Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thruster props..err ..which way to go

I had Seabright on the hard for a bottom job which included cleaning and painting the thruster props both  bow and stern. The final job looked really great!

When we splashed back into the water earlier this week, as per my usual routine, I checked all of the systems. When checking the thrusters, to my surprise, turning the thruster joy stick to the port I got the opposite thrust to the starboard. For both bow and stern the actual thrust was opposite to the joy stick controller. Not good...errr!

What I found was, the yard put the thruster props on wrong, reversing them causing the opposite thrust to occur. Frankly I did not know you could do this. I guess there is a first for everything.

Initially I thought the yard would need to haul me out and reverse the props back to the correct place or get a diver to do it. Certainly not on my dime. As I was working up my righteous indignation for such a yard mistake, I called American Bow Thruster (ABT) and found that that you can easily change the wires on the directional control valves, for both bow and stern, which in effect reverses the direction of the props and solved the problem. Took about 10 min to call and 10 min to fix, done! Here is a schematic of a typical install

I do not mean to belabor the point but I want to comment on ABT technical support.

When this happened I got on the phone and called the service rep who has been on my boat from our sea trail on, Daryl, a nice guy. He was traveling and I could not reach him (I left a message and he called later, when he landed).  I spoke with a friend who gave me the name of the Service Manager in CA, who answered on the second ring. I told him of the issue, and he gave me a clear and concise solution.
When a company has great customer support (heck, you call, they answer and know their stuff, no mean feat these days) they do not always get a lot of public credit, as those giving crappy service and get a much deserved public drubbing.  Maybe it is human nature that when you are unhappy with something you let others know it.

ABT, in my experience has been excellent from day one and for over two years always helpful  in providing great service. I think they are a good company with a really great product and I have been consistently pleased with the level of follow up help and recent experience just reinforces this notion.

I like to judge companies not always by the problems I might have, it is naive to think that every product will be trouble free especially on today's complicated boats. Rather I like to judge them on how well do they respond when you do have a problem... That in my view separates  the average to mediocre from the really great.

Contrast this with Trace Inverter the problems I have had, google it, and you find problems with both the product as well as service problem and resolutions.
Being fair, while taking way too long to fix (5 weeks and counting), the jury is out on how well they solve the problems. The internet make it hard for companies to hide problems and unhappy customers.

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