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Old 01-06-2010, 10:21   #1
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Getting Up-and-Running Bare Bones

Ladies and Gents, Some help requested if you please,

I've got a few books coming on this subject, so hopefully I will educate myself. However, in the meantime, our new boat is a mess. The situation is that the batteries won't hold a charge and the alternator doesn't work.

The goal for right now at this point in time is to get the boat to the point that I can crank the motor reliably so that we can at least go day sailing when we please as we get underway with the electric systems rebuild.

Currently the boat has 7 batteries on board. I believe 5 are house bank and 2 are starting. The alternator has an external regulator (reported). The wiring is very complicated and I've seen multiple places with corrosion and other safety hazards.

I'm thinking of taking all the batteries out at once (for testing/replacement later) and disconnecting all the current wiring/systems.

I want to put a single battery on board for starting only. I can take this single battery with me when I leave and charge it / keep it charged at home, so the alternator not charging won't really affect me right now.

My question is... What is the most basic and simple wiring configuration for this? Or if you have better suggestions please let me know.

Also, I bought a 880 cca battery for this purpose. Is that big enough to start a perkins 4.108 or should I have gone bigger?
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:28   #2
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SEVEN? Bloody hell. Disconnect most of them, rewire the one thats still got a charge after standing for a week. Don't use house batteries for starting, it needs high amps.
You may be able to borrow a battery tester that shorts between the terminals with a bit of resistance and gives you the volts under that load.
Then consider what you actually need.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:49   #3
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7, yes....

Boat was rigged as a long range world cruiser. Has 7 batteries, a wind gen, 4 solar panels, and an unholy mess of complicated and corroded wiring. God help me.
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Old 01-06-2010, 13:33   #4
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7 batteries on a Westsail 32!

I'd bring 2 on board with me when I went sailing: one to start and run the boat and a spare. Chances are you'll want the VHF, knot, and depth instruments running and although they don't take a lot of power, they can eat a battery badly over the course of a long day sail. If you're feeling particularly strong bring a big house battery with you, just in case.

Make sure you have the alternator output connected to the battery. Alternators don't last long with no load.

As you're in Louisiana, the 880 should do fine on the 4-108. Colder climates would probably prefer the 1000CCA.

If you disconnect a lot of wires, I'd also consider covering the solar panels. Some of them don't like having a load not attached to them. Covering them will greatly reduce the voltage generated and may prevent what is good from going bad.

So, with 7 batteries, 4 solar panels, and a wind generator on a 32' you've gotta post a picture. Please?
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Old 01-06-2010, 14:25   #5
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Haha, I'll post photos when I rip all the batteries out this weekend. You can see some photos on SV Sundower sails again along with the survey.

One deep cycle 12-volt, lead-acid type batteries, in a box in starboard forward corner of engineroom. One 80 AH for engine starting. DEAD.

Two deep cycle 12-volt, lead-acid type batteries, in a box in aft end of engineroom. House bank. Poor condition.

Three 12-volt, Group 31 – M242D7 lead-acid type batteries in boxes in the lazaretto.

2 solar panels on deck just forward the dodger. 2 solar panels mounted on the stern rails (one on either side). Wind gen on stern.
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Old 01-06-2010, 14:52   #6
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I have bought four boats, and lived on them all for about 7 years in total.

In every case, (including the one I am sitting on now) I have regretted not tearing out EVERY piece of wiring and starting again.

Trust me it will save you time, money and stress.

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Old 01-06-2010, 16:45   #7
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I'd whole heartedly agree with daedaluscan's comment. have a few sails while the winds are fair, and keep her in sailing condition if you can. But rip out ALL the electrics, rewire using ALL soldered joints and the special aerosol that protects soldered joints from salt water.
Best by far to run conduit with draw strings everywhere and pay attention to sealing compartments. I've just had to rip out a floor and replace it because water got under the saloon floor from rain in the cockpit.
Replace all lighting with this new fangled stuff and add a few solar panels. You will never regret it.
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Old 01-06-2010, 17:47   #8
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Just to be clear...

I AM going to rip out everything and start over. So no concerns there. Right now I'm just trying to get advice on the shortest path so that I can sail this Summer. I will begin the major overhaul of the electrical as soon as possible, but in the meantime I'd like to go sailing.
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Old 01-06-2010, 19:25   #9
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Old 01-06-2010, 19:59   #10
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Argh, the old solder joint snake strikes again. Don't solder, please. Use the proper terminals and a GOOD crimping tool and marine rated wire. A double ratcheting crimper sized to match the marine rated terminals is what you need. Also adhesive lined heat shrink. There are many threads on this forum about wiring and many good books. But please don't solder the connections.

Oh, and congratulations on the new to you boat. Have fun.
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Old 01-06-2010, 20:45   #11
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I am afraid I solder everything. I know the accepted N American way is to crimp, and I do have a ratcheting crimper.

However I believe a well executed soldered joint, with marine grade shrink wrap and adequate wire support is superior every time.

I have a fair amount of experience in motorsports, where vibration really is a problem, and feel that the superior electrical connection outweighs the risk of fracture.

If you are not experienced then maybe crimping is better, but it is pretty easy to learn to solder well.

Don't get me going on the idea of bonding through hulls, another N American favourite.

Charlie
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Old 01-06-2010, 21:17   #12
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Charlie, hi, didn't want to start a fight over crimp/solder but I guess we will have to differ on that one. I have to admit I have done both, but my shaky hands aren't good for soldering.
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Old 01-06-2010, 21:40   #13
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For now.

Just hook hot lead to starter solenoid and ground lead to bell housing or other good engine contact point...and make sure you have a hot lead to your instrument panel if you have electric gauges...and one to the depth sounder, nav lights and VHF if you need those from a different battery, not your start bat. The above assuming this is a diesel in a westsail 32 right?

There my be multiple hot leads taped off the starter so disconnect all unneeded ones unless you know where they go and you can be sure no bat drain is caused by them for what ever reason.

If you have a stop solenoid on the engine throttle linkage ( Unlikely ) you will have to make sure its getting juice back from the ignition switch as well.

Go sailing...and have fun!

FWIW Iv gone from this to this...its well worth it.
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:56   #14
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A light weight? Car Battery will do the instruments for the day. You should have a functional masthead tri-color and an anchor light just in case you get stuck out of port, use the existing for now but they will drain a battery overnight.
Remove, as above, all non-essential wiring from the motor battery so it's isolated from everything else. Your good to go. A solar panel on each will keep them charged for the time being if you don't fancy lugging batteries home to re-charge them. You'll want solar's anyway so it's not a stop gap expense. Easy then to add a 12v to mains converter to charge up hand held stuff.
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Old 02-06-2010, 03:26   #15
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I think you should be cautious to rip stuff out all willy nilly.

I would remove the house bank and disconnect the cables from the ISO switch
I would then figure out if you have one or two start batteries
I would then remove the start battery(ies)
I would then, one by one remove each connector from the alternator and external regulator and clean them, Any obviously corroded connectors should be cut of and replaced with proper crimp
If feasible ohm each wore between alternator and regulator for continuity, replace any that are obviously suspect.
I would seriously consider replacing the heavy hot and ground cable to the starter and engine block with proper cables with properly crimped connectors.
I would then clean the terminals in the distribution box for any of the major utilities I plan to use - especially engine panel power, vhf, instruments, lights
I would then install the start batteries

When everything basic is done I would -

Put a volt meter across the positive and negative terminals and record the voltage
Start the engine and repeat - if the voltage is the same the alternator is not charging

Next steps are to troubleshoot the charge system

The above work is less than a day and if successful should easily see you through the summer. I would hate to haul batteries back and forth to the boat every weekend.
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