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  #31  
Old 01-09-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

Well no one leaves the dock here in January, February and most of March so thats when I usually try and do major projects. Too damn cold

I dont like to necessarily piecemeal things so when I wrote my plan to redo the wiring I just methodicaly worked my way through it. Ive never been one to connect old things to new things where possible and since wiring is a critical piece on the boat I have peace of mind safety wise now.

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  #32  
Old 01-09-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

"1: The ground was to the engine, since that is gone for now, where can safely put it? "
DC ground was just a "chassis ground" or negative common, really. Just a convenient place to join all the wires that go to the negative battery post, so join them in any convnient manner and take them to the wing nut that's hopefully on the trolling battery's negative post.
Wing nuts are actually discouraged on cars and boats now, as the quantum physicists have determined that the "wings" are subject to moving from the vibration and causing them to loosen up more often than regular nuts would. Physics, right.

"2: Since the boat is on the hard, do i need a grounding rod? "
Well, for your AC ground, if the marina/yard's AC system is grounded properly, just ensuring that your AC ground wire is properly hooking into that will ensure you have an AC ground. If you really wanted a proper AC ground all your own...yes, in theory you'd pound an 8' long ground rod into the ground. But yards tend to have highly compacted stable ground, odds are you couldn't pound a rod into it even if they weren't looking.
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Old 01-09-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon123 View Post
In response to the people that are saying "Throw everything away and start over." It's certainly an option and there is nothing wrong with it, with that said not all of us want to create a showpiece. I myself want to go sailing and do what's needed to make that happen without being trapped at the dock.

When I was redoing my wiring last year I made a diagram first and I identified Mission Critical vs Convenience runs. Navigation lights got the full remove/replace treatment up front, the reading light in the V-berth got checked out with a meter and visual inspect, if it passed I ignored it. I carried on like that until I was satisfied that all the required components were rock solid then I went sailing. If someday I have to leave the berth to finish a critical page in my book I'll address that when it happens.
It depends really. If a handful of items do not work and the wiring is a rats nest it is both better and faster to remove everything and start again. I think jgBrown would agree.
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Old 01-10-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

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Originally Posted by Simon123 View Post
In response to the people that are saying "Throw everything away and start over." It's certainly an option and there is nothing wrong with it, with that said not all of us want to create a showpiece.
It is not about creating a show piece, it is about safety. Lots of people don't treat boat electrics with the respect it deserves and thus 55% of all boat fires are electrical in nature....

To me this one statement by the OP could mean bad things for anything electrical:

Quote:
Originally Posted by bradway5 View Post
My project boat is a 1978 islander 32. It took in some water during a prolong storage on the hard. I want to redo all the connection, all of them are crimped and show a little corrosion.

With bare copper wire and, "all of them", showing corrosion this can mean badly compromised wiring.

Very often ripping it out and starting fresh is less expensive over the long run. Boats of this vintage were often not wired "safely" to begin with, part of the reason perhaps for the 55% of boat fires being electrical in nature. This is especially true if an AC system installed.
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 01-10-2013 at 08:29 AM.
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Very often ripping it out and starting fresh is less expensive over the long run.
If you are going to maintain it I think you don't have any choice but to rip it out sometimes because it is often easier in the long run, especially if it doesn't have schematics. Without schematics you become very superstitious and afraid to touch anything because if you break it you may never be able to figure out what is wrong with it, and that's not the kind of trouble you want in the middle of the ocean. Almost every electrical system on any sized cruising boat is custom to some degree and all those wires look alike without a drawing.
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

One giant piece of advice: BUTT SPLICES ARE THE DEVIL. A butt splice is a crimp on connector that looks like a tube. You stick one wire in one end, crimp it, then stick another wire in the other end and crimp it. DO NOT USE THESE. EVER. If you ever want to contemplate suicide, then spend some time troubleshooting an electrical system with intermittent failures, i.e. bad connections. It is darn near impossible. Butt splices are a guaranteed point of failure and source of endless headache. Butt splices exist to get you out of a jam, like a band aid. They are the mark of incompetence in any other application. The fact that you see them everywhere doesn't change that.

In the event that you have to extend a wire because you cannot replace it, use two crimp on ring terminals with a #6 bolt/lockwasher/nut and then use vulcanizing tape to seal the connection. I would never suggest to extend a wire instead of replacing the run, but in 20 years of marine and factory electrical work, there are times when it must be done.

If you have to relocate a panel: rather than extending the wires one by one, put terminal strips in the existing location and use it as a junction box. Properly labeled and landed terminals will aid greatly in future troubleshooting. I'm a huge fan of cage-clamp terminals, but most people prefer screw terminals because they aren't familar with the cage clamp style. Part of this is because cage clamp blocks are expensive.

Don't skimp on wire. In the big scheme of things, the wire is the cheapest part of all of this and the hardest to deal with once it's in. If you have to cheap out somewhere, don't do it on wire. Plan to waste several feet of every run. YOU DO NOT want to run a wire through bulkheads, under the sole, behind the cabinets,etc only to discover that you are a foot short when you go to land the wire. Leave a loop of wire on long runs. Years down the road you may have to cut a corroded connection back. It sure does help to have a few extra inches of wire that can be pulled when needed. Your runs should not be banjo tight. Your boat flexes and your wire should never be under strain.

Save your cut scraps and use them in your switch panel, etc. It's great to be frugal, but cheaping out or under-buying is false economy. If you don't have time or money to do it right, you certainly don't have the time and money to do it twice.

I'm not just a blowhard, although I may be that. My background: I began my career as a Navy Electrician. I then went on to a career in automation, controls and robotics, marine as well as manufacturing. In twenty years I have been guilty of doing all the stupid things I list above and I learned the hard way to avoid doing them again. Do the hard work up front so you can enjoy your boat down the road. Nobody wants a nightmare that just won't end, and nothing turns into that more than poor electrical systems.
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Old 01-10-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

What did you use in the Navy?

"Butt splices are a guaranteed point of failure and source of endless headache."
Only if they were made by someone who didn't know how to make them properly. If you use a good tool, good quality butts, and use them properly? They are 100% reliable and that's pretty much "forever". Use the "500 for $5!" set from the auto chains and use them sloppily, and they're land mines.

I'd also side with the chorus, that once you've found enough wire which has deteriorated from age or moisture, it doesn't pay to screw around trying to save one run here, one run there, measure and test and pull everything apart and put it back together again. It winds up being faster, cheaper, and more reliable to just replace it all because you know whatever hasn't failed, is going to. All the time and trouble to pull wiring runs and access panels winds up being more productive if you just get it all over with at the same time.
If you can.
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
What did you use in the Navy?

"Butt splices are a guaranteed point of failure and source of endless headache."
Only if they were made by someone who didn't know how to make them properly. If you use a good tool, good quality butts, and use them properly? They are 100% reliable and that's pretty much "forever". Use the "500 for $5!" set from the auto chains and use them sloppily, and they're land mines.

Butt splices are verboten in the Navy. I'm not saying you won't ever find one because yard dogs will sometimes take a shortcut, but they are replaced the moment they are discovered. If somebody signed off on work where a buttsplice is found they could be fired. A butt splice on a naval vessel is enough to get your ass in deep dookie. Ditto wire nuts. No ifs, ands or butts. Yeah, you see what I did there...

Butt splices of any kind, regardless of manufacture or perceived quality, are not acceptable to any electrician anywhere. If one of my electricians or technicians ever used a butt splice in any vessel or any factory- they would be shown the door on the spot. Gross incompetence. It's the equivalent of a mechanic using pliars to tighten a bolt, or a carpenter beating in nails with a crescent wrench. That person is simply not qualified to work here, wherever "here" may be.

The proper way to splice a wire (not in a cabinet), in the rare event you must, is to use two ring terminals with a bolt as I described. That is the same way motors are connected inside the peckerhead. If you're talking 18ga or smaller, then the wire is paired side by side, solder joined, and then crimped and sealed. On land, you will often find wire nuts. Depending on code, that is sometimes acceptable providing they are taped properly.

What I see on small boats in marinas is about on par with what I'd expect from shadetree mechanics and DIYers. If you want to use butt splices, this is America and you can do whatever you like on your own boat. But there is a right way and wrong way. The right way is right for a reason. People who do these things for a living have to face the consequences of the wrong way.

In a simpler answer: You pay for repair work by the hour. If a system takes twice as long to troubleshoot, or you keep paying to replace parts until the actual problem is found, then that $5 butt splice wasn't a great deal after all.
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Old 01-10-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

That doesn't make any sense at all. Butt splices use the exact same method of connection to the wire as ring terminals, therefore, their failure mode will be the exact same, failure of the crimp. Actually, using two crimp on ring terminals bolted together introduces a third failure mode, the bolt could come undone (unlikely but it is still a failure mode). You still have the two crimps on the two wire ends, exactly the same types of crimps you would have on a butt connector.

I see no reason why a properly done butt splice would be any less reliable than a properly done splice using two crimp on ring terminals and a small bolt.
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

Because you can't troubleshoot a butt splice very well. If the butt splice insulator is sized correctly, there is no possible way to get a meter lead in there. If you can get a meter lead in there, the splice is not sized correctly.

You are correct that a bolted terminal introduces another possible point of failure. All of which points to the larger issue: It's a very poor decision to splice a wire in the first place. That is why it should never be done except in the event the wire simply cannot be replaced, or in the case that you are making load connections when the manufacturer gives you wire leads with no connector. Think twice about any connection where you have to sacrifice some of your wire length to make another connection.

Bolted terminals done properly work very well, which is why this is the method used for electrical gear drawing hundreds of amps.

Nobody's saying you can't use a butt splice if you like them. Use a wire nut for that matter. At least you can access a test point with a wire nut to determine whether you have insulation failure somewhere along the run, a bad connection, or a faulty component. None of which you can do with a butt splice short of removing the butt splice.

Last edited by ShoalFinder; 01-10-2013 at 01:42 PM.
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