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Jody-
"Theory 2: Just flipping the breaker is enough to allow the breakers to move and allow the exposed bits of the connectors to come in contact."

A long time ago, an electrician taught me that when you connect wires up to a lightswitch, you want to waste [sic] time and money by then wrapping electrical tape all the way around the switch, covering all the connections that you've just screwed down.

As he explained to me, this guarantees that IF something gets loose, it does no damage; IF someone pokes around in there, they can't contact live conductors, and IF the code inspector shows up, he sees that someone wasn't taking any shortcuts and he signs off faster.

Of course we don't worry about "code" much on boats, but wasting the extra 50c worth of tape to make sure that things can't get loose and make sparks, has always sounded like a good investment to me. On boat wiring these days, I'm also likely to paint a couple of layers of "liquid lectric" vinyl over connections. That insulates, secures, and can be popped off with a fingernail if I ever have to get back into something.
 
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