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Old 26-08-2015, 09:32   #1
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Wiring up Running lights

So I installed new LED bow lights on my Tanton 44. The wiring is in the anchor locker where it is wet and damp. The existing wiring from the old lights has the two wires from the lights connecting to the single power supply line going back to the electrical panel. It's a wonder they ever worked considering how shabby the existing connection is. I would like to wire it up correctly but don't know how to best to connect the wires coming from the two new lights (red/black on each light) to the single power supply line (white/black wires).

Should I just try to jam the two reds and two blacks into butt connectors and then crimp them onto the appropriate single wire on the supply line? I know to use heat shrink tubing etc. to protect it from the elements but was hoping there is a more elegant way to do it. None of my marine electrical books are helpful. Thanks...
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Old 26-08-2015, 09:44   #2
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

Just finished that same project yesterday, I am sure there will be some critics. I did strip and melded the conductors from both nav lights into a single heat shrink butt connector for both the positive and negative conductors, and then connected to a single power supply wire for both. I also used heat shrink tubing that went over the two sets of wires and the connections, and then used another piece of heat shrink tubing on the single power side and slid it inside the larger heat shrink tubing to seal up the whole deal. Fortunately my connection is inside the pilot house. If I remember, I'll take photos of the finished product today.
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Old 26-08-2015, 09:59   #3
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

You can use a plain butt connector like this:

and good adhesive shrink tube. A low temp hot glue gun will ensure you get that perfect seal. I have also used liquid electrical tape or other sealants to keep water out.
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Old 26-08-2015, 10:21   #4
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildsailor View Post
So I installed new LED bow lights on my Tanton 44. The wiring is in the anchor locker where it is wet and damp. The existing wiring from the old lights has the two wires from the lights connecting to the single power supply line going back to the electrical panel. It's a wonder they ever worked considering how shabby the existing connection is. I would like to wire it up correctly but don't know how to best to connect the wires coming from the two new lights (red/black on each light) to the single power supply line (white/black wires).

Should I just try to jam the two reds and two blacks into butt connectors and then crimp them onto the appropriate single wire on the supply line? I know to use heat shrink tubing etc. to protect it from the elements but was hoping there is a more elegant way to do it. None of my marine electrical books are helpful. Thanks...
Welcome to the forum from a previous Tanton 44 owner! (in my avatar)
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Old 26-08-2015, 11:16   #5
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

The single supply duplex cable is fine. You just need to make the right terminations of the two lights to the single wires. Two reds to one white and two blacks to one black (assuming the red is the battery positive). You can jam two wires into one side of a butt connection and heat shrink it but it will never be as 100% watertight as a single wire. If possible make that outside of the damp location. You can extend one or both light's wires with heat shrink butts to get to the supply cable. The cleanest way to do it would be a small terminal strip with ring or locking fork terminals.

The PO of my boat used butts to double up and split power out everywhere and I hate it. So one wire coming off of a DC breaker has one split and then two more splits so the line feeds four or more circuits. It is a nightmare visually and hard to debug. I prefer terminal strips for things like that. But you can make it work for you either way if you do good work.
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Old 26-08-2015, 11:32   #6
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

Yes that's a great idea, extend the wires with heat shrink butt connectors, and then do the 2 to 1 joint somewhere dry.
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Old 27-08-2015, 09:14   #7
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

Terminal strips are the proper answer; one wire each fastened to one screw on the strip. Properly crimped ends covered with shrink tube will ensure integrity. Doubling up butt connectors invite trouble.
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Old 27-08-2015, 09:28   #8
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

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Originally Posted by msrcal36 View Post
Terminal strips are the proper answer; one wire each fastened to one screw on the strip. Properly crimped ends covered with shrink tube will ensure integrity. Doubling up butt connectors invite trouble.
I agree and this makes it easier to debug the system and make fixes later on.

The problem is... you need way to seal that terminal strip if its in the locker... or you need to move the terminal strip far enough out of the locker that it's not in a normally wet place.

I installed a small waterproof junction box high in my chain locker and run all the lines to terminals inside that.
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Old 27-08-2015, 09:29   #9
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

They make step down butt connectors.
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Old 27-08-2015, 09:53   #10
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Re: Wiring up Running lights


They do make 3-way crimp connectors, like the one shown above. Apply heatshrink on each wire, then apply LiquidLectric or other liquid vinyl compound (several patient layers) on the center area to totally pot it and seal it in liquid vinyl. I've had people say "That can't possibly work, it must be corroded under there" and peel off five year old vinyl to find it perfectly dry and clean. The trick is to apply it over clean surfaces, and build a good layer(s) of it.

There are also "button" connectors that will crimp 3-4 wires at once, potted with silicon jelly inside to prevent corrosion. The big hardware stores all have them hanging with the other crimps and terminals, they look like clear-and-colored plastic blobs, size of your fingernail. The wires all go in one end and then you squeeze the button down to crimp them all. And again, you can seal over that whole crimp--but it is already filled with silicon jelly and fairly water resistant. Also being clear, you can see what's doing in it.


These are small ones for telephone wiring, but there are similar ones hanging next to them for larger wires.

"Goop" flexible urethane adhesive will be in the glue aisle, and that would also work well to seal over multiple wires, it should bond very nicely to the insulation, and it stays put, and semi-flexible, forever. Some of that under some heat-shrink, and you should be fine even just running two wires into the same side of one plain crimp.
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Old 27-08-2015, 10:03   #11
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

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Originally Posted by zboss View Post

The problem is... you need way to seal that terminal strip if its in the locker... or you need to move the terminal strip far enough out of the locker that it's not in a normally wet place.
I"ve got terminal strips in the anchor locker, once the connections are made I spray them with a several coats of boeshield, then put the cover over them. 5 years on no corrosion.
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Old 27-08-2015, 10:41   #12
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

I agree a terminal strip is nice, I would want it out of the locker probably.


But realistically, if you just join/crimp the wires together and shrink tube them it will likely outlast your ownership of the boat. Very easy to overthink this.

The bigger problem may be the condition of the wires to the locker and inside the locker. Those boats were built with non tinned wire and it usually gets real dark surface on the strands for several inches from the end.... making good contact very difficult.
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Old 27-08-2015, 10:50   #13
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

This idea will work, I do things a little different, standard butt connectors, but before I put the shrink tube on, I cover it all with electrical grease and shrink tube over that so the grease comes out both end to keep all the moisture out.
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Old 27-08-2015, 11:04   #14
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

I'm not sure heat shrink is the answer. Telephone and power companies have used an encapsulant (sp?)
for years. The rubber type coating you can buy for coating plier handles, and such, works well over a butt connector.
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Old 27-08-2015, 11:08   #15
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Re: Wiring up Running lights

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They do make 3-way crimp connectors, like the one shown above.
I had a few of those, gopped as you suggested, on my paralleled fridge wiring. Maine Sail suggested their drawbacks, even gopped, so I replaced them with term strips & ring terminals, which proved much better.

Good place to start, though.
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