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  #31  
Old 01-06-2013
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Re: Is this pro wiring?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jgbrown View Post
It depends, if I didn't have my real job, I couldn't have afforded to do the work, that one worked out to -2$ an hour by the end, for months of work. You sure you want them?

EDIT: not to say I'm not grateful to be working, but sometimes just having something to do isn't worth it. I'm not really a charity, though I often seem to end up being one by accident, without the tax deductions. I'd rather do good work, and get paid for it, but when I'm making less than minimum wage, or outright losing money just to stay busy...


might also be customer wired, we get that a lot, people wanting us to do the complicated parts, but they'll do the rest themselves on the cheap. It's their boat, we can only recommend encourage and suggest past a certain point.
Usually after that they'll expect it to be troubleshot and brought up to spec for free of course.


EDIT2: We'll never do work that won't stand up, #1, it doesn't suit either of our personalities, even cutting the corners that can be cut without harm is hard enough, but we would never do work that would compromise safety or function. The corners that might get cut when we're pushed far enough would be in terms of elegance and aesthetics more than anything. An engine that could have been painted to better than new spec with airbrushed detail work, will get a rattle can job for example. Still brand specific factory paint, but the end result is only 75% as nice.

There is no excuse for cutting corners on the quality of wiring, ever. Tinned wire, correctly sized to allow for the expected power usage plus a bit extra, and good quality connectors corectly applied are required.
Perfectly organized runs, best practice labeling and paper diagrams of all wiring for later use later by the customer's next service tech require someone willing to pay for it.



Personalities aside, it's also just good buisness. The worst customers are the most likely to sue. There's two just in the past 3 months who've threatened legal action, but who are the worst for constantly putting the screws to us to get it done with the cheapest parts(even better, used parts but still wanting the work warrantied as normal) and faster. In both cases, something bad happened to the boat, but in both cases it was something we hadn't ever had anything to do with, thankfully. Their first action upon having an issue wasn't even to contact us to determine the nature of the issue, or to see if we wanted to fix it, but to call the most expensive restoration companies in the area in the hopes of getting a nice little refit on everything that was damaged paid for by our insurance.
I consider myself lucky that I spent 20+ years in high level sales, sales management & management before leaving to do this full time.

I can read people pretty well and it is a good skill to have. I also know how to read someone and politely send them elsewhere with them thinking I did them a favor. This is a critical skill, especially with sailors. No offense to any of the sailors here, of course.... This is not a bad thing I am just making an improper "fit" between myself and the customer as painless as possible by sending them off to find the "lowest bidder"..

Some folks I've "turned away" have actually sent me my best customers.

Customers like yours can be a PITA if you let them be a PITA but especialy if you let them get a foot in the door. The word "insurance claim" is a bad one and one I try to stay away from unless it is lightning.. In my experience insurance often means "work the system". If they are willing to try and work their own insurance company they may try and work you too.

Not all "bad customers" are bad. I have one customer who none of the boat yards will touch. They laugh at me for having him, I laugh at them for not being able to manage him. He actually pays well and is a cool if not quirky guy. I tend to like him and he always pays on-time and never quibbles at a bill.

One thing I use to my advantage, when people want you to do the cheapest job possible, is to simply go by the "standards". I make it clear that the job will be done to comply with applicable safety standard or they will need to find another installer who will "cut corners".. When you explain it to them in matter of fact terms they usually bite. Some will walk and that is GOOD because they are not the customers you wanted anyway. I like customers who like quality and who like their boats....

My customer who no one wants is one of those who just wants to dig you for information, then does not want to have you do the work. He's rather chronic about it. He'll even try to corner you at the local chandlery. A simple, "I am late to meet with a client, lets do a consult next week on this.", works really well with him. He can be a time waster but once set straight he has no issue paying for it. None of the yards ever tried to charge him for consult time, their mistake....

I made it very clear up front that when I "consulted", without getting the job, the rate was my consulting rate which is 30% more than my hourly rate. He often pays me for the consult, which is fine, and sometimes he has me do the job, which is also fine. If I do the job the 30% consult charge winds up as an hourly rate credit. He likes that... He always wants to work with me and that is also fine. He's a chatter box and that just adds to the time on the job but he also has no issues with that... Bad customer? Not really... He's a good guy if you're good at managing tough to manage people. I am lucky enough to know how to work the buttons of some tough customers and how "most often" avoid bad ones...

As for the wiring, it is what it is. Most engine installers are not electrical guys thus they care more about the physical engine installation, alignment, fuel system etc. etc. than the electrical.. Is that how I would have left it? Hell no, but every installer is different. Some doctors suck and some are great most are somewhere in the middle. Just like in any profession.

I urge my customers to call my other customers to check on me. I like it when they do because they then have a higher comfort level and don't put themselves on the offense as much.

There is actually very little wiring t do in a diesel engine installation. Basically connect neg to the engine, connect POS to the starter post, plug the instrument panel into the engine harness and away you go. There's really not much more wiring to do unless you have a HO alternator... The factories do a pretty poor job with these panels anyway...

It can easily be neatened up in a few hours, if you want to get in there and do it... I would not let that panel guide your opinion of the engine installation, if the rest is good....
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 01-06-2013 at 10:20 PM.
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  #32  
Old 01-07-2013
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Re: Is this pro wiring?

Mainesail's charge to consult is fine and I suspect, in his case, you get some seriously valuable advice. However, I had a real headbutt with a yard that charged me an undisclosed "travel" fee, when they brought in a pro. The idea didn't bother me, it was the fact that I had no idea they weren't already in town and no one told me of this fee.

When I asked what the charge was, I pushed back on not having been told. The yard manager got upset and argued that he had "consulted" on this job for many hours without ever charging me for it. To this day, it has left a sour taste in my mouth. I'm happy to pay anything we've agreed to upfront. You can't collect later, if you didn't advertise the price. In this circumstance, the consulting that he thought he was providing for value, just appeared to me to be research he was doing because he had no idea how to diagnose the problem. In other words, I wasn't receiving professional advice or answers, he was doing work to educate himself.
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  #33  
Old 01-07-2013
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Re: Is this pro wiring?

Most of the panels I've seen look like this. The condition of the wire terminations is the most important factor, not whether the wires are neat, although I would attempt to make them look a little better than that. A couple of things to consider when neatening up wiring harnesses are 1. that electronic devices like GPS, depth finders, and radar may be adversely affected by Rf interference if bundled together so they look nice and 2. if you pack wires together tightly, when one shorts out, you are likely to burn the entire bundle and in fact are much more likely to start a fire. So, some wires have a good reason to be separate and not so neat looking. That doesn't mean they should be like spaghetti.
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Old 01-07-2013
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Re: Is this pro wiring?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
Most of the panels I've seen look like this. The condition of the wire terminations is the most important factor, not whether the wires are neat, although I would attempt to make them look a little better than that. A couple of things to consider when neatening up wiring harnesses are 1. that electronic devices like GPS, depth finders, and radar may be adversely affected by Rf interference if bundled together so they look nice and 2. if you pack wires together tightly, when one shorts out, you are likely to burn the entire bundle and in fact are much more likely to start a fire. So, some wires have a good reason to be separate and not so neat looking. That doesn't mean they should be like spaghetti.
I've seen some really OCD wiring that had tie wraps every 6" or even less - they would be an absolute nightmare if you had to try to remove a single wire. Better to put them in looms of some sort like that corrugated split conduit used in cars. It even comes in colours now so you can separate circuits for when they approach the panel.
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  #35  
Old 01-07-2013
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Re: Is this pro wiring?

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Originally Posted by SloopJonB View Post
I've seen some really OCD wiring that had tie wraps every 6" or even less - they would be an absolute nightmare if you had to try to remove a single wire. Better to put them in looms of some sort like that corrugated split conduit used in cars. It even comes in colours now so you can separate circuits for when they approach the panel.
I try to get wires into conduit wherever I can. That cheap flexible blue stuff works pretty well, although it's not split so wires have to be disconnected to get 'em in. I threaded my battery cables through the stuff (1/2")which worked out really well. Big cable like that running any distance with just the wire insulation always scares me. I've had interference problems with my depth finder wires being wrapped in with other wires.
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Re: Is this pro wiring?

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
A lot of really great points
I'm actually going to save your post on my computer to re-read, a lot of very valuable advice, thanks!

+1 about the harness, Your point about standards is exactly what I was trying to say, but more articulate :-) Changing a stock harness to make it neater and better than factory, takes time and money. Many of the boats are wired without using tinned wire, without labeling, with big loops and bunches of wire that aren't secured nicely etc. It would be nice to be allowed to change it, but it is the customer's choice, we can recommend, suggest and explain their options but it isn't fair to them to force those decisions when it doesn't impact safety or regulations IMO. The same goes for finishing work, a customer who wants to DIY things that aren't directly related to our work is welcome to do so, though it might later seem to reflect on our standards when someone else sees it. It might be worth checking with the shop to see what parts they did, we have detailed work logs for example, and have had buyers in the past ask us about jobs that were done to the boats.





Re: the insurance, it was not very nice, we weren't going to have a choice. As soon as their boats were damaged(one leaking rainwater, and one fire) they decided our work was the cause, and barred us from accessing the boats, instead of simply asking us to look at it. They hired expensive restoration companies to do an assesment, and called us to tell us that our insurance had better be up to date because they were coming after us for the expenses of the restoration as it was our fault, and they were looking forward to all new carpet etc. No way we could have afforded it without insurance.

Thankfully, since both issues were with things we'd never touched and the issue was obvious in each case. Right away they called us and tried to get discounts on the repairs for their long term loyalty as customers.


I've actually generally had much more pleasant experiences with smaller sailboats like mine, while finances are often a concern, we can always work around costs with creative solutions, and it's much nicer to work with them.
The big powerboats tend to have much more stressful owners. I sometimes suspect that it's the nature of the personality you need to succeed in many of their chosen careers. Not all of course, but the ratio of stressful:sensible customers is much different.
It can be managed but it always takes time and a lot of energy.
One burnt 3 other shops in a row once we'd caught on and kept ahead of his game and were getting paid for the work.
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Old 01-13-2013
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Re: Is this pro wiring?

I just found that the "cigarette lighter"-type power outlet in the cabin is powered straight off the batteries. It has a 20ft run of what looks like 18 gauge wire, unfused. I was going to run an inverter off it, now I'm too scared.

What's the best way to wire a small inverter in? I was thinking of connecting it to a spare breaker, it's a 10A one so I'll be limited to 120W from the inverter but that's OK for me. The inverter is to power a 19" LCD TV and DVD player, maybe charge the odd battery too (like the handheld VHF)
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Old 01-13-2013
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Re: Is this pro wiring?

That is dangerous. It should be fused within 7" of the battery to meet USCG specs. If it's 18ga wire, it can only take around 10 amps which could be exceeded by something like big a hand-held spotlight. Even small inverters need substantial sized wiring. If I recall correctly, the little 600w. unit I installed called for #6. I mounted a small fuse block within legal distance to battery bank to handle things like radios and inverter that are better run directly to battery. If you have radios, make sure you get a pure sine wave inverter because inverters put out a lot of Rf interference. Use of ferrite chokes can cut down on it but interference is a problem even with pure sine wave inverters.
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Last edited by smurphny; 01-13-2013 at 07:40 AM. Reason: more inf.
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Re: Is this pro wiring?

Every time I try to cheat on an electrical project, it bites me in the butt. For example, I had a professionally installed tank level gauge that wasn't working. It had 12v power for lights and the monitor leads. I replaced the gauge and the sensor at the tank, but decided at the last minute to reuse the wiring (I had actually purchased all new colored wiring for the job). It's never worked properly! Going to be fully redone this spring and I deserve the waste of time. It should have been done right in the first place.

Always start electrical projects from the source and know its right. Safer too.
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  #40  
Old 01-14-2013
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Re: Is this pro wiring?

L-
It wasn't done by a licensed electrician, that's for sure. I see a red butt splice hanging in space, no harness wrap, no wires secured to the hull, everything hanging in space. No drip loops on the wires, some quite the contrary, and open daylight on the left which means water ingress as well.
Looks more like something the average car audio/alarm installer would have done, good for 3-5 years and then problematic. If the crimps are adhesive filled and heat shrink, ok, maybe. If they're just dime-store crimps...Just get the warranty in writing and figure it will take you a half day to really clean it up right. It probably really is an "average" job, sad to say. But letting the wrenches do wiring, or requiring them to do it, is sadly the norm and one skill set does not necessarily mean the guy will have the other.

Last edited by hellosailor; 02-17-2014 at 07:28 PM.
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