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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 05-18-2008
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Lucky break?

Yesterday, my brother & I were messing around trying to align the engine on our boat after a day of sailing--needed to do this as we had replaced some engine mounts recently and still had some vibration. This is a hard-to-access fiddly, sweaty job on the P28-2. Got it done and wanted to test by running the engine in gear in our slip. My brother goes up top, hits the starter--nothing. Crap!

I turn off the battery, and start looking through the wiring where we had been shoving things around. Found a kind of loose screw-on wire on the solenoid--in a well-protected spot that required that I break a couple new joints in my forearm--tightened it with much sweating and cursing, then tried the starter again--Nothing! Repeated this exercise for a while, until my brother "returned to the scene of the crime" where he had shoved some hose aside at one point. Aha--it wasn't a hose, but the negative cable from the battery to the starter, and it had broken off at the lug on the starter with so little resistance he didn't feel it go. Inspection showed that it was heavily corroded and must have broken off easily.

This was miserable coming at the end of a long day, but a good thing, really. From the look of it, the cable could have broken off at any time from engine vibration, leaving us in much worse shape than delaying a couple of beers. A lucky break for us.

Tom
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Old 05-18-2008
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Tom, that's what I call a very polite boat, which has the courtesy to bust in the berth instead of when you are out someplace getting kicked around off a lee shore. And I make a point to let the boat know and thank her for the courtesy.

Might want to measure up the battery cables, and just replace them ALL now, so you know you've starting with a good set. If there was corrosion on that one, odds are they all are punked out.

I like to use tinned cable with star washers or other means of ensuring a "locked" bolt-down on clean metal. And then cover it over with multiple layers of liquid vinyl, each spreading out a bit further, so the connection is totally potted in the stuff and can't oxidize. Other folks would say that makes it impossible to inspect the connection (true) and for that I'd use the same connections, but a good dose of antiseize (which conducts) or silicon grease (which doesn't) since either one will keep out moisture and air.
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Old 05-18-2008
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Yes, you were very lucky.
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Old 05-18-2008
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Well, thanks, hellosailor, for finding me basking in the warm glow of my luck (and we did toast the boat for its courtesy) and dumping the cold water of another project on me ;-)

It's a long list I've got right now, but what I will do is inspect all. The lug at the other end of that cable was in fine shape, so I don't think they're all necessarily bad.

Tom
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Old 05-18-2008
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Arf145-

In some ways, you're luckier than you think, since a heavily corroded battery cable, like the one that failed, can often lead to a fire. You really need to replace the battery cables with marine-grade battery cable, hex-crimped tinned copper lugs and adhesive-lined shrink wrap to seal them.
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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)

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Old 05-19-2008
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I'll do a full inspection of the battery cables SD--don't want to press our luck. I might have mischaracterized the broken cable as "heavily corroded." The lug had rust on it but was not particularly eaten away, and had a clean break near the cable side of the lug. I'm sure corrosion weakened the metal, but vibration must have moved it along too.

Inspection time.

Tom
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