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Old 23-05-2010, 07:26   #1
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Earth Leak Circuit Breaker Wire Overheating...!

Cruising nearly 2 months without any problems and now something going on with our electrics.

When turning our genset (Northern Lights 6kw) + watermaker (Pro Watermaker 90 l/h) on, after 1-30 minutes the earth leak circuit breaker goes off.

We opened up the box (see the photo) and noticed that the wire going into the breaker was touching several other wires around it and they all had melted into each others.

We separated the wires, put some tape into the ones that you could see the copper already, and now all seems to work.

Anyone has any idea that why those wires are so hot...? I heard that it could be hot because the wire going into the earth leak breaker is not properly connected to the actual breaker but that does not seem to be the case here.

Any ideas...? Now everything works as long as those wires don't touch each others....?

Thanks.

(I am trying to put a photo in but not sure if this will work...)
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Old 23-05-2010, 08:09   #2
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I looked carefully at the picture and I would suggest you hire a marine qualified electrician to inspect and repair your wiring.

First, there is quite a bit of corrosion showing on your ground bus bar.

Second, taping wires like that is not a safe way to repair them.

Third, there would seem to be some underlying problem, perhaps wiring undersized or improperly terminated wiring like some of the wires that are jammed into your buss bar, that needs to be taken care of.

Fourth, that bus bar does not seem to be the correct type for stranded wiring, although I can't tell that for sure from the pictures. But it is not holding up well to the marine environment.

Good luck.
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Old 23-05-2010, 10:11   #3
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Thanks for all the advice!

The thing is, I can do it properly with qualified people in about 3 months... before that I either have to live with the tape around wires or head to some Indonesian little island town where nobody knows anything or speaks any language I could understand...
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Old 23-05-2010, 14:26   #4
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Do you have any shrink wrap that will fit. If so, that will do a better job than the tape. If you check the tape on a regular basis you should be okay but monitor the heat. The thing with tape is that the heat (and probably just the ambient temp of Thailand) will soften the glue. That is a 40 amp breaker so not an insignificant current going through those wires.

I was wondering about the tape further down the red wire. Is that a join? If so, what kind? That could be a source of trouble.
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Old 23-05-2010, 14:39   #5
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Not having insulation is a concern for future problems. Why the wire insulation burned up is your most pressing matter.
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Old 24-05-2010, 07:40   #6
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I do have some shrink wraps onboard and seems that I need to do something else than just tapes around... Today the circuit breaker went off again while using the watermaker so seems that the problem is still there. However, all the wires and tapes are still perfectly there not melted together as they were before when the breaker went off.

That tape further down you were wondering (around the red wire) is not a join, its just another taping by me since the wire had a little "cut" in it and you could see the copper from inside. In this new photo (hope it comes through, my connection sucks...), you can also see few other things that are bothering me and I am wondering if I should start to fix all the wires (without an electrican) or start heading towards the next big town about 150 NM away completely out of my planned route...

I could open all the wires one by one and just put them into shrink wrap..? I do not have any new wires onboard.

Photo:

Yellow arrow: Blue and black wires are not very well connected under the circuit breaker, they are just a little bit in there, not completely

Green arrow: This black wire was cut as well and you could see the copper. I put some tape into it.

Red arrow: This white wire that has a red join was very loose, I touched it and it came out, I just pushed it back in as deep as I could, I should probably open it up and re-do it?

Thanks guys for helping out & giving valuable advice...
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Old 24-05-2010, 09:42   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raya View Post
...This white wire that has a red join was very loose, I touched it and it came out, I just pushed it back in as deep as I could, I should probably open it up and re-do it?

Thanks guys for helping out & giving valuable advice...
Tug on every connection, any that pull out were not properly connected - reconnect and tug again.
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Old 24-05-2010, 18:12   #8
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I can't tell you whether you should go out of your way to find an electrician or not but I can tell you that most boat fires are started by electrical issues.
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Old 27-05-2010, 22:22   #9
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Everything sorted, I hope.

Made up my mind, sailed 150 miles to Padang, found an electrician and talked to the guy who orignally did the electrics on our boat. Bought the spare parts, re-did the wiring, cleanep up the ground bar and all good now.

Seems that the problem was the blue wire going into the top left of the circuit breaker (GFI). It had been warming up since not properly connected and actually the whole circuit breaker had been melted badly from the top. Didn't see that until I removed it.

Thanks for all you help, this was a good lesson of electrics for me.

Tomorrow heading back out there.
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