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Old 18-12-2014, 12:43   #1
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Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

As those who have helped before know, I have a wonderful little Universal M3 20b in my Catalina 30. The control panel, however, is different than the captains and admiral panels that most of these engines seem to have.

1) Instead of push to start, the starter is activated by turning the battery key (like a car)

2) Has toggle switches for blower and glow plug (instead of push button)

3) The only gauges on the panel are voltmeter, tachometer, and water temp. Has no oil pressure gauge or alarm (unless alarm is inoperable)

#1 doesn't bother me. #2 concerns me to the extent that it allows the glow plugs to remain energized and potentially ruined if I forget to flip the switch back to "OFF" after starting.

#3 however has begun to make me paranoid about the inability to monitor my oil pressure. In fact, I keep having "daymares" while sitting at work that at some point my oil pump will go out and I'll be completely oblivious until the engine seizes.

My question is whether I should spend the time and money to upgrade the entire panel or is there a simpler way of retrofitting an oil pressure gauge or alarm? Would you advise against the gauge/alarm being close to the engine block to avoid another hole in my cockpit? As always, thank you everyone for your input.
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Old 18-12-2014, 13:16   #2
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

I'd replace the glow toggle with a self centering toggle switch, other than that leave it alone, or maybe a push button for glow, your preference.
FWIW, I only have a tach, oil, temp, low volt are lights or an alarm.
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Old 18-12-2014, 13:28   #3
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I'd replace the glow toggle with a self centering toggle switch, other than that leave it alone, or maybe a push button for glow, your preference.
FWIW, I only have a tach, oil, temp, low volt are lights or an alarm.
Didn't think of the self-centering toggle switch. Thanks!

To clarify, my panel DOES NOT have an oil gauge or an alarm(that I know of). That is my ultimate concern as I am blind to a failure in the oil system.
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Old 18-12-2014, 14:03   #4
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

When you turn the key on, do you hear an alarm? I assume you shut if off with a push button? If so does it alarm when you shut it off? If so I bet that is the low oil pressure alarm.
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Old 18-12-2014, 14:21   #5
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

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When you turn the key on, do you hear an alarm? I assume you shut if off with a push button? If so does it alarm when you shut it off? If so I bet that is the low oil pressure alarm.
No alarm before or after. There might be one that's inoperable but I have yet to pull the panel to check. If weather holds this weekend I should have soem time to poke around. Also, I have no shutoff in cockpit but have to kill at the fuel shutoff on engine block. I think the panel might be from the original atomic 4. Engine was replaced in '01 IIRC.
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Old 18-12-2014, 14:42   #6
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

Adding an oil pressure alarm switch (if indeed there is not one already) is pretty simple. One can buy such at any auto parts store, and wire it to an alarm buzzer or beeper or whatever you prefer, all without any new holes in the cockpit. A gauge, if it is to be useful, should be visible in the cockpit IMO, and that will involve a hole somewhere.

As to the shutoff... is there a solenoid to activate it or is it strictly mechanical? If the former, it is easy to add the necessary switch, but if the latter, running a push/pull cable to the cockpit may be awkward. Do some more digging about and let us know what you find.

Cheers,

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Old 18-12-2014, 15:28   #7
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

You can get guages which have warning lights that retrofit into standard gauge cutouts. You could use a warning light in a water temp gauge to signal low oil pressure.

Better to run a signal wire from the engine mounted switch or sensor to the gauge on the control panel than run fluid to the control panel.

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Old 18-12-2014, 15:49   #8
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

Losing oil pressure is pretty catastrophic very quickly so I'd definitely add an oil presure alarm switch as Jim advised. Having said that, short of losing the oil drain plug or hose leak for an external cooler I don't think loss of oil pressure is very likely but I'm no mechanic. Monitoring oil pressure can be a good engine health indicator.

Loss of cooling is much more likely for many reasons so a temp alarm is also desirable. Short of replacing existing sender or adding an additional ganged switch sender some how you will need some simple electronics to break out a signal from existing sender that then goes to an alarm. On ebay there are many digital programmable temperature alarm kits advertised for a few dollars each complete with NTC thermistor sensor and has a relay to send to an external alarm. I have several which I am installing but the on board piezo alarm is very soft. It would be possible to use your existing sender hooked up to a unit like this also with a resistor or two.

I have noted on the web that loss of cooling water thru a hose leak for example may not be registered by conventional senders. They measure the actual water temp in the water jacket and with no water no high sensor temp. A head surface mounted sensor unit such as above and/or a coolant level alarm switch may be a good investment.

Off topic Jim, Great to see you heading Sth again and you got over your health probs.
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Old 18-12-2014, 15:54   #9
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

Yes, but the point is, how frequent is sudden oil pressure failure in a marine diesel? Once in a million hours? They didn't put an alarm or gauge in, as they thought it was pointless.
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Old 18-12-2014, 16:19   #10
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

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Originally Posted by leftbrainstuff View Post
You can get guages which have warning lights that retrofit into standard gauge cutouts. You could use a warning light in a water temp gauge to signal low oil pressure.

Better to run a signal wire from the engine mounted switch or sensor to the gauge on the control panel than run fluid to the control panel.

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link to these? Ive looked unsuccessfully before
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Old 18-12-2014, 16:23   #11
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

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Yes, but the point is, how frequent is sudden oil pressure failure in a marine diesel? Once in a million hours? They didn't put an alarm or gauge in, as they thought it was pointless.
Well, I dunno about that, mate! We are a bit shy of the million hour mark and have had catastrophic oil loss twice in our 28 years of cruising. Once from the seal on a Mexican spin-on oil filter failing, and once from chafing a tiny hole in a hose to the sender for an add-on oil pressure gage. Damn glad for the alarm in both cases. It is an easy and inexpensive thing to add, so why not have at least an alarm?

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Old 18-12-2014, 16:39   #12
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

I used to be in the camp that low oil pressure was very very rare until it happened to me and I certainly don't have millions of engine hours; maybe a couple of thousand at the best.

The low oil pressure alarm saved the engine enough to limp home. The culprit was very worn engine bearing etc. We found some thick gear box oil and tipped that in; got enough pressure to keep the alarm quiet. We were about 500 miles off-shore and motoring every hour or so trying to find some wind to get home with .

So yes, I now believe in some sort of oil pressure alarm at least; a gauge could of perhaps given us much more early warning - like before we went off-shore...
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Old 18-12-2014, 16:52   #13
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

The Alt./RWP belt chafed thru my oil filter twice,on my VP 2003,due to where VP mounted it.Glad to have audible & visual alarm those times.I have also added an oil pressure gauge & a water temp gauge.Wasn't room to mount them in my VP panel,so I mounted them elsewhere,but I can see them from helm.
I like to know what is "happening" before damage is done,if possible.
I also installed a BorelMFG.com exhaust temp alarm,after my exhaust hose burnt out,due to impeller failure in RW pump.
Cheaper than an engine IMHO.
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Old 18-12-2014, 17:47   #14
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

Boats are the ultimate opportunity to spend money. You could remove the panel and install a panel straight out of a new boat, spending more money on the panel than a new set of sails. But is that prudent on an older boat?

Ask yourself, "What do I want?" If oil pressure is a concern, then wire a low pressure alarm. My Universal 5424 was set up for one. I believe yours is also.

Likewise there should be a sender for both temperature and high temp alarm. I wired the low pressure and the high temp to a wake the dead Db level alarm. This works great, except when you are the first one to leave an anchorage, or are below working on the engine. To deal with this some folks rig a by pass.

Solo many choices ��
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Old 18-12-2014, 17:58   #15
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Re: Is My Control Panel Inadequate?

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.

Whatever you have, I'm sure its inadequate.
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