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Old 02-26-2014, 08:51 AM   #1
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Can you "clean" a power cord?

So we finally had a dry day yesterday and I stopped by the boat to check the power cord connections. I usually do this every couple of weeks but this is a new to us boat and it had been raining for a long time and hadn't had a chance to check it before. I found fairly substantial corrosion on the boat side power input plug. So I pulled it apart... I spent the rest of the day replacing wiring. I am now replacing all connections in the boat as well.

A few pics... I know, not really that bad huh? I mean, shouldn't you use wire nuts on boat wiring? Note the solid "Romex"!!!

My question is, I hate to trash the power cord. In the AF, we used a burnishing tool to clean contacts. Has anyone tried to clean the contacts of a power cord or is it a replacement of the connector. The cord is fine other than corrosion on where it plugged into this mess!

~ Jeff
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Old 02-26-2014, 08:52 AM   #2
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And associated wiring...
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:27 AM   #3
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You can try to clean the contacts with electrical contact cleaner (from the home center or electrical supply house) and you can try using a very fine abrasive or tool made for the purpose. Depending on how corroded the contacts are, you may be able to make a satisfactory repair.

Remember though, if either the plug or socket is damaged and not making good contact, they will soon both be damaged and in need of replacement.

BTW: It's close to impossible to clean the contact surfaces of the female connector other than with the contact cleaner and repeated inserting and twisting the male part.
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Old 02-26-2014, 11:36 AM   #4
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Our power cord is 15+ years old and check/clean it every year. I just use light grit sand paper.

It is recommend on older boats to install a double throw circuit breaker between the boats shore power plug and the main power selector switch. Most older boats do not have. So if there is a problem there is a circuit breaker at both ends.
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:59 PM   #5
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Our power cord is 15+ years old and check/clean it every year. I just use light grit sand paper.

It is recommend on older boats to install a double throw circuit breaker between the boats shore power plug and the main power selector switch. Most older boats do not have. So if there is a problem there is a circuit breaker at both ends.
A double pole circuit breaker is supposed to be the "main" breaker on the AC electrical panel. It controls all the others and disconnects the hot and neutral conductors.

If the distance (measured along the conductors) from the shore power inlet to the AC electrical panel exceeds ten feet, a double pole circuit breaker is to be installed within ten feet of the shore power inlet.

It doesn't matter how old the boat is.
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:09 PM   #6
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To get into tight spots to clean, ask the admiral for her fingernail emory board thing. Don't forget to buy her a new one, or just say, "what you talking about, hon?" when she wants it back..
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:55 PM   #7
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Can you use dielectric grease on the contacts to protect from corrosion?
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Old 02-26-2014, 05:42 PM   #8
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Why not just replace the corroded outlet? When I questioned mine, I replaced the boat plug and the cord end. Now I know the precise condition of the components. No worries and no regrets.
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:17 AM   #9
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Can you use dielectric grease on the contacts to protect from corrosion?
Yes and that's good practice.
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:21 AM   #10
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Why not just replace the corroded outlet? When I questioned mine, I replaced the boat plug and the cord end. Now I know the precise condition of the components. No worries and no regrets.
Any shorepower cord that's in daily use outdoors in the sun and with the boat and possibly the dock moving with the waves and wind is going to deteriorate. It's a good idea to check it now and then and consider replacing it after several years.

When I replaced my cord and shorepower inlet (on the boat), I found that the original installer had not followed the directions and had tinned the wires before putting them in the clamps.

I cut that part off and redid it the correct way.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:31 AM   #11
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Yes, already replaced the outlet on the boat, re-terminated all 120VAC wiring, cleaned up all cabling, replaced entrance cable from outlet to dbl throw main breaker, replaced all outlets with GFI, replaced cable to batt charger, etc. it's been a fun couple of days. One of the great times to have a single engine as there is much more space below.

I just hate to toss a 100' power cable for a corroded end. I may try to replace the end and keep it as a spare.

Jeff
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:47 AM   #12
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Yes, already replaced the outlet on the boat, re-terminated all 120VAC wiring, cleaned up all cabling, replaced entrance cable from outlet to dbl throw main breaker, replaced all outlets with GFI, replaced cable to batt charger, etc. it's been a fun couple of days. One of the great times to have a single engine as there is much more space below.

I just hate to toss a 100' power cable for a corroded end. I may try to replace the end and keep it as a spare.

Jeff
If you can get the correct end (cord cap) and can install it correctly, you should be fine. Usually it's best to cut the cord back a few inches or even a couple feet because there has been a lot of flexing near the ends over the years. At the very least, cut the cord back to where you have clean (not black) wire.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:00 AM   #13
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If you have a cord with molded plugs and it was a goor shore power cord to start...it's pretty rare that there is corrosion in the cord itself...usually the plug ends take all the beating.

Check for damage and buy replacement ends...do it right and take care of the replacement ends and it should last till the next time you plug into a crappy dock receptacle and the whole process starts over again....buying a whole new cord every time would be a huge waste.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:46 PM   #14
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I think the original question from the OP was can you clean it. I've witnessed many attempts at this on my dock, generally if done later in the afternoon will gather a crowd with all kinds of opinions, in the end the cord maybe a little cleaner, but now the protective plastic layer removed it didnt take long to discolor again.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:00 PM   #15
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Sorry, should have been more clear. I meant can you clean the contacts in the plug. Specifically the female portion that connects to the boat outlet. I think I am just going to replace the plug end.

Thanks,
Jeff
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Old 02-28-2014, 06:09 AM   #16
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>I think I am just going to replace the plug end.<

There are many quality levels , sadly the bargain plugs may not be ideal.

Hubbel costs more initially , but,,,,,,
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