Electrical Help Needed - SailNet Community

   Search Sailnet:

 forums  store  


Quick Menu
Forums           
Articles          
Galleries        
Boat Reviews  
Classifieds     
Search SailNet 
Boat Search (new)

Shop the
SailNet Store
Anchor Locker
Boatbuilding & Repair
Charts
Clothing
Electrical
Electronics
Engine
Hatches and Portlights
Interior And Galley
Maintenance
Marine Electronics
Navigation
Other Items
Plumbing and Pumps
Rigging
Safety
Sailing Hardware
Trailer & Watersports
Clearance Items

Advertise Here






Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
 Not a Member? 
  #1  
Old 04-22-2009
montenido's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 323
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 7
montenido is on a distinguished road
Electrical Help Needed

Hi all, I am trying to trouble shoot my bow nav lights (1981 Catalina 30). The stern light still works, but not the green and red up front. Today I looked into my anchor locker where the lights are located and found tons of electrical tape, non-marine crimps and wire. So I replaced all the wiring from where it disappeared into the hull back up to the lights. Still no lights. Opened my panel and found an amazing birds nest. Now I should mention that all the lights worked when I bought the boat in June last year. So I tried to check for loose or broken connections behind the panel, but didn't really find anything.

So, to my questions. I eventually want to replace the single panel with 6 breakers with something a bit more modern and roomy. In the meantime, I would like to tidy up the current wiring so that it will accept the new equipment with no problem. My first question is this - Do all the negative wires for each circuit end at the buss bar? Is there also, or could there be, a positive buss bar? One reason the wiring looks so bad is there are three negative wires attached to each lug on the current buss bar. I have purchased a replacement with triple the lugs to help with this problem.

To re-wire the forward running lights would I just tap into the wires that feed the stern light, and use new wire to the forward lights? That is my current plan of action. When I checked for voltage at the lights, I had continuity, but not 12v. I should mention that my steaming light and deck light no longer work also. Is this indicative of a failed ground in the circuit?

Sorry, but I am learning as I go, so any tips or advice are greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Bill
__________________
Odyssey, '79 CSY 44 Cutter
Channel Islands, CA


"There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage."
Mark Twain
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #2  
Old 04-22-2009
sailingdog's Avatar
Telstar 28
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
Posts: 43,291
Thanks: 0
Thanked 9 Times in 9 Posts
Rep Power: 13
sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by montenido View Post
Hi all, I am trying to trouble shoot my bow nav lights (1981 Catalina 30). The stern light still works, but not the green and red up front. Today I looked into my anchor locker where the lights are located and found tons of electrical tape, non-marine crimps and wire. So I replaced all the wiring from where it disappeared into the hull back up to the lights. Still no lights. Opened my panel and found an amazing birds nest. Now I should mention that all the lights worked when I bought the boat in June last year. So I tried to check for loose or broken connections behind the panel, but didn't really find anything.

So, to my questions. I eventually want to replace the single panel with 6 breakers with something a bit more modern and roomy. In the meantime, I would like to tidy up the current wiring so that it will accept the new equipment with no problem. My first question is this - Do all the negative wires for each circuit end at the buss bar?
All of the grounds should terminate at the negative buss bar or a grounding post.
Quote:
Is there also, or could there be, a positive buss bar?
There might be, but if there is, it should only be feeding the DC panel. If you have other connections to the 12 VDC positive buss bar, they should be investigated. Some people will connect their charging devices to the positive buss bar, or the post on the battery switch. There may also be things like a battery combiner or echo charger attached to the house positive buss bar to charge the starting battery bank.

Quote:
One reason the wiring looks so bad is there are three negative wires attached to each lug on the current buss bar. I have purchased a replacement with triple the lugs to help with this problem.
There's a very good chance, if this is like any other PO wiring project, that about half of those wires aren't in use any longer.

Quote:
To re-wire the forward running lights would I just tap into the wires that feed the stern light, and use new wire to the forward lights?
If you're talking about the bow bi-color, that should work. However, I prefer to separate out each of the individual fixtures on my navigation lights panel. I have the "navigation lights" breaker connected to a fused switch panel. This makes trouble shooting and protecting the individual circuits, as well as having the proper navigation lights on much simpler. I can use the individual fuses to protect the fixtures with the proper size fuse.

I did much the same with the "instruments" breaker, rather than having separate breakers for each instrument, I have a single breaker for them as a group, and use the fused switch panel to protect the individual instruments.

Quote:
That is my current plan of action. When I checked for voltage at the lights, I had continuity, but not 12v.
What do you mean by you had continuity??? between what two points? For a circuit to work, you need continuity from the negative lead of the fixture back to the DC system ground buss bar and you need continuity from the back of the breaker to the positive terminal on the fixture. If those are fine then you should have 12 VDC when the breaker is turned on.

Quote:
I should mention that my steaming light and deck light no longer work also. Is this indicative of a failed ground in the circuit?
The steaming light and deck light should be on separate circuits from the bow bi-color. When you are sailing, there is no reason you'd need to have the steaming light on or the deck light on—so they should each be on their own circuit or have a switch for them.

The stern light and bow bicolor are often ganged on a single switch, since you generally have both on at the same time—I have them separated since that allows me to use the masthead anchor light as a white all-around—instead of separate stern and steaming light—when motoring offshore, increasing the distance I can be seen from.

Quote:
Sorry, but I am learning as I go, so any tips or advice are greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Bill
I highly recommend you get a good book on 12 VDC electrical systems, like Nigel Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual.

Also, if you're not 100% comfortable with using a volt-ohm meter, I'd recommend you take some electrical troubleshooting courses at your local vocational or continuing education center. If you take a course on 12 VDC automotive electrical systems, the information for troubleshooting and diagnosing them should be mostly applicable to doing the same on a boat.

BTW, if you're serious about re-doing the electrical system on the boat, I'd highly recommend you read and follow Maine Sail's advice, which echoes my own, on terminating electrical connections. You can find his very detailed post about that subject here.

I'd also point out that ripping out all the wiring and starting from fresh, with a good wiring diagram is often easier and fewer headaches than trying to work with what the PO left behind. It will also help you in the future, since you'll know the entire electrical system fairly well by doing so—conversely, if something does go wrong, you'll also know who to blame.
__________________
Sailingdog

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

If you're new to the Sailnet Forums... please read this
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
.

Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.

Last edited by sailingdog; 04-22-2009 at 07:33 AM.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #3  
Old 04-22-2009
montenido's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 323
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 7
montenido is on a distinguished road
SD, you 'da man! Thanks for the great answer. I will get that book.

Bill
__________________
Odyssey, '79 CSY 44 Cutter
Channel Islands, CA


"There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage."
Mark Twain
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #4  
Old 04-22-2009
Faster's Avatar
Just another Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New Westminster, BC
Posts: 14,604
Thanks: 67
Thanked 178 Times in 174 Posts
Rep Power: 10
Faster has a spectacular aura about Faster has a spectacular aura about Faster has a spectacular aura about
If your stern light is OK, then your running light switch is good, the first place I'd check is for corrosion on the bow red/green fitting, esp the lamp holder.
__________________
Ron

1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #5  
Old 04-22-2009
montenido's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 323
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 7
montenido is on a distinguished road
Thanks Faster and SD. I didn't think of that, but yeah, the switch must be good if the stern light is working. Today I DID figure that out using my multimeter. I ended up just pulling a new positive wire from the panel to the lights. Everything works great now. You would not believe the condition of some of my wiring - old, brittle, and missing insulation in places (rodents?). I am going to rewire all the easy stuff one circuit at a time. As far as my spreader and steaming lights, I will see if I can get away with running new wire to the base of the mast. If the wire inside the mast is bad I will have to wait until I can drop it.

Anyway, I feeling pretty good about things right now. Thanks for the help.

Bill
__________________
Odyssey, '79 CSY 44 Cutter
Channel Islands, CA


"There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage."
Mark Twain
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #6  
Old 04-23-2009
sailingdog's Avatar
Telstar 28
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
Posts: 43,291
Thanks: 0
Thanked 9 Times in 9 Posts
Rep Power: 13
sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice
Glad to help.
__________________
Sailingdog

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

If you're new to the Sailnet Forums... please read this
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
.

Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #7  
Old 04-23-2009
US27inKS's Avatar
Midwest Puddle Pirate
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Gardner, KS
Posts: 2,160
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 11
US27inKS has a spectacular aura about US27inKS has a spectacular aura about
I feel your pain Bill. I too have to suffer with an old, very small panel. As usual SD got it right. You did ask about a positive bus bar, and while it's not up to AYBC standards, I have one. It's a small bus bar that goes hot when I have the "cabin" switch on. I have installed more lights than the factory allowed for, plus a stereo and fishfinder. I was faced with trying to cram all of that onto the back of an already crammed panel, or install a bus bar. The bus bar made my life easier for both installation and troubleshooting.
__________________

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
John USYacht 27 "Cora Lee"
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #8  
Old 04-23-2009
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Virginia
Posts: 722
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 8
badsanta is on a distinguished road
Read the book, think it through, take your time, draw it out and LABEL everything! and Good luck.
__________________
That derelict boat was another dream for somebody else, don't let it be your nightmare and a waste of your life.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #9  
Old 04-23-2009
sailingdog's Avatar
Telstar 28
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
Posts: 43,291
Thanks: 0
Thanked 9 Times in 9 Posts
Rep Power: 13
sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice
One easy and cheap way to label wires is to use white electrical tape and an ultra-fine tip sharpie marker.
__________________
Sailingdog

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

If you're new to the Sailnet Forums... please read this
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
.

Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

 
Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may post attachments
You may edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Calculating Your Electrical Load Kevin Jeffrey Gear and Maintenance Articles 0 03-03-2003 07:00 PM
Electrical Power on Board Kevin Jeffrey Gear and Maintenance Articles 0 02-11-2003 07:00 PM
Electrical Power on Board Kevin Jeffrey Her Sailnet Articles 0 02-11-2003 07:00 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:35 AM.

Add to My Yahoo!         
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1
(c) Marine.com LLC 2000-2012