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Old 01-12-2016, 11:34 AM   #1
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Reminder: Watch those power cords

Just a reminder to keep and eye (and hand) on your shore power cords. I try to make it a habit to feel the cord ends as I approach the boat but I often forget.

I went to the boat last week and touched the cord entering the boat. All was well on the boat end. When I went to disconnect the cord from the power pedestal, the plug end felt warm on the bottom side. I found that one prong was darkened and hot to the touch. It was discoloring the yellow plastic around the base of the prong and the outside of the plug was also starting to discolor.

I replaced the cord with a spare and returned the cord to West Marine where I purchased it 3 years ago. West Marine replaced it with a new cord. The marina is in the process of checking the power pedestal for any issues.

I will focus more to keep those contacts clean and dry.
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Old 01-12-2016, 11:49 AM   #2
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A good habit to develop for sure. Almost do it unconsciously now. Nothing beats condition based maintenance practices.
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Old 01-12-2016, 12:40 PM   #3
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Great reminder, thank you.
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Old 01-12-2016, 01:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyWright View Post

I replaced the cord with a spare and returned the cord to West Marine where I purchased it 3 years ago. West Marine replaced it with a new cord. The marina is in the process of checking the power pedestal for any issues.

I will focus more to keep those contacts clean and dry.
Al
Thanks - great reminder
Was the cord a Marinco by any chance?
I've heard they will replace cords that show signs of overheating but I haven't been able to confirm.
I do USPS Vessel Safety Checks and would like to know for sure to advise boat owners when I find one of these... and I have found several during inspections.
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Old 01-12-2016, 01:15 PM   #5
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Question:

When leaving a boat connected to shore power for an extended period (winter layup) would it be a good practice to use a dielectric compound on both the shore side and boat side receptacles?

Tom
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Old 01-12-2016, 01:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpbrady View Post
Question:

When leaving a boat connected to shore power for an extended period (winter layup) would it be a good practice to use a dielectric compound on both the shore side and boat side receptacles?

Tom
It certainly can't hurt as It acts as a moisture insulator. We use it in car connectors, Battery connections etc. all the time..
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Old 01-12-2016, 01:37 PM   #7
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Something to add: a 30 amp service is very rapidly used up by heaters and water tanks, plus most forget about their battery charger. I'm not suggesting that's the case here, but it's worth checking. Many just keep plugging stuff in until the breaker blows but that's not how it works. You can overload a circuit below breaker cut-off which results in dropped voltage and too much heat in the cable before the breaker pops. Weak, high resistance connectors like typical boat cables will overheat, melt and if you are not very lucky you will have a fire. Add flaky dock connections and salty water....

Heaters
Battery charger
Lights
Hot water tank
Intruder alarm
Block heaters
Galvanic detector
Propane sniffer
Wired smoke detectors

Read the labels on the devices, tot up the total wattage you are trying to consume on your boat and be prepared to be surprised. If you have a 20 amp service, that's even worse.
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Old 01-12-2016, 01:54 PM   #8
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Dielectric grease is a good idea for shorepower connections. It doesn't have to be "long term", use it as it wears off.


An infrared non contact thermometer is better for measuring plug and socket temperatures than your hand. They have other uses around a boat and are a good addition to your tool box.
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Old 01-12-2016, 02:06 PM   #9
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Al
Thanks - great reminder
Was the cord a Marinco by any chance?
I've heard they will replace cords that show signs of overheating but I haven't been able to confirm.
I do USPS Vessel Safety Checks and would like to know for sure to advise boat owners when I find one of these... and I have found several during inspections.
Yes, it was a Marinco power cord. My new cord states it has a 5 year warranty.
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Old 01-12-2016, 03:08 PM   #10
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Thanks for the reminder. I found the "boat end" of my cord warm and discolored around one pin. Replaced the connector.

Ken
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Old 01-12-2016, 03:16 PM   #11
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upgraded to 50 amp...as much for the better connectors than total power...but that is nice too.


no issues after decades of having browned 30A plugs or getting to a marina and having to plug into one.


not looking back and smiling.....
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Old 01-12-2016, 06:21 PM   #12
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Dielectric grease is a good idea for shorepower connections. It doesn't have to be "long term", use it as it wears off.


An infrared non contact thermometer is better for measuring plug and socket temperatures than your hand. They have other uses around a boat and are a good addition to your tool box.
Disagree. The cord and connector should be cold to your hand. Any feel of warmth, even in hot weather, is a danger sign.
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Old 01-12-2016, 06:31 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by tpbrady View Post
Question:

When leaving a boat connected to shore power for an extended period (winter layup) would it be a good practice to use a dielectric compound on both the shore side and boat side receptacles?
We periodically inspect the connectors on both ends of our groundpower cable and use dielectric grease on the connector blades. In addition to checking both ends of the cable for heat every time we arrive at and leave the boat we also unplug and smell the ends for any telltale "burned electricity" smell.

We also check the AC plugs on anything we have plugged into the boat's AC outlets, particularly the two heaters and the extension cord powering one of them that we leave on the boat during the winter, to make sure they are not warm.

We noticed last year that the female end of the extension cord we used the most on the boat was slightly warm while powering one of the heaters. We immediately bought a replacement cord and tossed the old one.
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Old 01-12-2016, 06:39 PM   #14
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I just wish people would lift their cords out of the water.
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Old 01-12-2016, 06:47 PM   #15
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I just wish people would lift their cords out of the water.
How do they stand it?!! That bothers me too. We always make an effort that the cord is far from in the water.

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Old 01-12-2016, 10:36 PM   #16
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I went to the SmartPlug system. Much better design with more contact surface area, plus built in heat disconnect. Solid lock and easier plug in.
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Old 01-12-2016, 11:20 PM   #17
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Smart Plug

Quote:
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I went to the SmartPlug system. Much better design with more contact surface area, plus built in heat disconnect. Solid lock and easier plug in.
+1 Smart Plug is definitely a big improvement
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Old 01-13-2016, 12:58 AM   #18
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I went to the SmartPlug system. Much better design with more contact surface area, plus built in heat disconnect. Solid lock and easier plug in.
What he said! Also the Admiral loves it (so do I).....
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Old 01-13-2016, 02:12 AM   #19
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The hand method is good. As mentioned ANY heat is too much. Your hand can detect that easily.

Lots of sprays that will also keep moisture driven corrosion at bay. Not for ever but slow it substantially.
I also tie my cord end to the post after a wrap around the post so the plug is not being strained.
Also tied to the nearest boat stanchion so it stays out of the water allowing enough slack to allow for boat movement.

On your twist locks back roll it before plugging in to the receptacle. Use a couple feet of cord as part of that backroll so not just the very end is backrolled. That backroll should be easily put into the cable. Most cords have twist memory to them and that back roll will tend to hold the junction together. I've seen lots of them that the memory in combination with a pull or weight has almost undone the prongs.
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Old 01-13-2016, 06:48 AM   #20
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I wonder how much stress I put on the plug ends when stuffed into the cable storage box.
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