installing an hour meter - no ignition - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 19 Old 07-09-2010 Thread Starter
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installing an hour meter - no ignition

I'm connecting an hour meter to my motor and the instructions say to connect one wire to ground and the other to the ignition switch. My boat does not have an standard key ignition, but a starter button on an instrument panel with a wiring harness. Is there some electrical connection on the engine that's hot just when the motor is running that I can use in place of the ignition? The fuel pump is mechanical so that won't work. I've got another button on the panel that stops the engine - these things have a solenoid that's activated when when running?
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post #2 of 19 Old 07-09-2010
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It would help if you said what make/model boat and engine you had...since there may be something to that particular make/model boat/engine that would be of use to you. More information rather than less generally gets you better answers.

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post #3 of 19 Old 07-09-2010
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Assuming that the hour meter runs on 12V; a simple connection, placing the hour meter between the common ground and the HOT side of the Start or Stop switch should work. Usually, the hour meter is part of the Tachometer.
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post #4 of 19 Old 07-09-2010
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Lightbulb

The P.O. removed the key switch on our Universal diesel, and installed a heavy duty on-off switch. I found that the factory hour meter is in series with the circuit that the key switch energized that includes the electric lift pump and the indicator light for the Halon engine compartment extinguisher. This may be very common, for all that I know.

Any time that the lift pump is "on" the engine is operating... and so is the hour meter.
BTW, you did not ask, but having an HD on-off switch for the engine is nice....
no more worries about broken keys from errant feet or corroded-out keyways.

I know of several other sail boats with the same panel mod.

Best,
the old Olson guy
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post #5 of 19 Old 07-09-2010
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It doesn't sound like it has a start switch, which is usually a key switch. It has a starter button, but that sounds like a momentary on/off button to trigger the starter motor.

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Assuming that the hour meter runs on 12V; a simple connection, placing the hour meter between the common ground and the HOT side of the Start or Stop switch should work. Usually, the hour meter is part of the Tachometer.

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post #6 of 19 Old 07-09-2010
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Thanks SD,

Is there NO KEY AT ALL?

According to the OP;
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My boat does not have an standard key ignition, but a starter button on an instrument panel with a wiring harness. Is there some electrical connection on the engine that's hot just when the motor is running that I can use in place of the ignition? The fuel pump is mechanical so that won't work. I've got another button on the panel that stops the engine - these things have a solenoid that's activated when when running?
I'm not clear on what he means by "standard key ignition," but I am assuming that there is some way to secure the engine while the battery switch is on. START and STOP circuits should only be energized when the engine is either on, or about to be turned on. If not, he could either loose his boat, or have it start unexpectedly when someone accidentally hits the switch.

If there is no switch at all, I would suggest adding a switch, in series, to de-energize these switches when he wants to secure the boat. He could then wire his hour meter in parallel to the START and STOP switches.


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It sounds like his boat has only the main battery switch, rather than an engine switch. I'd second adding a main engine switch.

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post #8 of 19 Old 07-09-2010 Thread Starter
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Sorry for the confusion guys. The engine in question is a Vetus M3.10. By "Standard Ignition" I mean a start key. I've got a main power switch inside the cabin, and in the cockpit instrument panel I've got three buttons, glow plug, start and stop. The panel also has a tach.

http://www.vetusweb.com/manuals/file...03%2009-99.pdf

I can't really wire anything into the panel, it is a closed box with a wiring harness out the back.

There's gotta be a way. I'm ashamed to say that the meter seems to have been working from an existing install, and I disconnected it when I rewired everything last year. Now I can't remember how this was set up. At the time I remember "Oh that's simple, I can't forget that".

Typically, what actually stops a diesel engine? I've got a button for "STOP" which kills it. Since the fuel pump is mechanical it can't be stopping fuel.
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post #9 of 19 Old 07-09-2010
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The USUAL installation is that the hour meter is driven by the same connection from the alternator that feeds the tachometer. This is one reason that the tach and hour meter are frequently the same instrument. The problem is that the tach correlates either AC voltage, or pulsed DC, to RPMs. The wire carrying this signal should be GREY according to ABYC.

I assume that whenever you throw the main switch that the lights on your Tach come on.. If so, you're going to burn out bulbs prematurely. Try this; connect the red lead of DC Volt meter on the GREY wire that feeds the tach. Connect the black lead to ground. With the engine off, but master switch on, see if there is voltage. Then try the same test after starting the engine. Look to see if the voltage varies with engine RPMs. If the DC voltage is within range of your hour meter, you may be able to connect the hour meter here.


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post #10 of 19 Old 07-10-2010 Thread Starter
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Thanks Eherlihy.

I'm heading back to the boat tomorrow and I'll check it out.

Also, are you suggesting that my electrical should be set up so that when I switch on the main red switch, there's no power going to the engine & engine instrument panel? With my current setup, I open the main red switch in the cabin and power is available to the engine and the circuit breaker panel in the cabin. Either there's no bulb in the tach or it burned out long ago. I should look that up.

Thanks for your help.
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