Join Date: Apr 2007
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Rep Power: 9
I got the polarity-reversing switch wired and working! Here's the story (exciting part is at the end!). There is a small plate on the SB side of the base of the mast with access to internal mast wiring. Turns out the ground for the masthead light comes down separately but then at the bottom of the mast gets combined with the ground for the steaming/foredeck light combo before going through the compression post to the panel so is not usable for the purposes of polarity reversing--must be isolated from all other grounds. The mast wires were all taped together into an impenetrable mass of black electrical tape and siliconed into the hole going through the deck. There was not enough slack to do anything with it or fish anything down the compression post so I ended up drilling a hole in the base of the mast and another hole in the deck close to the mast and splicing a new ground wire from the masthead light and running that out the base of the mast, down through the deck, above the headliner, through the hanging locker to the control panel.
Once I got those wires more or less in place and watertight, we left to go sailing, planning on wiring the switch at anchor just before nightfall. LESSON #1 LEARNED: ALWAYS TURN OFF BATTERY POWER BEFORE WORKING IN CONTROL PANEL! Did not do that, and as I was connecting a new black wire between breakers and negative bus it shorted with the hot wire coming in which instantly incinerated both wires and started a small white hot fire in my control panel. I had the fire extinguisher at ready but fortunately didn't need to use it. The fire did some superficial damage to insulation of some adjacent wires and scared the pants off my wife and me but after replacing the 2 charred wires (using flashlights for illumination since was already dark) we were back in business and we had a working anchor light that night.
Once back at marina, I carefully turned battery selector switch to OFF to clean up wiring mess, but was once again surprised when my sweaty hand touched the 120V bus and got a good jolt. LESSON #2: Always disconnect shore power before working on control panel! I really live my motto below: bad judgment>>experience>>good judgment.
PSC31 #9 "Wayfarer"
The secret to sailing is good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.