Power & Motor Yacht

Wiper Blade Redux

- By Capt. Bill Pike

The worst time to discover your windshield wipers are shot is when you really need ’em. Like, for instance, on a truly dark and stormy night, when you’re hunting a sea buoy that’s not showing up all that well on radar. Of course, most wiper issues are related to wiper blades and the rubber elements that do the actual wiping. Said elements can dry out and crack after long exposure to salt water and/or the sun’s ultraviole­t light. And if parked in the same position for lengthy periods, they can “take a set,” meaning their orientatio­n to the windshield itself becomes so canted they start to fail.

Thankfully, there are ways to extend the useful life of a rubber blade element. Every time you clean your boat’s windshield, for example, you can take a little time to pull the element through a sponge saturated with glass cleaner. And, if you’re going to leave your boat unattended for an extended period, you can lift the wipers away from the windshield, thereby preventing them from taking a set or sticking to the glass.

But eventually, replacemen­t time will come and, if you’re a neophyte at the replacemen­t game, the first thing you’ll likely do is hit one of the big auto stores for rightsized replacemen­t blades with connectors that fit your boat’s wiper arms.

You’re probably gonna be disappoint­ed, though. Automotive blades seldom work on boats, primarily because they have incompatib­le connectors. Moreover, a little internet research will show you that, heck, there’s a head-spinning array of connector styles on the marine scene, including the J-hook, Bayonet, Bolt-Through, Pinch-Tab and Slim-Lock, to name just a few.

So how do you replace your wiper blades, once you tune into just how cussedly complicate­d the task can get? Visit the nearest well-stocked, marine-parts store or chandlery and ask the parts manager to wade through some of the giant catalogs he’ll have at his disposal, either physically or online. And don’t forget to bring your old, defunct wiper blades with you. This will help the parts guy figure out which one of the many connector styles you’ve got.

And one last bit of advice: If all else fails, try contacting one of the distributo­rs of windshield-wiper blades directly, folks like Vetus, Imtra, AFI, Marinco or Sea-Dog. You may have to dispatch a few photos of an old wiper blade and make some measuremen­ts, but with any luck some stalwart, deeply committed customer support person will be able to help you identify your old wiper blades and tell you where you can buy some new ones.

 ??  ?? Finding a perfect replacemen­t is not often easy.
Finding a perfect replacemen­t is not often easy.

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