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Old 23-10-2015, 06:41   #16
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by allanbranch View Post
STUM, no worries, there's been a ton of great advice on this thread. I'm going to continue to research systems but not buy anything until next year. The reality is we'll mostly be sailing in a bay I've live on and sailed in for 35 years so I don't need anything fancy to enjoy the boat in the spring. I can slowly add electronics as needed once we venture out to other bays.

I really appreciate everyone's comments and wisdom.
Scaredy cat...

This winter is the perfect opportunity to rip out miles of wire, the stinky power plant, and all the old switchamajigs... Put in an electric propulsion system with hydro battery regeneration... and a backup hydrogen fuel cell... Maybe a disco ball and 7.1 surround sound...

Shag carpet... shy away from light colors on the sole... Maybe green... And orange for the ceiling...
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Old 23-10-2015, 07:02   #17
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by StuM View Post
Actually, the answer is a "YES".

The OP didn't intimate in any way that he intended to install or modify a marine electrical system. In fact he was quite clear: " I'm trying to wrap my head around electronics, charging, solar, batteries etc."

At this stage, he is only trying to identify his requirements. And for that purpose there are indeed "beginners guides to sailboat electronic systems".

Did we read the same post?


Paraphrasing:


Title: Researching adding electronics to a project boat.
1. Bought my first boat that will support electronics.
2. But it doesn't have any yet.
3. I want electronics.
4. Is there a beginner's guide to installing electronics?

Again, I'm not saying folks shouldn't perform DIY electrical / electronics modifications. I am saying that based on my experience, the typical boater needs to change their approach to respect the potential dangerous area they are entering. The evidence is all of the boats on the water with faulty electrical systems.

Just Google "boat electrical fire" images.

Here is a fine example.

A 1988 Marlin Trader knock-off. Under the upper helm is a closed compartment 12' wide, by 3' high, by 6' deep. There are an uncountable number of wiring defects including multiple wire nut connections. Also in the compartment is one secured 20 lb recent model propane tank with solenoid. (Not the point but even it was installed poorly at the factory, with a rigid gas line routed in the enclosure doorway.) Also in the compartment was an unsecured half full 25 year old propane tank, rolling around on a bunch of PFDs and other junk.

There were many more issues cited in the propane and electrical systems in the survey. I found many more again while performing the remediation.

The previous owner was so %$#$%^ that the pre-purchase survey called the electrical and propane systems. "I've used this boat for 25 years and never had a problem."

This boat was winter stored in a wood frame building with about 10 others.

Just because one's boat hasn't blown up or burned to the waterline yet, doesn't mean it's safe. There is always tomorrow.

When I read queries on this (or any forum) about people having electrical problems, about 90% of the responses are faulty in some way. Not only are these folks ill-equipped to perform their own electrical mods, they are instructing others how to do it, the way they would (or did).

Performing marine electrical modifications? Know the standards. Know why the standards are what they are. Follow the standards. Don't deviate unless you are more knowledgeable / experienced than a group of specially selected marine electrical experts at the top of their field. Hint hint, no matter how smart you think you are, you're not that smart. (Neither am I.)

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Old 23-10-2015, 07:11   #18
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
If the idea is family weekending don't go wild. It's a good boat but 45 years old. I would think a small solar panel may do you well to keep the battery up during the week. I would call the bilge pump electrical not electronic but if on the hook unattended, it may be the best piece of equipment you have. I would have two.
The post above and a few others are very good advice. Just keep it simple and get the needed items first.

I have minimal electronics. My bilge pump with float switch is hooked to my batteries. Two 12 volt batteries in parallel which are now charged by 100 watts worth of solar thru a $12.00 controller. No starter battery.

Other electronics are old but use little power: depth, GPS (2), VHF, 400 Watt Inverter. (and spare 1500 watt) lights, fan....

After you get to know your boat, you will know what is most needed. I was very concerned about leaks with mine at first from the sea but turns out my boat only leaks during rains not from the sea which eased my mind about my boat sinking due to leaks and a failed battery or bilge pump.

My boat is my first big boat as well after multiple Hobies and Nacras etc.........
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Old 23-10-2015, 07:30   #19
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
The post above and a few others are very good advice. Just keep it simple and get the needed items first.

I have minimal electronics. My bilge pump with float switch is hooked to my batteries. Two 12 volt batteries in parallel which are now charged by 100 watts worth of solar thru a $12.00 controller. No starter battery.

Other electronics are old but use little power: depth, GPS (2), VHF, 400 Watt Inverter. (and spare 1500 watt) lights, fan....

After you get to know your boat, you will know what is most needed. I was very concerned about leaks with mine at first from the sea but turns out my boat only leaks during rains not from the sea which eased my mind about my boat sinking due to leaks and a failed battery or bilge pump.

My boat is my first big boat as well after multiple Hobies and Nacras etc.........
Is your wiring safe?
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Old 23-10-2015, 07:35   #20
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by ramblinrod View Post
Did we read the same post?


Paraphrasing:


Title: Researching adding electronics to a project boat.
1. Bought my first boat that will support electronics.
2. But it doesn't have any yet.
3. I want electronics.
4. Is there a beginner's guide to installing electronics?

Again, I'm not saying folks shouldn't perform DIY electrical / electronics modifications. I am saying that based on my experience, the typical boater needs to change their approach to respect the potential dangerous area they are entering. The evidence is all of the boats on the water with faulty electrical systems.

Just Google "boat electrical fire" images.
Good advice. (on any type of fire)

So if you decide to "wire up" your bilge pump yourself be careful using jury rigged/ backyard mechanic techniques like lighters to shrink heat shrink after spraying contact cleaner liberally in a confined space!! like down in the bilge of an old boat.....

it's amazing how fast that "fog of vaporized contact cleaner" can flash when a spark or flame is added. The minimal result is a carton character face and haircut (plus burnt hands) to maximum result of blowing up your whole boat and yourself if you have a leaky gas engine or stored gas nearby in old leaky ( as in leaking fumes even) containers
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Old 23-10-2015, 07:42   #21
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by ramblinrod View Post
Is your wiring safe?
That's a good question. Probably not the safest

" Most " everything except the bilge pump goes through a fused/switch panel. The bilge pump has an in-line fuse but I don't have a main fuse between the batteries and the panel(s).

My inverter is also hooked directly to the batteries.

The lighting (running lights, cabin lights) wiring is the original ancient wiring. The old instruments have newer wiring installed by the PO thru a "homemade" fused/switch Panel
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Old 23-10-2015, 08:12   #22
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
That's a good question. Probably not the safest

" Most " everything except the bilge pump goes through a fused/switch panel. The bilge pump has an in-line fuse but I don't have a main fuse between the batteries and the panel(s).

My inverter is also hooked directly to the batteries.

The lighting (running lights, cabin lights) wiring is the original ancient wiring. The old instruments have newer wiring installed by the PO thru a "homemade" fused/switch Panel
The reason I asked, is that I spotted something in your post that I consider unsafe.

If your vessel has electric start (assumed) even if it has a hand crank, it should have a dedicated, isolated start battery, such that house loads cannot deplete it AND it is charged by the alternator (also assumed), regardless of battery switch position.

You should not have a switch able to disconnect all batteries from the alternator while engine is running, (unless you have an automatic alternator field disconnect), else risk damaging the alternator.

That's safe.

The way your boat is currently wired, the batteries could be exhausted by operator error, leaving your engine dead in the water at the most inopportune time.

That's not safe.
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Old 23-10-2015, 10:01   #23
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by ramblinrod View Post
The reason I asked, is that I spotted something in your post that I consider unsafe.

If your vessel has electric start (assumed) even if it has a hand crank, it should have a dedicated, isolated start battery, such that house loads cannot deplete it AND it is charged by the alternator (also assumed), regardless of battery switch position.

You should not have a switch able to disconnect all batteries from the alternator while engine is running, (unless you have an automatic alternator field disconnect), else risk damaging the alternator.

That's safe.

The way your boat is currently wired, the batteries could be exhausted by operator error, leaving your engine dead in the water at the most inopportune time.

That's not safe.
Thanks, but I have a 5 hp 4 stroke outboard with pull start as my auxiliary engine. It doesn't have an alternator.

I have the 100 watts of solar for charging the batteries and two more 20 watt panels that I haven't used yet to bring it to 140 watts.

The only constant drain would be the autopilot, depth, GPS, and VHF. I'll turn off all unused electronics when the batteries start to get low. The autopilot actually warns me when my battery power is low because it starts to "turn" more slowly.

I had forgotten to hook up my solar to the batteries before I left the dock one time. I have alligator clips on the wires coming out of the controller so I can unhook from the batteries after they are fully charged when the boat isn't being used

I'm a coastal/weekend warrior type of cruiser to this point also.
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Old 23-10-2015, 10:42   #24
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Re: New system on a project boat

If you learn from books or want one for a reference you should get a copy of Nigel Calders Boatowners Mechanical Electrical manual.

http://www.amazon.com/Boatowners-Mec.../dp/0071432388

This book would cover almost everything you can think about on boats electrical with a great intro starting with the basics.

You could read it cover to cover or just read the basics and then skim the sections you have a specific need for.

This way you can study up and then ask questions of the forum when you get stumped or just need to check on a fact.

It is not hard but there is a learning curve.
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Old 23-10-2015, 19:10   #25
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Re: New system on a project boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramblinrod View Post
Did we read the same post?


Paraphrasing:


Title: Researching adding electronics to a project boat.
1. Bought my first boat that will support electronics.
2. But it doesn't have any yet.
3. I want electronics.
4. Is there a beginner's guide to installing electronics?
If you add anything you feel like (such as the word installing) you can change the original context to suit your argument. But that is not paraphrasing, it is altering. Show me where the OP intimated in any way that he was currently planning a self-installation.
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Old 24-10-2015, 10:03   #26
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by StuM View Post
If you add anything you feel like (such as the word installing) you can change the original context to suit your argument. But that is not paraphrasing, it is altering. Show me where the OP intimated in any way that he was currently planning a self-installation.
It's a 40 something year old project boat. I sincerely doubt he plans to spend 5 times what he paid for the boat on professional electronics installation.

If he does, I could be available in a couple months, if he'll cover my air fair, meals, and accommodation.

I've done a few of these, but they are certainly not the norm, so I think its pretty safe to assume he is planning DIY work.

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Old 24-10-2015, 11:13   #27
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
Thanks, but I have a 5 hp 4 stroke outboard with pull start as my auxiliary engine. It doesn't have an alternator.

I have the 100 watts of solar for charging the batteries and two more 20 watt panels that I haven't used yet to bring it to 140 watts.

The only constant drain would be the autopilot, depth, GPS, and VHF. I'll turn off all unused electronics when the batteries start to get low. The autopilot actually warns me when my battery power is low because it starts to "turn" more slowly.

I had forgotten to hook up my solar to the batteries before I left the dock one time. I have alligator clips on the wires coming out of the controller so I can unhook from the batteries after they are fully charged when the boat isn't being used

I'm a coastal/weekend warrior type of cruiser to this point also.
Applying solar panels to a battery with alligator clips is unsafe.

When charging, batteries produce hydrogen gas. If you create a spark while connecting or disconnecting your solar panels, you could cause an explosion and fire.

Instead, a solar charge controller should be PROPERLY installed, following ABYC standards, good electrical practices, and safe battery handling practices.
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Old 24-10-2015, 13:42   #28
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by allanbranch View Post
I just bought a 1970 30' Morgan, it's my first boat with electronics. I've always had hobie's and sunfish, lasers, bucs etc so forgive my ignorance.

The morgan has a 14hp Yammer diesel engine and no electronics. Well I don't know if a bilge pump is consider an electronic.

We'll have the boat on the hook at a mooring in front of my Dad's house in Florida. The boat will be a weekender for my family. I'm trying to wrap my head around electronics, charging, solar, batteries etc.

Is there a calculator/form you can put all the devices and electronics you want in the boat and it'll spit out recommendations on solar/wind, batteries, inverters etc? Sounds like I'm being lazy but I'm a software programmer so I figured, "maybe I'll build something to help other people, if it's useful."

Is there a "beginners guide to sailboat electronic systems"?

Your wisdom is greatly appreciated.
This entirely depends on how you intend to use the boat. Day-Sail only & you can get away with a single battery for starting and a hand-held radio. You will need nav lights even if you do not operate at night. If you intend to make excursions of a day or more, you will probably want a bit more stuff. I raced a 37 foot Heritage One-Ton on lake Erie for 18 years. Hand start diesel, radio seldom used, instruments. We only had one deep cycle 12 volt. You will probably want hand & electric bilge pumps.

We used to leave the pump on our current boat enabled until it sucked up a bit of debris, rotor locked & burned up.
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Old 25-10-2015, 19:52   #29
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Re: New system on a project boat

Reading some of the other posts it occurs to me that if you only need to run a bilge pump at anchor and keep the battery up while the boat is idle you might consider a flexible thin solar panel like a Solbian. Store it under a mattress when you are sailing.
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Old 26-10-2015, 04:28   #30
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Re: New system on a project boat

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Originally Posted by ramblinrod View Post
Applying solar panels to a battery with alligator clips is unsafe.

When charging, batteries produce hydrogen gas. If you create a spark while connecting or disconnecting your solar panels, you could cause an explosion and fire.

Instead, a solar charge controller should be PROPERLY installed, following ABYC standards, good electrical practices, and safe battery handling practices.
Thanks for the info. It's nice to know the possibility exists especially on a boat far offshore.

I've had it this way for 3 years connecting and disconnecting (the positive lead)several times per week. The wires are maybe 18-22 gauge, very small.

Also I was thinking when you use jumper cables on a car many times you see sparks when connecting and disconnecting and no blown up batteries.

I've only had one battery blow up and that was on an old car where the battery was about totally out of liquid.

Maybe I'll wait until dark to disconnect or throw my jacket over the solar panel in the future
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