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Old 04-08-2010
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How to prevent snapping the key

I have a key starter switch with the first stop turns the gauges on and the 2nd stop starts the engine. Anyhow twice now I have bent the key when stepping into the cockpit from the deck. Very quickly that becomes a broken key in the switch. We were able to still start the engine by inserting the rest of the key in and turning but I want to fix it. I will get the piece out but how do I prevent it from happening again. I am the one who bent the key. Both times were when we under way and I lost my balance probably due to wave action and my foot came down on the key. Besides being more careful how do I make sure it does not happen again. I was thinking putting something lika a guard on around it. Has anyone done something smiliar?
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Old 04-08-2010
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When the engine is not in use, you should remove the key from the "ignition" or panel switch. If you're away from the boat, store it belowdecks. If you're out sailing, hang it somewhere handy. We loop ours over the transmission shift to remind us to take it out of reverse before starting.

Underway with engine running, usually things are a bit more stable/even keeled, so you should be less likely to bump it. But if there's something about the ergonomics of your cockpit that makes it more likely to hit it even when just motoring, then you might need a guard of some sort.

I bet we'll hear some good suggestions on panel guards. Some folks just mount a hinged piece of clear acrylic over the whole panel.
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Old 04-08-2010
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Put a cage over the key lock or build a guard around it.
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Old 04-08-2010
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I like the key in the ignition at all times we are underway. A guard or acrylic panel are among the solutions that I have seen that work well.
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Old 04-08-2010
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I modified the key on my last boat making the part that stuck out much smaller. If you have a key made and you know what the clearance is of shank sticking out you can have the key-maker offset the blank when he makes it. Then you can cut the head back with a hack saw to make it smaller yet. I ended up shortening the amount the key sticks out by over an inch and it worked just fine. Not that hard to do and solved my problem.

If you build something to protect the key that will be in the way also. Having the key in and ready to go can be important so taking it out is not the best option.

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Old 04-08-2010
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Move it down below, and plug the hole where it used to be.
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Moving the key switch below would require moving the glowplug switch as well and means the throttle would be out of reach when starting. Putting an acrylic panel over the whole panel sound like a doable solution. Does anyone have an example of how to do that?
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Old 04-08-2010
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The easiest way is to have a hinge at the top so that the panel lifts up. Cut a finger to assist in lifting it. If the panel swings when heeled, add some velcro at the bottom.
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you also might want to think about adding a push button switch for the starter. this will lessen the twist on the key, just turn to on and push a button
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Old 04-09-2010
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I had a guest break my key off a few weekends ago. All good ideas. I just take they key out when not in use now.

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