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Old 15-12-2009, 09:10   #16
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What's the difference between marine wire and landlubber wire if any?
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Old 15-12-2009, 09:36   #17
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did you not survey the wiring on your boat before you purchased it?
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Old 15-12-2009, 09:43   #18
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What's the difference between marine wire and landlubber wire if any?
I think marine wire is "tinned", (coated with solderY), to keep salt off the copper conductor, which would otherwise corode, and get covered in that green gunk which will lead to higher resistance in the wire.

Have to admit, on my at work ship, even the external wiring is not marine grade, instead, rely on good water tight connections, water prrof fittings etc
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Old 15-12-2009, 09:44   #19
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If it looks like that then it is a good thing you found it! Do it properly and it will be good to you!
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Old 15-12-2009, 10:01   #20
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thanks guys, as always, for great advice. one quick follow up question:

seems like there's a bit of debate as to the wisdom of replacing wire that looks serviceable. as it's been pointed out, marine wire ain't cheap - a lot of the wires look fine, and some look downright new (the instruments, for example, appear to have been installed within the last few years).

is there any good way to assess the serviceability of wire? i understand that looks can be deceiving, and i might be missing some internal corrosion... on the other hand, i'd rather not spend hundreds of dollars replacing wire that doesn't need replacing if i can get around it.
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Old 15-12-2009, 10:20   #21
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It's the wire terminations which are more likely to be suspect than the wire itself, except where the insulation has been compromised.

Yes, you can spend a lot of time doing resistance and non-destructive visual inspection tests, followed by destructive tests where suspected connections are found.

Time is money. IMO, it's much faster to just replace the wire, especially for critical circuits (nav instruments, bilge pumps, etc.).

Yes, good marine wire is expensive, but not all that much compared to the time involved in playing around with old wire. BTW, a very good source of bulk wire and electrical parts is genuinedealz.com -- great products, responsive, and about the best prices you'll find. Also, a very clean, easy to navigate website.

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Old 15-12-2009, 10:45   #22
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I would add to Bill's answer, this: have a good look at how the wire is run and supported. Are their ample ties? Wire looms? Any sign of chafing? Is it done neatly? Anything close to moisture? Funky crimps? Splices are always a source of concern as there is really only one way to do it right (google Western Union splice) and many ways to do it wrong. Any wire nuts in the system (get them out)?

A lot of this you will pick up when you do a thorough inspection. You may find some runs to be excellent and others not.

The thing that made me suspicious is your initial description and photo. Lots to go wrong there.

Really, though, it all boils down to your personal degree of risk tolerance. Obviously, what you have has worked to some degree for a long time. Right now, though, you know you've got substantial problems, probably some serious ones, and you're close to resources and supplies to correct it.

One other tip: Don't scrimp on the cheapo tools. Go to an electricians supply and get the good stuff. You'll pay a lot more for a good stripper than at your local Ace, but after you've used it 100 times, you'll be glad you got the good one.

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Old 15-12-2009, 10:48   #23
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is there any good way to assess the serviceability of wire? .
If there's any internal corrosion, it will be in the first few inches of wire, near the connection (providing the insulation isn't cut anywhere else). If you've got a few inches to spare on each run, I would strip off an extra inch of insulation & check for signs of corrosion. If there's no problem there, it's probably fine.

To be honest, I'm not sold on "marine grade" wiring. It sounds similar to the home audio people who spend $5000 on speaker cables. Marine wire comes in both tinned & copper strand. I'll say right now that there is no electrical difference between copper strand marine wire & comparable automotive wire. Any difference would only be in insulation performance.

On a budget, I don't see any problem with using a suitable automotive wire within the cabin, properly protected & sealed as mentioned. Also bear in mind that you may need to replace that wire in 5 years or so, depending on how it holds up.
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Old 15-12-2009, 11:10   #24
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..... Also bear in mind that you may need to replace that wire in 5 years or so, depending on how it holds up.
Do it right the first time, and you won't have to replace it for the next 30 years :-)
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Old 15-12-2009, 11:14   #25
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Some of the wire on my boat had been there 27 years or so and was non-tinned and looked and behaved just fine. Others had some corroded terminals that needed replacement. These were usually outside or in the bilge.

I did not feel compelled to replace wires to lights and fans and other non-critical areas that looked good even though they were non-marine. I did replace a few battery cables and wires to radios, refrigeration, etc.

I even backslid and put some non-tinned wire on a holding tank gauge since I needed a small gauge 4 wire cable and that was real expensive from the marine stores. I figure replacing it if it goes out or fixing some connections that corrode is worth the savings as it is non-critical. Probably wouldn't do this on my GPS though.

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Old 15-12-2009, 11:24   #26
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... To be honest, I'm not sold on "marine grade" wiring... I'll say right now that there is no electrical difference between copper strand marine wire & comparable automotive wire...
FWIW: After over 40 years in the electrical construction & engineering industry, including 10 years as a full-time boatwright (and a lifetime of personal experience), I AM (sold on Marine Grade wiring).

SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers standards J378, J1127 or J1128) wire is up to 12% smaller than AWG (American Wire Gauge) Boat Cable, thereby providing a lessor Ampacity (and high voltage drop) than an equivalent gauge of Marine wire.

Marine grade wire (UL 1426) is manufactured with Type 3 stranding, meaning it has more individual wires in each conductor, and is (thus) more flexible than automotive wire.

Tinned wire IS much less susceptible to corrosion than is bare coppper.

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Do it right the first time, and you won't have to replace it for the next 30 years :-)
Or as one highly respected (or not) authority (self-proclaimed) says:
"If you didn't have time/$ to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

This is not to say that I would advocate precipitously removing all old wiring, that appears to be in good condition, and operating well.

In my younger days, I installed Type GTF “Fixture Wire” on a boat, which I know to be still serving without fault (30 years hence). Notwithstanding, I wouldn’t do so today, knowing what I now know.
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Old 15-12-2009, 11:54   #27
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I'ld count the strands before saying...

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
FWIW:
Marine grade wire (UL 1426) is manufactured with Type 3 stranding, meaning it has more individual wires in each conductor, and is (thus) more flexible than automotive wire.
The samples I have counted were of the same strand count. The only differences were size and tin.

The other thing with non-tinned wire is repairablity in damp areas; with tinned wire you can cut and recrimp, but with plain wire the whole length may be green and black.

Marine wire is only murder through boat stores; through electrical supply houses it is only ~ 10-20% higher. The WM factor! Ofcourse, all wire is expensive - copper.

I have never felt good about blindly pulling wire. It is all about chafe, and I have personal horror stories of refinery work where "new" wires were scraped up. I would consider the possiblites of getting better access and better wire suport, as that seems to be part of the problem.
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Old 16-12-2009, 01:27   #28
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I feel your pain

When I bought the boat 1/5 years ago, I new the wire needed redoing. First Endeavour put the panel in the engine space, and routed all the wire thru there. Bad. 2nd, the po had put the batteries in a unaccessable space, in the engine room as well, more bad. But then the boat sank, only half way... lol.. only.. and the wire had to go.

I am now in the start of it. Its amazing what you find, once you start pulling things. First, I removed EVERYTHING from the engine room, except the instrument wiring. Ripped it all out, took out the panel and the batteries. Found that the wire had corrosion all up its lenght, so it all went.
Pulled the shore power connection and foud significant arcing, and under spec wire. Wire that went no where, ouch, a mess.

So last week a new 120/240v shore power connection went in. instead of 15 feet of wire connecting it to the main breaker, now only 2 feet. Instead of 12 g wire, now 6 awg.
I spent a lot on good tools, large battery lug crimper, ancor. single and dual ancor terminal crimper. Fluke multimeter.
I spent a lot on terminals, lugs wire.
I got the best for new panels, the new blue sea 360 system.
I plan on replacing all the lights with alpenglow lighting.
I am using a large 6awg wire to connect to blue sea systems fuse boxes and then connecting loads to that, like fans, lights, etc.
Every thing is fused per standards.
Every thing is oversized or appropriate sized as far as I can tell. I am doing the work myself, and the learning curve is steep at times, but in the end I will know my boat. And that is worth a lot to me.
four good sources are Peter Kennedy Yacht services at Peter Kennedy Yacht Services - Marine Electrical Systems
The other is genuinedealz at GenuineDealz.com - Marine Electrical, Boat Wire & Cable, Custom Battery Cables but check them out on ebay, and see if there is a price diff.
Jamestown distributors at www.jamestowndistributors.com
and of course defender at www.defender.com
Buy in bulk, you will save money. For instance 1 2/0 lug might cost 3 bucks each while 10 might cost 15. Ancor has mult lug kits and mult connector kits that will save you significantly over buying them in single or even multiple packs. At jamestown, they have the ancor 600 piece connector kit for 139 bucks, retails for over 250 I believe. Same with fuses, and lugs. The little things add up to a lot at the end.
One thing I learned the hard way was not to try and measure to tighly for large cables. If I thought I needed 12 feet, I ordered 12, only to find out I needed 13.5... Get more than you will need, and use it for spares in the future.
Get a good heat gun. Don't expect the butane lighter thing to do it for large heat shrink. It is fine for smaller ones, but the heat gun is better.
Get a good label maker. I got the rhino 5200, along with a lot of heat shrink lables to label everything.
Make a diagram and put it in your ships log. Post a copy inside your electrical box, and another in a binder on board. Keep it up to date.
Chafe protection for all wires going thru bulkheads.
Hope that helps.

Bob
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Old 16-12-2009, 03:06   #29
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I feel your pain. I recenty brought a 1995 catamaran and it looked like the same guy did the wiring as on your boat.........was it in St. Martin? Lol. I hired a guy to come and redo it all...from front to back as I am an absolute retard at wiring and electronics. I went while he was there working on it and helped pull out and rewire stuff. By the time we were done ( read this to be about two and a half weeks ) we had a pile soooooooo big of old shitty wire that it was a bit of a joke in the yard that if we took more weight out of it that it might start to float above the water. It is incredible how much there was in there that wasn't used for anything at all! It wasn't cheap in any sense, but I can say it probably was the best thing I could have done. We found several wires just waiting to short out, maybe start a fire and end my trip before it got too far...or at least cause me grief for years as I fixed one thing after another. Now when something electrical stops, I am 99% certain it is the appliance and not the wiring.

1/ The guy was a PRO! Really knew his stuff and built in great protection and used quality breakers and electronic components, However he wasn't cheap. But as I said I am a retard when it comes to this...but improving!
2/ He used the correct colour wiring for everything and wrapped the terminals in white shrink wrap and wrote on every one what it was.
3/ Gave me a great wiring diagram of the entire boat.

Since then I have talked and seen at least 5 boats that have had major rewiring done by people with very little electrical knowledge.
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Old 22-12-2009, 15:06   #30
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I will second the notion that using the crimps with built in heat shrink is not inexpensive but saves a huge amount of time and frustration. Buy the bulk boxes and a good heat gun.

I did this to the previous boat and had a very stable electrical system. Now I am starting over again on the new boat. But that project has to wait until the deck leaks are all sorted out!
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