MacGregor 19 Tips & Modifications

The Mac 19's biggest fault is sluggish steering. I haven't yet seen an elegant modification to fix this situation, but please let me know if you've implemented a solution to this problem.

Larger Fuel Tanks

Replace the standard six gallon tank with one or two 9 gallon tanks.

The MacGregor 19 has two open-air compartments in the cockpit for fuel tanks. A single six-gallon metal fuel tank is standard.

Tempo makes a 9 gallon polyethylene tank that fits in this space perfectly. Two tanks can be installed with a quick-release fuel fitting to allow you to easily move your fuel line from one tank to the other.

Roller on Mast Crutch

Add a roller to your mast crutch to allow the mast to move smoothly when positioning it.

The "crutch" is a stainless steel support at the stern of the boat that's designed to hold the mast when trailering. A bolt passes through the support and the mast to secure the mast when the trailer is moving. To raise the mast, you must first move it back approximately ten feet to connect the base of the mast to the mast hinge. This is very difficult to do with one person, as the mast binds on the crutch.

By adding a trailer bow roller to the crutch, the mast moves backwards easily, making raising the mast much easier for one or two people. The bow roller can be quickly removed to allow the mast to be bolted to the crutch when trailering.

Bow Line Chocks

Attach fittings to your deck to guide your bow line or anchor rode and prevent damage to your bow navigation light and deck.

The MacGregor 19 has no deck protection for the bow line or anchor rode. This is easily corrected by the addition of a pair of bow line chocks.

On my boat, the chocks were mounted on each side of the chainplate and it was possible to through-bolt the chocks to the deck. Be sure to use sealer when attaching the chocks.

Fused Switch Panel

Add a fused switch panel for improved reliability, safety and convenience.

The electrical system from the factory is very basic, with all lines running directly to the battery except for the navigation lights, which are switched. In-line fuses are used near the battery connection.

Adding a fused switch panel provides better access to fuses, allows individual circuits to be controlled and can provide a visual indicator if you accidentally leave the power on. There are several good places to install the panel near the battery. Here's a picture of a panel installed below the sink. When wiring the panel, isolate the running lights from the anchor lights, as they were wired together from the factory.

Caution: If you are charging your battery from your engine, be sure to wire the charging circuit directly to the battery. Breaking this circuit while the engine is running can damage or destroy your charging system.

Battery Replacement

The battery installed on my boat had no markings, so I wasn't sure what I should replace it with. It turned out that the battery is a standard "Group 24" size. I replaced mine with a "dual purpose" battery, which is a compromise between a starting battery and deep-cycle battery. Installing one of each type would be best, but the added complexity, cost and charging challenges of this approach outweighed the advantages.

Electrical Wire Replacement

When installing the fused switch panel, I was surprised to find that the original navigation lights were wired with household lamp cord. The electrical connections also didn't impress me. Since I'm operating in a salt water environment, I replaced all of the wiring on the boat with marine-grade wire, which is tinned throughout.

New Centerboard Cable

The centerboard cable is stressed in an area that's not easily visible. Inspect it for damage and replace it if necessary.

The area of stress can be seen from underneath the boat and exists where the cable makes a sharp turn in the pulley within the centerboard well. If the cable breaks, the centerboard will fall - a dangerous condition if you're powering at high speed.

To replace the cable:

  1. Release the tension on the cable
  2. From beneath the boat, unbolt the cable from the centerboard. This isn't easy.
  3. Attach a line to the end of the old cable and pull it up into the boat.
  4. This line will make it easier to pull the new cable back through the tube to the bottom of the boat.
  5. Remove the other end of the cable inside of the boat.
  6. The cable runs through a bracket that you will need to run the new cable through before swaging the ends. Note the orientation of the bracket before cutting the old cable to remove it.
  7. When swaging a new cable, note that the centerboard end has a smaller loop than normal.
  8. This is required for it to work in the small spaces around the centerboard.
  9. Replace the cable by reversing the steps and using the line to pull the new cable through the tube and into the centerboard well.

Trailer Centerboard Bumper

There is a tubular metal support on the trailer directly beneath the centerboard. This prevents the centerboard from lowering while trailering. The vibrations of driving can force the centerboard to hit this support repeatedly, damaging centerboard.

You can place a short length of rubber hose around the center of the support to protect the centerboard. Cut the hose in a spiral pattern along it's length to enable it to fit on the support. The spiral pattern will prevent the hose from falling off. If you're operating in salt water, use a large enough hose leave a space between the hose and the support so salt water won't be trapped between the hose and the metal support.

Trailer Guidepost Cover

The factory guideposts on the trailer are made of painted steel. If you rub against them when docking the boat on the trailer, it will leave a mark on your boat.

Place a length of PVC pipe over the metal posts to protect your boat. The pipe will roll if rubbed against and won't mark your hull.

Replacement Rudder Bolts

The factory bolts that hold the rudders in the "down" position are made from bronze or brass to enable them to shear should the rudders strike something. It's been reported that nylon bolts will also do the job should you have trouble finding brass in the correct size. Always use steel bolts to hold the rudders up when trailering, as the forces encountered when trailering can bend or break the shear bolts.

Smoother Steering

Insert nylon washers between the two stainless steel bearing surfaces found in the steering mechanism to improve the smoothness of the steering mechanism.