How to Set up Marine Engine Hatch Actuators

Are you a happy owner of a personal boat, yacht, or some other marine vessel? Then you probably know how cumbersome it may get to reach the engine area of your vehicle at times. Stock access hatches are often quite heavy and tend to become even heavier to lift and awkward to operate manually over time.

Unless you own a premium-class expensive yacht with a stock automated engine access, you may want to fix the ‘heavy-lifting’ issue to save your nerves and fingers’ durability. And, in our era of all-around, all-consuming, and readily available automation capabilities, it is not even necessary to employ expensive expert services or spending huge money on automation parts.

Most everybody is capable of conducting this simple technical procedure single-handedly, considering the wide availability of various types of the main moving part in automated hatch access solutions – linear actuator. These extremely useful, multipurpose devices can be effortlessly bought either in specialized physical stores or online.

If you decide to automate your marine engine hatch with your own hands, in total, you are about to spend no more than $300 on an electric actuator with all the commutation in the package. Why exactly the electric type and what to begin with when starting automating your engine hatch? Read on to find out. Let’s start off with getting to know the linear actuator device a bit better.

Linear Actuator – A Multipurpose & Affordable Lifting Power

The main purpose of linear actuators is genius in its simplicity – they create straight-line motion to enable the automated movement of many machine tools, industrial machinery solutions, computer peripherals etc. They brought invaluable opportunities of cost-efficient automated movement of complex machines to the industrial sectors and now, depending on the size, type, and main purpose, are used in most various types of devices by regular people outside of the industrial area of activity.

Types of Actuators

The discussed devices vary by several general types that fit respective technical purposes and conditions. Thus, each of the following types can be efficiently employed in a certain automated solution that is planned to perform according to the characteristics of certain environments and technical specifications.


This type of linear actuators, basically, converts rotary motion into the linear with the help of several consistent parts: screw (an actuator’s nut rotation makes the screw shaft move in line); wheel and axle; and cam (which gives thrust to the shaft base). These are sturdy devices that are prevalently used on manufactures and industrial areas.


Also called hydraulic cylinders, these actuators are made out of a hollow cylinder with piston going through it and use pressure as the main source of pushing energy. These are high-precision devices that are used in various pumps, car jacks, and such.


These are practically identical to hydraulic solutions except they use compressed gas to enable screw movement. These are pretty convenient as they only require an air compressor to operate. However, they often leak gas and are cumbersome to install in some compact places.

Piezoelectric & Electro-Mechanical

Voltage makes these devices expand and serve their main purpose. Electric in nature and very precise in motion, yet, usually, limited in range and not particularly fine in repeated operation, such actuators are great for automated lifting solutions such as the one we will tell you how to implement in the article.

What Type of Actuator to Use for Boat Engine Hatch?

In terms of building an automated engine access hatch for your vessel, we will go past hydraulic or pneumatic devices and recommend you to purchase a convenient electro-mechanical device. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and, usually, features all the required commutation and switches right in the package.
Considering that we are working on a device that is to operate while roaming in the waters, pay attention to the class of protection an actuator you are planning to purchase features. We need an actuator of the IP67M protection, which is water protection that makes your device completely waterproof and secure amongst the sea.

Where to Buy?

An excellent waterproof, high-quality solution can be bought online in a matter of seconds. There are various types of these tech tools available on the web. Choose the one you consider to be most reasonably priced and that features the above type and protection class characteristics. As for the dimensions (size) of an actuator, selecting an average electric solution will do you just fine – those usually lift 22-180 kilograms and more. Heavy marine hatches can way approximately 45-50 kilos or more. You can go by the above link to get a good tool.

Notice. 2-24-inch stroke means that an actuator will be about 26-inches long when extended completely (i.e. additional length of the device must be considered).

Make sure to also purchase some additional parts, in particular:

  • 12-volt ram with internal switches (to exclude any jamming occurrences);
  • some pins;
  • two steel brackets;
  • any toggle-type or spring-loaded rocker switch;
  • rubber boot (for sturdiness).

All that can also be purchased online or in your local hardware store.

Installing Actuators to Implement Automated Engine Hatch

Now let’s get to business. Once you have purchased an electric linear actuator with all the wires and switches, it is time to prepare it to fit your hatch, firstly:

1. Rubber Boot

How to Set up Marine Engine Hatch Actuators 1

As a great measure of precaution, especially for those roaming the salt-watered seas, a rubber footing will serve greatly. Just find a corresponding to your actuator model rubber boot and slide it right over the motor of an actuator – it should make your solution sturdy and durable.

2. Base Installation

The total length of your actuator will be about two inches longer than the stroke of a ram. With that knowledge in mind, attach your actuators to the base underneath the hatch – drill the respective holes and screw it in. However, before screwing everything in permanently, you can just tape it down and check that the actuator works properly and lifts your hatch fully. The same goes for the upper hatch base.

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Down base


How to Set up Marine Engine Hatch Actuators 3

Upper base


3. Safety Latch Pin

Install a latch pin for emergency measures, for instance, to prevent the inaccessibility of your engine area in the case of power failure. Attach it to the ram’s hatch-end. In case of an emergency, you will be able to simply pull the pin and release the hatch.

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4. Motor Routing

There are two wire leads on the sealed actuator motor – connect them to the 12-volt positive & negative. Route the positive side through an in-line fuse or circuit breaker. The product providers usually include instructions on doing all that – you may have to do a bit of soldering. The heat-shrink tubing cover will help your connections avoid the harmful effects of moisture and significant vibrations.

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5. Switch

Now, all you need to do is install the switch anywhere it is accessible for you to reach and the work is done. Check if everything works properly, it should.

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Congrats, you made it. It was pretty simple, wasn’t it? A few holes drilled and screws put in here and there, a bit of soldering, perhaps, and voila! Enjoy your automated engine hatch lift. An awesome place to purchase top-notch quality linear actuators of all types, sizes, and protection classes, by the way, is the Progressive Automation online outlet. Check it out!

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