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Old 11-09-2014, 09:46   #1
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Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Hello,

I need someone who could spare a few hours to help/advise on rewiring an Islander 32 docked at Riverland in Ft Lauderdale.

I can be reached at 561-755-7345.

Regards,
Michael
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Old 11-09-2014, 10:13   #2
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

I'd say your best bet is to post detailed description (if possible with pictures) of the issue here. This forum has worked wonders like that for me, and helped me solve countless issues in my boat's refit.

Asking for sombody to call you or drop by for help is a bit of a long shot...
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Old 11-09-2014, 10:36   #3
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Thank you for your reply.
Sometimes you have some Old Salt who loves to share the experience.

I'm attaching 2 pics as a start.
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Old 11-09-2014, 10:38   #4
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

And you just want to redo every bit of wiring in the boat?

What's your skill level in electrics?
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Old 11-09-2014, 10:59   #5
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Not necessarily.
Some of the questions I have are:
- Do I need to change the panel?
- Which wires to replace? Is it easier to rip all out and replace?
- How to run the shore power?
- The AC breaker: Location, which one, etc.
- Where to run the wires?
- I ripped the old lights and purchases LED strips: where to install?

I have a general idea ab electric but nothing more.
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Old 11-09-2014, 11:05   #6
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

what Orchidius said...

what are you trying to accomplish and do you have a plan?

pick 1 system at a time and get (at least) a napkin to sketch it out.
questions you should be asking yourself:
1. are you replacing the wiring or the equipment or both
2. are you replacing or redesigning
3. what r your future plans (are you running the correct gauge for your longer term plans or will you need to re-run lines later during an (already planned) upgrade

a few things that are really important to me as i continue rewiring my boat are:
1. every component uses a different color wire
2. 1 extra line for each area of the boat (v-berth, head, port salon, stbd salon, gally, nav, engine room, cockpit) for easy add-ons / troubleshooting / repairs in the future)
3. i always leave a string incase i need to run more lines in the future
4. always know where i want to end up b4 i start (general principle not specific to wiring)
5. stop. think. stop. think. stop. start... electrical work always has multiple paths to accomplish the same goal. reviewing the plan in advance often results in a better / easier / faster / cheater solution (i.e when / where to use a bus instead of running a new line)
6. LABEL EVERYTHING. like everywhere. as in every single place where a wire is accessible put a damn label on it

gl

-steve
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Old 11-09-2014, 11:15   #7
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Great input Steve.

Once I get started after being "shown" what to do it'll be a lot easier.


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Old 11-09-2014, 11:28   #8
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

OHH! you are at this point...


Some of the questions I have are:
- Do I need to change the panel?
Answer: does it work and is it the right size for your planned system? if yes, keep it, if no upgrade. if it works but is too small, consider a 2nd panel instead of 1 large panel (assuming you can find the same model).

- Which wires to replace? Is it easier to rip all out and replace?
Answer: replace them all... use the existing wires as pulls for the new wires. decide in advance the correct gauge for the components you will be installing, use different colors and LABEL.

- How to run the shore power?
Answer: what are you really asking here?

- The AC breaker: Location, which one, etc.
Answer: if you replace the panel, get a 120+12v in one. if you are adding a 120 panel, i would suggest it be located next to your current panel. all panels are (for the most part) created equally. which one is about the number of breakers, size, aesthetics)

- Where to run the wires?
Answer: what shade of blue is the sky? headliner or bilge but wherever you have room for the runs. if you are ripping out the headliner, run the lines there. you dont need to discard all of the boat builder's work. run the new lines where the current lines are. unless, you cant. i have a run port and a run stbd and all wires run thru 1 or the other.

- I ripped the old lights and purchases LED strips: where to install?
answer: obvious areas include galley, head, berths, nav station but it is about what works for you. i applied an airplane model. main cabin lighting plus individual lighting for each area with floor lighting and emergency exit lighting all on separate breakers and most wired with 3 wire (which is, personally, the MOST important component of any electrical design!!!!!!)

I have a general idea ab electric but nothing more.
Answer: i dont think you are ready to start this project and i dont think you will be able to consolidate the 4398534875395 opinions you will get here to make yourself ready.

there are a ton of great books out there which will be money very well spent.

also... make sure you determine if you need resistors for your LEDs and be consistent with your connections... always solder or never solder / always shrink wrap or never shrink wrap etc.

i know a lot about electrical (residetial and marive 120 and 12v) and there are at least 49857857357539659875098208275369873453095 things i dont know.
gl.

-steve
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Old 11-09-2014, 11:30   #9
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

If you've got a general idea about electrics it shouldn't be too much of a chore. I had some experience rewiring houses before the boat, and other general electrical experience. Nothing special.

I just started stripping wiring that had no use in my future setup. Then dissecting the rest and replacing it circuit by circuit.

All the input by ssanzone is worth gold :-)

A little bit more specific to your questions:

Some of the questions I have are:
- Do I need to change the panel?
You don't need to, but you might want to. For aesthetics, to have more switches, to have integrated breakers in your panel,... second hand ones are easy to come by, and even new ones aren't terribly expensive. But if the old one still works and doesn't show signs of heavy corrosion, you don't have to replace ofc.

- Which wires to replace? Is it easier to rip all out and replace?
If good quality wire was used in the first place, decent joints/crimps were made and you don't see any sign of corrosion, you don't have to replace. I did replace everything though, for peace of mind. Easiest way to do this is to think about what you want the system to be like when it's done, draw it out and go from there, one wire at a time. If you do decide to replace, do the whole shabang.

- How to run the shore power?
Depends on what you want the system to be like . I have a small inverter that converts 12V to 220V for the odd time I need it on board. The shorepower is just an extension chord with a domino, takes care of all my 220V needs without too much hassle and can take a battery charger should I need one (I'll have solar soon).

- The AC breaker: Location, which one, etc.
These are fairly generic. IMO not too much difference between them. Mine is located close to the alternator. Can't say why tho, but since I haven't had any problems with it, I won't be changing its location.

- Where to run the wires?
This is mostly determined by the interior layout and the existing wiring. In my boat it's on the inside of the cabinets mostly. In my neighbor's boat, the wiring is behind some of the plastic interior panels. They have a leak there they can't reach and it shorts out the circuit every now and again. Really depends on the boat itself. One thing to consider is that a boat is a moving, vibrating object. If you drill a hole for a cable, the cable will chafe in the hole and eventually expose the copper inside. This is very, very dangerous. Take this into account, and check it regularly.


- I ripped the old lights and purchases LED strips: where to install?
Where you want the light to shine...? This is more of a interior design question than an electrical one. Mine are behind the handrails in the cabin shining upward, lighting the entire side of the cabin. One thing to keep in mind though: they only work from one controller if you run them in one long line. I had issues with this as I had two leads leaving the controller to both sides of the cabin. Long story though. Those bloody strips are the bane of my existence as far as boat electrics goes...
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Old 12-09-2014, 08:24   #10
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Use tin coated wire. It hold up better in a marine environment.
John
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Old 12-09-2014, 08:34   #11
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

K. Thanks


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Old 12-09-2014, 08:41   #12
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodguy View Post
Use tin coated wire. It hold up better in a marine environment.
John
elaborate...
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Old 12-09-2014, 08:52   #13
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

get hold of the ABYC guidelines American boat and yacht council . they have wiring diagrams and specifications that are used by most boat builders and repair facilities
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Old 12-09-2014, 10:38   #14
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

I've rewired a couple boats over the years, a couple of mine, a couple boats I picked up to flip and a friends Islander 30.
Islanders were built in a couple different places by different people over the years they were in business, the quality of the work can vary depending on the model and when it was built. The Islander I helped (guided) the rewire on was a bit scary on the electrical side, we found several shorts behind panels and in wiring runs that came pretty close to causing a fire when we ripped the old wiring out. Some due to chafe because they weren't run well in the first place, some due to owner "mods", some due to the questionable quality of some of the components. Those boats were not wired with tinned wire originally, it's old now and will only cause you pain, or worse.
I don't know what your boat has but based on my experience with that one I'd replace the panel with a breaker panel, pull the old wiring and replace it, inspect the hardware (lights, battery connections, devices) and see if it's up to snuff. If not, replace it.
Much of the previous advice is good, put down a plan on paper, it will save you much pain and stress. Draw out a schematic. I managed industrial installations for many years and know the benefit of a good plan.
- Put down all the device/hardware locations and their amperage demands.
- Run spares to all locations, you always be glad you did.
- Have a wire separation scheme, low voltage, high voltage(shore power), and signal wires (instrument signals, antenna wiring, etc should be separated to avoid noise.
- Use good quality connectors, I usually solder mine but you don't have to.
- Try to avoid having any connections in the bilge where they will be occasionally submerged. No matter how well sealed they always seem to corrode.
- Use ABYC standards for a guide.

When you do this you'll usually have a boat where things go on and off when you want them to, sometimes you will get a problem but nothing like trying to save an older wiring set up.
I've only had my current boat a year and the wiring issues drive me nuts, sometimes things work, sometimes they don't, I know I'll be redoing it soon.
Hey, what else would you be doing with your time over the winter?
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Old 12-09-2014, 10:45   #15
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Re: Need help re-wiring a sailboat

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"?
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