FAQs - Boating Hardware | Stainless Steel Marine Hardware

Boating Hardware FAQs

Have questions about GEM or the products we make? We've compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions and provided the answers here. If you still have questions about anything please don't hesitate to call or email us!

General Question

Where can I purchase your products?

You can either purchase online or by calling us direct. However, by setting up an account online you can create a username and password where all of your information will be stored.

Where are your products manufactured?

We have life-long partnerships with our supply chain partners all over the world, including vendors right here in the The United States, New Zealand, Taiwan, Thailand, China and Vietnam.

What forms of payment do you accept?

  • Customers may pay in terms with approved credit applications.
  • We accept the following major credit cards: Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover. (Please see our Shipping page for limitations on international payments.)
  • We also accept wire transfer and ACH payments.

How are international orders handled?

  • International orders are welcomed and accepted.
  • Please see our Shipping page for more details on international shipping.

Do you accept walk-in customers?

We will be happy to help with any visitors that come by GEM. However, we recommend calling in advance with any questions you may have so that we will be more prepared when you arrive.

Where do your products ship from?

All products ordered directly through GEM ship directly from our facility in Jacksonville, Fl. All freight and handling charges will be FOB Jacksonville.

What are your hours?

Our hours are from 8:00 AM-5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time Monday through Thursday, and 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on Friday.

Do you have a list of all the parts that you have sold to boat companies and what models they put them on?

Although we have a good idea of what each boat company buys from us, we do not have model-specific product information available. Generally, we can figure it out pretty quickly with an e-mailed photo of what you are trying to replace.

Do you offer fasteners for your products?

No, but we offer our Gemstallation Kit, which includes chrome-plated SS fasteners for a variety of installation applications.

How can I cancel my order?

Orders move fast through our system, you can try to call us right away to cancel, but in most cases, we cannot accommodate canceling orders after they have been placed.

Rod Holder Questions

What is the difference between your coastal and your deluxe rod holders?

  • Standard Coastal series rod holders have a cast head that is welded to the tube in 3 places. The standard Coastal series has a press fit pin and a cold formed tube.
  • Deluxe Rod holders are an improved version of the Coastal series. Improvements include:
    • 316 cast stainless steel tube with a mirror polish
    • Full cast pin for strength
    • Cast head with a Full weld to attach the cast head to tube

What hole size do I need for the different rod holders?

  • Coastal and Deluxe Rod holders require a 2 1/8 cut out.
  • Bluewater (screwless) rod holders require a 2 1/8" cut out (2.125" hole saw).
  • Bluewater/HD (screwless and swivel base) require a 2 5/8" cut out (2.625" hole saw).
  • 3" hole saw if using the extended nut kit with the Bluewater/HD rod holders.
  • Rod Holder/Cup Holders require a 3 3/8" hole cutout.

What is the policy on the Bluewater rod holder install socket?

For easier installation of the bluewater, big game, and swivel base rod holders we offer an installation tool. Many who use this tool want the opportunity to return it once they have installed their rod holders. We charge a one-time fee of $75.00 for each installation socket. This socket can be returned for a full refund, or can be kept for future use. It's completely up to you!

Will your Bluewater rod holder cover my existing screw holes?

We offer a footprint for all of our Bluewater Rod Holders that can be printed to check and see if our Rod Holder will cover your existing screw holes. This can be found under the "downloads" on each spepfic Rod Holder product page.

What is the inside diameter of the Bluewater series rod holders?

The standard Bluewater rod holder ID is 1.69" and the HD bluewater rod holder ID is 1.75".

Latch Questions

Latch Questions

What is the difference between compression latches and lift and turn latches?

  • Our standard lift and turn latches are a favorite. These latches come standard with two cams (offset and straight), and a flat backing plate. Tension is created by positioning the preferred cam to the striking surface by adjusting a jam nut and lock nut together on either side of the cam. There is NO movement of the shaft (or compression) when the handle is lifted up or down. The cam just turns when the handle is turned.
  • Our compression latches offer a number of advantages:
    • Water tight
    • True compression is created when the handle is lifted up or down creating a sealed fit for you hatch
    • 3 different backing plates offered depending on thickness of your hatch
    • Up to 9 different cams offered with the latch to fit all possible applications.

What threads are on the screws that are used with the compression and slam latches?

  • Slam latches are offered with either a 16mm or a 20mm option, with thread being M5 X 0.8
  • Compression latches come with a 20mm screw, with thread being M5 X 0.8

Outriggers, Bases, & Fishing System

Will our outrigger poles fit other bases on the market?

Yes. We currently make adaptors that will allow our outriggers to fit the following bases in addition to the new GEMLUX base: Taco, Rupp, Tigress, ETEC, and Lee’s Sidewinder.

Will our outrigger base drop in the same hole as your existing base?

Yes. The GEMLUX® Bluewater Outrigger Base matches the existing hole pattern for nearly all existing outrigger bases. Be sure your current top is not tooled in for a square mount. Also, be sure to check your handle clearance when attempting to switch from your current base to a GEMLUX® Base. Remember, a minimum of 6" clearance is required for full 360-degree rotation (although a shorter handle option is now available).

What is the internal dimension of the tube on your outrigger base?

The internal dimension of the tube on the GEMLUX® Bluewater outrigger base is 1.6".

What kind of line do you recommend for your outriggers?

400 lb monofilament (2.0MM) or any of the new braided rigging lines on the market.

Do you have replacement parts for my old Bly riggers?

We have completely changed the hardware on the new GEMLUX® outriggers, and unfortunately, we do not offer any replacement parts for the older Bly Riggers.

How do I care for my Outriggers?

All of our outriggers are coated with Awlgrip. Click here to learn more

Friction Hinge Questions

Is it normal not to be able to move my new friction hinges by hand?

Yes!! Most are NOT able to move friction hinges by hand. This is perfectly normal. The hinge will move just fine once installed and proper torque can be applied to move the hinge. PLEASE NOTE: Friction hinges are pre-set at the factory, and are NOT meant to be adjusted by the end user.

Are your friction hinges adjustable?

NO, the friction hinges are pre set at the factory. Attempting to adjust them will damage them, and void any warranty.

What are the torque ratings for the friction hinges?

The standard torque setting for our friction hinges are pre-set to approximately 45 in lbs. PLEASE BE ADVISED: These hinges are NOT adjustable.

What is the difference between GEN1 and GEN2 friction hinges?

Generation 1 friction hinges were our first production friction hinges. They were pre-set to a torque rating of approximately 35 in-lbs. Once in the field, most customers found that they needed more friction. That is when we designed the next generation (GEN2) of friction hinges. These hinges have a pre-set torque rating of approximately 45 in-lbs.


The GEMLUX® Stainless Steel products on your boat are made to the highest quality standards. Here at GEM, we want all of our customers to have access to information on how to properly care for your hardware. Stringent quality control processes such as metallurgical analysis; precision polishing, multiple inspections, and Six-Sigma procedures ensure the highest quality possible. In order to ensure that your GEMLUX® Stainless Steel maintains its beautiful finish, it is critical that you care for it properly.

Stainless Steel Care Information

WARNING: Your Stainless Steel can be damaged by exposure to acids and other corrosive agents found in many cleaning products. A partial list of additives that may cause staining and a weakening of the finish are provided below. Use of these and other similar solutions to clean your boat can cause your Stainless Steel to bleed and will void your warranty.

  • Bleach
    Chlorsulphonic Acid
    EZ-ON, EZ-OFF Cleaner
    Ferric Chloride
    Ferrous Chloride
    Ferrous Iodide
  • Flourine
    Hydrobromic Acid
    Hydrocloric Acid
    Hydroflouric Acid
    Hydrofluoailicic Acid
    Marine Spray Nine
  • Muriatic Acid
    On & Off Cleaner
    Rust StainsAway
    Silver Chloride
    Sodium Biflouride
    Sodium Chlorite
  • Sodium Hypochlorite
    Soft Scrub
    Stannic Chloride
    Sulphur Chloride
    Sulphuric Acid


Frequent cleaning of your stainless steel with soap, water, and Super Stainless will help maintain the finish. Always rinse the metal thoroughly with clean water and dry completely. Clean soft cloths or pads should be used. The use of steel wool pads or other highly abrasive brushes or sponges are not recommended and will damage the surface.

Contamination of the surface by chemicals, dirt, or other material hinders the passivation process and traps corrosive agents, thus reducing corrosion protection.

Proper Installation Information

Proper Installation of Marine Hardware

Hardware that lives near the waterline and is subject to movement, like gudgeons and backstay fittings, needs to be securely fitted and mounted with sufficient bedding so that water will not penetrate the hull.

Regardless of its size, location, or the required strength, every deck fitting must be bedded for two good reasons. Decks and fittings are not perfectly smooth and flat, and will allow water to be trapped in the cracks and crevices left if they are simply bolted together. This moisture is destructive to many metal fittings and will eventually find its way inside the boat, resulting in an even more annoying and destructive leak. If the deck is built of plywood or balsa-cored fiberglass, water will penetrate the core, requiring an expensive repair in later years. Bedding compound is cheap by comparison.

Use a good-quality, marine-grade caulk from a recognized company when installing deck hardware. These products have UV and other inhibitors added that cheap, home-center products do not. Most sailors rely on 3M, Sikaflex, and LifeCaulk for these caulks. Be aware that there are three distinctly different marine caulking/bedding products on the market. Silicones have limited applications and are good where unloaded plastic parts, such as a bulkhead compass, are to be installed in the cockpit. Many silicones cure very fast and can be hard to work with. At the other end of the spectrum are the polyurethanes, which are listed as adhesive sealants. These are only for permanent bonding, such as a hull to a deck, and should not be used to bed down any piece of gear that you'll ever want to remove for replacement or repair. Lastly, the polysulfides are usually the best choice for most deck installations. Read the manufacturer's information for the item you are installing as well as the instructions on the tube of caulking—there are special considerations with some things like plastic portlights where the bedding compound may be incompatible with the fitting material. There are specialty and blended caulking compounds to suit these applications.

Bedding is a messy process when done incorrectly. The stuff can spread like wildfire, and if allowed to contact a porous fitting such as a teak handrail, caulking will be very difficult to remove. The proper way to avoid a mess is to dry fit the piece of hardware after the holes are drilled. This allows you one last chance to ensure that the holes line up, that you have all the proper backing plates, washer, nuts, and that the bolts are the proper length. When all is in good order, mask the deck around the fitting leaving just a barely-visible line of deck showing (if it is round, use lots of little overlapping pieces of tape).

Now remove the fitting, clean up your drill holes in the deck with a small countersink, and mask the edge of the fitting leaving that same hair's width of metal or plastic showing. Make sure the deck and fitting are cleaned of any drilling chips, dry, and free of any grease or oil—a swipe with an acetone rag won't hurt. Then, slather the compound on. When you put the fitting on the deck, rotate it and slide it around to ensure an even coating between them. Then insert and tighten the fasteners all but the last turn. With bolts, please note that this takes two people, so have your helper lined up first or you'll be wandering around the docks looking for help, spreading caulk along the way.

Before the bedding that has oozed out all around the fitting has time to get stiff, assemble lots of paper towels and a waste bucket lined with a plastic bag. If you're squeamish about using your fingers to wipe away the excess caulking and shape it, wear a latex rubber glove or use a shaped tongue depressor—but nothing works as well as a bare finger and acetone will get most of it off later. Keep wiping the excess onto the paper towels until you see clean masking tape, then remove the tape (carefully and under complete control to avoid spreading caulking everywhere) and throw it in your waste can. Voilà! A perfectly clean installation. Now throw the waste bag away before it blows overboard.

Notice that you didn't turn that last bit on the fasteners. Many caulks shrink a bit as they cure. When fully mature, you will have a custom-made, form-fitted rubber gasket under your fitting. In about a week for most caulks, you can take that last turn on the fasteners and put the gasket in compression, giving you a leak-resistant joint that will last for years.

This article was originally published on SailNet in February 2001.

Ethanol Warnings Information

Ethanol Warnings for GEM Products, Inc.

Please be advised that GEM Products, Inc. is not responsible for any fuel system problems related to Ethanol.

GEM stronly advises boaters to use Ethanol free gasoline. Please see the articles below for more information.

Ethanol - What is the problem?

Can E10 fuel hurt your boat and motor?

Since the 1980's boat motor manufacturers have known E10 fuel was coming and have been creating products to withstand it. Can E10 fuel hurt your boat and motor? The industry answer is "no" but we feel the real answer is "beware".

What does all this mean for your engines?

The two most harmful qualities in Ethanol are solvent and hygroscopic. Because ethanol is a solvent it cleans out the inside of your fuel tank, fuel lines, and combustion chambers. It is very important to use a high quality 10 micron fuel filter when swapping over to E10. With the correct filter that is checked often you can catch most of the debris that E10 creates in your fuel system. The solvent side to ethanol unfortunately creates another problem that we cannot stop. It dissolves and softens inferior fuel lines, gaskets, and fiberglass fuel tanks. As a boat owner be aware of this issue when trying to diagnose engine problems' check for fuel lines that have come apart internally and gaskets that are leaking or breaking apart. In any of these scenarios the outcome to the solvent based problems with E10 is a clogged fuel system, whether it is an injector, carburetor, or fuel connector.

What is Hygroscopic?

Hygroscopic you say, what is that? Hygroscopic refers to the ability of a chemical to absorb and hold water. E10 has 50 times the water absorption rate of normal gasoline. Because of this E10 should never be stored for more than 90 days without inspecting your fuel before use. If E10 absorbs to much water it creates a phase separation, creating a layer of water, a layer of alcohol, and a layer of gasoline in your fuel tank. Running your engine on either water or alcohol will have catastrophic affects. As a boat owner you can remedy this problem by having a proper water separating filter in your boat that is inspected regularly, and by placing only the amount of fuel in your boat that you use in a 2-3 week period.

Fuel Additives, Friend or Foe?

The final thing to address is the E10 fuel additives. Never use fuel additives with alcohol. If you want to swap to E10, do it without any fuel additives; many times fuel additives only complicate E10. If you choose to use a fuel additive make sure that it is for ethanol fuel. E10 is reality that we must all deal with at some time or another, the greatest tool you have as a boat owner in swapping over to E10 is education, knowing what you are getting into and knowing what to expect.

Written by Sea Center in Big Pine Key and Published on "The Hull Truth" 9/15/11.

The problem with Ethanol

SEBRING — Imagine, they said back in the 1970s, when an Arab oil embargo sent gasoline prices skyrocketing from 25 to 50 cents per gallon.

Imagine. We could grow our own fuel. We could make alcohol from corn and potatoes and soybeans, and our cars could run on it.

It burns cleaner. It's cheaper. It's renewable. It's made in America.

But it turns out, ethanol isn't the miracle fuel it's cracked up to be.

Ethanol Retains Water

"I just purchased a fuel additive made by Sta-Bil to disperse the water that ethanol causes," says Tom Moeller, a Highlands County man who was boating in Georgia last week.

Why does Moeller's boat have water in the fuel tank?

"Alcohol attracts water," said Bobby Willis of Central Florida Yamaha in Lake Placid. "It creates a water problem in your fuel."

Now there's an irony. Ethanol attracts water, and watercraft like WaveRunners and boat motors are constantly in the water.

Yamaha, says Willis, suggests installing a 10-micron filter. "It costs about $50. You can install it yourself. Just cut your fuel line and put it in the line."

"Ten percent ethanol is tolerable for use by WaveRunners," Willis said. "It can get more drastic, especially if you're using E85."

With the exception of BP, all major brand gas stations in Highlands County sell 10 percent ethanol. Only unbranded stations, like 7 Days, Hendricks Corner, An Foodstore and Mystik, sell gasoline without ethanol.

Ethanol Dissolves Plastic

"Ethanol can dissolve some solid materials," says a June 2006 Yamaha advisory to dealers. That includes varnish and rust on steel and corrosion on aluminum tanks. The result is contaminated fuel.

"In some cases, ethanol has been known to dissolve components of the fuel system itself," said Willis.

"Some fuel tanks and fuel lines are made of plastic, and ethanol is eating away at the plastic," said Jimmi Fredricks, service manager at Freedom Marine in Lake Placid. "It turns into a jelly, and when you get to the bottom of the fuel tank, it starts sucking it in."

Larson Boats, which Fredricks sells, recommends using no ethanol at all.

"Fiberglass is the worst. If you have a fiberglass tank, you need to replace the tank. Get it out of there," Fredricks says. Engineers, who have been dealing with the ethanol problem for two years, are now starting to retrofit fuel systems with plastic that can't be dissolved by alcohol.

According to an April 9 story carried on the Dow Jones newswires, a federal class action lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles has charged ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell and other oil companies with manufacturing and selling ethanol blended gasoline that damages marine fuel tanks, engines and other components.

"The oil companies know this fuel is corrosive, but they're keeping consumers in the dark to pump up their profits," said Brian Kabateck, lead attorney on the case. "The cost to the consumer is thousands of dollars in repairs."

The suit seeks to represent owners of boats with fiberglass tanks who fueled their tanks with ethanol blended gasoline from a California retailer.

Ethanol Dissolves Gum

At the Shell convenience store on Main Street and CR 17 in Avon Park, owner Mohammed Shamim said filters on the pumps must be changed several times a week.

"They're always clogging up," said Shamim.

Ask any painter: alcohol is a good paint stripper. It breaks off old varnish, gums, and resin deposited by years of gasoline sitting around in tanks. Then it turns into sticky goo, plugs filters, sticks up carburetors and fuel injectors, and causes everything from mild drops in performance to complete engine shutdown, says Matthew A. Cohen, writing for teamrsm.com.

"The ethanol found in those states' gasoline supply can cause thousands of dollars in damage to the boats," Cohen says. "Ethanol eventually pulls gums, resins and debris out of the tanks and into the engine."

Ethanol Gets Poor Gas Mileage

Another downside: ethanol is more expensive than gasoline. Since alcohol produces less energy than petroleum gasoline when burned, gas mileage is reduced by 10 to 30 percent, according to Consumer Reports, October 2006.

"To see how E85 ethanol stacks up against gasoline, Consumer Reports put one of its test vehicles, a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe Flexible-Fuel Vehicle, through an array of fuel economy, acceleration, and emissions tests," said a Consumer Reports article. "Overall fuel economy on the Tahoe dropped from an already low 14 mpg overall to 10. In highway driving, gas mileage decreased from 21 to 15 mpg; in city driving, it dropped from 9 mpg to 7."

When Consumer Reports calculated the Tahoe's driving range, it decreased to about 300 miles on a full tank of E85 compared with about 440 miles on gasoline. So, motorists using E85 have to fill up more often.

Joe Rutigliano of Joe's Service Center in Avon Park has seen increased complaints about "check engine" lights. Most involve the car's sensors not being able to measure oxygen correctly, which he says has to do with how rapidly ethanol burns.

The sensor works with a computer that controls the ratio of air to gasoline that's inside the engine. What might be happening, Rutigliano said, is that unburned gasoline is being emitted from the engine because of the sensor malfunction.

"If you start dumping unburned gas, you're talking about damaging the catalytic converter," he said. That's at least a $150 repair job. On some cars, it's $1,100.

This is especially true for cars built in 2003 or earlier, he said.

One customer brought in a Toyota Prius that was averaging 51 mpg. Now it's down to 40 mpg. Rutigliano is convinced it's the ethanol.

But Kelly Payne, who owns a tree care service in Sebring, believes his older car fleet can handle it just fine. He owns a 2005 Sea Pro, a 2006 pickup truck, and operates 1980s and 1990s trucks, all using unleaded gasoline. None had a noticeable drop in fuel efficiency or problems he thought were caused by ethanol.

Good And Bad News

This is from Forbes magazine: "Ethanol, once heralded as the homegrown Nicorette gum of America's oil addiction, is getting a second look from lawmakers..."

Distilling ethanol is an energy-intensive process that often uses water, electricity generated from coal, another source of greenhouse emissions.

Which leads to an old joke about a farmer who buys land. After the closing, when it's way too late to back out, the seller says to the farmer: "Oh. By the way. You'll need water."

It takes three gallons of water to make one gallon of ethanol, according to domesticfuel.com. That's interesting news in drought-stricken Florida, where manufacturers are popping up to make ethanol.

Here's a true story, repeated in February 2007 by Tampa newspapers: Florida's first ethanol plant, U.S. EnviroFuels LCC, will need 390,000 gallons of fresh water every day to run its ethanol plant at Tampa's port. That's enough for nearly 1,500 homes, which are under once-a-day watering restrictions.

ONLINE: A History Of Ethanol

Is Your Vehicle E85 Compatible?

Check the 8th digit in the Vehicle Identification Number.

Go to www.e85fuel.com/information/vin.php

In Fords with certain engines, for instance, if the eighth digit of the VIN shows a "V" on a Ford Crown Victoria, an F-150 or Ranger pickup truck, a Lincoln Town Car, a Mazda B3000 pickup or a Mercury Grand Marquis, the car can be fueled with 15 percent ethanol.


• Replace pre-1985 fiberglass tanks.
• Replace fuel lines, o-rings and gaskets that aren't built for ethanol.
• Inspect hose clamps and metal fittings in the fuel system for corrosion.
• Refill the fuel tank often to reduce airspace in the tank, which reduces water condensation.
• Install a fuel line water separator to eliminate water that collects in the tank.
• Use fuel additives to stop fuel from aging and oxidizing.
• Use de-emulsifying or hydrophobic additives to prevent water from homogenizing with fuel.
• Never use a fuel additive that emulsifies water.
• Never buy fuel that isn't clear and bright.
• Do not use E10 contaminated with water without a combustion-enhancing additive.
• Do not leave a near-empty fuel tank sitting for long periods of time.

Source: Matthew Cohen, teamrsm.com

By Gary Pinnell | Highlands Today
Published: June 22, 2008
Originally posted here.