Considering The Options When It's Time to Replace your Engine Covers
There is a tendency over time for exposed wooden engine boards to deteriorate by getting damp and rotting. Which in time could undermine stability of the boats engine board and an unsuspecting helmsman could fall through the rotten board, which could cause quite a nasty injury.
So we thought we'd discuss the options when it comes to replacing the deckboards above your engine. You basically have three choices of materials to use; aluminium checkerplate, marine ply or haxagrip. Most boats will require the boards to be tailor made due to each and every boat being built differently, meaning that there isn't usually an 'off the shelf' option.
Option One Marine Plywood
Marine plywood is the cheapest option, with a starting price of around £200, basically built with pull rings and covered in rubber matting. Marine Plywood is made from veneers from tropical hardwood, so it is better than standard ply when exposed to moisture, although not waterproof, so you must make sure that you seal any cut edges and use sanded paint to give a non slip finish.
Option Two Hexagrip
Hexagrip is also called phenolic plywood. It's durable and anti-slip, textured on one side with a rough film surface making it waterproof. So ideal for engine covers. Lifespan should be around ten years and the price is mid range.
Option Three Aluminium Checkerplate
Basically like the material used for a manhole cover. Aluminium Checkerplate has the advantage of being very lightweight and rot resistant. It costs more than the other options, but is undoubtedly the most durable option to use as an engine cover. This option will provide a longer term solution than either marine ply or hexagrip. The downsides are that it's anti-slip credentials are not brilliant in wet weather, and in hot weather you'd want to avoid stepping onto it with bear feet. However it's worth putting down a mat to rectify both of these issues.
If you are making the engine covers yourself, it's best to strengthen under the pull rings with a patch of wood which allows use of longer fixing screws.