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Old 12-12-2012, 10:36 AM   #1
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Mainship 34 electrical panel fire

Hi....looking for an original electrical panel replacement for my 1981 Mainship 34. Photo shows fire damage caused by shore power shorting out the 120v amp meter. Any assistance or help in locating a used panel is appreciated. I just purchased the boat one month before the fire. Luckily I was on board to put it out but I still really like the Mainship. Cheers. Ron
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:06 AM   #2
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"Hi....looking for an original electrical panel replacement for my 1981 Mainship 34. Photo shows fire damage caused by shore power shorting out the 120v amp meter."

Maybe the "original" is not good enough. At a minimum I'd recommend a larger and sturdier shore/genset/house/off switching device with appropriate sized wiring. According to my sources, this area is often prone to failure in many brands of older vessels.
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:19 AM   #3
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"Hi....looking for an original electrical panel replacement for my 1981 Mainship 34. Photo shows fire damage caused by shore power shorting out the 120v amp meter."

Maybe the "original" is not good enough. At a minimum I'd recommend a larger and sturdier shore/genset/house/off switching device with appropriate sized wiring. According to my sources, this area is often prone to failure in many brands of older vessels.

I would tend to agree. Original often isn't better. Original often was an inexpensive part where there are better units on the market.

I would carefully consider something from a reputable manufacturer like Blue Sea at www.bluesea.com
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:41 AM   #4
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The #1 is shore power cords/plugs and electrical panels. Most boats do not have a breaker between the bots shore power and the electrical panel which is not recommend by ABFC. I also agree with replacing size the wire bigger.

Marine stores do sell replacement distribution panel. Try Fisheries supply the main distributor the of the Puget Sound. Fisheries Supply - Marine Supplies Since 1928
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:09 PM   #5
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Are you off your meds again P/F. What the heck are you trying to say?
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:12 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by esperanza View Post
Hi....looking for an original electrical panel replacement for my 1981 Mainship 34. Photo shows fire damage caused by shore power shorting out the 120v amp meter. Any assistance or help in locating a used panel is appreciated. I just purchased the boat one month before the fire. Luckily I was on board to put it out but I still really like the Mainship. Cheers. Ron
This is not the time to buy used. Get it new and save burning the boat down to the waterline.

Have a good electrician look it over and fix it correctly, the first time.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:25 PM   #7
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My own opinion is to follow JD's advice and get a competent and reputable marine electrician down to look at the situation and advise you on the proper components to install. And then have him install them if you have any doubt about your own abilities in this area.

Most boat fires seem to be related to electrical issues, so why take a chance with inferior or unsuitable components? Since you have to replace these components anyway the smart solution would seem to be to upgrade to a safe, reliable system.

Boats are not like collector cars. There is no damage to the boat's value by upgrading things like electrical components to something better than what the manufacturer originally installed. In fact doing so usually adds value to the boat.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by sunchaser;119177
[FONT=Arial
Maybe the "original" is not good enough. At a minimum I'd recommend a larger and sturdier shore/genset/house/off switching device with appropriate sized wiring. According to my sources, this area is often prone to failure in many brands of older vessels.[/FONT]
Since it made it without bursting into flame for more than 30 years I suspect the wiring and switch are appropriately sized.

It is far more likely that the fire resulted from an arc fault due to a loose or corroded connection that had not seen daylight since it was built. The only breaker that would have helped in that case is an arc fault circuit interrupter and few boats have them installed.

A boat vibrates in a corrosive environment, make it a routine to inspect and tighten all electrical connections on a regular basis.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:51 PM   #9
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The only breaker that would have helped in that case is an arc fault circuit interrupter and few boats have them installed.
What exactly is this and where would it be installed in the circuitry?
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:20 PM   #10
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What exactly is this and where would it be installed in the circuitry?
Google AFCI or arc fault circuit interruptor.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:22 PM   #11
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Google AFCI or arc fault circuit interruptor.
Thanks.

PS-- So I did look this up as you suggested. The issue I see with it on a boat, at least our boat, is the tendency that was described of them reacting to "false positives" or equipment that arcs as matter of function. For example, during the winter we keep heat on the boat in the form of a pair of electric oil heaters, one in the engine room and one in the aft cabin. We keep them on the lowest of the three wattage settings with the thermostat halfway up. When the thermostat turns the heater on there is a brief flash when the switch arcs. So I'm guessing that if we had an AFCI installed it would switch off the AC power to the boat every time one of the heaters activated.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:38 PM   #12
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Thanks.

PS-- So I did look this up as you suggested. the issue I see with it on a boat, at least our boat, is the tendency that was described of them reacting to "false positives" or equipment that arcs as matter of function. For example, during the winter we keep heat on the boat in the form of a pair of electric oil heaters, one in the engine room and one in the aft cabin. We keep them on the lowest of the three wattage settings with the thermostat halfway up. When the thermostat turns the heater on there is a brief flash when the switch arcs. So I'm guessing that if we had an AFCI installed it would switch off the AC power to the boat every time one of the heaters activated.
When the arc fault protectors came into the code. they were a great big headache. We had cases of them that we had to change out. Recently, not so much. As in anything else they were fine tuned. That's the capitalistic system. Someone sold the code enforcers on them so that a profit could be made. If they didn't clean up the product, they would be kicked out. So, we in the trades had to go through the testing period for them at great expense to us. That's just how it is.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:46 PM   #13
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Yes, the explanations and descriptions I read about them did say that the false-positive issue was something the industry was working to resolve.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:37 PM   #14
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Are you off your meds again P/F. What the heck are you trying to say?
Most boats do not have a breaker between the bots shore power and the electrical panel which is not recommend by ABFC
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Meds are OK, but thanks for asking.

Letís see what was I tying to say? I meant to say:

Most boats do not have a breaker between the boats shore power and the electrical panel which is now recommend by ABYC.

What a difference a few letters make!
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:09 AM   #15
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Not to change the subject. Maybe I'm wrong ( somebody please correct me), but I would not even replace the fire box. Assuming you have diesel engine(s). The purpose of the fire box is to shut down the engins in the event of a fire in the engin room. ( an extremely unlikely occurance with Diesel engines) The fire box has an interlock that will shutdown the fuel solenoid in the event the hylon tank losses pressure. This causes your engins to shut down. I had a friend that had both his engins shutdown while away. Which could have caused a dangerous situation.
He did not have a fire or a hylon loss, he simply had a faulty halon pressure switch.
I'm not a big fan of fireboxes on Diesel engines but I would like to hear others opinion.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:43 AM   #16
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... the event of a fire in the engin room. ( an extremely unlikely occurance with Diesel engines) ...
I think the accident databases will show that to be inaccurate. Most boat fires are fuel related and originate in the engine room.

After all, that is where there is the greatest likelihood of a fuel leak and an abundance of ignition sources.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:28 PM   #17
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I think the accident databases will show that to be inaccurate. Most boat fires are fuel related and originate in the engine room.

After all, that is where there is the greatest likelihood of a fuel leak and an abundance of ignition sources.
Speaking anecdotally, having been spared any ER fires, is it true that it is easier for a fire to start in a gas engined boat due to higher flammability and the possible presence of enclosed explosive gas vapour, but if you have a diesel fire it is harder to extinguish? I suppose the "opportunity to extinguish" is a plus, in a gas boat the explosion may have already eliminated any opportunity.
That said (or asked), give me diesels any day. I`m sure if I had a gas genset which leaked fuel as my diesel genset did one day, certainly not the boat, possibly not me, would still be around.
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Old 12-23-2012, 08:32 PM   #18
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I think the accident databases will show that to be inaccurate. Most boat fires are fuel related and originate in the engine room.

After all, that is where there is the greatest likelihood of a fuel leak and an abundance of ignition sources.
BoatUS insurance statistics show electrical is the cause of most boat fires and fuel leaks the least likely cause.
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Old 12-24-2012, 10:57 AM   #19
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I'd venture to guess that AC Shore Power connections are the most likely source as well. You've got a high-amperage, pressure-contact mechanical AC connection that's exposed to the weather and in a situation where a rocking boat can potentially slowly wiggle that cable all day long.

My last 3 boats all have had an issue with this at some point.
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Old 12-24-2012, 11:29 AM   #20
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My shore power cords are not plugged in at the boat end. They are hard wired and the connections are secure and waterproof. Never had a problem with the boat end of the cord.
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