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Old 27-04-2013, 17:16   #1
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Wiring Regulations?

Hi all! Hubby (AirMedMech) and I are getting our 27' Catalina ship-shape for the spring/summer sailing season, and I was wondering what the regs (if any) for boat wiring are? We need to run wires up the mast for our anchor light, and I need to check the nav lighting, since they're not working for some reason. I'm not worried about the doing of the work, as I'm an avionics technician and wiring boats can't be harder than wiring planes, I just want to be sure I'm doing it right. Things are a little wetter in the Marine life than in Aviation!
Thanks for any advice, tips, links, or books you could toss our way! We can't wait to get the sails up and (as she says on the side) Catch The Wind!
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Old 27-04-2013, 17:28   #2
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Re: Wiring regulations?

The most common 'standard' for boat systems, including wiring, is ABYC - I think just about everyone follows their electrical guidelines. West Marine has a nice little summary of how to size wire, and of course they'd be tickled pink to sell you the right stuff.

The basics are:
- right size of stranded wire (tinned stranded is better than bare copper).
- crimped connections and lugs. Get good controlled-cycle crimpers
- waterproof any connection exposed to the elements (lugs with heat-shrinkable sleeves, or cover the lug with a piece of adhesive heatshrink)

There are several good books out there covering boat wiring - you might already have one.
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Old 27-04-2013, 17:28   #3
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In general see ABYC standards.

Also Nigel Calder's "Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual" is an excellent and comprehesive reference.

Specific questions post here and you should get many responses.
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Old 27-04-2013, 17:43   #4
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Re: Wiring regulations?

Airplanes and boats are pretty close, while not regulated are very similar. You need to secure the wires in the mast. They can't just hang in there loose. They will flog and short a lot faster than you think. You may have a tube inside the mast like a conduit. Pulling the mast may sound harder than it really is and would make sure you can do this really first class and a lot easier. you might check out the cable for the VHF antenna too.

Heat shrink connectors on stranded, tinned copper is the standard on boats.

Everything above is all good too,
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Old 28-04-2013, 05:16   #5
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Re: Wiring regulations?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Ldylightfoot.

See ABYC “E-11" Excerpts ➥ http://www.paneltronics.com/atimo_s/...11Excerpts.pdf

And Section 8 ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS ➥ http://www.tc.gc.ca/publications/en/...hr/tp1332e.pdf
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Old 28-04-2013, 11:15   #6
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Great! Thanks for the starters, guys!
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Old 29-04-2013, 15:16   #7
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Re: Wiring Regulations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ldylightfoot View Post
Hi all! Hubby (AirMedMech) and I are getting our 27' Catalina ship-shape for the spring/summer sailing season, and I was wondering what the regs (if any) for boat wiring are? We need to run wires up the mast for our anchor light, and I need to check the nav lighting, since they're not working for some reason. I'm not worried about the doing of the work, as I'm an avionics technician and wiring boats can't be harder than wiring planes, I just want to be sure I'm doing it right. Things are a little wetter in the Marine life than in Aviation!
Thanks for any advice, tips, links, or books you could toss our way! We can't wait to get the sails up and (as she says on the side) Catch The Wind!
Unlike buildings in most jurisdictions, there are no actual regulations for boat wiring once the boat leaves the factory and there are no inspectors to make sure wiring is done correctly. Many boat owners take advantage of the freedom to wire their boats poorly or incorrectly and then wonder why they have problems. One real danger in buying a pre-owned boat is that someone may have done some incorrect wiring or used incorrect materials.

The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) publishes standards on how boats should be wired. Unfortunately, much like land based electrical codes, you pretty much have to be an electrician already to understand these standards.

There are books available for boat owners that simplify the process and explain how to do the wiring and what materials to use. I suggest buying a couple of these books and studying them until you feel confident that you can do the work properly. An electrical failure on a boat out on the water is a bad thing. A fire is worse.
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Old 29-04-2013, 19:23   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) publishes standards on how boats should be wired. Unfortunately, much like land based electrical codes, you pretty much have to be an electrician already to understand these standards.

There are books available for boat owners that simplify the process and explain how to do the wiring and what materials to use.
Thanks! This is just what I was looking for, and for the reason you stated: previous owner. I dropped the electrical panel last week to check out why the bilge wasn't running, and am now driven to fix ALL the wiring CORRECTLY (I won't start on the state of the ground buss, or the soldering job when I changed out the bilge pump). I know aviation electrical standards nearly by heart, and was looking for the references for boating. Some of the links others have provided have been very helpful!
Thank you again!
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Old 30-04-2013, 09:41   #9
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Re: Wiring Regulations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ldylightfoot View Post
Thanks! This is just what I was looking for, and for the reason you stated: previous owner. I dropped the electrical panel last week to check out why the bilge wasn't running, and am now driven to fix ALL the wiring CORRECTLY (I won't start on the state of the ground buss, or the soldering job when I changed out the bilge pump). I know aviation electrical standards nearly by heart, and was looking for the references for boating. Some of the links others have provided have been very helpful!
Thank you again!
Any connection that's been soldered should be redone with a proper crimp and proper terminals.

Another thing many DIY people don't understand is overcurrent protection (fuses and circuit breakers). The books will explain this.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:09   #10
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Re: Wiring Regulations?

Here’s a complete 2008 edition* of ABYC E-11 “AC & DC Electrical Systems on Boats”
http://plaisance-pratique.com/IMG/pdf/ABYC_E-11-2.pdf

* E-11 was amended in 2009.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:23   #11
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Re: Wiring Regulations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ldylightfoot View Post
Hi all! Hubby (AirMedMech) and I are getting our 27' Catalina ship-shape for the spring/summer sailing season, and I was wondering what the regs (if any) for boat wiring are? We need to run wires up the mast for our anchor light, and I need to check the nav lighting, since they're not working for some reason. I'm not worried about the doing of the work, as I'm an avionics technician and wiring boats can't be harder than wiring planes, I just want to be sure I'm doing it right. Things are a little wetter in the Marine life than in Aviation!
Thanks for any advice, tips, links, or books you could toss our way! We can't wait to get the sails up and (as she says on the side) Catch The Wind!
You are right, it isn't .
Assuming you are a well trained, experienced and licensed avionics technician, you will be fine.

Perhaps a minor point, unlike aviation, voltage drop is a significant issue in marine wiring and wire must be sized accordingly. You are looking for a maximum drop of less than 3%. Avionics wiring is sized more for weight and current carrying capacity than voltage drop.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:26   #12
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Re: Wiring Regulations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
Any connection that's been soldered should be redone with a proper crimp and proper terminals.
Have a look at this thread for some alternative points of view:

How do you Crimp #8 AWG Terminals?

You should find the transition from aviation to marine reasonably straightforward.
Glue lined heatshrink will become your new friend
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:40   #13
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Re: Wiring Regulations?

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
Have a look at this thread for some alternative points of view:

How do you Crimp #8 AWG Terminals?

You should find the transition from aviation to marine reasonably straightforward.
Glue lined heatshrink will become your new friend
Ahh..yes, so correct - I forgot to add that advice
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:58   #14
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Re: Wiring Regulations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
Have a look at this thread for some alternative points of view:

How do you Crimp #8 AWG Terminals?
The point of a STANDARD, in this context is to provide guidance, based on experience and testing, on methods and calculations that will result in the greatest number of safe connections.

Here's how crimping has become the ABYC approved interconnect method:

1) The ABYC, and all the land-based electrical standards bodies too, accept soldered power connections only when the connection was first mechanically secured. Reason is that if the connection overheats and the only thing holding it together is solder, it will fail. Dangerous. A properly-crimped connection remains mechanically secure, even hot.

2) Soldering has many variables not least of which is workmanship. Whereas using the right crimp lug in a controlled-cycle crimper is much closer to 100% both physically and electrically, even in the hands of an amateur.

Can I, or you, or MS make a safe soldered connection? hell yeah. Cos we're experienced. But note that even the perfect soldered connection will pull apart when hot, if there was no other mechanical means of securing it.

For all these reasons... crimping is the way to go for most boat-wiring. It's easy, fast and the connections are both electrically and mechanically dependable. Good crimpers leave recognizable marks that provide assurance that the connection was made properly.

Soldering is fine for small signal connections like sensors, fluxgate compasses, NMEA0183 cables. And of course for solder-type VHF antenna connectors.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:03   #15
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Re: Wiring Regulations?

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Any connection that's been soldered should be redone with a proper crimp and proper terminals.
Can you tell me where that is stated in ABYC standards? 11.14.5.7 Specifically talks about supporting a soldered joint, then talks about soldered battery lugs.
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