Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 28-08-2013, 12:54   #1
CF Adviser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Boat: Custom Van De Stadt 47 Samoa
Posts: 3,743
bow navigation lights - what's reliable

I am looking for new bow nav lights.

Here's my experience to date:

I started with the old standard aqua signal 40's. They had incandescent bulbs but that does not really matter because the engine is on when they are on. But I found on Hawk they had only about a 3 year life. They got wet inside and the metal contacts and socket corroded. I tried various ways to seal them but none worked.

So I bought some LOPO lights. These look like the solution. They are completely sealed. The LED's are completely potted in epoxy. And they do in fact seem 'water proof'. Unfortunately they seem to have some sort of electrical design flaw, as both the port and starboard have failed now with very low hours, and I have run across other boats with similar experiences. LOPO is great about replacing them, but that's a pain for a cruising sailor - having to find some place to get a fedex and then waiting for them.

I considered the Aqua Signal LED's, but have feedback from other sailors that they also have some sort of common electrical failure mode.

So, does anyone have experience with something that will stand the test of time? I want to buy a light (or light fixture with changeable bulbs) that will last for at least a decade. I am puzzled why the nav light MFG's seem so challenged by this - there are waterproof pool lights, and the superyachts have underwater hull lights, and the military has loads of waterproof lights. Seems like it should be a solved problem, especially given the $ people like LOPO charge.
__________________

__________________
estarzinger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-08-2013, 13:01   #2
Senior Cruiser
 
Cheechako's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Skagit City, WA
Posts: 19,358
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

yeah, it seems to be a problem. The Aqua Signals were so highly touted for years, but really arent sealed well. I had good luck when I mounted a combination AS bow light in front of the top Pulpit bar (wires routed inside the pulpit tubing) didnt get wet much up there... one bulb instead of two for the bow lights.
__________________

__________________
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard











Cheechako is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 28-08-2013, 13:09   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Kimberton PA
Boat: Cabo Rico 38 / Bayfield 32
Posts: 573
Images: 1
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

Evans, How old are your most recent Lopos? I had read of these problems with Lopo. Then I read that they seem to have solved the leaking problem by no longer having the connection on the back of the light, but by supplying a short pig-tail that is potted in the light. My understanding is that this pig-tail version is relatively new. I hope the potted pig-tail version is the be-all end-all of nav lights because I dropped well over a boat buck last fall on all new Lopo lights. -Tom
__________________
Saltyhog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-08-2013, 18:33   #4
Registered User
 
CaptTom's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Southern Maine
Boat: Prairie 36 Coastal Cruiser
Posts: 975
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

Dumb question, but what's a "bow light"? My NavRules book talks about masthead light, side lights, stern light, and a bunch of specialty fishing and towing lights.

I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I have a switch in my boat labelled "bow light" but it really powers the masthead (steaming) light. Was wondering why they called it that.
__________________
CaptTom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-08-2013, 18:43   #5
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Kimberton PA
Boat: Cabo Rico 38 / Bayfield 32
Posts: 573
Images: 1
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
Dumb question, but what's a "bow light"? My NavRules book talks about masthead light, side lights, stern light, and a bunch of specialty fishing and towing lights.

I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I have a switch in my boat labelled "bow light" but it really powers the masthead (steaming) light. Was wondering why they called it that.
Well, I guess the side lights, taken together, are the bow light since they are at the bow. On my boat, the red/green side lights are actually in one fixture mounted on the very front of the bow rail on the bow sprit. So, I call it the bow light. It makes sense to do it that way if it physically fits because with an incandescent fixture you only need to power one bulb.
__________________
Saltyhog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-08-2013, 18:47   #6
Registered User
 
Stu Jackson's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Cowichan Bay, BC (Maple Bay Marina)
Posts: 6,385
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

Many electrical panels call them Running Lights.
__________________
Stu Jackson
Catalina 34 #224 (1986) C34IA Secretary
Cowichan Bay, BC, (Maple Bay Marina) SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)
Stu Jackson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-08-2013, 19:26   #7
Long Range Cruiser
 
MarkJ's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Australian living on "Sea Life" currently in England.
Boat: Beneteau 393 "Sea Life"
Posts: 12,828
Images: 25
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

A year ago I bought a new series of Aqua Signal LED bi colour nav lights. They were v cheap, about $60. they are working fine. They are on the bow so cop heaps of water. I did extra seal them with good silicon.

However, I cant find them in any of the chandleries now. So I think they may be cast aside for the more expensive ones.

The model number is Series 32 (R G 2NM IMO for less than 50 m)

I just checked the net and the S 32 are hugely expensive... but I am looking at the instruction sheet from my file and it definitly says Series 32 and they were about US$60 for the bi colour.
Soimilar to this at GBP 200!!!!! US$310 http://www.force4.co.uk/6249/Aqua-Si...V--Black-.html
__________________
Notes on a Circumnavigation.
OurLifeAtSea.com

Somalia Pirates and our Convoy
MarkJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-08-2013, 19:39   #8
Moderator
 
Paul Elliott's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 3,866
Images: 4
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

I had one of the first Lopo bow lights (red/green combo, aluminum case with screw contacts), and after about a year the red sector went dark. Lopo replaced it with the newer completely encapsulated / pigtail version, and so far it's doing fine. It's been to Hawaii and back a few times, and while I don't use it much, when I do turn it on it's OK.

I think it's overpriced, but it was easy for me to install where I wanted it.

My old incandescent Aqua-Signal bow light corroded beyond repair after a few years. Perhaps I should have greased up the contacts when I got it, but it soon became unreliable and no amount of cleaning and greasing would save it for long. I still have an Aqua-Signal incandescent stern light and it's fine. It doesn't get the salt spray that the bow light was subjected to.
__________________
Paul Elliott, S/V VALIS - Pacific Seacraft 44 #16 - Friday Harbor, WA
www.sailvalis.com
Paul Elliott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-08-2013, 06:37   #9
Registered User
 
CaptTom's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Southern Maine
Boat: Prairie 36 Coastal Cruiser
Posts: 975
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltyhog View Post
Well, I guess the side lights, taken together, are the bow light since they are at the bow. On my boat, the red/green side lights are actually in one fixture mounted on the very front of the bow rail on the bow sprit. So, I call it the bow light. It makes sense to do it that way if it physically fits because with an incandescent fixture you only need to power one bulb.
Yes, the two side lights in one fixture on the bow is commonly called a "bow light", especially on small runabouts and sailboats less than 12 meters. Not technically correct but it makes sense. It was odd that my steaming light was labelled that way. I'm working to re-wire the whole thing anyway, just got the LED mast/all-around light yesterday and I'm going to put switches at each helm, rather than having three circuit breakers dedicated to nav lights. And the three breakers are not even near each other on the panel!
__________________
CaptTom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-08-2013, 06:41   #10
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,172
Images: 15
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

have 20 YO Hella Marine 2984 bow and stern. I just put DrLED brand bulbs in 'em.
__________________
tamicatana is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-08-2013, 07:41   #11
CF Adviser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Boat: Custom Van De Stadt 47 Samoa
Posts: 3,743
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltyhog View Post
Evans, How old are your most recent Lopos? I had read of these problems with Lopo. Then I read that they seem to have solved the leaking problem by no longer having the connection on the back of the light, but by supplying a short pig-tail that is potted in the light. My understanding is that this pig-tail version is relatively new. I hope the potted pig-tail version is the be-all end-all of nav lights because I dropped well over a boat buck last fall on all new Lopo lights. -Tom
Unfortunately my LOPO's that failed were the 'new version', with the potted wire tails.

I have received a replacement for the port light (not gotten a starboard replacement yet) and notice that they have now gone for a heavier wire. That's the only visibly obvious change.

The failed lights have 11 ohms resistance - I have not been sure what that means about the failure mode except it's neither a dead short nor a dead break.

I will say that, so far, LOPO has been excellent about sending replacements.
__________________
estarzinger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-08-2013, 07:56   #12
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Santa Cruz
Boat: Boatless Again
Posts: 4,321
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

We really do need someone to make better navlights.

My biggest gripe with the old Aquasignal red/green bow light was that the lenses got opaque after just 1-2 years-- much less time than comparable lights. I found that with liberal doses of silicone I could get the contacts to last 5 years. I am now dealing with the Aquasignal LED dinghy lights which last less than 6 months and keep going up in price.
__________________
donradcliffe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-08-2013, 09:44   #13
Senior Cruiser
 
Captain Bill's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: On the boat
Boat: Endeavourcat Sailcat 44
Posts: 2,313
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

Quote:
Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
We really do need someone to make better navlights.

My biggest gripe with the old Aquasignal red/green bow light was that the lenses got opaque after just 1-2 years-- much less time than comparable lights. I found that with liberal doses of silicone I could get the contacts to last 5 years. I am now dealing with the Aquasignal LED dinghy lights which last less than 6 months and keep going up in price.
It seemed that I used to spend a fortune on name brand dinghy lights and none of them lasted more than a few months of actual use. I found a set of portable LED lights (bow bicolor and stern white) at Walmart for 29.95. The first set lasted me two years and I only put two sets of batteries in them. I dropped the stern light and busted the lens off. It got wet before I could glue the lens back on. It worked ok for a couple of months and then corrosion finally got the battery contacts. I'm now on my second set, though the Bow light is now just a spare. It sure beats spending $60 for each light and having them last only a couple of months.
__________________
Captain Bill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-08-2013, 09:53   #14
Registered User
 
Dennis.G's Avatar

Join Date: May 2011
Location: Sea of Cortez and the U.P. of Michigan
Boat: Celestial 48
Posts: 750
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
...I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I have a switch in my boat labelled "bow light" but it really powers the masthead (steaming) light. Was wondering why they called it that.
Same on my boat; "bow light" is steaming light. Still find it confusing.

My side lights are the combo Aqua Signal unit mounted high on pulpit rail at very front. Contacts doused in dielectric paste and have not had issue for last couple of years. They seem to stay out of water most of the time.

This light is powered by "running lights" breaker. Circuit goes through a selector switch for "bow / masthead", selecting one or the other (impossible to light up both).

Couple of weeks ago I was entering a harbor from sea at about 1:00 AM and met up with a sailboat coming out of channel with both masthead and bow lights illuminated. Red over red heading right for me - sort of freaked me out, didn't know WTF was coming for me. When closer could see was just a sailboat and relaxed.

(Sorry for not helping Evans with his question)
__________________
Dennis.G is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-08-2013, 10:14   #15
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Kimberton PA
Boat: Cabo Rico 38 / Bayfield 32
Posts: 573
Images: 1
Re: bow navigation lights - what's reliable

Quote:
Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
Unfortunately my LOPO's that failed were the 'new version', with the potted wire tails.

I have received a replacement for the port light (not gotten a starboard replacement yet) and notice that they have now gone for a heavier wire. That's the only visibly obvious change.

The failed lights have 11 ohms resistance - I have not been sure what that means about the failure mode except it's neither a dead short nor a dead break.

I will say that, so far, LOPO has been excellent about sending replacements.
That's disappointing. It's a tough environment, but should still be a solvable problem. Another thing I know has been a problem with LOPOs is I believe they have been susceptible to EMI and voltage spikes. I know they now sometimes recommend a voltage conditioner (that they sell) to be installed as close to the light as possible. But I think that is mostly a problem at the mast head, especially if you have a ham/SSB antenna on the backstay. The theory is that the LOPO is susceptible to the strong EMF. I think they may still have a problem with saltwater ingress. If there are *any* air cavities remaining inside, diurnal heating cycles will pump moisture in. The pressure gradients can get pretty big. I deal with this in the products I design in my day job. It can be a real problem. I hope they fix it because they do seem to have the most thoroughly engineered lights going.
__________________

__________________
Saltyhog is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
navigation

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 16:17.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.