New Boat Dashboard on the Bayliner Element

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New Boat Dashboard on the Bayliner Element

The standard dashboard in the Bayliner Element is a dodgy vinyl sticker which I kind of knew would not last too long. I’m surprised that Bayliner went with such an obviously cheap boat dashboard on an otherwise well constructed boat.

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It lasted two years which was a lot longer than I thought. It was also looking pretty mangled after I took the old sounder off. I decided to upgrade to a new polycarbonate dashboard. This turned out to be easier (and cheaper) than what I imagined.

If you’re looking at doing this kind of project here are the steps:

1. Copy the shape

To do this I needed to very carefully peel off what was left of the dash sticker. I temporarily stuck it to some grease-proof paper to stop it sticking to everything else and to keep the shape accurate. Then I could scan it on the A3 photocopier/scanner at the office.

I needed to do it in two halves as it was slightly longer than the scanner bed. This isn’t a problem if you highlight where the join is with a piece of masking tape.

2. List it on Upwork

The plastic fabricator required an Adobe Illustrator file with a cutline. I don’t have the software or the time so I listed this job on Upwork for $30. After sorting through about a dozen applicants I selected a bloke who looked like he knew how to trace around the edge of a shape.

About a day later I had a first draft of the AI file which was printed and tested on the boat. A few very small amendments to the shape and I had my final AI files ready for the plastic fabricator.

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3. Sent to the fabricator

I emailed the file off to the fabricator for a quote on some super shiny black polycarbonate laser cut to my specific shape.

I could have gone two directions here:
– Firstly I could get a super thin (3mm) piece of polycarbonate with no bevel on the edge.
– Alternatively I could have gone thicker (6mm) and had the outside edge bevelled and flame finished which would blend in to the surrounding fibreglass.

I decided on the cheaper option and went with the 3mm ($150 for one piece or $160 for two pieces).

4. Mount on the boat

The laser cut finish wasn’t perfect but about an hour on the sandpaper down to 2,000 grit and then a light polish with the Dremel finished the edges off perfectly.

I used clear Silicone to lightly stick the polycarbonate to the boat and to seal salt water out from behind the job. I held everything together with vice grips until it dried.

Make sure you test your silicone on a spare piece of polycarbonate before you apply it to your finished job as apparently some silicones are not compatible with plastics. Next I installed my gauges and RAM mount over the top which held everything together.

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This was a surprisingly easy and cheap job. The results were also very impressive. If your dash is looking a bit dodgy then I would definitely recommend giving this project a crack.

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