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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #51  
Old 07-24-2007
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Replace, then you know what you have....
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  #52  
Old 07-24-2007
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Wiring and old boats

Buy a good book on Marine Electrical Systems. Purchase a copy of ABYC's electrical codes.

The battery(s) POS will lead to the No.1 and 2 terminals on the battery Selector Switch or the DC isolation breaker, if you have only one battery. From there it should go directly to the POS bus bar on the distribution panel. Each circuit (system) should have it's own breaker and/or fuse to protect the POS supply to the "Load", i.e., what is being powered. The first thing you need to do is hand-over-hand each wire to: 1. know it's condition and 2. know what load it is supplying. The battery NED (-) cable goes to a NEG (-) bus bar or terminal block(s), where all load NEG leads terminate (or should). Terminal blocks may be "ganged" together, i.e., there is a "jumper" wire from one to another or even from one or several, terminals to another on the same block. Terminals that are jumpered together are the same polarity - look closely.

Start by drawing an elevation (looking down at the deck) diagram of your boat. Show the location of the panel and all electric loads. draw a diagram of the back of the DC panel, indicate every fuse and identify the load side of the fuse with the label on the front of the panel. Pick a circuit to start with, label the load side wire at the panel with a number tape (do not use "dime tags"; the round tags with a string, they have a metal band around the cardboard tag and conduct electricity), indicate which number you used on your panel diagram. Hand-over-hand that wire all the way to the load. If there are terminal boards in the circuit tape the lead on both sides of the terminal. Identify the terminal board as a POS terminal with a POS or + wire tape. Everywhere there is a wire division, tape the wire with the number and the polarity (+). When you finally get to where the load is, label the wire at the load. At the load, there will be another wire that will be the NEG or (-) lead. Label it with the same number as the POS lead but add a (-) or NEG tape. Hand over hand this wire the same way as the POS wire. There may be terminal blocks in the run also. It should terminate a NEG bus bar that the battery NEG lead should be attached to. Here is where it can get dicey as there are several ways to ground the battery and the NEG bus, some go to an engine, some to a ground plate, some have an isolated ground. On your elevation drawing of the boat, indicate the location of all the terminal blocks you encounter and the "run" of the wire. Do this with all your circuits using a different number schema for each circuit. Laminate and store/post the elevation and panel drawing as near the panel if possible.
Some problems you may encounter: More than one wire connected to a terminal block. Pick one and follow it to where it goes number it with original number and if you have them a letter tape, e.g., "1A" and indicate the new number on both the panel drawing and the elevation drawing. Dead ended or clipped wires. Disconnect these and remove the wire, be careful, some of these that appear to be clipped may be just broken from the terminal lug.

After you know what you've got, you can now decide what to do about bad switches, wire, dangling unloomed wires, etc.

Hope this helps.
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  #53  
Old 07-24-2007
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I've rewired my boat over the past year and a half starting with the main power... batts, switches and charging sources. I got a bit of help from JR Energy, but most of it is pretty straightforward. The most difficult aspect is to organize all the wiring neatly... especially the very heavy cables for the main batts. Depending on how many devices there are you will have to probably physically install the devices and then work out the proper wire and cable lengths.

Make a drawing before and after... both a schematic and an actual wiring plan show the color of the wires on wire plan along with their gauge. Most likely you will need some proper buss bars to connect lots of wires... like all the negs etc.

Use adhesive heat shrink on all new crimp on connections. Make sure that for the very large and short runs... you properly align the connectors.

Plan for your electrical use/needs. DO a calc of your loads... and so forth to size your batts and charging devices. And make sure your wires are properly sized. Longer the run the thicker the wire for the same load. Better oversized than undersized. Install the proper size and type fuse to protect the wire and the device it is connected to. If you need spread sheets for these calcs PM me.

Once you have all the "mains" taken care of... the batts, and charging sources... you can tackle the load side... and upgrade the distribution panel, breakers and or fuses, and then the nav instruments data wiring such as NEMA network and engine instrumentation.

When you are done you will have a perfectly wired boat, well documented with spare fuses etc. and you won't be stratching your head looking a mess of spaghetti.

I am not an electrician but I did it and you can too!

jef
sv shiva
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  #54  
Old 07-24-2007
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Tiler pilots and VHF should not be wired through the fuse pannel at all even to the common bus !

They should be wired directly to the batteries. If they need to be fused they should be fused separately.

Instruments are often wired directly too (even if there's a switch that says instruments).... matter of opinion as to the benefits of this.

Every one seems to be giving good advice generaly. But some basic pointers to remember when wiring.

Crimp your terminals ... dont solder. sloder embrittles with time and as boats vibrate a bit the terminals will crack. (only a general guideline somethings have to be soldered)

Don't just up the wire guage for no good reason. The reason one contributor lost power was due to voltage drop over the cable run length. Get a table and size the wires correctly for the length (voltage drop) and current they will carry. Oversize cables if anything goes wrong means over heating. (that's what the fuses are for - to protect the cables and not the equipment)

Don't run cables through bilges or engine spaces if avoidable unless you can put them into good conduit properly fixed.

LABLE EVERYTING.

Fasten cables back with marine grade clips (ordinary ones rust quick!)

Keep it tidy .... claer and understandable for the next poor schmuck who has to try and unravel what you've done.

DRAW A DIAGRAM of what you did ... saves so much time later on.


Good Luck


Tim Abram BSc. Hons. 1st Class GMRINA.
Yacht Surveyor par excellence !
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  #55  
Old 07-24-2007
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"Tiler pilots and VHF should not be wired through the fuse pannel at all even to the common bus !

They should be wired directly to the batteries. "

Got to disagree, Tim. While many high power radio (ham HF, SSB) makers may recommend wiring directly to the batteries, and fusing BOTH lines directly at the batteries, that's not always a good idea. Yes, it can prevent some situations where a ground loop in a complicated setup can mess up the radio.

But if the connections from the distribution/fuse panel to the batteries are robust, there's no reason for running aything back to the battery. It will still get damn near full voltage from the distribution panel--if those distribution cables were sized properly. And since the panel is usually close to the starter and alternator, it usually doesn't take a long run to extend those heavy cables to it.

When things start to have "extra" wiring runs, that make long runs through engine spaces, perhaps chafing, always unseen...I feel there is simply more opportunity for those extra runs to cause extra problems.

The only other reason to go to the battery is to swamp out RFI problems, but there are other better ways to deal with those when and if they happen. And by running to the main panel, I can be sure that when the main switch says ALL OFF, everything is OFF.

The only thing I'd advocate going direct on, might be the bilge pump. Since that's the one thing that needs to be on all the time--or risk losing the boat.
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  #56  
Old 07-27-2007
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Rewiring

7tiger7 - I am almost done rewiring my catalina 27. Same situation as yours. I relocated the panel to a box I built that sits on the starboard side at the front of the quarterberth where the deck joins the hull. It rests on the liner shelf nicely and is out of the way and high up. All the factory wiring for the boat actually collects there anyway as you will see if you lay down on the starboard quarterberth and look up into where the shorepower enters the boat. See the diagram previously posted. It is correct. The factory wires run from there into the engine compartment and then through that wood bulkhead you were complaining about and then to the factory panel at the foot of the sink. I just disconnected them one by one, pulled them out back into the engine compartment, labelled them, connected longer wire to them and ran them over to the new panel under the quarterberth and up behind the liner, drilling holes underneath the new box for the wire to enter. I removed an entire box full of useless wire in the process from long ago removed accessories.
My batteries are in the port lazarette and so I widened the opening for what was the DC panel and put in there instead a battery switch panel ( my battery switch was underneath the port settee). This shortens the battery cable runs down to one or two feet from what was as much as ten feet.
I put in two 6 position panels in the new box so that I can have separate on-off switches for VHF, stereo, bilge pump,etc.
I use a Brother p-touch labelling unit with the industrial tape. It never wears off. If you label you don't have to worry about different color wire and it is much easier to work with later for anyone working with the wiring.
You had a question about which was positive. All the factory wires are positive except the one ground. The fuse and switches all work on the positive wires. Power goes from the common position on the battery switch to the DC panel. It then runs to each item in turn that you turn on via the panel switches. All the electrical loads have to somehow be connected to the ground which is basically the engine block and anything connected to the negative battery terminals. I put a couple of bus bars in, one between the two negative battery terminals and one in the DC panel box and connected them together and to the engine block so there is a solid interconnected grounding system.
New panels have lights to indicate if the switch is on so those lights have to be powered and that is why the panels have a ground to them.
Good luck with your project!
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  #57  
Old 08-30-2007
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Tim - its scary to think that you are a surveyor and think that oversize wire creates heat


Quote:
Originally Posted by timabram View Post
Tiler pilots and VHF should not be wired through the fuse pannel at all even to the common bus !

They should be wired directly to the batteries. If they need to be fused they should be fused separately.

Instruments are often wired directly too (even if there's a switch that says instruments).... matter of opinion as to the benefits of this.

Every one seems to be giving good advice generaly. But some basic pointers to remember when wiring.

Crimp your terminals ... dont solder. sloder embrittles with time and as boats vibrate a bit the terminals will crack. (only a general guideline somethings have to be soldered)

Don't just up the wire guage for no good reason. The reason one contributor lost power was due to voltage drop over the cable run length. Get a table and size the wires correctly for the length (voltage drop) and current they will carry. Oversize cables if anything goes wrong means over heating. (that's what the fuses are for - to protect the cables and not the equipment)Don't run cables through bilges or engine spaces if avoidable unless you can put them into good conduit properly fixed.

LABLE EVERYTING.

Fasten cables back with marine grade clips (ordinary ones rust quick!)

Keep it tidy .... claer and understandable for the next poor schmuck who has to try and unravel what you've done.

DRAW A DIAGRAM of what you did ... saves so much time later on.


Good Luck


Tim Abram BSc. Hons. 1st Class GMRINA.
Yacht Surveyor par excellence !
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  #58  
Old 08-30-2007
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I'm with you, Burton. I certainly hope he meant to say oversized fuses can cause problems, and not oversized wire. Scary!! The only drawbacks to oversized wire is difficulty putting it thru confined spaces and the weight problem. But the weight problem brought up earlier on this thread is insignificant -- if #10 wire adds to the weight where #12 would do, leave out a clean pair of socks and 2 pair of BVD's from your duffel! That will make up for it!
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  #59  
Old 08-30-2007
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Generally.... oversized wiring reduces heat... adds weight though... There is a lot wrong with what Tim posted... and that isn't even counting the spelling and grammatical errors...

Oversized fuses or breakers are a big problem and they should be matched to the loads on the circuit. Leaving the wire a bit oversized is a cheap way to leave some wiggle room for future expansion too.

Instruments and tiller pilots should be run through a breaker on the DC side panel. Everything should be run through either a fuse or a breaker. There's absolutely no sense in powering instruments or the tiller pilot if you're at anchor...

Solder doesn't embrittle with time... but soldered wires are stiff and fatigue due to vibration... and then break from fatigue.
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  #60  
Old 08-30-2007
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Soldered connections do have the extra problem of galvanic breakdowns, from the added mixed metals. And cold solder joints sometimes don't show up for years.

Which is not to say soldering is a bad thing--but like crimps or any other way of joining wires, it has to be done right to prevent trouble down the line.
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