The following article was written by chapter member Nick Rosa and appeared in the August 2003 issue of The Nautical Mile.

Rescue Your Old Tachometer Cable

In restoring my 1960 Century Resorter, I am always looking for ways to keep the boat as original as possible.  While deciding what to do with a seized and rusted tachometer cable, I tried to go with a "cheap" fix rather than to replace it with a new unit.

The cable was removed from the boat. The boat itself had been underwater, so water had penetrated the cable itself, seizing the inner cable to the outer housing. Therefore, the first task was to try to get the cable free. Experience (learning the hard way) has taught me that you CANNOT bend the cable too sharply or too much.  This could possibly kink the cable rendering it useless. The cable should be bent slightly - not forcing it more than it was designed to bend in the first place. Patience and persistence is the key here. Just keep working the cable by bending it slightly in several different directions. Eventually, the inner cable will break free from the outer housing.

When the cable breaks free, it should be removed, inspected for kinks and/or other damage. Both the inner cable and the housing can then be cleaned. The inner cable can then be relubricated and installed in the housing. Check the cable for proper operation. Make sure there are no "snags" or dragging.

The next step is to refinish the housing. Upon examination of this particular cable, the ends were in pretty good shape without any rust or corrosion. However, there was a nasty rusty section about 20 inches long near the center. I started by using a Scotch Brite pad on the ends just to shine up the metal and remove the "tarnish". As I started to sand the rust, I knew the Scotch Brite pad would not be aggressive enough to remove the rust. So I dropped down to 320 grit sandpaper. The idea is to remove ALL the rust and/or corrosion and expose shiny metal.

With the housing sanded, I cleaned it with enamel cleaner - a cleaning solvent used in the auto body industry. With the cable cleaned, I then primed the housing with a product called DuPont Vari Prime. Vari Prime is a self-etching primer. It has a phosphoric acid additive that etches its way into the metal. You do not need a lot of primer here - just enough to cover the metal. As soon as the primer "flashes" it can be painted with an imitation cadmium paint. There are a few of them on the market or you can just paint it silver. The choice is yours. Whatever paint you use, corrosion resistance should be considered. Good luck in you project.