February 11, 2016
By Joe Malat
Easy fix for accessing those under-leaning post coolers.
Marine cooler under a leaning post is a commnon configuration on modern fishing boats.
For years, I struggled every time I wanted to open the lid on the big cooler under my bayboat's leaning post. The cooler serves as a fish box and the top of it sits only a few inches below the seat support. It was impossible to lift the lid more than a few inches and difficult at best to slide the cooler far enough out to be able to open it, especially if the box was filled with enough ice to chill a catch.
A couple years ago several brands of cooler slides emerged on the boating scene, providing a cure for this dilemma which apparently was shared by a number of my fellow boaters and anglers. These slides look sharp and work like a dream but these slick commercially produced products are out of the range of my budget.
I enjoy do-it-yourself projects, especially if they can save me a few bucks so I began to shop around for something I could fabricate that would allow me to easily pull the cooler out from under the leaning post. I found what I needed at a local hardware store and a marine supply shop.
The key components are poly-type marine grade plastic slides designed to be mounted on carpeted boat trailer bunks. The style I opted for is light duty, made to support a light weight jet ski or small boat. Three of the glides are mounted on the bottom of the cooler and two are secured to my boat's deck and spaced so they support the weight of the cooler and its contents, yet they considerably reduce the amount of contact surface area and friction between the 94 quart Igloo cooler and the non-skid deck.
Off the shelf, the glides measured 17 ½ inches long by 3 inches wide and are ½ inch thick. I trimmed a couple inches off the pieces intended for the cooler so they would not stick out from either side and become a trip hazard. A carpenter's miter box and saw enabled me to make neat, square cuts. I did not trim the pieces that were secured to the deck.
The glides, which come with counter sunk, pre-drilled holes, are mounted to the boat with stainless steel screws. Pilot holes were drilled in the deck and each location for a screw hole was covered with a piece of painter's tape to minimize chipping the fiberglass when I drilled the holes. A dab of 5200 marine sealant was squirted into each screw hole and a bead of sealant was applied around the outside edge of the glides to prevent water from working its way where it shouldn't be. The glides were mounted to the bottom of the cooler in the same fashion, again with a liberal amount of 5200 to bond the slick plastic glides to the cooler. Be sure the screws are sized so they do not pierce the inside liner of the cooler.
After everything was assembled and in place I realized a handle was needed to pull out the cooler, so I installed a chrome plated brass handle centered at the top of the cooler just below the lid. This handle is used to move a box full of several pounds of cooler, ice and (hopefully) fish, so I through-bolted the handle. Nylon insert stainless steel lock nuts secured the handle then the bolts were trimmed with a hack saw and dressed with a file so sharp edges are not a worry. I can pull out the box easily with one hand.
The cost of the trailer glides was only three dollars each and the total spent for all materials including the glides, a small tube of sealant, screws and a good quality handle was less than twenty five dollars. Total time on the job was about two hours and much of that time was spent measuring carefully and verifying those numbers before I drilled or cut.
I've been using this set up for about a year and it works very well. My boat's livewell is located just aft of the cooler and I often use this area as a bait prep station. For convenience I added a poly knife holder to one side of the cooler and I use a short piece of ½ inch PVC pipe to prop open the cooler when needed. FS
First published Florida Sportsman February 2015