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Old 12-09-2014, 10:55   #16
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Great advise.
1- I live in Florida and I'm planning on .... sailing.
2- when r u coming to visit?


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Old 12-09-2014, 11:08   #17
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeofreilly57 View Post
One small adder.
On all the boats I've redone I've run all the wiring to terminal block strips mounted behind the breaker panel with the positive and negative separated on separate strips, AC power also separated.
This allowed me to make a wiring loom for the main breaker panel on a bench and wire it in to the terminal strips, with good labeling of course.
THis allows easy access to the wiring and makes the panel removable for ease of trouble shooting. Some panels were screwed on due to space restrictions and were still removable with about a 2' pigtail, whenever I could I mounted them on hinges so they could be swung out for service/troubleshooting. You'll never regret the bit of extra work to do this, it makes future additions and troubleshooting much easier.
Did I mention "run spares"?
i am embarrassed i didnt think to mention this too... it is the best advise yet!

make your you can easliy get to the back of your panel. there is NOTHING worse (well okay... there a lot of things worse) than trying to wire in close quarters.

my looms allow me to pull the entire panel and work on it standing or sitting at my nav station.

once u start working on your wiring you will learn that there are times you want to be standing (when soldering) and times you want to be sitting (the hours spent wiring up the panel) especially in light (pun intended) of the fact that you will likely not have your lights on while doing electrical work so position to a hatch or port becomes more important.

btw: wire a butt load (that is an engineering unit of measurement) of USB ports. pretty must everything these days can plug into and charges from a USB AND dont forget to run lines for speakers.

-steve
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Old 13-09-2014, 21:02   #18
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Hi, I am rewiring a 26 footer...not quite the task you have, but I made a switch panel and a dual bilge pump panel...now I am "roughing in" the wires ONE circuit at a time. It is time consuming but I know where it all goes and I have diagrams of each circuit I ran with the wire colors written on each diagram. Most of the diagrams you can get off the internet for ex. Nav. Lts., Bilge pumps (single or dual), battery hook ups, etc...
Use tinned wire and take your time to do it 140% correct and you will be proud when it's done...I am 80% done now and it feels pretty good!
Best of luck and hope this little tid bit helps...from one amatuer to another!
Be safe
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Old 15-09-2014, 20:10   #19
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Here are the components but connecting them together is what I lack:

Engine room:
Shore power
Charger- Guest 3 banks- 1 of the charging wires says engine on it ( I have 2 batteries)
110V breaker (I would like to replace the old one)
2 Batteries
Electrical panel (controls are in cabin)
Battery switch
Bilge pump switch
12V fridge switch
Blower switch

Deck and cabin:
Running lights (bow, stern, mast)
Cabin lights - V birth, cabin, (Port and startb) and head
Head fan
Bilge pump
Navigation lights (bow, stern and mast head)

Port:
12V fridge
water pressure pump
110V power outlets (2)

Starboard:
Stereo
VHF
Cigarette plug

Cockpit:
Auto pilot
Cigarette plug

Mast:
Antenna
Lightning rod???
Steaming light
Navigation and anchor light
Spreader light ( would like to install some)

And yes spares.
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Old 16-09-2014, 08:39   #20
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Get several boat electrical books and spend some time with them. It may not answer all but you will have a better understanding and narrow your questions.
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Old 16-09-2014, 09:03   #21
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeofreilly57 View Post
...On all the boats I've redone I've run all the wiring to terminal block strips mounted behind the breaker panel with the positive and negative separated on separate strips, AC power also separated.
This allowed me to make a wiring loom for the main breaker panel on a bench and wire it in to the terminal strips, with good labeling of course.
THis allows easy access to the wiring and makes the panel removable for ease of trouble shooting. Some panels were screwed on due to space restrictions and were still removable with about a 2' pigtail, whenever I could I mounted them on hinges so they could be swung out for service/troubleshooting. You'll never regret the bit of extra work to do this, it makes future additions and troubleshooting much easier.
Did I mention "run spares"?
Don't do this! Every additional connection you make produces another voltage drop and more connections to fail.
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Old 16-09-2014, 09:05   #22
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

The panel is totally accessible from the cockpit.


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Old 16-09-2014, 14:03   #23
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

[QUOTE=Terra Nova;1629205]Don't do this! Every additional connection you make produces another voltage drop and more connections to fail.[/QUOTE

Every high end boat I look at these days does the same thing, just as a matter of course, it's not in a high risk area. If this were in the bilge, hmmmm, I might see it. Also, the quality of the hardware you use is important, in other words don't use the contact blocks you bought at Radio Shack, there not meant for marine use.
The last boat of mine I did this on had no issues in over 10 years of ownership and some pretty rugged use. The voltage drop at this junction was minimal and the power to the breakers was done through a buss bar, the correct way. The main voltage drop encountered is in the length of the wire and the quality of the connections on the devices and hardware your using, which varies widely in this day of outsourcing your production to cheaper labor markets.
Did I mention not one failure in ten years of heavy use?
Of course the connectors were all soldered, the wire tinned, etc, etc. Like anything, if done right it works, if done half baked it's not worth the effort.
The failures I did get were always at the working end, either a device connection or piece of hardware.
The ease of access, clearly laid out wiring and the organization of the whole assembly made point to point troubleshooting much easier and faster.
When you did have to replace a wire (took a lightning strike once) it was much easier and cleaner to do. Try that with one big loom run directly to a hard to access panel, which is why I went to this layout in the first place.
The difference between theory and reality is tremendous.
A little electrical corrosion preventative juice works well too on contacts.
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Old 16-09-2014, 14:21   #24
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Michael-
I'd second badsanta's recommendation of getting some basic 12-volt boat wiring books and spending some time looking them over. A book is likely to be more comprehensive and organized than a hundred spare thoughts on a web forum will be.

The second thing you might want to do is draw up a list of all the "stuff" you will need. Price it out and decide IF you want to spend that much and whether you can do it in one large project or in smaller bits over a longer time.

Rewiring a while boat will take a lot of time and money. Starting with a proper wire crimper ($50) and a big box of good crimps (50c each, not 500/$5) and then if you want to color code the wires, you'll be buying hundred foot spools in eight or ten colors, plus some heavier power cabling. With properly crimped lugs pre-assembled on it. Plus a Brother P-Touch to make the labels. And, I'd guess, a modern Blue Sea breaker panel to expand and replace the one you have. Assuming there's room for it, or you'll also need to do some carpentry perhaps.

The list really can get ahead of you and you can wind up in the dilemma of "I can't sail the boat this month, there's too much stuff taken apart".

So first, maybe start with Charlie Wing's book Boatowner's Illustrated Electrical Handbook: Charlie Wing: 9780071446440: Amazon.com: Books which I haven't read but comes highly recommended. Then a pencil and eraser (G) and on to the lists. And of course a tape measure, a good long one, so you can figure out roughly what wiring runs will need. Remember that neat wiring runs may need to go up, down, over, around, and exceed the straight line distances from 'here" to "there".

Hardest part of the job? Working in heat and humidity and still working at a methodical pace. If it takes you a couple of weeks to read the book and scratch it all out, the weather will just be that much better when you begin.
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Old 16-09-2014, 14:23   #25
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeofreilly57 View Post
...Did I mention not one failure in ten years of heavy use?
Of course the connectors were all soldered...
A sample of 1 is meaningless.

Soldering connections is very bad tech. Crimping is superior.
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Old 21-09-2014, 19:16   #26
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Re-wired my powerboat after the transom sank, and shorted everything out. Every switch is wired through a junction block first. Makes switching out a faulty component a breeze. Walk through Sailorman over on 84 for closeouts on connectors. Boat Owners Warehouse is a little cheaper than West Marine. Heat shrink everything. It's really not that difficult. The 120v panel I haven't a clue on. My Dusky had no need for 120v. Get a large legal pad, and diagram everything. When I did the Dusky I used the existing wires to pull the new stuff. Wrote down what went to where. Not a single wire nut was used.

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Old 21-09-2014, 19:17   #27
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

The 12 Volt Bible was a huge help.

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Old 21-09-2014, 19:22   #28
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

One more thing...I was quoted almost three grand to re-wire the boat. Spent probably 800 bucks with tools and wire. Sweat my behind off at Harbour Towne Marina doing it, but it was done the way I wanted.

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Old 21-09-2014, 20:13   #29
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

I can't add much to the great advice given so far except to say I am in the final stages of rewiring our boat from scratch and it has been a very enjoyable job. I have taken my time, read lots, planned, replanned and planned again and have stuck to my self promise that I would not compromise on any part of the job just because I did not have the part I needed to hand.

Yesterday I derived huge pleasure from the simple act of plugging in a 1800 watt vacuum cleaner to tidy as I was working and was able to see all the reworked system smoothly take up the load, see the solar starting to flow to make up the loss and all the while observe voltages at various points on the boat behave as they should. Rarely has an Aussie bloke derived so much pleasure from vacuuming.

Matt


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Old 21-09-2014, 21:09   #30
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltayar View Post
Not necessarily.
Some of the questions I have are:
- Do I need to change the panel?
It's ugly and doesn't appear to have any intrinsic antique value. I'd rip it out.

Quote:
- Which wires to replace? Is it easier to rip all out and replace?
Bend the wires individually. If the insulation cracks, replace them first. Usually red wires are worst, the dye in them makes them crumble after not many years. OTOH black wiring may still be usable. If it's old rubber covered stuff it will have to go, regardless.

Quote:
- How to run the shore power?
- The AC breaker: Location, which one, etc.
With your level of experience I'd have a qualified electrician run all mains wiring. You should be able to do the 12V stuff though. If you do decide to do the mains wiring yourself leave that until last so you build up some experience.

Quote:
- Where to run the wires?
Insufficient information. Mine were all behind a removable edge panel and were bound in electrical tape, then enshrouded in a split plastic hose. Very difficult to do any repairs. I installed some 3/4" grey conduit and pulled new wiring through, the way you'd do it in a building. Much easier to maintain.

Quote:
- I ripped the old lights and purchases LED strips: where to install?
WHOA THERE. Before ripping anything out, make a record of what was there. I've seen way too many people destroy stuff by not being sufficiently familiar with something before they started to disassemble it.

The simplest way is to replace one circuit at a time.

Quote:
I have a general idea ab electric but nothing more.
Learn how to strip wires and attach terminals with a crimper (and preferably also solder them). Use tinned copper wire and replace with similar diameter. If you're going to use LEDs the current will be lower so what was there will be more than adequate for it. If adding new items the wiring and fuses to that point will need to be heavier. For each circuit you need to add up the total current then look up a chart to find the correct wiring gauge for the total, plus a little for safety.

Hope this gets you started.

Rob (retired electronics tech)
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