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Old 06-24-2021, 01:09 PM   #1
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Proper care of shore power cables

The old trawler which I bought and am trying to resuscitate came with a set of shore power cables. They are in awful shape. Corroded, burn marks on the connectors, and also just look bad. So I spent some money to buy some new 30-amp cables (the boat uses two). These things are not cheap!


So I want to take proper care of them. I thought about putting some 303 on, to maybe keep the UV from making the bright yellow color turn into a sickly gray color. But not sure what to do about the corrosion and burn marks. Any suggestions will be welcome. Keeping the boat and cables out of the sun is not an option, unfortunately.



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Old 06-24-2021, 01:42 PM   #2
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Plug them in properly and use dielectric grease. Can get covers for them, but they wear out quick.
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Old 06-24-2021, 01:46 PM   #3
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Covers that don't wear out quickly. Covers with 10 year warranty, Sunbrellaģ fabric

https://www.allamericanpowercordcover.com/

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Old 06-24-2021, 01:53 PM   #4
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The L5-30 plug was designed in the 1930s. It doesnít make good contact so resistance causes heat. Therefore the melted and burned connectors. A better solution is a Smart Plug cordset and inlet. They have about 20 times more contact area than the L5-30. But if you are going to keep the L5-30, then inspect both the cord plug and the inlet for heat related damage. Any sign of melting and it should be replaced. If you get new cords and the inlet has burn or melted area then it will transfer onto the new cord and damage the plug. So inspect them both and replace the damaged one quickly before it ruins the new cord or vice versa. Keeping the cables inside a cover will help them last longer. Donít use any solvent like acetone to clean them.
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Old 06-24-2021, 03:31 PM   #5
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Two good suggestions.

I use dialectic grease on both he dock-side and boat side connections.

My current boat has the odd 50a/125v connector. It is very solid so less concern than with the tradition 30a/125v connectors. On my last boat with had the 30amp plugs, I replaced the boat side with a SmartPlug. It was well worth the small investment.
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Old 06-25-2021, 07:34 AM   #6
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Its a PIA , but cut off at least a foot of wire any time the plug gets dunked in sea water.


Stuff happens!
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Old 06-25-2021, 07:45 AM   #7
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I'll just reiterate what I think has already been said...


If the boat end of your old cable was in tough shape, then the receptacle on the boat is surely is just as bad shape. That bad receptacle will trash your new cord, so be sure to replace the receptacle as well.
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Old 06-25-2021, 07:56 AM   #8
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Its a PIA , but cut off at least a foot of wire any time the plug gets dunked in sea water.


Stuff happens!

The plug end is sealed. Should have zero water intrusion there if dropped in the water. Rinse with fresh water and bit of WD40, dielectric grease, and good to go. The socket end is supposed to be sealed also. But...... I would douche it out pretty good with WD40 and see how it reacts before snipping and replacing. Once you take the factory installed plug or socket off and replace with a non-sealed unit, you introduce another method for water intrusion.

I bypassed all this and went with Smartplugs some time back after my boat caught fire. (pics are in a previous thread from a year ago or so). Learned the hard way to make sure you do this right. The L5 plugs are not a no-go for me. Work well when properly taken care of and installed, but if you mess up, you could be in for trouble.
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Old 06-25-2021, 08:16 AM   #9
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We've got a 50A cord fed from a cablemaster inside the boat. It's very convenient to not have to deal with storing the line when we travel. Just wind it in/out. But for the home slip I've wondered about the possibility of using a cord kept there. Our pedestal is not adjacent to the cable's outfeed on the boat and typically requires unspooling nearly the whole cord each time.
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Old 06-25-2021, 09:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
The L5-30 plug was designed in the 1930s. It doesnít make good contact so resistance causes heat. Therefore the melted and burned connectors. A better solution is a Smart Plug cordset and inlet. They have about 20 times more contact area than the L5-30. But if you are going to keep the L5-30, then inspect both the cord plug and the inlet for heat related damage. Any sign of melting and it should be replaced. If you get new cords and the inlet has burn or melted area then it will transfer onto the new cord and damage the plug. So inspect them both and replace the damaged one quickly before it ruins the new cord or vice versa. Keeping the cables inside a cover will help them last longer. Donít use any solvent like acetone to clean them.

I'll quote just one response, but appreciate all of them. I didn't know about the dielectric grease, so ordered some from Amazon just now. I'll stick with the old-style plugs for now, since I just bought new cables. But if and when I have to get new ones, will definitely check out the smart plugs. So far as the cover, I have some old Sunbrella, and may be able to make something which will serve.


So thanks for all the good suggestions, from everyone.


Bill
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Old 06-25-2021, 10:08 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post
We've got a 50A cord fed from a cablemaster inside the boat. It's very convenient to not have to deal with storing the line when we travel. Just wind it in/out. But for the home slip I've wondered about the possibility of using a cord kept there. Our pedestal is not adjacent to the cable's outfeed on the boat and typically requires unspooling nearly the whole cord each time.

Short Version: A dedicated home dock cord is worth it.

Long Version: As long as Iíve owned larger boats, Iíve always kept a power cord on the dock that stays there, and then keep a 50í cord on the boat for use when traveling. One advantage to this is that the dockside connector only gets disturbed once a year for inspection and re-greasing. It also means that the cord is well secured to the dock to avoid any unintentional dunkings. Even when I used the SmartPlug, I made up two cords, one for the dock and one for the boat.

With my odd-ball 50/125 service, have to use a 30/125 -> 50/125 adapter almost all the time when traveling. 50/125 dock power is very rare. So that adapter stays connected to the traveling cord.

Strangely enough, my home slip happens to have 50/125 service. Before getting this boat, I had to use a 50/125->30/125 adapter to power my sailboats typical 30/125 service.

I was lucky enough to find a short 50/125 Marinco power cord on sale a few years ago. Normally they are ungodly expensive but this was reasonable and is perfect for my permanent dock cord as there is no excess cord laying around.
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Old 06-25-2021, 10:11 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Kuncicky View Post
I'll quote just one response, but appreciate all of them. I didn't know about the dielectric grease, so ordered some from Amazon just now. I'll stick with the old-style plugs for now, since I just bought new cables. But if and when I have to get new ones, will definitely check out the smart plugs. So far as the cover, I have some old Sunbrella, and may be able to make something which will serve.

When I switched to the SmartPlugs on my last boat, I used the cords that I already had. One of them was almost new. I cut off the boat end of both and replaced it with the SmartPlug male ends. Changing the boat side receptacle was easy.

There are some very real advantages to keeping a power cord permanently at your home dock.
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Old 06-25-2021, 10:40 AM   #13
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I replaced my receptacle because I could see that there was some carbon, tiny "weld" marks, etc. I don't know what the contacts in my dedicated dock cord look like, but because I inheirited it with the moorage, I probably should be really suspect. It's plenty long enough to cut off a foot and get a new plug.

One of the things you can do to make the cord and receptacle last is to never plug it in with the dock circuit breaker on. You might think that everything is off on the boat, but plugging it in when there is a little draw from the boat will cause a spark (that you can't see) with resulting carbon or worse. Turn off the dock CB, plug in, walk back and throw the CB. Time well spent.
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Old 06-25-2021, 10:57 AM   #14
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I really like the idea of a dedicated cord for the home slip. Don't know why I never thought of that.

I have a Cablemaster as well, but having a short cord for the home slip would be even easier. Just unplug and put in the dock box.
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Old 06-26-2021, 04:59 PM   #15
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I really like the idea of a dedicated cord for the home slip. Don't know why I never thought of that.

I have a Cablemaster as well, but having a short cord for the home slip would be even easier. Just unplug and put in the dock box.

I donít even bother putting it in the dock box. If I did that it would mean removing the cord from the dock pedestal. The few times it is plugged and unplugged, the more wear there is on the plug and then I donít have to regrease it as often. Just make sure the cord wonít accidentally fall into the water. Iíve never had a power cord go missing from the dock when Iíve been away.
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Old 06-26-2021, 05:39 PM   #16
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Following a routine for both plugging and unplugging. Plugging in: all boat A/C breakers off. Shore pedestal breaker off. Plug in the boat end (inspect both boat recepticle and the cord end for signs of overheat damage). Plug in the pedestal end (inspect as before). Turn on pedestal breaker followed by the onboard main breaker. Look for reverse polarity and ensure the correct voltage. Turn on necessary circuits. Check amperage draw to ensure within good limits (eg. 20 amp or less sustained for a 30 amp system).

Unplugging: Turn off all boat loads including main breaker. Turn off pedestal breaker. Unplug cord from pedestal then the boat end. This will save any chance of arching due to power being on which will over time shorten cord life and prevent any chance of walking around carrying a live power cord.

Do not walk around a dock carrying a "live" cord end. It is a bad mix, electricity and water should you or the cord fall in (could be a swimmer or diver nearby, or you if you fall in).
Likewise, do not leave a cord lying on the dock (for those who leave a "home cord") with power on. This could be very dangerous if knocked into the water at the wrong time. Yes, the likelihood is probably low, but it is not good practise. Turn off the shore pedestal breaker at minimum and best to unplug so it is easy to tell power is off.
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Old 06-28-2021, 02:30 PM   #17
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I see people mishandling the cords when cooling/uncoiling.

Do NOT allow the prongs to flail or drop on the dock surface. That is the end I hold onto while coiling.

Benti pins make POOR contact and can be difficult to correct properly.
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Old 06-28-2021, 02:40 PM   #18
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Following a routine for both plugging and unplugging. Plugging in: all boat A/C breakers off. Shore pedestal breaker off. Plug in the boat end (inspect both boat recepticle and the cord end for signs of overheat damage). Plug in the pedestal end (inspect as before). Turn on pedestal breaker followed by the onboard main breaker. Look for reverse polarity and ensure the correct voltage. Turn on necessary circuits. Check amperage draw to ensure within good limits (eg. 20 amp or less sustained for a 30 amp system).

Unplugging: Turn off all boat loads including main breaker. Turn off pedestal breaker. Unplug cord from pedestal then the boat end. This will save any chance of arching due to power being on which will over time shorten cord life and prevent any chance of walking around carrying a live power cord.

Do not walk around a dock carrying a "live" cord end. It is a bad mix, electricity and water should you or the cord fall in (could be a swimmer or diver nearby, or you if you fall in).
Likewise, do not leave a cord lying on the dock (for those who leave a "home cord") with power on. This could be very dangerous if knocked into the water at the wrong time. Yes, the likelihood is probably low, but it is not good practise. Turn off the shore pedestal breaker at minimum and best to unplug so it is easy to tell power is off.
Exactly my process. Nothing live until I want it live.
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Old 06-28-2021, 05:43 PM   #19
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I have 2 - 30A inlets and when cruising carry 2 - 50 ft 30A cords and a 25 ft 30A cord and have the ability to run anything desired from one cord / inlet.
I would switch to Smart Plugs in a heart beat but don't want to lose the ability to join 2 50 fters or a 50 + 25 ft to reach a distant pedestal.
Also for those replacing molded plugs with new plugs you can fill the plug / housing with silicone caulk to keep moisture & water out of the " inner workings" pretty common on trailer plugs and its effective.
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Old 06-28-2021, 05:51 PM   #20
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I have 2 - 30A inlets and when cruising carry 2 - 50 ft 30A cords and a 25 ft 30A cord and have the ability to run anything desired from one cord / inlet.
I would switch to Smart Plugs in a heart beat but don't want to lose the ability to join 2 50 fters or a 50 + 25 ft to reach a distant pedestal.
Also for those replacing molded plugs with new plugs you can fill the plug / housing with silicone caulk to keep moisture & water out of the " inner workings" pretty common on trailer plugs and its effective.
Smart Plugs donít stop you from extending the power cord with a second cord. Only the boat end and inlet are different. The dock end and any other power cords still have the L5-30 plugs. Go for the Smart Plug!
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