Engine hatch cover would not open - sliding collar too tight (problem solved)

LaReaLaRea Member Posts: 7,342 ✭✭✭✭✭
I'm just documenting a problem with my engine hatch cover, and how I solved it.  Maybe it will help others.

Boat:  2007 Rinker 370

Problem:  Engine hatch stopped working.  When I pressed the button on the helm to open the hatch, I could hear a faint click near the battery switches, but the hatch would not move.  The breaker was not popped, and the batteries were fully charged.  

Solution:  Readjusted the sliding collar at the top end of the engine hatch actuator.  

Explanation:  At the top of the actuator, there is a sleeve 4" long with a slot on one side and a nut/bolt at the top.  The sleeve is meant to slide up and down to allow some play when you close the hatch.  On mine, the bolt was overtightened so the slide could not move.  When I closed the hatch cover, I was too slow releasing the button, and the actuator started pulling down on the hatch cover.  The tension caused the actuator to bind. 

To open the hatch:  in the center of the hatch cover, I removed the table base (6 screws) and used a razor knife to cut a slit in the insulation.  I was able to stick my arm into the hole (all the way to my shoulder), reach astern to the top of the actuator, and remove the pin that holds it to the hatch cover.  It was not easy with the actuator under tension, but I got it out.  Then I had a few friends with strong backs help me pull the hatch cover open so I could get into the engine room and prop it open using the leg on the underside of the hatch cover.

With the tension removed from the actuator, it went back to working normally.  I adjusted the bolt on the sliding collar and reinstalled the pin - problem solved.


  • Capt_SteveCapt_Steve Member Posts: 281 admin
    @LaRea...excellent info...thanks for sharing!
  • Dream_InnDream_Inn Member, Moderator Posts: 7,484 mod
    I'll have to give mine a check as well.  I know this summer I had a couple times where it hesitated on coming up.  Thanks LaRea!

    Dream 'Inn III -- 2008 400 Express

  • LaReaLaRea Member Posts: 7,342 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Right - locknut.  If you snug it up and then back off one turn, that should be good.  It's definitely worth checking.

    My buddies and I all assumed it was an electrical problem, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a one-wrench fix.
  • andydandyd Member Posts: 849 ✭✭✭
    Thanks for the useful intel!

    I have proactively anticipated the day that the actuator malfunctions and I need to raise the hatch manually. I removed the table base, sliced the insulation and ran a short length of 1/8" nylon cord to the release pin. Now, if and when the problem arises,  I'll just remove the table base, tug on the cord, and I'll be able to get to the engine. That's the plan anyway, but as Robert Bruce said, "The best laid plans of mice and men..."

  • raybo3raybo3 Administrator Posts: 5,432 admin
    On my 342 it helps to keep the hinges lubed with wd40 or any other spray lube. Its a big help....
    2002 342 Fiesta Vee PC Point Of Pines YC Revere MA. popyc.org     [email protected]
  • LaReaLaRea Member Posts: 7,342 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2022
    Reviving this thread, as I spent an exhausting 90 minutes today wrestling with the hatch lift.  I haven't won this fight yet.

    When my mechanic closed the hatch after winterizing, he apparently held the button too long.  The hatch actuator is now locked up solid as described above.  I thought, no worries, I'll remove the table mount and reach in to pull the release pin.  Easy, right?   

    Uhh, no.  With that much tension on the actuator, the pin is jammed up tight.  After much hard work, I could not pull it free.

    Working blind with my arm sticking through the deck hole, here's what I've done:
    • Hammered the other side of the pin to push it through partway
    • After the pin was flush with the bracket, I used a torx bit on a ratchet wrench to hammer it in a bit farther
    • Then I grabbed the pin with a vise grip and rocked it back and forth about 100 times

    No joy. 

    Agitating factor:  Because of an aggressive fitness program, my arms won't fit through the deck hole like they used to.  The Admiral has smaller arms, but not enough strength.  Next step:  use a reciprocating saw to enlarge the hole so I can get better leverage on the pin.  Not sure what else to do.  


    Could I rewire that actuator in a way that disconnects power when the actuator goes into tension?  Is there some other way to prevent this problem?
    Post edited by LaRea on
  • MH342MH342 Member Posts: 51 ✭✭
    @LaRea, any chance you can unscrew the slotted bracket from the engine hatch cover?  I never looked closely at my 342 to see what fasteners are used but maybe a few turns would relieve enough tension to get the pin out?  Also many thanks to you on your original thread. Mine was originally tight and I backed it off to slide freely. 
  • LaReaLaRea Member Posts: 7,342 ✭✭✭✭✭
    @MH342 - interesting suggestion!  I don't have a good photo of how the bracket is mounted.  Looks like the screws might not be accessible without removing the actuator.

  • GrahamuGrahamu Member Posts: 849 ✭✭✭
    I have 2 photos that give you a better view hope they help. Never knew that the sliding cover was not supposed to be locked, mine is. :(

  • Pat310Pat310 Member Posts: 516 ✭✭✭
    The weird thing on mine is if I leave sliding collar loose the hatch doesn’t open high enough to use kick stand brace

  • LaReaLaRea Member Posts: 7,342 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2022
    @Pat310 mine is the same.  To use the brace, I have to push the hatch up by hand. 

    In fact, your comment made me realize the root cause of the problem:  The actuator lower mount is too low!  I need to raise the lower mount by inserting a 1" shim.  That will fix both problems:  1) the actuator will not be able to pull down on the hatch ... AND 2) it will raise the hatch high enough to clear the brace!

    I did manage to get the pin out.  @MH342 I tried to loosen the mount screw, but couldn't get enough torque on it.  So I enlarged the access hole from 4" to about 4.75" -- enough that I could get better leverage on the pin with a pair of vice grips.  

    Post edited by LaRea on
  • GrahamuGrahamu Member Posts: 849 ✭✭✭
    I had the opposite problem, the brace was too short, so I made  the brace longer. With the brace in place I have no problem getting in or out of the compartment now.
  • MH342MH342 Member Posts: 51 ✭✭
    I’m glad you got that sorted out!
  • Pat310Pat310 Member Posts: 516 ✭✭✭
    @LaRea was thinking the same thing.  A piece of starboard perhaps. My brace will not even clear the engine if loose as it should be, so I keep it tight in the actuator slot. After hearing your problems,I may add the shim this spring
  • rmrstlmormrstlmo Member Posts: 221 ✭✭✭
    Thanks for all the info.  I had no idea of the potential issue.  It's on my list for spring!


    2006 390

    Previous 2000 340

  • LaReaLaRea Member Posts: 7,342 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2022
    Today I added a 2" shim to the lower actuator mount.  What a difference!  I should have done this years ago.  Before, the opening to climb into the engine rrom was only 22 inches high.  The 2" shim added 3.5 inches to the opening.  It's now much easier to climb in and out.  
    So far, I see no down-side to this mod.  It's a 3-way win:
    1) Easier access climbing into/out of the engine room. 
    2) Brace leg clears without requiring me to shoulder-lift the hatch.  
    3) (Not verified yet)  I think now the actuator will bottom out before it can pull down on the hatch.  If so, that would solve the original problem of the actuator gear binding up.  
    The 2" shim is a stack of four 1/2" pieces of Starboard HDPE plastic (marine lumber).  I cut them to size, then used small nails to bind them together while I drilled the holes.  A 2" block would be better, but I wasn't sure about the right thickness.  

  • LaReaLaRea Member Posts: 7,342 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Just to summarize this thread:  At the top of the actuator, there's a slotted collar.  The collar bolt should be loose enough that the collar can side without binding. 

    When you close the hatch, release the button immediately after the hatch is fully closed.  If you hold the button too long, or if the collar is tight and can't slide, it can make the actuator pull down on the hatch.  That's bad for two reasons. 

    First, it can make the actuator gears bind up, locking the hatch in place. 

    Second, the actuator could pull out the mounting screws.  If that happens, then the next time you open the hatch, it could fall and cause a major injury.  

    If the hatch doesn't open far enough, don't use the collar to adjust the position.  The solution is to install a shim as shown above.  
  • TonyATonyA Member Posts: 92
    I attached a thin cable to the pin and ran it to the the hole under the table so I can just pull it to get the pin out if mine ever stops working.

    2008 Rinker 400EC Longport NJ
  • LaReaLaRea Member Posts: 7,342 ✭✭✭✭✭
    @TonyA - good idea.  However, I hope you attached the cable directly to the pin, not to the split ring.  In my recent experience, the pin was pinched so hard that the split ring wasn't strong enough to pull it out.  After the split ring failed, I had to use vice grips to twist and pull the pin.  
  • TonyATonyA Member Posts: 92
    I threaded it directly through the pin and figured I would have to take some pressure off of it before pulling. Hopefully I will never have to use it.
    2008 Rinker 400EC Longport NJ
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