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I've been looking at the breaker panels on my 1981 CS33 with some scepticism just lately. I haven't had any issues, but just how reliable and safe can a nearly 40 year old marine breaker panel be?

Has anyone in the CS owners group replaced their electrical breaker panels recently?

Where to start? What went well? What didn't? Any traps to watch out for? Recommendations and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Mirage 33
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I've been looking at the breaker panels on my 1981 CS33 with some scepticism just lately. I haven't had any issues, but just how reliable and safe can a nearly 40 year old marine breaker panel be?

Has anyone in the CS owners group replaced their electrical breaker panels recently?

Where to start? What went well? What didn't? Any traps to watch out for? Recommendations and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Just a thought on breakers in general. Normally when they "fail" they tend to trip more easily as opposed to going the other way. I would say unless they are a different design than what I've seen they won't become a safety issue in a short circuit sense, but may become easier to trip. I realize that could be it's own safety issue if you lost lights or navigation.

At any rate, I'm looking at buying a CS33 possibly down the road. Have you found a good place for spares out there?
 

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I've been looking at the breaker panels on my 1981 CS33 with some scepticism just lately. I haven't had any issues, but just how reliable and safe can a nearly 40 year old marine breaker panel be?

Has anyone in the CS owners group replaced their electrical breaker panels recently?

Where to start? What went well? What didn't? Any traps to watch out for? Recommendations and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
CS built a brick $hit-house of a boat but wiring was not their strong point. Most of it was undersized for the purpose, not properly color coded for DC, and the AC wring was a complete joke.

As a result I did a 100% re-wire of our CS-36T a number of years ago, 2009-1010 IIRC. Even as a professional marine electrician it still took well over 100 hours of labor. You can replace just the panel, a good idea, but the wiring is where the meat of the safety issues are.

This gallery contains just a few of the images taken during the process. Start at the bottom for the basic re-wire images not the at the top...

CS-36T Re-Wire:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Just a thought on breakers in general. Normally when they "fail" they tend to trip more easily as opposed to going the other way. I would say unless they are a different design than what I've seen they won't become a safety issue in a short circuit sense, but may become easier to trip. I realize that could be it's own safety issue if you lost lights or navigation.

At any rate, I'm looking at buying a CS33 possibly down the road. Have you found a good place for spares out there?
Thanks Guyfromthenorth - I appreciate the insight. And we’ll, it ain’t broke....

As far as a CS33 “down the road” there happens to be a nice looking 33 for sale a couple of rows from where I’m cradled for the winter.

I have found that “Holland Marine” in Mississauga advertises spares for CS boats, among others.

Good luck with your search!
 

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Main Sail what an awesome post! It’s going to take a while to get through and digest everything in your reply to my post. I can’t thank you enough.
 

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I have a CS 30 1987 and at the least you should check all the spades and replace the loose ones, and the ones the wire just pulls out of, probably a third of mine fit this description. Replacing everything is always best, wire included maybe the panel as well. My panel is good for many more years, if I did any major work I would add a sub panel at the Nav station for all the radio and sound system needs. My system is pretty simple but there are grey water pumps, water heater (110V). I will note I removed the raw water loop for the water heater I just didn't like the odds of taking on water in a failure mode and it didn't heat the water well at all.
 

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Maine Sail: Extremely neat and concise work. Love the details and annotations you have provided. I have two questions, 1, what type of label making tool are you using? and 2, At the top of your negative buss coming off the negative battery pole, you have a shunt installed connecting to the remainder of the negative buss. What is the purpose of this shunt? Thank you for all you do.
 

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Maine Sail: Extremely neat and concise work. Love the details and annotations you have provided. I have two questions, 1, what type of label making tool are you using? and 2, At the top of your negative buss coming off the negative battery pole, you have a shunt installed connecting to the remainder of the negative buss. What is the purpose of this shunt? Thank you for all you do.

Label maker is an elcheapo Brother P-Touch, I have about 4 or 5 currently. I use their 1/2" Tze tape and find it holds up to heat guns as well as any of my "electrical grade" label makers did..

I have been through 4 "electrical grade" label printers, Dymo/Rhino, Brady & Brother, and find them no better, insanely expensive and they break just as easily. Repairs on these devices are cost prohibitive so when they break you toss out a $150.00 + tool. I have broken every professional grade label maker I've purchased, the Rhino lasted three weeks, and it is not just the cost of the label maker. If you try another brand, after breaking one, as I did, all your in-stock tapes/tube etc. are now useless..

On top of that the tape or heat shrink tubing for the professional grade label makers is INSANELY expensive and I was having to charge my customers and INSANE price on labels.

For example I was paying about $34.00 for the heat shrink labels for battery cable. For the Rhino I was only getting 5' of shrink tube or $6.80 per foot!

The Tze tape is about $9.00 for 26' or .35 per foot. Even with the clear shrink over it I am WAY cheaper than the "electrical grade" label tools. Course my Brother P-touch label makers usually cost me under $10.00 and often come with a spool of label tape. When they break, and they do, I have no qualms disposing of them.. I grab them at Staples on-sale...

The wire is marked two ways a "Sharpie" then the Tze label over that and then clear heat shrink over the label.


I have two shunts;

#1 For the Ah counter that measures all loads into and out of the house bank reads net current into or out of bank..

#2 A DC panel shunt, at the DC panel, that measures DC panel loads. This measures only loads off DC panel for accurate at a glance idea of actual house loads with exceptions to high amp loads such as the inverter and engine starter motor.
 
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