbour But Meant For The Sea: DIY Sailing with Paul Calder