Neat Stuff
By Tom Neale, 11/27/2008

We’re underway heading south as I write this, and here are a few neat new things I’m using and liking this trip.

Rescue Tape

Recently I spent several hours with my butt in the air and my head and shoulders down a hole underneath the bed in the master stateroom.  In case you’re thinking something kinky, no such luck. I was offloading around 75 pounds of spare hoses from my boat, keeping only a few special pieces.  That hole was where I’d stored them for years. I felt pretty safe in the assurance that no matter what hose failed, I’d have a spare, or at least a temporary make-do replacement.  But with all those miles of hose, I still came up short sometimes. And digging through the tangle looking for what I needed was becoming really old. It was especially old in that usually a hose replacement was an emergency situation and that’s when I was sure to pull out every hose except the right hose.  If you don’t believe it, just try to lug several hundred hoses in a box up a hill.

No I’m not crazy. (Well, maybe that’s a stretch, but at least there was method to my madness.)  In lieu of those hoses, for temporary repairs, I had laid on an ample supply of silicone “Rescue Tape” marketed by Harbor Products, Inc ( I’d never heard of it until last spring when Frank Monachello, owner of Marine Pro in Cocoa Florida (321  636 8950, ) told me about it. He’s an excellent mechanic and somebody I listen to. He’d been told by one of his customers and he was a believer.  I thought I’d try it.

The company says that this tape is self-fusing, has a 700 PSI tensile strength, insulates 8,000 volts per layer, withstands 500° F heat (260° C), and remains flexible to -85° F (-60° C)! It can be applied to a wet surface, including pipes. It resists fuels, oil, acids, solvents, salt water, road salt and UV rays. I obviously can’t personally verify the data, but I’ve been very impressed with the product. I’ve used it for many projects including repair of a burst water hose with around 60 pounds of pressure, sealing a shore power cable, and whipping rope ends.

I even manufactured a part of a watch band that broke when I had my hand down a hole it shouldn’t have been in under the engine. A piece of the engine had snagged the band and torn the little strap into which you feed the bitter end of the band through after you buckle it.  Doesn’t sound like much, but finding another band and getting it on without ruining the watch, in the parts of the world where I hang out, is very much; especially when you’re at sea. So I cut a piece of rescue tape, guessing about the length. I doubled it over on itself lengthwise to make it thicker and of an acceptable width, looped it in the right place around my watch band, pressed one end over the other and held it really tight for around a minute.  That was over a week ago and my watch has been through all the hell it usually goes through when I’m underway, and the band is still working. If my new loop breaks, I can just make another one. I’ve got plenty of Rescue Tape.

This tape takes a little learning and practice to get the most use from it. It doesn’t stick to itself. It “fuses” to itself, essentially melding into itself. We’re all accustomed to sticky tape, and this is another animal altogether.  If you’re repairing a hose, for example, you stretch and overlap it as you wrap it. Wrapping more tape over itself increases its ability to withstand pressure. But it takes two hands because you have to hold the tape in place at the beginning point (I usually use a thumb), then stretch it over itself while still holding the beginning point down.  And you don’t “cut it to length.” You do, but not the way you’re accustomed to.  It stretches, so, for example, a 2 inch piece of Rescue Tape may make 6 inches of wrap, depending on how thick you want it to be and how much you want to stretch it. It takes some practice, but it’s worth the effort.

Rescue tape comes in various colors, and transparent. Follow the instructions to use it and practice a bit, but taking a moment to do this is more than worth it for the results. MSRP varies with packages, for example: $24.95 for a 2 pack, $44.95 for a 6 pack, $49.95 for 36’ long, 2 inch wide, 30 mil thick Industrial Roll (which I prefer).

Stylus Reach by Streamlight

But back to dark holes.  I’ve come across a really neat line of lights from Streamlight and they’re great weapons against the dark places aboard. It all started out a few years ago when I was breaking some rules. Maybe even the law.

Tom Uses Streamlight JR Reach

Ignoring the “insurance signs” ordering me out of the repair garage, I peered under my old Chevy with a mechanic. There are lots of signs that I ignore, and this is one of them, because I like to see first hand what’s going on mechanically, whether it’s a car or a boat. The mechanic pulled from his pocket what appeared to be a ballpoint pen, and a tiny brilliant LED flared on, brightly illuminating even remote cracks and crannies. He said that it was a Stylus by Streamlight that he bought from the “Snap On Man” and that no mechanic worth his salt would be without one.

I chased down a “Snap On” truck that very day and bought the Stylus Reach. It has a flexible extension and a high intensity 5mm LED which reaches into even more remote areas than the one the mechanic was using.  (Lucky guy; he doesn’t have to work on a boat.) I found that Streamlight has a plethora of lights with many functions. The company has 110 patents and 80 trademarks. Their web site is an ideal place to learn about their products (  I also use the awesome Streamlight Jr. Reach. Its head is larger and it utilizes the new C4 LED technology making it very bright. It has 14” reach with its extension and a magnetic holder to clamp it onto your engine to free your hands and brightly light your work up to 4 hours. I also use the 3AA HAZ-LO headlamp (the High-Flux LED produces 34 lumens) which is one of the brightest small headlamps I’ve seen. It can work as a miniature spotlight or to truly light up a working area, hands free. I used it last night, anchoring in pitch dark with a storm brewing. (I did have to learn to not turn my head and look at Mel, my wife, when it’s on. It ruins her night vision.)

Tom’s Tips on Neat Stuff

1. There’s a lot of “neat stuff” out there that can really be helpful, but there’s a lot that looks neat but is basically junk.

Click Here for More Tips

Other possibilities from this company include the Stylus Reach 18 with flexible cable for a 25.5” reach and the waterproof handheld spotlight, Fire Vulcan, with C4 LED technology.  This light was designed with fire fighters in mind, finding their way through smoke. It’s light and bright and has several configurations.  There’s also the Junior LED. It’s like a pen light but bigger and puts out a beam that’s more useful than some very large double and triple D cell flashlights I could mention—even though its lamp is an LED. MSRP: Stylus Reach- $29.95, Stylus Reach 18" -$34.95, Streamlight Jr Reach $62.95, 3AA HAZ-LO $64.95, Fire Vulcan $235.00

The day we left we started having generator problems. That’s another story. But so far I’ve used several of these lights during the diagnoses and repair phases, and they’ve really made a difference.


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