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Old 12-28-2013, 06:39 PM   #1
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In over my head?



I have in mind to redo my electrical system, and to that end I have purchased the Add-a-Battery ACR (to replace the Perko) and the Promarine 12 amp dual-battery smart charger. I've taken the CPSS short electrical course and have read 2 marine electric books and spent hours and hours gleaning what I can from the Interwebs in relation to what and where to fuse, designing a new panel, sloppily sketching wiring diagrams imagining how my amazing new system will look and work.

Until, of course, I venture out once again and climb up the ladder into the frozen boat to try to trace out the existing system of wires etc. One cable from Switch to Starter. Then a number of smallish wires running between the Alternator and the Starter, no idea what is which (even though I do have a version of the wiring diag. for the boat). So tempted to bail on rewiring the alternator circuit.

Also tempted to leave the existing engine instrument system in place for obvious reasons (i.e., too hard). So here are some pics of the existing panel, front and back, to explain my despair. I would like to replace it but not sure what folks do in terms of what items to group on each circuit - bilge pump. nav lights, 6 lights, 2 fans, VFH and depth, future 12 amp windlass, future wheel pilot, that's about it.
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:57 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
I have in mind to redo my electrical system, and to that end I have purchased the Add-a-Battery ACR (to replace the Perko) and the Promarine 12 amp dual-battery smart charger. I've taken the CPSS short electrical course and have read 2 marine electric books and spent hours and hours gleaning what I can from the Interwebs in relation to what and where to fuse, designing a new panel, sloppily sketching wiring diagrams imagining how my amazing new system will look and work. Until, of course, I venture out once again and climb up the ladder into the frozen boat to try to trace out the existing system of wires etc. One cable from Switch to Starter. Then a number of smallish wires running between the Alternator and the Starter, no idea what is which (even though I do have a version of the wiring diag. for the boat). So tempted to bail on rewiring the alternator circuit. Also tempted to leave the existing engine instrument system in place for obvious reasons (i.e., too hard). So here are some pics of the existing panel, front and back, to explain my despair. I would like to replace it but not sure what folks do in terms of what items to group on each circuit - bilge pump. nav lights, 6 lights, 2 fans, VFH and depth, future 12 amp windlass, future wheel pilot, that's about it.
If it were me, not that hard. You seem to have exceptional experience, I would go for it.
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:10 PM   #3
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Sunset: You have my empathy. My Manatee was struck by lightning some months ago and I'm still moving through the process of replacing and checking. I'm not really good enough at electric to do it, but I need to at least remove and replace the burnt wires, ends and devices. Get yourself a toner, and go to work. It will be there till you do.
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:05 PM   #4
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Hard to help by long distance. I think you can do it tho.
You say just 3 wires on the battery switch: battery1, battery2, stasrter. Right? That's all?
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:09 PM   #5
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It may be an optical illusion, but in the pic of your alternator, it looks like it is twisted so that its pulley is not parallel to the engine "pulley". If this is true, you will be going through belts in no time and needs to be corrected.
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooksie View Post
It may be an optical illusion, but in the pic of your alternator, it looks like it is twisted so that its pulley is not parallel to the engine "pulley". If this is true, you will be going through belts in no time and needs to be corrected.
Hmmmm . . . ya, it does look misaligned in the pic. I need to bring it in come the Spring to have a mechanic bypass the mechanical fuel pump (in favour of the electric acting alone), so I'll address that then.
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
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You say just 3 wires on the battery switch: battery1, battery2, stasrter. Right? That's all?
There is a fourth (black) POS wire hidden behind the Starter cable, smaller gauge. It goes to the POS bus for house circuits. You can see it swinging around to the bus which is the small round disc to the right of the switch in the pic above.
POS means positive, not the other meaning . . .
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:30 PM   #8
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Appreciate the encouragement. Any theories as to the circuit-load plan welcome!

I was hoping to get this done over the Winter because I want to paint the deck before launch but fingers freeze up pretty quick in these temps.
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:47 PM   #9
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Some example of Blue Sea fuse blocks. Would you also like to be able to control the circuits?
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Old 12-29-2013, 02:16 AM   #10
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Start over. Buy some good tinned wire, a couple of meters of shrink wrap, some marine terminals instead of those cheap automotive ones and a new switch panel. Layout where you want everything to go and start doing the circuits one by one. Definitely get good positive and negative bus bars for your charging system and your batteries to start out. Make sure you have a good stripper and crimper, make sure all the wires are protected with CBs or fuses. Blue Sea has a terrific ampacity/ wire gauge program. Buy a box of adel clamps or a box of those nylon things you can screw down and run a zip-tie through and make it neat.

Make some battery cables of the correct length and colour, shrink wrap them and clamp em.

I think I would start at the batteries.
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Old 12-29-2013, 06:06 AM   #11
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Others are commenting on the alternator. With respect to the remaining wiring, your distribution panel is marked for "bilge" and "navigation". Follow this with respect to the bilge pump and navigation lights and put nothing else on these circuits. I don't see a breaker for the vhf radio so trace your current radios wiring. When you do these try and clean up the wiring so that it is bundled and neat and importantly marked so that you can determine in the future what you did.

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Old 12-29-2013, 07:05 AM   #12
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If you stop in any electric supply that sells burgalar alarms , for about $10 they will sell you a book of peel and stick numbers .

A page of every number you peel off and stick on the wires as required .

I like to start wiring with the panels number and then go from there.

Most small boats will only require 3 numbers ,1 to ID source panel , and 2 for the individual wire.Big boats will sometimes need 4 , 3 to ID the wires.Heavy feed cables ,starter or Alt can have their own code.

When you are done the operating switch on each panel will have its ID , the wiring at least at both ends an ID and the fixture , lamp, VHF , water pump will have an ID installed.Put the ID away from the wire end so the wire can be shortened if required .

Makes it easy to know where to look when something doesnt work.

Good tinned wire is a big plus , I prefer Anchor brand as its oversized , and be sure to use the correct MARINE cable ends ( not yellow auto junk from HD or Napa ) and the proper crimper .Anchor crimper is about $75 or so.

When doing a new boat I simply get 2 big rolls of whatever color is current with the wire police , used to be red and black, it was yellow and red , and GOD only knows what will next be mandated.

I prefer overkill so #10 is used for almost all 12V dc from breakers to user.Cheap in a 500 or 1000ft roll.

If the user is truely low amperage an extra fuse will be installed in the wire the user.

This will prevent an electric wire as #10 will carry good power and a burned out LED dimmer , or similar could start a fire.

Go slow , chop all the old dead crap out as you go,, keep notes and a basic schematic.

Understand what you need from your charging system , as almost all can be simplified to operate seamlessly and better.
However simply duplicating and replacing the stock boat wiring to its std schematic will help the next owner , esp if everything is numbered.

120 and 240V wiring uses multistrand wire , but the concepts are identical .
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Old 12-29-2013, 07:14 AM   #13
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I definitely need a new panel. For one thing I suspect the labels are unrelated to the actual wiring. There are no moving switches. As mentioned, such items as depth and VHF are not run through the panel. The wires at the back are connected with spade terminals, and for example, one circuit for the light in the head by itself.

I have begun to make the new battery cables using the West Marine hammer crimper, but I think I'll get better results by ordering pre-made lengths. The tools required for larger cables are just too pricey. I can get the cables at reasonable cost, less than making my own and they are made to proper standards. Currently there are apparently no fuses in the system until you get to the distribution panel with those tiny 8A ones so I need to plan that as well. Probably use those blocks that go on the battery posts and move out from there. I think the alternator is 50A.

As I said, I think I'll have to stay away from the alt. and engine instr. wiring. The rest of it I guess I'll just have to yank it all out and start from the new switch on out to the distribution.

I have been searching for pics of setups similar to mine so I can see how these things are done in practice, but so far not having much success.
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Old 12-29-2013, 07:33 AM   #14
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FF - - - - > Early risers, we have cross-posted.
Quote:
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Most small boats will only require 3 numbers ,1 to ID source panel , and 2 for the individual wire.Big boats will sometimes need 4 , 3 to ID the wires.Heavy feed cables ,starter or Alt can have their own code.
I wonder if you could expand a little as I don't quite follow - when you say "3 numbers" for example.

Quote:
I prefer overkill so #10 is used for almost all 12V dc from breakers to user.Cheap in a 500 or 1000ft roll.
This is exactly one of the issues I have been head-scratching over. Thank you for that precise suggestion. Q: Considering the low elec. demand on this boat - electronics, a couple of new 12V outlets and bilge pump aside - there is only nav and basic lighting/fans and I intend to move over to LED for the lights- do you think #12 would be appropriate for most circuits? Or should I just go with #10?

Quote:
Understand what you need from your charging system , as almost all can be simplified to operate seamlessly and better.
That is the goal, as I stumble along, no doubt hoping I can put Humpty back together again!
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Old 12-29-2013, 12:31 PM   #15
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All good advice in the preceeding.
However, if you are going to end up rewiring everything, first make a list of what you have and intend to add with the amperage of each item. Then make a diagram from this list. Do the charging/starting system seperately first and incorperate your new ACR. Make/buy proper heavy cables for batteries, starter, ground; also heavy (maybe 4) wire to the alternator and feeds (6?) for your panels. I say panels because you need one with switches or breakers also one with just fuses for items that have their own switches (altho some like a panel switch for these things also)

Lay this out on paper with each item in its area. Then you can think about what is on each circut and the distance. These two factors determine the wire gauge ( don't use the 10% voltage drop chart just the 3% chart and double the wire length [for the round trip])

I will try and attach the diagram from the latest boat I rewired as a sample .
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Old 12-29-2013, 01:18 PM   #16
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Go slow , chop all the old dead crap out as you go,, keep notes and a basic schematic.
This is the best advice given. You CAN do it, just be easy about it and don't go hacking away at it until you have a plan and have the parts to do it. Wait too long between tear-out and re-wire can often lead to mistakes.

If it were me (and it was last year), I would start at the battery end and work backwards. The battery switching and charging system is, for lack of a better word, the foundation of the entire rig. Get it right and you'll have a good platform for the rest of everything "downstream".

Good luck... Keep us posted.
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Old 12-29-2013, 02:25 PM   #17
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And buy Calder's book.
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Old 12-29-2013, 06:39 PM   #18
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And buy Calder's book.
Got it for Xmas - from the REAL Santa (me).

I've been doing a little figgering based on the guidelines above. As currently configured the only switched consumers are (lights, fans and electronics are switched at the appliance):

- electric fuel pump
- bilge pump
- horn
all of which have existing dashboard toggles - Q: should I not simply re-wire these and go with same?

Needing new wiring and new switch:
- nav/anchor lights
- wipers (actually there are no wipers but I will need some). OK, now the list is growing:
- future windlass will need a switch too.

I started this post to suggest that I maybe don't need a switch panel as well as a fuse/breaker panel, but in typing this it occurs that maybe a 3-switch panel makes sense.

I found a diagram in the archives of iboats which is the exact sort of thing I need - pictures that spell it out loud and clear.
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Old 12-29-2013, 06:45 PM   #19
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Get a small label printer, Dymo and Brother are brands sold here, and DIY for certainty of label matching function.
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Old 12-29-2013, 06:49 PM   #20
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So based on the foregoing I am thinking I should consider a combo breaker/switch panel with fuse/breaker amps along the lines of the diagram in the above pdf link.

Cross-post edit - I will look around for an appropriate label printer. Alternatively, a number/letter book with an associated listing sheet.
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