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Old 21-09-2014, 19:03   #1
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Electrical System on an Old Boat

I was hoping I might run across an old salt that may be able to help a fellow out.

I'm learning my electrical system, and come to realize there are a few gaps in my knowledge..possibly a lot more than a few.

I believe, I'm getting 220 shore power, the transformer on the dock is converting it to 110, my on board transformer is converting it to 12V, which leads to my electrical box that's allowing a certain amount of amperage per outlets from the individual breakers.

What confuses me, is this boat used to be a 36V system, where three batteries were wired together. This may have made some systems on the boat obsolete, such as the electronic autopilot.

My question is, I currently have a generator installed, with a controller box. The mount is destroyed, and I need to fabricate a new one. Would this be a good time to purchase an alternator. If so, what amperage should I look for and don't I need a MinnKota Dual Bank DC Alternator Charger, so I don't over charge the batteries? Is there an easier way to recharge both batteries, since I probably don't need to wire them for the 36V system any longer? I'm just not really familiar with these systems, so any help is appreciated.

Would I benefit from purchasing a reference book, such as Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual: How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat's Essential Systems?

Any help is very much appreciated.
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Old 21-09-2014, 19:35   #2
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

First, certainly buy Calder's book. From the questions I think you need some study before you start on any DIY electrical. It would help a lot to learn the correct terminology which will help you better describe your problems, ask the correct question and understand the answers. For example, the device on your boat that makes 12 volts from 110 volts might have a transformer as part of the circuit but technically it would be considered a converter but specifically a battery charger.

Second, are you sure the boat was wired 36 volts? Not impossible but it is a pretty uncommon setup. You know there could be three 12V batteries wired in parallel so instead of adding the 12 V to 36 volts it just adds more capacity but still at 12 volts?

You say you have a generator installed. You mean on the engine there is an old generator instead of an alternator?
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Old 21-09-2014, 20:58   #3
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

Sounds good. I think it is a converter.

Second, are you sure the boat was wired 36 volts? Not impossible but it is a pretty uncommon setup. You know there could be three 12V batteries wired in parallel so instead of adding the 12 V to 36 volts it just adds more capacity but still at 12 volts?

I wanted to say it was 32, but yes, some of the older equipment requires higher voltage. I was told from some friendlies on the dock, that that equipment was all obsolete.

You say you have a generator installed. You mean on the engine there is an old generator instead of an alternator?

Yes, she was built in 1965. I'll be changing it over to an alternator.


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Old 21-09-2014, 21:11   #4
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

Have you taken a volt meter and checked the voltage from the batteries or at the electric panel. Can you dram a diagram of how the batteries are wired together? It would help if you could tell if the batteries are wired in series or parallel.

Another idea, there should be a small plate or label on all the electric equipment that will tell what voltage it needs.

99.99% the boat would not be 32 volts. Due to the way batteries work it would almost certainly be some multiple of 12 like 12, 24, 36, 48. I'm not sure if I've heard of a 36 volt system. 12 and 24 are the most common and most likely.
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Old 21-09-2014, 21:17   #5
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

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Old 21-09-2014, 21:19   #6
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

So, does this picture help at all? I wish I knew more. My Dad threw the old batteries out, , and just had the one battery to start the engine and run the bilge pumps.


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Old 21-09-2014, 21:33   #7
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

OK. The charger certainly says output is 32 volts. Even specifies 16 cells which at +/- 2 volts per cell is 32 volts. Shows how wrong I could be but that is certainly a weird voltage. Even if you used 6 volt batteries you would end up with 30 or 36 volts. Guess if you had 5, 6 volt batteries in series to make 30 volts you would charge them with a 32 volt charger.

What kind of electrical stuff is on the boat? Pumps, autopilot, any kind of navigation gear? Any of it have a label that gives the voltage they use?

The engine starts but you say there's only one battery? I assume just one standard 12 V battery?

Is there an electric panel?

If this boat is really set up for 32 volt or anything like that you may need to do a complete rewiring. I wouldn't even know where to go to buy 32 volt anything. If you plan on keeping and using the boat it would make the most sense to go to 12 volt system.
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Old 21-09-2014, 21:51   #8
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

Wouldn't the wiring for 32v be too undersized for a 12v system? I've read somewhere that they did a lot of higher voltage systems in comm'l shipping to save the weight and cost of wiring.
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Old 21-09-2014, 21:55   #9
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Island Time O25 View Post
Wouldn't the wiring for 32v be too undersized for a 12v system? I've read somewhere that they did a lot of higher voltage systems in comm'l shipping to save the weight and cost of wiring.
Very possible. Higher voltage systems can use smaller wires. OP would have to look at the wire gauge to determine if they would be large enough to use for a 12 v system.

However, considering the age of the boat I might consider a total rewire regardless.
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Old 21-09-2014, 21:57   #10
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

We are learning together then,. I was told that she is quite rare and a one off built in Spain. I'll try to get as much of the information you requested as possible and order that book. That book has good reviews on Amazon too.


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Old 21-09-2014, 22:03   #11
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

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We are learning together then,. I was told that she is quite rare and a one off built in Spain. I'll try to get as much of the information you requested as possible and order that book. That book has good reviews on Amazon too.


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The boat might have been built in Spain but the battery charger operates on US 120V 60 Hz power and was made in the USA.

You really need to find out what voltage everything electric on the boat needs to run before you do anything.
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Old 21-09-2014, 22:04   #12
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

Skipmac, the nav, gps, radar, and VHF units are all updated with 12v....or, I'll say they are not from 1965 and work on the current system. There is only one deep cycle battery right now. Before my Dad passed away, I remember him saying he wanted golf cart batteries. He truly loved that boat.


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Old 21-09-2014, 22:06   #13
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

and the engine too, it's a Grey Marine built in Detroit.


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Old 21-09-2014, 22:09   #14
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

Sorry, I mean Gray Marine


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Old 22-09-2014, 07:03   #15
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Re: Electrical System on an Old Boat

32 volts isn't uncommon on older commercial applications. It's done with 8 volt batteries.
But equipment is hard to find and selection is limited.

http://m.interstatebatteries.com/pro...808-2147384903



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