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post #14 of Old 11-01-2012
Maine Sail
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Re: Custom Engine Panel Design

Originally Posted by asdf38 View Post
My 15 year old Yanmar panel (B panel) for my 1GM 10 doesn't look too good. Last season I did a custom electrical panel for the interior and was pretty happy with the results so this year I intend to rebuild the engine panel from scratch.

Has anyone ever done this or thought about it? I'd like to use this thread to get ideas and post plans/results etc as I work on this over the winter.

General Plans:
-Use a combo tachometer like the one below with a digital display for hours and voltage. My current hour meter reads 75...needless to say it hasn't been working in years
-Replace all the alarms/lights with LED's
-Kick proof. In my small cockpit there are no good places for the panel. I plan to leave it in place but want to design a lexan (?) hinged or removable cover.
-Light switches. I want control of the nav and spreader lights (at the least) from the cockpit.
-Keep it simple and high quality. Internal wiring will go to a terminal block which will bridge to a standard Yamar engine cable.

Other Thoughts:
-Key? I'd love to get rid of the need for a dangling, kickable key while sailing/motoring. One idea is to move the key into the cabin. The other idea is to use a key lock to lock down the engine panel cover. Then the key is just used to unlock the cover and gets put away afterward. In either case a switch would replace the functionality of the key for enabling the alarms etc. Thoughts?
-Material? My current plan is to use synthetic lumber but the other option would be fiberglass. I have no experience with glass but would like to have some.
-Button for a horn? It might be nice to add proper horn onto the boat. How many people have horns wired in?
-Indicator lights for 12V and a light from the Bluesea ACR LED output (which I also have on the internal panel)
-Professional print job for the panel? Not sure what this would cost for but it would be nice. Otherwise I need to consider labeling solutions.

Combo Tachometer:
VDO - Tachometer

Example IP67 Switch For lights:
WR11AF NKK Switches | 360-2277-ND | DigiKey

Last Years Project:

Also see
Simple electrical panel
Through the deck connector
Through the Deck
Personally I would keep it as simple as possible. Those rockers SUCK in an exterior location. I jsut replaced three last two weeks ago on a commercial boat. Tested fine for voltage but could not pass any current.

My recommendations would be:

#1 lose the expensive hour meter/volt/tach and go with a simple less expensive version. These tachs DO NOT last very long in the marine environment. Hour meters are cheap and can be in the engine bay and voltage can be displayed on just about any modern plotter.

#2 Lose the buzzer at the panel. There is no need for it in the panel. It can easily be heard if hidden below decks.

#3 Add a temp gauge!! One of the most critical gauges on a sailboat engine panel. Cheap, simple and easy to install.

#4 Add an oil pressure gauge. Again very simple, cheap and allows you to "see" what is going on not just get buzzed where there is an issue. With "idiot lights" you never really know they are working until it is too late. With gauges you can SEE them working.

#5 The on/off key can be a toggle switch and the start button rubber insulated. Alternatively the key can be in a lazarette locker so you don't kick it. Sabre does this..

#6 Lose all the other switches for nav lights etc. All you are doing is extending those circuits and creating more potential for issues. Nav lights need to be 3% voltage drop max. These are critical items for navigation so I would leave all switches for them below decks. Takes me less than 15 seconds to pop to the nav station & turn them on. Exterior mounted switches, keys etc. are one of the most trouble prone items on boats. keeping them out of the elements is always the most reliable choice. I replace switches on open center console boats and walk-arounds etc. like they are going out of style..

My ideal simple engine panel would have:

Start Button
Engine Temp
Oil Pressure

Key or on switch for engine would be separately located in a dry area....

That's it......

-Maine Sail / CS-36T

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