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Old 10-10-2009
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Swapping Out Wire - Rewire Tips?

The day has arrived, my factory wiring on my Catalina 30 (1979) has gone sour. I've got everything I need for the rewire except for the knowledge of how the wire is buried in the boat hull itself.

What I am trying to say is that the wires on the port side run somewhere inside the topside deck and pop out at various locations for the lights and fans that are there. I would prefer the new wires to do the same because its less unsightly and a bit more protected.

That said, the wires are in there very tightly. Does anyone have suggestions for:
1) How to make pulling the old wire out easier,
2) How to best splice the new wires to the old wires so that the splice is strong enough to be pulled through as well, but not too bulky to catch on things as its being pulled through..
3) How to deal with the internodes (where a side wire ran off the main wire in order to pop out and connect to a light, fan etc.

Thanks!
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Old 10-10-2009
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Can't help you on the first one because my electrical instalation runs acessible in its entire length. I've used some self sticking rubber channel (readily available in DIY stores). That's how it should be on any boat, in my opinion. It's a bit of an aesthetics problem but its a lot safer in case anything goes wrong.

Anyway, to the other two questions:

2) Soldered and shrink tube insulated. This way they sholud be smooth enough to slide in easily;
3) Trash the internodes and replace them with individual wire runs. Once again, safety and reliability gets improoved. The more nodes you have the more nodes there are to transform themselves in problem in the future.

By the way, funny you placed this post today beacuse I´m just finishing replacing the wiring on my Piver Nugget 24 trimaran. Another piece of advice is to make a hinged switch board, that you can acess easily either from the cockpit or from the cabin. Here's mine, almost finished:










Hope to have been of any help.

Regards from Portugal

Pedro
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Old 10-10-2009
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I would recommend not...

putting your electrical panel anywhere near your cockpit. That is just asking for trouble from rainwater salt spray and just plain abuse from people carelessly stumbling through the companionway. There should rarely be a time you have to access the panel underway (turn on nav lights before you need em if you are single handing) To me that just looks like trouble waiting for a place to happen.
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Old 10-12-2009
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2) How to best splice the new wires to the old wires so that the splice is strong enough to be pulled through as well, but not too bulky to catch on things as its being pulled through..

You can get some wire snot/wire lubricant to smear on the new wire so it slides easier. You typically lay the wires next to each other and then tape them together. Let the wires overlap for like 6", then tape them together. Use a lot of tape. Start before the wires overlap, and cover beyond it. Use a lot of tape. No more tape.

The first time I was pulling network wire through conduit and saw the guy I was working with use what seemed to me like half the roll taping the wires together... I thought "Man that is a waste of tape." Sometimes I'd get away with it, but when it got stuck one time and I pulled it apart I learned the value of taping it like crazy.
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Old 10-12-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVPrairieRose View Post
putting your electrical panel anywhere near your cockpit. That is just asking for trouble from rainwater salt spray and just plain abuse from people carelessly stumbling through the companionway. There should rarely be a time you have to access the panel underway (turn on nav lights before you need em if you are single handing) To me that just looks like trouble waiting for a place to happen.
Many thanks for your concern for my safety but, even though this is not my thread, I feel impeled to clarify this question, for the sake of my own advice:

-My boat does not feature a sliding companionway hatch top and only the bulkhead opening is available as an acess to the cabin. As this and if the switchboard is folded to the inside there is no chance of water getting to it, except in the event of sinking and that is very unlikely in a trimaran, as you´re surely aware.

-I normally sail in restricted and uncharted river waters, ocasionally in the heavily shipping congestioned harbour of Lisbon, and I really think it is more of a danger to have to be constantly diving into the cabin to switch stuff on and off than those hypothetical dangers of water splashing arround that you mentioned.

-Careless people do not have a place aboard my boat, nor have I ever seen any of my regular crew (my dad, my girlfriend and my dog), all of them experienced sailors, stumbling anywhere near a boat. People who stumble are better kept ashore;

-A 35 Ah battery has much less autonomy than those batterie banks normally found in motorsailors and the like, and as such I do have the need of frequently switching circuits on and off a lot more oftenly than one might think. Electrical devices such as radio, depth sounder, cabin light, nav lights, auto pilot are only left on during the time they are really needed.

Anyway, once again thanks for your concern and advice but I was not the one asking for it

Regards
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Last edited by pedcab; 10-12-2009 at 04:28 AM.
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Old 10-12-2009
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If in rewiring you think that putting the wires back where they came from is a good plan, I would suggest other wise. It is very important to always make it very easy or as easy as it can be to get to such things. Can you not get access from your bilge to feed up or from the sides of the hull, trust me from a mechanic's piont of veiw its easier to work on things you can get to, and usually produces a much better job. I rewired my Morgan O/I and used the bigle with very great results, which has also permitted me to do further upgrades, with other new installations.
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Old 10-12-2009
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Good luck getting those wires out of the Catalina 30. Been there done that. Most of them were installed before the cabin liner went in and WILL NOT come out no matter what you do. You'll likely need to get creative unless you want to split the deck from the hull then the deck liner from the deck.

This is always a problem with a fiberglass deck liner. You may also find that those wires used in 1979 were undersized for the loads. On my boat it was loaded with 16ga & 18ga wire. The 16 barely meets ABYC min standards and the 18 does not meet it.

Use a good quality UL tinned marine wire and you'll be fine. Also use the right crimping tools, don't skimp here, and use good quality connectors from Ancor, FTZ or AMP.

I prefer adhesive lined heat shrink/crimp connectors but most won't spend that kind of money to do it top notch. If good wire and good adhesive lined heat shrink connectors were used originally you would not be re-wiring today.

Just get creative and forget about running it between the liner and deck as it is likely nearly impossible. I snapped many wires trying to do this on a C-30..



Quote:
Originally Posted by theartfuldodger View Post
I rewired my Morgan O/I and used the bigle with very great results, which has also permitted me to do further upgrades, with other new installations.
ABYC E-11

11.16.4.1.6. Current-carrying conductors shall
be routed as high as practicable above the bilge water
level and other areas where water may accumulate. If
conductors must be routed in the bilge or other areas
where water may accumulate, the connections shall be
watertight.
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 10-12-2009 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 10-12-2009
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The wiring in my bilge is self contained in abs conduit, with sealed access areas, all completely water tight, as well the Morgan has a great bilge, which I doubt would ever see much water near the wiring. One has to think ahead sometimes as to what might happen and start from there.
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Old 10-12-2009
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You might be able to use a fish tape to pull the new wires. About $10-20 for a 25-50' long fish tape in most hardware or electrical stores. This is a rectangular stiff steel wire, in a coil, with a hook on the end. You hook & twist the existing wire to the fish tape, tape over the twists so it is smooth, and then use conduit grease (honest) on the fish tape to let it slide easier. As you pull from the far end of the old wire, it pulls the fish tape through--as best it can be done. You may need to access the wire and help it along, or the old wire may be pinched or epoxied in place in some spot. But, if you can pull the fish tape through, then you twist on the new wire, and reel the fish tape back out, pulling the new wire through where it was.

As to tees and side runs...I'd just pull the main wires through, and make the tee connections afterwards. Pull out some slack, make the connection, push the slack back in and leave it there for future access.

How you make the connections (crimps, solder, etc.) is the subject of many discusssions and the bottom line is probably if you do the connections properly--you can do them however you'd like. There's good and bad to both soldering and crimping.

If you can't run the fish tape through, it is time to look for a new place to run wires.
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Old 10-13-2009
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Although tinned wire is better in terms of resiting corrosion...

THNN machine wire often pulls much better. It is the stuff that goes in conduit and is intended for pulling. Though I agree with other posters - if I can't get to it to repair it, why would I put it back there? I would strongly consider different routing.

It does meet the marine code and will crimp just as well as marine wire. It is very important that the crimps are well made, or the conection will fail. The only real disadvantage is that salt is more likely to do damage if it gets in the insulation at a break or at an end. Heat seal the ends if it is damp and use tinned wire as much as possible where there are conections in the damp.

Do not use THNN wire on engines, other source of exteme virbation, or for battery cables. In these aplications it does not comply - to stiff and subject to cracking.
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