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Old 11-05-2010, 12:57   #1
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Exclamation More Magic Blue Smoke than I Could Handle !

Bless me father for I have sinned. It's been two hours since I tried to burn down my boat......

I guess you would call this one a brain fart. I wasn't distracted. I knew what I was doing and as soon as I did it *Poof*, too late to do anything but unload the dry chem and call 911!

It wasn't pretty.







Since we've owned this old boat ( 7th yr now) I've always done my own maintenance including rewiring the entire boat. Spring commissioning usually entails putting in the plugs, reconnecting batteries, filling up the fuel, flushing the plumbing etc. It's really a pretty easy boat to winterize and wake up in the spring.

This year we're trying to sell the old girl so we can get on with our boat building project. In prep for sale I wanted to swap out the battery charger. Disconnected everything and did that. Hooked it all back up and tested. The next item on the list was putting the drain plugs back in the engine block. One each side. Now I knew the one on the starboard side is right ahead of the starter and for the last 6 years I've always disconnected the start battery. This year, well that's when the brain fart happened, I didn't. As soon as I turned the wrench to tighten the drain plug *POOF*, the magic blue smoke! The wrench hit the positive terminal on the starter solenoid!

As soon as it happened I knew what I had done. I also knew I couldn't get to the wrench and dove across the engine compartment to try to disconnect the battery. I got two turns on the wingnut before it got too hot. Gobbled down some acrid electrical fire smoke! *Choke* My next action was to look for the fire extinguisher, oh yeah, that's out for servicing. The next available one is in the cabin (remembering marine emergency duty training) I scrambled across the hatch covers etc. that were in my way and got it. Luckily I had the phone with me and jumped off the back of the boat landing 6' down on the ground dialing 911 as I fell! By now the smoke was rolling out of the back of the boat. I got back up on the swim platform just as the operator answered. Told her where I was and what was going on. *Choke Choke* She asked me to spell my street name! *choke choke* Anyhow I unloaded the dry chem which probably kept it from flashing over. The fire boys showed up about 5 mins later to disconnect everything before I could go back in.

It looks like I fried the 6 ga wire from the start battery to the starter solenoid as well as all the 6 ga in the charging circuit including the ACR. This wire heads up into a shielded harnass so that'll all have to come apart to see what's toast. I'll have to have the starter & alternator pulled for service to see if they're ok. A hundred in wire & connectors and a new starting battery and we should be back in the game unless I try to do something else stupid!



There! Now I can carry on with a clear conscience!

PS. Oh yeah, I never did get the ((%$(%$ @%)$)^ ()#!@*$ drain plug back in the block!

PSS. Let the floggings begin!
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Old 11-05-2010, 13:10   #2
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Im always amazed at the honesty of some of the posters here...I could not have fessed up to this...

Your a way better man then I am.

There hows that for a flogging?..

My conscious is clear now as well...just so you all know in advance I'll be covering up my brain farts..
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Old 11-05-2010, 13:22   #3
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I'm with stillraining on this....good man for fessing up.
I'm thinking the little red rubber boots that go over the pos connection on the starter may be a good stocking stuffer this year.
Glad the damage wasn't more extensive and your OK.
Thanks for putting your neck on the block so that others may live...OK...thats a bit Melodramatic.
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Old 11-05-2010, 13:27   #4
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Thanks for posting such a great account of what happened, Rick. There are bound to be others who will read it and think twice (or, at least once, I hope) before making the same mistake. Sounds like all that Canadian Coast Guard training paid off in putting the fire out quickly . . . that probably averted a total loss.

Way to go!

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Old 11-05-2010, 13:33   #5
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I'm glad you are OK and there's nothing hurt except your pride. A lesson relearned for me and I suspect for others, thank you for that.

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Old 11-05-2010, 13:35   #6
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There hows that for a flogging?..
That's nothing compared to the floggin' I'm gonna get when the Admiral gets home!

I think we're all here to learn. We learn as much from the good stuff as the bad!
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Old 11-05-2010, 13:36   #7
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I'm thinking the little red rubber boots that go over the pos connection on the starter may be a good stocking stuffer this year.
.
Actually its an AYB (or what ever that outfit is called) requirment as well..
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Old 11-05-2010, 13:43   #8
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Actually its an AYB (or what ever that outfit is called) requirment as well..
ABYC. I know they're there. I must have knocked it part way off with the wrench. I'm very meticulous with those little details. If you can spot the battery cables you'll see they all have their booties. Still no excuse but a brain fart!
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Old 11-05-2010, 13:44   #9
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I once did the sparking wrench trick, but all it cost me was the $30 to replace a Class T battery fuse.

Something to consider on future installations?

Of course, better options might include moving to a climate where you don't have to winterize engines and/or plastic wrenches.
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Old 11-05-2010, 13:58   #10
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Just make sure you clean the heck out of the engine compartment before you try to start anything. Very few things kill an engine as effectively as dry chemical fire extingusher dust.

I can honestly tell you I've have spent all the time burning my fingers trying to remove the hot wrench. Probably untill the boat burnt down around me.

Good luck.
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Old 11-05-2010, 14:05   #11
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Tough go Rick but glad it wasn't any worse. If it's any consulation the pictures are great!
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Old 11-05-2010, 14:11   #12
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Tough go Rick but glad it wasn't any worse. If it's any consulation the pictures are great!
Never a dull moment around here when I'm tinkerin' with stuff, especially electricity. I told the wife I should have been on Mythbusters!
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Old 11-05-2010, 15:36   #13
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In the short term, disconnect the batteries until you're ready to hit the starter switch, but I agree with the poster above about fuses. Wasn't the circuit fused?

Thanks for posting it. I've added another item to my list of things to check.
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Old 11-05-2010, 15:53   #14
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In the short term, disconnect the batteries until you're ready to hit the starter switch, but I agree with the poster above about fuses. Wasn't the circuit fused?
For some reason I always thought the starter circuit wasn't fused. Now the main feed (1/0) from the battery switch to the starter isn't fused. This was the power feed to the solenoid that burnt. I've got to check the wiring diagram I have for the engine to see if maybe I missed something. I'm pretty sure I'll stick a fuse in there this time even if it isn't on the diagram.
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:05   #15
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Rick, did you ever work for me? I remember telling a guy that used to work for me that if I ever caught him with a screw driver in his hand again I would break his fingers. Similar smoke, but from inside a main frame computer.

Of course I was just kidding...

I understand that the dry chemical stuff is very corrosive. Good luck.
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