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Quick Tip: Latch Adjustment

Rattling hatches driving you crazy? Eliminate annoying noises with a quick latch adjustment.

Quick Tip: How to Adjust Storage Compartment Latches

The cam latches that secure the hatches on the storage compartments of many boats are simple, yet awesome pieces of engineering.

Exaggeration? Not at all. They hold securely and are fast and easy to open. They perform as intended for years or even decades with only regular freshwater rinsing and a little periodic lubrication. They also sit virtually flush with the hatch surface to spare your bare feet.

However, if you hear a bit of thumping and rattling every time you traverse a wake or hit a modest chop, it probably means you’ve got a latch that needs adjustment. In this Mercury Quick Tip Video, we show you how to locate and adjust loose latches so you can say goodbye to unpleasant noises and ensure that your stowed items stay secure. A tight hatch also helps keep moisture out of storage areas. All it takes to make the adjustment is a hex key and a few minutes of trial and error.

Here are the steps:

  1. Determine if a latch needs adjustment by tugging on the handle with the latch still in the locked position. If there is more than 1/8 inch or so of play, the latch is too loose.

  2. Open the hatch and locate the set screw that holds the latch’s cam in place. The cam is the flat or Z-shaped piece of metal that hooks under the rim of the compartment to tighten the hatch. On most latches, it mounts on a threaded shaft and projects out perpendicular to the shaft.  
  3. With an appropriate-sized hex key, often called an Allen wrench, turn the set screw counterclockwise to loosen it just enough so the cam will spin by hand on the threaded shaft.

  4. Spin the cam two or three complete revolutions clockwise then snug up the set screw. Note: It’s important to turn the cam in full revolutions or the cam and the handle won’t synch up in the locked position at the same time.

  5. Close the hatch and lock it to see if there is still play in the latch. Repeat Step 4 until the hatch snugs down how you want it. If the cam is hard to engage or disengage when you twist the handle, loosen the set screw and turn the cam counterclockwise a turn or two. Then test it again.

  6. Once you’ve got the cam adjusted where you want it, tighten the set screw firmly and give the entire latch mechanism a light coat of a quality rust inhibitor/lubricant.
Quick Tip: How to Adjust Storage Compartment Latches
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