Wiper Blade Re­dux

Power & Motor Yacht - - BOATYARD - 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.

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