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Old 20-10-2012, 07:44   #1
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Watch those amps champs!

Well after five years with electric propulsion I guess it was bound to happen. I was installing some new terminal connections for my helm mounted battery instrumentation project when a interconnect cable touched the terminal of the next battery. It was less than a second of contact but, lit up the space like a flashbulb. No major damage done except to the heavy duty cable lug which you can see here:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: MISTAKES OF AN ELECTRIC SAILOR
Got to respect what 200 DC amps can do!
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Old 20-10-2012, 07:49   #2
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

Don't feel bad. Anyone that works on their electrical systems and says this hasn't happened to them are the same ones that tell you they've never run aground.
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Old 20-10-2012, 07:57   #3
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Nice!! I still have a 30 year old ground connection from a meter can just to remind me of my mistake.

When I was much younger and working for an electric utility I was trained to physically isolate connections on different phases of a meter pan or bottom feed cabinet using rubber sheeting... By the book they wanted a physical barrier to prevent guys from what happened to you. A slip of the hand flash.

In reality, in the field, "some guys" were known to us a piece of cardboard to stop a slip of the hand cross-phase connection. Being an electric sailer, the rubberized mats fabric or a cardboard collection may be useful addition to your tool kit.

Bill
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Old 20-10-2012, 08:15   #4
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

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Nice!! I still have a 30 year old ground connection from a meter can just to remind me of my mistake.

When I was much younger and working for an electric utility I was trained to physically isolate connections on different phases of a meter pan or bottom feed cabinet using rubber sheeting... By the book they wanted a physical barrier to prevent guys from what happened to you. A slip of the hand flash.

In reality, in the field, "some guys" were known to us a piece of cardboard to stop a slip of the hand cross-phase connection. Being an electric sailer, the rubberized mats fabric or a cardboard collection may be useful addition to your tool kit.

Bill
Bill:

Yeah, I do have rubber mats I put over the terminals when working from inside the cabin. I this case I had just gotten a little lazy as it was just a quick disconnect to put the additional terminal connector on and reconnect. That and the fact this battery interconnect cable was a little longer than it needed to be when I installed the electric propulsion system five years ago. It was on my list of things to change at some point. So this incident got me to get that done. I like the cardboard idea too or some type of insulating board in between the batteries when working around the lugs. I think I'll incorporate that in the future.
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Old 20-10-2012, 09:19   #5
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

Don't feel bad, it has happened to everyone who has spent enough time doing electrical work.
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Old 20-10-2012, 09:38   #6
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

I just barely crossed a 1 gauge past a negative terminal one time, the spark was quite impressive, as was the heat that generated in the wire in a split second. I have the battery banks fused, and I think the house is fused to 100amp but since it was thermal it didn't trip. Kind of neat in a dangerous sort of way to learn all that.
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Old 20-10-2012, 09:38   #7
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

I like to slide a short (±4") piece of clear hose over the positive cable lug(s); so that it normally sits over the cable insulation, but can be pulled down to protect the lug, when removed from the terminal post. This helps prevent a “loose” cable from shorting out on a negative post, or ground.
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Old 20-10-2012, 09:46   #8
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

I have a couple of old beach towels that I throw over everything and then peel just enough back to get at the spots I need. The towel also makes a good non-conductive place to rest tools.

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Old 20-10-2012, 14:47   #9
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

And w hile on this subject, it's a good idea to not wear rings or metal watchbands whilst working around the electrics. Knew a chap who lost a finger when his gold wedding ring got shorted across a car battery. Pretty ugly...

Cheers,

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Old 20-10-2012, 15:09   #10
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

I've got several expensive pairs of Klein diagonal and side cutters that are now pretty good wire strippers. Old electricians can relate.
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Old 20-10-2012, 15:23   #11
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

I always wear safety goggles when working on the battery's
They are available tinted btw

One battery bank in a previous boat had some issues with bad connections
The lead lug twice melted to where the cable would no longer connect
I repaired the battery's and built up new lugs, as they were very expensive batterys
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Old 20-10-2012, 15:29   #12
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

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And w hile on this subject, it's a good idea to not wear rings or metal watchbands whilst working around the electrics. Knew a chap who lost a finger when his gold wedding ring got shorted across a car battery. Pretty ugly...

Cheers,

Jim

I've seen the metal watchband happen. The burns were severe and a trip to the hospital was required.
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Old 20-10-2012, 15:57   #13
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

Had a maintenance guy short his metal frame glasses across to a water line when his screwdriver hit a positive terminal. He lost about 3 weeks of memory and spent 2 weeks in the hospital. Really an ugly accident but at least he lived.
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Old 20-10-2012, 16:31   #14
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

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I've got several expensive pairs of Klein diagonal and side cutters that are now pretty good wire strippers. Old electricians can relate.
As an electrician's helper doing commercial work in the 80s, It seemed every week I was burning a #10 hole in my Kleins. Instead of walking to the electric room to trip a breaker we simply crossed wires and BLAM! Saved a lot of time but didn't always work like we planned.
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Old 20-10-2012, 16:54   #15
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Re: Watch those amps champs!

I second the safety glasses suggestion. I've been fairly consistent with wearing them and happened to have a pair on when I dropped an un-insulated wrench across the positive terminal and ground point. Three 245 AH six-volt batteries blew their tops off. I was pretty well splashed in acid but not blinded. My clothes fell apart and I had to buy four new batteries. Now I'm very consistent wearing them!
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