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Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 16, 2012-Open heart surgery on the 20/20

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B&G 20/20

This is not the first time I’ve operated on one of these but the last one died of complications brought on by a careless hand. I confess, I crossed two pins and in an instant the life went out of it.

Before that I put one down, out of selfishness; it had a flaw, I wanted perfect. I thought we deserved better. It died of a broken heart, maybe. Anyhow, it too is dead.

So I was callous before, then careless.

Now I have another chance; this one came from California via Florida, used and somewhat neglected, from the garage of a boat owner long since boatless, but alive, he said. I tracked it down on the Internet and had it sent.

It arrived DOA, shipping is cruel, but machines can sometimes be saved, and for awhile it hung by a thread on my bench, wires connecting it to life support, it’s shutters clicking clicking like a heart beating, sixty a minute, music to my ears, and my surgeon’s hand working inside its chest.

To make it strong once again.

Solder here, a scalpel there, and forceps or pliers if needed, a screw driver, inserted with care.

Then we close, and watch the patient.

Thirty years ago, this 20/20, was born of B&G, and yet it still lives.

Wonder of wonders.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Trinidad

Click here to see this operation underway.

What the heck was that all about?

We spend a lot of time on boat repair, working on Wings, maintaining, fixing. The B&G instruments get a lot of that attention mainly because they are 30 years old and, frankly, electronics that old tend to break down a lot. But when we sail we sail by the numbers and always have, and new systems are really expensive, so when the B&G system goes down we try to fix it.

But this isn’t always easy; parts and service is hard to find. Out of necessity I have collected a lot of spare parts myself and have often been “under the covers” on these instruments, repairing them, or trying, myself.

This particular instrument, the 20/20, which is on the mast, is pretty touchy, and since we replaced the insides in Africa in 2011, due to some limited functionality, it has been off and on, literally. This month I got another used one from a boat owner in California, who no longer needed it, but it didn’t work.

So for a couple of days I had this unit apart on my workbench, with wires strung around to supply power and data, and finally, by trial and error, got it working.

For how long? I don’t know

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