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Date: 14 October 2019. Inexpensive Handle Fix.


Back in 2018 I was fortunate enough to attend a used boat gear swap in St. Petersburg, FL. I told you about that in the Nautical Swap Purchases - Handles article. The handles I bought are sturdy and well made. Then I saw what appeared to be the same thing on eBay for far less money. And that is where my tale of I-Should-Have-Known-Better begins...

This is a top-quality HANDLE bought from David at that previously mentioned nautical swap. It is robust.

David has an eBay store called bargainh2osports. Link: http://ebay.com/usr/bargainh2osports

I should have gone directly to David for more handles. That would have been the smart thing to do. I knew his items were just what I liked. Instead I sought a cheaper option. And that is the beginning of my tale of woe.

As a budget boater I am always pleased to find a
 bargain. Not all bargains are worth the price however.

The price of the discount handles reflected well the quality. They are junk!

The metal is pressed and has TORN where the unit curves. Ugh.

When purchasing these from an eBay seller based in China I believed I would receive a solid stainless handle such as those I installed on the door to my cockpit. What I received were pressed handles made with thin stainless. The edges were sharp. Two tears, presumably caused by a faulty manufacturing process, are also present. I had spent perfectly good money for this pair.

In the meantime, a boat two west of me is being cleaned out to prepare it for sale. It's a Gulfstar 36. In the process of emptying out the owner's gear I spotted a spool of 1/8" braided nylon. This same fellow had a few months ago purchased a spool of braid because his was missing. Well, I found the original one.

Best of all, said boater passed the older spool along to me. How cool is that?!?

I am beyond happy to have a ready supply of braided line. This is such a blessing.

In the pilothouse of Seaweed I have a bar stool that I use as my helm chair. The original seat was always in the way, uncomfortable, didn't go far enough forward for someone my size, etc. That helm chair was disposed of quite some time ago. I did keep the post in case I ever wish to go back.

I am perfectly aware a bar stool is not a great substitute for a helm chair with a back and arms. This is a small boat. Seaweed does not have a lot of space. For now, what I have is Good Enough. Were the weather such that a true helm chair would make a difference, I would not be going anyplace.

I hung the spool under the chair so it would spin/dispense line without twisting.

A line was fed through the center of the spool. The two ends were tied on the highest pair of crossbars.

As for the project, I first slid a length of line through the handle. The thinking was that would help reinforce the flimsy metal. In retrospect I should have run that line up and back three times. I did leave the end long enough to tie two sets of knots.

I tied a clove hitch. Any looping knot would suffice. Make sure about 4" of line is left over as a tag end.

At the end of this process I used the extra line
(that spare 4") to secure the bitter ends together.

Next I went to the other end of the handle. As the spool turned I wrapped the flimsy stainless.

The goal was to cover the entire handle in a single layer of 1/8" braid.

Having this spool of line made all the difference in the world.

#1) I didn't have any long lengths of line in my Box of Small Stuff.  Without the spool I was given this project could not have been easily completed. I am grateful.

#2) Not since Bob was a nearby boater have I had access to a lot of small stuff. I told you about Bob in the Time Stopped article.

Side Note: When I replaced Bob's flag halyards, he passed along his old halyard lines. That became the basis of my stash of long braided 1/8" line. At one time I had over 100'. Before the gift of that spool I didn't have much more than 10' leftover from the Bob braid. I am indeed fortunate.

1/8-Inch Solid Braid Nylon Rope
600-Feet Spool by T.W Evans Cordage 44-048


Though not a necessity by any means, it is much more economical to buy a spool when paying retail. That it is something to consider if you have the funds.  This is not a first nor even a second tier item to purchase. I am grateful to finally have bunches. Thanks M!

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Because I had plenty of 1/8" braided nylon on that spool I was able to tackle this project. It easily unrolled where I had it hung. I tried to cover all of the sharp areas on those handles I'd secured from the overseas seller.

Of course I did not store my new spool of line under the stool permanently. Instead it resides in a sack secured to a bulkhead in the bilge. I do not want to risk the line coming unrolled down there. Lots of things can all too easily get wrapped around a shaft. That is never a good thing.

I wanted the underside of the handle fully covered so I would not pinch or cut myself on the sharp edges.


Once I got to the original knot at the other end
a square knot secured the whole thing together.

The 1/8" braided nylon made a big difference in the appearance of handle.

When laid on a flat surface the handles sit flush. These units will mount without too much difficulty.

The TEARS in the stainless from my handles still show.

I believe the rope I added will protect hands from the damaged handles.

What you should know: Buying extremely cheap handles is not a good idea. The "fix" took a bit of time. That rope will discolor and get stained. Most likely these will be mounted in a bilge for a hand-hold.

All in all, this is not one of my better buys. Still, I did
take what was essentially unusable and make it okay.

Mistakes were made. At the beginning of the project I should have run the line up and back a few times (three) under that folded-over piece of the handle. Later I will have to add a couple layers of backing under the screw holes. That way when mounting the ends won't flatten out.

So that is my tale. Be smarter than I was.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate that.

I'd love to know I'm not the only one who has ended up with something like this.
And, what did you buy that turned out to be but a shadow of what was expected?

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2019, 2023

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