Date: 7 October 2019. Petroleum Jelly
aboard a Boat.
I have fought numerous battles
since buying Seaweed. Trying to open various caps, covers and other
threaded items can be a real challenge. More times than I care to
admit I've resorted to using Vise grips, a screwdriver and/or a
hammer. I always think "this time it will be different" but it
isn't. Finally I came up with a $1 solution. Here's what I do.
This Beckson deck plate is in my
cockpit. Opening it is problematic.
In the cockpit
Seaweed has an ancient Beckson plate. It provides access to the fuel
pick-up line for my starboard tank. The cover sticks. Opening
it has been a real problem. If I leave the cover slightly loose
stepping on the unit will cause it to become askew. Argh!!!
I've utilized my Vise
grips while attempting to twist the "easy open" part in the
middle. That doesn't work well.
Next, I get out my
Snap-On screwdriver. Using the vise grips as a hammer I
can manage to loosen the cover and open it.
I would rather not confess
to how often I have used the screwdriver and vise grips
maintenance solution in order to open this cap/cover. Suffice
it to say, all the ding-dang time. Argh.
Obviously the vise grips and
screwdriver opening methods are problematic. Nobody wants to drag
out tools to simply twist open something.
This Beckson unit is 35-plus years
old. It has been exposed to sunlight for decades. Quite naturally
when items are at the end of their natural lifespan they start to
fail. It's had a long hard life.
But I digress...
A couple years back I got a bad cold. I told you about that in the
One of the items I tried was some mentholated petroleum jelly aka a
knock-off of Vicks Vapor Rub.
The chest rub didn't help me feel better. I believed
however that it could lubricate Beckson cap threads.
First I thoroughly cleaned the threads. Then I
applied a liberal dose of *vaseline.
*Vaseline, for my overseas readers,
is a brand of petroleum jelly. Pure 100% petroleum jelly is the
exact same from brand to brand. It's identical so I opt for the
least expensive 100% petroleum jelly I can find. I recommend you do
There are two varieties of
petroleum jelly. One is 100% pure, whilst the other is marketed
for those with chest colds. That type, called mentholated, is
95% pure. The remaining 5% contains camphor, eucalyptus and
Mentholated is sold in dark blue containers. Because
my blue container did not help me feel better when I got sick, I
opted for a new use. Rather than throw away the product I utilize it
to lubricate the threads on my Beckson plates.
I also added PETROLEUM JELLY
↓ around the base of the Beckson.
On the bow of Seaweed I used to have a shiny
stainless cover for my water tank fill port.
Then I dropped it overboard. A plastic
↓ WATER CAP from West
Marine is my temporary solution.
The temporary solution plastic water cap has been in
use for over eleven years. I will continue looking for an
inexpensive stainless one. Because the caps are so costly this is
not a high-priority item. In the interim what I have
Side Note: When
filling a water tank it is a Very Good Idea to expect an
air bubble to send a bunch of water up and out the top like a geyser. This is especially
true if you do not have the cover securely in your grasp.
that stainless steel is not attracted to a
magnet. Once the darn
thing goes overboard, it's gone.
The plastic cap is a Good Enough
replacement for the stainless one I had. It however became difficult
to open. I added petroleum jelly to the threads on the cap. This
allows me to open the cap without the necessity of getting out my
Channel locks, pliers or small pipe
wrenches would work in lieu of my favorite tool. I prefer the vise
grips because of the locking mechanism in the handle. For those of
us with hands that aren't quite as strong as they once were, vise
grips are a good item to have in the tool arsenal.
attempt to buy the correct size cap for my water fill on the
Unfortunately the threads are slightly finer in the new one.
The spiffy stainless cover has a nifty loop
made by my friend Ken. The
line would prevent it from going overboard, however the dang cap
does not fit my fill port.
Side Note: Though this cover doesn't
work for Seaweed's water tank I have kept it in my stores. At
some point I'll run across someone who needs it. Then I'll pass it along.
Out here there is an active trading economy. The
Random Acts of Kindness thing that is touted by those ashore is
alive and well here on the waterfront. We help each other. That
said, being self sufficient is of Primary importance.
Nobody needs to know or have aboard everything
for every contingency.
Being able to make substitutions is a valuable skill to develop.
online shopping I can have a needed item here within days. The world
has changed, and in that regard it is better. I remember waiting
four to six weeks when mail-ordering from a catalog.
Having a small
container of petroleum jelly in your tool kit is a Good Idea.
I would opt for the 100% variety rather than what I'm using at
I hope my friends are doing well. Autumn has arrived. The weather is
Thank you for reading. I
appreciate that. Happy
find Petroleum Jelly: The best place to
find this item is at the Dollar Tree or similar discount stores.
It will be with the baby items usually, or in medicine near the
products for colds. $1 should buy a 4 ounce container though I
have noticed the sizes are decreasing slightly.
Buy two: One for your
medicine locker and the second for your tool chest.
Addendum: Captain Stuart Warren [author of
Dictionary of Nautical Terms]
added an important fact that I did not include in the article.
He says: I had those on my NACRA sailboat but one blew off... really hard to find a replacement.
They are supposed to have a huge O-ring just under the lid edge to make it watertight and keep dust, dirt, sand, etc., out of the threads. Also, petroleum jelly will kill a real rubber O-ring, so silicone spray (or grease) would be a better lubricant.
If your problem cap has an o-ring, be sure
to use either silicone or lithium -- NOT petroleum jelly.
I'd love to hear what other uses you've found for
And, have you any other solutions for keeping old screw tops opening
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