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post #1 of 53 Old 01-07-2013 Thread Starter
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overwhelmed w/ electrical

Well, I hope I can get some advice here even though im new to this board. My project boat is a 1978 islander 32. It took in some water during a prolong storage on the hard. Now eletrical is not my fortay, and im overwhelmed with where to start with it. The boat has not had power to it in a long time. Do you guys think I should power her up and see what happens? There are so many wires im almost lost. I want to redo all the connection, all of them are crimped and show a little corrosion. So id like to solder what. I can, and clean the terminals on the breakers and such. Sorry this is such a hard to follow post but it shows I have no idea where to start.
And I should add even though im not eletrically savy, I am fine with engines and capentry, not a desk jocky! Thanks for the help!
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post #2 of 53 Old 01-07-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

It sounds like it is in bad shape unless I am reading what you wrote incorrectly.

It also sounds like you are planning to completely rewire the boat.

If it were me and I had decided to totally rewire it I probably wouldn't even bother figuring most of the old system out, I'd just start from scratch and wire it up the way I wanted it. I'd begin with the engine electrical and starting battery, then move to a new house battery bank, the fuse panel(s), then add charging sources, then add loads. The first thing, though, would be figuring out how the electrical on the engine was wired up as is, taking photographs along the way, etc. I doubt I would care much how the rest of the electrical was wired up if I was going to replace it all, but I would care for any device or instrument I intended to keep.

Probably not the way some would do it, but that's how I'd do it. it's basically starting from scratch, starting over from the beginning as if it didn't have an electrical system at all.

Edit ...

I just read what you wrote again and I don't know, it doesn't sound like you are starting over, really, I think I just misread what you wrote. It sounds like you are planning to keep the wiring itself and all of the devices, so in that case yes I would try to figure that system out and take a lot of photographs, try to make a wiring diagram of the boat the way it is if you don't already have one. Then disconnect all of the fuses and start working with the core of the electrical system to see if it is working. The first thing would just be trying to figure out what you have and figure out what you want to end up with.

What are you pretending not to know ?

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Last edited by wind_magic; 01-07-2013 at 06:32 PM. Reason: Edit
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post #3 of 53 Old 01-07-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

To start, stow that soldering iron away somewhere you will have to really, really, struggle to get to... Done correctly, crimped connections are far superior to soldered ones on a boat.

For a very long discussion on this topic, see this thread:

Crimping vs. Soldering


If I were you, I'd start at the beginning. Do the 12v DC first. Check the batteries. From there begin mapping/diagramming your circuits.

I won't kid you -- it ain't gonna be fun.


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post #4 of 53 Old 01-07-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

I just read "The 12 Volt Bible for Boats" by Miner Brotherton, it answered a lot of the questions you posed and clearly explained a lot of the issues you might be worried about.
+1 on making a diagram and taking pictures of the current (pardon the pun) set up.
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post #5 of 53 Old 01-07-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

Yeah im not looking to start from scratch, nowhere near the budget or time for itn my goal is to have it in the water in 2014. Id like to see what I can save, then what I need to replace. My plan was to really go thru the shore power to the panel, then the from the batteries to the panel then put power to ieverything and see what happens! I need to reorganize everything regardless, the back of the panel is a mess!

And im surprised about the soldering of joints, I would have assumed it would be a tighter more waterproof connection with shrink wrap with the adhesive liner.

Thanks for the help!
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post #6 of 53 Old 01-07-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

Maybe I should be keel hauled for saying this; Most older boats do not have tinned marine wire. There seems a large segment of people that want to rewire their boats just so they can have tinned wire in there. But my suggestion is put in some battery power and check out each circuit based on the assumption most if not all of the wiring worked when originally installed.
yes, I get hate mail LOL

Solder vs crimp.. what the crimp tool owners won't tell you is how badly made the connectors are.

Denise, Bristol PA, Oday 30. On Tidal Delaware River, Anchor Yacht Club.
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post #7 of 53 Old 01-07-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical







Take a deep breath and put in a pile were it belongs





Nothing you can ever do will make a mess like this function correctly









99 dollars for a new pod to hold the gauges

Buy the 12 volt bible and other marine electric books make a simple plan , be careful in you purchases like getting the wire from genuinedealz and you will be able to put something together that is safe and functions

Because its just no fun having electric problems

1970 Cal 29 Sea Fever

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post #8 of 53 Old 01-07-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

Just put the 12 volt bible on hold at B&N. Im goinf to dive in deeper tomorrow! Thanks a ton
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post #9 of 53 Old 01-07-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

Invest in a GOOD pair of dedicated crimpers (Klein, StaKon), and DO NOT use the crimp section of the typical combo strip-crimp-cut tool. The crimper will be in the $25-$30 range - but unless you drop them in the drink, you'll have them forever.

Buy quality terminals, and try to use ring rather than spade type. Be careful when stripping to avoid cutting individual strands (it should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: use ONLY stranded wire).

Oh, and good luck!

s/v My Sweet Girl!
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post #10 of 53 Old 01-07-2013
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Re: overwhelmed w/ electrical

This is a 10 step program....


#1 Read the 12V bible it is basic and will give you the bare basics.

#2 Read it again and let it absorb

#3 Buy Charlie Wings book Boatowners Illustrated Electrical Handbook Volume 2

#4 Read it.

#5 Read it again

#6 Read it once more until it all sinks in.

#7 If you are lost on certain points come here and ask about it.

#8 Map out exactly what you want and plan to do & draw it out.

#9 Run it by the SN critiquers

#10 Fix your boat....
Faster, dacap06, mitiempo and 1 others like this.

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