Installing a Boat Windshield Wiper

Maintain your forward visibility with a marine wiper system.

After getting caught in a blowing deluge, I decided it would be a good idea to install a wiper/washer system aboard my runabout. Systems are available from companies such as Imtra, Marinco/AFI, Vetus and Schmitt & Ongaro.

I chose the Imtra Coastal Plus wiper with a pantograph arm and windshield-washer kit. This setup has proved robust. Here are the steps to install it.

Getting Started
Skill Level: 4/5
Time to Complete: 5 Hours

Tools and Supplies
*Imtra Coastal Plus wiper motor ($155)
*Imtra pantograph arm ($105)
*Imtra fluid canister with pump ($95)
*Imtra washer head ($18) *Imtra 6 mm hose ($3 per meter)
*Assorted marine wire connectors, wire and circuit breaker (or in-line five-amp fuse) for 12-volt electrical installation
*Diagonal cutters
*Wire crimpers
*Wire strippers
*Stainless-steel fasteners (for washer reservoir)
*Self-tapping stainless-steel screws (for pantograph mounting plate and motor support)
*Marine silicone sealant (for self-tapping screws)
*Drill motor
*Drill bits: 5/16 inch (for 6 mm washer hose) and 9/16 (for wiper motor shaft)
*A metal ruler (optional, but it makes small measurements reliable)
*Masking tape (to tape area, mark holes and prevent gelcoat damage when drilling)

Installing a Boat Windshield Wiper
1. Measure the Windshield
Determine whether to mount the motor below or above the windshield, and how far from the windshield. If penetrating a deck, windshield frame or bulkhead, you'll need to measure its thickness. Downloading Imtra's self-­explanatory "windshield wiper questionnaire" will make this easy.
Boating Magazine
Installing a Boat Windshield Wiper
2. Identify the Wires
The wires emanating from the wiper motor are all white. You'll note little yellow tabs on them that identify each wire's purpose. Familiarize yourself with these. For good measure, I suggest you attach color cable ties to them and note the colors on the supplied wiring diagram. This will aid installation.
Boating Magazine
Installing a Boat Windshield Wiper
3. Align Wiper Arm
Set the wiper arm on the windshield, aligning it with the estimated location of the motor shaft. Adjust so that there's room for the blade to sweep between the windshield edges to determine the exact shaft location. Mark the spot. Drill the hole, holding the drill at 90 degrees to the surface of the frame or deck.
Boating Magazine
Installing a Boat Windshield Wiper
4. Secure the Plate
The motor support screw is not a through fastener; it is installed from the interior without penetrating the mounting surface. If you have the pantograph wiper arm, you'll need to drive a screw to secure its adapter plate on the exterior. One arm is attached to the motor; the other pivots on its own shaft.
Boating Magazine
Installing a Boat Windshield Wiper
5. Install the Motor Shaft
There are two nuts and two washers on the motor shaft. Three of them fasten the motor (a rubber washer goes on first, followed by a metal washer cover and a securing nut). The big rubber washer stays inside with the motor. Get the order correct, lest you suffer excess vibration in use.
Boating Magazine
Installing a Boat Windshield Wiper
6. Mount the Fluid Canister
Mount the four-liter washer fluid canister where it can be easily filled, and wire its pump to 12 volts and connect Imtra's optional ($100) two-speed, on/off, push-to-pump switch. Run the hose to the wiper arm, supporting it with hose clips and mounting hole wire ties or inside conduit.
Boating Magazine