Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Pasadena Md - Magothy side
Thanked 31 Times in 31 Posts
Rep Power: 11
Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical
Coastie! - you can also order as many correspondence courses on things like diesels, electrical, navigation etc.. what works on a ship works on a boat. They (USCG) may even ship your boat for you on a space available basis (I doubt the Islander will fit in your weight budget ).
A 12 pack of beer, a couple sub's - and a invite to the EM1 to mess about on a boat might get you a on site electrician (or MM for the diesel). I'm guessing you guys use the same rate designators as the Navy.
Go get yourself a cheap (30 buck) 12v lawn tractor battery - it's all you need for now and you will make mistakes, shorts and such. Build the system for what you intend to put in later, but use this disposable as a test and experiment battery.
Get yourself a digital meter - doesn't have to be fancy, does have to measure both AC and DC accurately, and ohms (resistance). Make yourself some looong leads, with clips.
Then get yourself a simple inexpensive label maker. The 10 dollar type.
Graph paper is next.
I think by now you get the idea.
Start at the panel (because you know where you are then) and trace (using resistance) every wire on a switch before you turn it on. Label it and draw it.
The wires that are not corroded and nasty are still good if they measure a short (no resistance) from end to end. Strip them back, clean them up and reconnect them with solid crimps and the label heat shrunk in.
Any wire that was in the wet zone becomes a snake for the new wire you should pull. Sometimes that works - some times you run into snags and have to do some dis-assembly. Do your absolute best to not leave any old wires behind, both safety and stray electrolysis issues, and it's ugly. Use the same gauge as the original, or heavier if you KNOW you will add more to that circuit.
Tinned marine rated wires should be used in the bilge.
Clear the entire battery compartment - disconnect any and every wire that connects to the batteries other than the one pos and one neg that go to a new, 150 or so amp bus bar. Nothing should go directly to the batteries - not even a bilge pump. This is one area you will want to start clean.
If you have the money/budget I strongly recommend you get yourself a good battery monitor (Victron BMV 602s - see Maine Sail's posts and his website). If you start off right in the battery area, fusing, and monitoring etc. it will be easier moving forward.
I'd suggest you start with the engine area, starter, temp/oil senders etc. That little tractor battery will turn it over, so you'll know you got it right.
If that's too much, overwhelming wise, then go with a simple bilge pump wire up as a hands on learning experience.
Once you start you'll be surprised how easy it is to continue.
Next, move on to the Navigation and safety lights, then the inside lights.
I'm looking forward to pictures.
Let us (SN'rs) know where you are, you'd be surprised how much help we can be.
Lessons learned are opportunities earned.