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.
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.
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.
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.