Freshen up Your Craft’s Look before Summer

For obvious reasons, winter sucks for personal watercraft enthusiasts. In most areas of the country, our riding locations are either a) frozen solid b) looking a little slushy or c) still in liquid form, but just downright chilly. For those same reasons, however, winter is also a great time to perform a few little PWC projects you may have been tempted to do, but put off, during the season.

We’re not talking big-budget upgrades, although now is certainly also the time to get them accomplished. We’re talking simple do-it-yourself projects, the kind of stuff you can spend little to obtain, invest only a few hours to install, but pay big dividends in freshening up the form and function of your craft.

5. Billet Accessories

Looking for a little more bling? Consider some billet aluminum accessories to dress up your machine, or give it more of a performance-oriented look.

Available in natural silver, or frequently anodized in a variety of vibrant colors, billet accessories have a distinct custom/performance flair. Gas caps are a quick-and-easy swap for the plastic stockers, require only minutes of installation, and won’t fade or crack from exposure to the sun. (Just remember to attach the safety chain so you don’t drop them in the drink!)

Billet exhaust covers, trigger throttles, and even water bypass fittings are also available.

4. Grips

Yet another practical improvement that enhances the looks of your boat at the same time is to replace a pair of aging or worn grips. You’ll find a wide variety to fit your budget or color scheme, and new grips will ensure you stay in control of your craft when things get extreme.

Don’t be intimidated by old-school horror stories. Replacing grips is easy compared to the past. Most styles no longer require glue, but instead use locking end caps or collars to prevent slippage. Slide the new grips into place, then secure them in position with simple hand tools. The collars or locks themselves can also be color-coordinated to further enhance your machine’s look.

3. Custom Registration Numbers

Nothing ruins the look of a stylish OEM graphics package, or custom paint job, like the application of generic hardware-store registration numbers.

Semi-custom number packages can be found at a variety of marine outlets. Mix and match the contents to get your desired hull numbers. Better yet, look up the local sign shop in your area and price out a set of custom vinyl graphics. You’ll have a wide range of fonts to choose from, even more colors, and the shop will align them precisely for transfer.

Worried you’ll stick things on crooked? Pick up some Sticker-On decal application fluid, or mix up a small amount of liquid soap and water. Spray the solution on the surface, slide your graphics into the perfect position, then squeegee out the water and let dry.

2. Seat Covers

Probably no other simple upgrade can renew the looks of an aging machine more than a new seat cover. Go for a renewed stock look, or update your machine’s colors. Replacement seat covers are stitched to exactly match the contours of a wide variety of stock seats, and can be custom designed to feature a mix of colors and materials.

Want more “traction” from your seat? Look at non-slip materials, originally designed for the racecourse. Metallics and carbon fiber patterns have also recently been made available in vinyl.

1. Traction Mats

Yes, traction mats could be the most popular upgrade of all time. Whether it’s because your stock mats are worn or torn, or simply because you want to give the boat a fresh blast of color, traction mats are a simple, cost-effective way to increase not only the appeal of your craft, but also its function.

We won’t kid you…peeling up the old mats is no fun. Get a wide blade paint scraper and some solvent, and keep squirting the solvent into the attached edge before scraping underneath. Don’t worry about roughing up the surface below the mats — a rougher texture will help create a stronger bond for the new adhesive.

Not thrilled about working with contact cement? Try a spray product like 3M’s Hi-Strength 90 Spray Adhesive. It goes on with minimal mess, dries transparent, and most important of all holds tenaciously in wet conditions.

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