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Old 25-10-2008, 16:59   #1
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Engine Electrical Panel

I have for the last 5 - 6 years replaced all of the gauges on my engine electrical panel, amp, temp, fuel, oil and tack. The panel is mounted in the cockpit on my 30' Morgan and is exposed to the weather and I think this is what keeps screwing up the gauges.

I have been thinking about mounting the gauges just inside, to the right where I could see by just peaking around the main gangway. This way they would be out of the weather and maybe I'd get more than a year or two out of them.

Has anyone else ever done this? If so would you have a picture that you could show.
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Old 25-10-2008, 17:46   #2
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David,

Would a simple plexiglass cover work in your situation? Might be an easier fix.

Mike
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Old 25-10-2008, 18:21   #3
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Our engine panel is down below. It is a standard Volvo Penta one which I assume is at least splashproof - I have never needed to check on that but I have seen the same panel installed unprotected in cockpits.

It is about 5 foot or so back from the companionway hatch so is in a completely dry environment. Our engine lives under a fore and aft galley bench on the centreline of the boat and the spare space above the engine to the underside of the galley bench is a top loading locker for galley use. The panel is mounted into the side of that locker facing out to the fore and aft walkway through the boat and can only be seen by going down below and standing in front of it.

I know some people like to stare at the gauges as they motor along but I am not of that ilk and personally don't think it is necessary. But while there are gauges for temperature, oil pressure, volts and revs we also have audible alarms for low oil pressure and high coolant temperature.

I normally check the panel after starting the engine, maybe again after 15 minutes or so, and then whenever I think it is about time that I did so maybe hourly or a bit longer. The flow of raw water from the transom exhaust is easily seen and heard (shoots back 2-3 foot with the exhaust gas velocity) and I monitor that frequently.

When we were specifying our boat, 12 years ago now, the builder made particular approving noises about the good sense of our putting it down below - they can be a high maintenance/low reliability item in the cockpit unless they are built into a waterproof enclosure; at best they soon get very tired looking from exposure to the elements.
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Old 25-10-2008, 18:26   #4
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Mine is in the cockpit. No problems after several years now.
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Old 26-10-2008, 06:54   #5
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David,

Would a simple plexiglass cover work in your situation? Might be an easier fix.

Mike

Mike,

Yes, I have thought of this but still see it being a moisture problem.

The boat after sitting for awhile, I'll start and run the engine at the dock and the lights in the gauges will steam up the lenses. Putting a plexiglas cover over all of this I think would just steam up also or just trap more moisture in and around the gauges.

Thanks for your thought!
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Old 26-10-2008, 07:01   #6
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Mine is in the cockpit. No problems after several years now.

Roy,

Nice looking panel! I am only looking for the bottom half of what you have there to install inside.

My instument cable is long enough to get it to the spot I would like it to be. The existing panel arangement would not work and I would have to fabricate a new one.... a nice winter project at best!
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Old 26-10-2008, 07:05   #7
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What gauges are you using? If they are automotive I can see this. Consider switching to a marine gauge like Faria.
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Old 26-10-2008, 08:49   #8
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What gauges are you using? If they are automotive I can see this. Consider switching to a marine gauge like Faria.
I beleive all of the gauges are marine except for the amp. gauge. This is a 2" round, 0 to 100 - + amp gauge. When I replaced the existing alt. with an 80amp. the old "direct read" gauge would not work.

After reading your e mail I went looking for a Faria or any other marine gauge that would read 100 amps. and now remember why I bought a non marine Sewart Warner gauge/ shunt. That's because I could not find one that was marine to 100 amps.

If you know of one please direct me to it.

And will it work with my existing shunt?
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Old 26-10-2008, 09:15   #9
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Shunts for ammeters are relatively standardized. It may or may not work. Look at the stamped markings on the shunt itself and compare it to what the manufacturer requires or you could buy a new shunt that meets the manufacturers specifications. Shunts are relatively inexpensive.
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Old 26-10-2008, 09:19   #10
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DWT, why are you using a 100 amp ammeter? Or, perhaps, why not substitute it for a voltmeter, then place the ammeter, alone, inside. That's assuming, as you suggested, that it is only the ammeter gauge that is fogging. I used a voltmeter because it gave me more information as to the status of my system. I admit, I also have a Link 2000 at the electrical panel to tell me what the status of charge is.
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Old 26-10-2008, 12:28   #11
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Shunts and meters must be matched by their ratings and calibration. Shunt-type Ammeters actually measure Voltage Drop, in MilliVolts, over a precisely calibrated Resistance (the Shunt).
The meter impedance, often 50 Ohms, and the full-scale deflection (100Amp, in your case) determines the specific Ohmic Resistance of the matching Shunt.
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Old 26-10-2008, 13:48   #12
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DWT, why are you using a 100 amp ammeter? Or, perhaps, why not substitute it for a voltmeter, then place the ammeter, alone, inside. That's assuming, as you suggested, that it is only the ammeter gauge that is fogging. I used a voltmeter because it gave me more information as to the status of my system. I admit, I also have a Link 2000 at the electrical panel to tell me what the status of charge is.
Roy,

Inside on the master panel is a volt meter that shows the condition of the batteries when the boat is charging by the alt. or 110 charger, and when out sailing for some time tells me how much it is depleted. This would be enough info for most people and it really is. The amp. meter is just more imput to the complex system and I like having it.

The Link 2000 is the way to go and will be on my next boat for sure!
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Old 26-10-2008, 16:40   #13
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If I read you correctly it seems that you may be committed to building a new panel. If that is so then the decision as to where you put it is easy.

If your priority is reliability, especially if you cruise the vessel away from support, then it should be below away from the elements and the probability (I would claim eventual certainty) of water ingress and UV damage. If it was that the boat was large enough to have a hard dodger (and I know that is not the case) then placing under the cover of that is also fine from the reliability point of view.

If your priority is to be able to watch the gauges all the time then put it in the cockpit, but that will be at the cost of reliability.

I would recommend that wherever you put it that you have alarms for low oil pressure and high coolant temperature because even if one is inclined to stare at the gauges most of the time they will not always be right in front of your nose.

Seems a very easy decision to me.
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Old 26-10-2008, 17:21   #14
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There is little difference in most gauges. Single lens gauges will fog if there is ambient moisture and a temperature differential. Turning on the lights will help. VDO made/makes a double lens (Their premium line) marine gauge and no one else does. Mine are 10 years old in the side of the cockpit about 8 inches off the cockpit sole. The double lens is like a double pane window in your house.

The bad news? somewhat pricey!
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Old 26-10-2008, 18:24   #15
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On the picture of my gauges in the cockpit, you will notice little colored lamps above many of them. These are connected to different sounding piezoelectric buzzers. The idea is that if I'm off watch, the sound attracts the attention of less experienced crew. If it awakens me, I can tell, by the sound, what the problem is, and begin formulating the response as i jump out of my bunk. So, if the alternator shuts down or suddenly has lower output, there is a specific noise. If the water flow to the seawater pump gets blocked by kelp, plastic bags, or the pump throws an impeller, another noisy alarm goes off. If the engine overheats, all by itself, another noise, entirely. If the fuel filter starts sucking hard, meaning an incipient blockage, yet another alarm goes off. Same with water in the fuel, yet another sounding alarm. And of course, the oil pressure. Thank goodness for Radio Shack. All of this achieved because there are two types of units that attach to the engine and its support units: senders and sensors. One gives a degree of change, such as the pressure of the oil, another is a simple switch that simply tells you if there is sufficient oil pressure or not. It's the sender that the lights and buzzers connect to. The sensors connect to the gauges and simply provide specific information.
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