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Old 18-03-2020, 15:11   #16
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

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Use nolox or Penatrox or culaid sold at Home Depot comes in a tube squeeze a little into the connector especially heat shrink ring terminal works on any termination eliminates the water wicking effect that stranded wire has a tendency to do, makes a mess of course but certainly makes the bilge pump connections or lazarett wiring connections much better In my opinion that is the extra step
I just completed the rewiring of a 50' tug boat and did so with copper thinned wiring all over and heat shrink copper thinned connectors including all marine grade switches breakers panels etc. All my material was ordered through Stright Mc Kay from Nova Scotia, cheaper that many marine providers and shipping was reasonable and very fast. The parts were also all in stock. No affiliation, jus very satisfied. Online catalog well detailed, representative very helpful.
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Old 18-03-2020, 16:38   #17
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

Wow! Thanks for all the great advice. This has helped tremendously! I now have a much firmer idea about how to design and wire up the the new panel.
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Old 19-03-2020, 16:21   #18
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

Just another thought. Iíve wondered for years why people who wire boats think that everything has to run back to a single panel that looks as if it belonged on a 747. When was the last time you wanted to control the bedroom lights from the living room? As single feed bus from the battery and fuses or circuit breakers in close proximity to the devices is often easier and cheaper.
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Old 19-03-2020, 16:33   #19
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

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Just another thought. Iíve wondered for years why people who wire boats think that everything has to run back to a single panel that looks as if it belonged on a 747. When was the last time you wanted to control the bedroom lights from the living room? As single feed bus from the battery and fuses or circuit breakers in close proximity to the devices is often easier and cheaper.

That is common

Fore ship

Midship

Aft ship

Power distribution circuits
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Old 19-03-2020, 16:48   #20
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

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Originally Posted by Bycrick View Post
Just another thought. I’ve wondered for years why people who wire boats think that everything has to run back to a single panel that looks as if it belonged on a 747. When was the last time you wanted to control the bedroom lights from the living room? As single feed bus from the battery and fuses or circuit breakers in close proximity to the devices is often easier and cheaper.


On a small boat (like 25' or less) the panel is usually close to anywhere, so why not switch at the panel? Possible exception being reading lights in the V berth.

Otherwise, boat wiring is similar to house wiring. Everything is fed from a central panel with breakers or fuses for each circuit, then each circuit runs to where it needs to, where you have localized control - like switches on individual lights, or wall switches on larger boats.

On a boat you're concerned about power management, so when you leave it, you'd do things like flipping the cabin light breaker(s), instrument breaker, etc. Just like you were closing your cottage.
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Old 19-03-2020, 17:37   #21
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

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Originally Posted by Captain Anthony View Post
I have found all of your comments very informative. Thank you.
I will be rewiring my 1980 Tartan this spring. I'm going to replace all of the wiring.
Are there any suggestions/ comments/ issues encountered by others?
I completely rewired my 1981 Cooper 416. There is some excellent advise here, but here are a few tips.

1.) Use the correct gauge wire needed. I installed LED lights throughout the boat and was able to go to smaller wire gauges throughout. (Saves weight and cost.)

2.) Use several bus bars for common grounds. You don't need to run a negative line the same length as your positive lead or back to the main electrical panel. For example, I have a negative bus in the foward compartment, at the base of the mast, at the electronic instrument distribution panel, and in the aft lazerette.

3.) Any connections that are below the cabin sole should be in a water resistant box (e.g. connections for lights and instruments on the mast).

4.) On all buses and all connections use some form of dielectric spray/grease.

5.) DON'T OVERLOAD CIRCUIT BREAKERS. This is one of the biggest problems I've seen in virtually all boats I've worked on. It is not uncommon to see 3 and 4 wires running to 1 circuit breaker. This is especially common as people add more and more electronics.

6.) For electronics...get rid of your inline fuses (they are corrosion magnets) and use a BlueSea fuse block. (I don't want to get into a debate over fuses versus circuit breakers, but I ditched the DC circuit breaker panel and when to 4 fuse block. Every independent circuit on the boat has a corresponding fuse at the appropriate amperage and all electronics are fast blow. In 3 years and over 7,500 sea miles I have not replaced a single fuse.)

7. This is big....remove any panels, cushions, etc. that can be removed from the boat before you start. Put them in your garage, or storage, or your friends shed. Put them back when you are completely done with your re-wiring project.

8. Get a good multimeter.

9. Get a good heat gun.

10. Choose 1 (ONE) color for your negative wire. (If you want to be confused....work on a boat that uses white, black, and yellow as ground wires. (oh and green for the AC side of the house.)
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Old 22-03-2020, 15:53   #22
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
If it's a panel with not too many wires, I'd consider using plug and socket connectors to connect it to the original wiring in place of terminal strips. If there's no need to ever disconnect the wires then just butt join them. Do make sure to run all your new wring in split loom conduit or spiral wrap though. It looks much neater and helps protect the wires from snagging or otherwise getting damaged


l lop
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Old Yesterday, 07:38   #23
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

Anyone use Solder Seal butt connectors?

I recently completed a refit and must have used a few hundred heat shrink butt connectors in the process, and then discovered these things, which look great but haven't used them yet.

In addition to ratchet crimpers, do yourself a favor and get a self adjusting wire stripper, this is the best $10-$20.00 tool I've ever bought.
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Old Yesterday, 07:53   #24
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

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I would put in terminal strips. The existing wiring would terminate on one side, and the new wire on the other. This would be more secure, self-organizing, and easier to test than just a mess of butt connectors. As usual - use crimp-on ring terminals on all wires if using conventional terminal strips; for the white enclosed Euro style strips you can get crimp-on thingies that are better than just the bare wire.

I would put the terminal strips somewhere behind the new panel. The engine compartment is a bit harsh for connections, and harder to access and work in.
Agree, terminal strips and properly terminated (that's critical and often not achieved) wires is the most reliable approach, and it's one used by many new builds and complete electrical refits, enabling the panel to be built on the bench. I would strongly recommend two stage terminals, wherein the conductor and the insulation are crimped for strain relief.

This article on crimp (solderless) terminals may be helpful. https://stevedmarineconsulting.com/crimping-etiquette/
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Old Yesterday, 08:44   #25
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

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Originally Posted by SV__Grace View Post
Anyone use Solder Seal butt connectors?

I recently completed a refit and must have used a few hundred heat shrink butt connectors in the process, and then discovered these things, which look great but haven't used them yet.

In addition to ratchet crimpers, do yourself a favor and get a self adjusting wire stripper, this is the best $10-$20.00 tool I've ever bought.
Those no crimp connectors violate ABYC rules. I can't quote the rule but it is something like connectors must be mechanically attached so the heat of a fire won't cause them to disconnect. Personally I am not worried about that but with today's insurance companies doing everything than can to void claims do you really want these in your boat?
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Old Yesterday, 08:51   #26
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

Terminal strips.
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Old Yesterday, 09:38   #27
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

I'm a Electrical Engineer and have been doing it hands on for 40+ years.


The most reliable connection you can do is a crimp connection using high quality heat shrink connectors. The best crimp connectors are first crimped and then shrunk with a heat gun and have a glue that also helps seal the wire insulation jacket to the connector plastic jacket. Look for brand names like 3M, etc. Not cheap, but worth the cost.
Where to buy:
If you know exactly what you are looking for then it comes down to price. Figure out what you want, then go shopping.

Ratchet crimpers are good for people who have no idea how much pressure to apply. But they are adjustable, so if they aren't adjusted properly, you will get improper crimps!

Most experienced people use non-ratchet crimpers for a few reasons.

1. They are more compact.

2. You can feel the crimp happen.
Before you start wiring your boat, get some connectors and the proper wire and crimp on some connectors and try and pull them off. That is the only way to learn how to do it right. Check out videos, application notes from 3M etc. Good hand crimpers are made by Ideal and others.



Tug test every connector you install. Crimp it on and tug on it. If the wire moves at all, its a do-over.



Only use tinned marine grade wiring unless you are on a tight budget and on fresh water. If you are on fresh water you can get by with THHN stranded copper with water tight crimp on connectors. Its not the best, but it will do and its a lot cheaper.


For short lengths of marine grade wire, Menards (the building store) has been selling Ancor Brand Marine grade tinned wire on rolls near the crimp connectors.


Another place to buy quality wire and connectors is heavy truck equipment stores (for semi trucks and trailers). They typically use tinned wire like Ancor and crimped, shrink connectors. If they have a tail light fail and are inspected and caught, they can be put out of service due to a failed 20 cent connector. Don't ask how I know that!



I would avoid putting any spliced wires under the sole if you can. At bilge pumps I have used water proof crimp connectors with good luck. But some luck is involved!



For splicing into existing wires, only splice into bright copper wires or bright tinned wires without corrosion. If the wire looks green with a white ish dust, cut the wire back further until you find wire in good condition or replace the wire.



If you want to use plastic connection boxes since you need to make connections in wet areas, look at standard PVC gasketed boxes that Menards and others sell. You can buy UL rated PVC cord and cable grips through Amazon and others that are waterproof. If in a wet areas, try to make all connections through the bottom of the box - water will tend to run downhill and away from the box. Avoid connections into the top of a box.


For the 120 volt system, I would look at what is available from the marine stores. Also look at the PVC electrical boxes available from the building stores. My 1974 boat used a fused system (neatly done) but all of the outlets are exposed on the backside (not good!). 120 VAC wiring should be entirely enclosed. The reason is that if sparks occur due to bad connections etc, you want the sparks contained in the electrical box so it doesn't start a fire. A fire IN a box is not a big deal as it will go out. A fire in your boat... a disaster! Again, you can probably get by with untinned copper cable for 120 VAC on a freshwater boat, but go with tinned if you are on salt water. I would probably use some Ancor tinned triplex, black/white/green cable for 120 VAC if I was doing a rewire on salt water. Also, don't forget you need at least one GFCI for your boat. Its not cheap, but doing it twice costs even more.
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Old Yesterday, 09:49   #28
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

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Originally Posted by Dave9111 View Post
Ratchet crimpers are good for people who have no idea how much pressure to apply. But they are adjustable, so if they aren't adjusted properly, you will get improper crimps!

Most experienced people use non-ratchet crimpers for a few reasons.

1. They are more compact.

2. You can feel the crimp happen.

Before you start wiring your boat, get some connectors and the proper wire and crimp on some connectors and try and pull them off. That is the only way to learn how to do it right. Check out videos, application notes from 3M etc. Good hand crimpers are made by Ideal and others.

Lots of good tips in your post.


I agree that with experience, a good worker can make acceptable crimps with a non-ratcheting crimper. We've all done it to make an emergency crimp and the only tool is the cheapie crimper in that $10 emergency toolkit.

But even pros get hand fatigue at the end of a long day. I myself haven't yet met a pro who chooses a non-ratcheting crimper over the ratcheting kind.

My guilty secret is that I've discovered that even inexpensive knock-off ratcheting crimpers can usually be adjusted to do repeatably good crimps with a given brand of connecter. But if I was doing some paid work on other peoples' boats, I would definitely have the better name-brand ratcheting crimpers. Liability and optics...
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Old Yesterday, 10:38   #29
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

Just my humble thoughts, and as such, just opinions based on working as a marine tech in a busy boatyard, on my own and friends' boats:


Ratcheting crimpers are great for a consistent crimp with some "standard" applied force and symmetric crimp. However, they cost a lot. They are heavy, bulky, and almost impossible and many times strictly impossible to use for all the crimps you have to make on a boat. Especially if you are replacing or repairing existing wiring. You can also think you just made the best crimp in the world and then the wire pulls right out since you didn't get the wire all the way up in to the connector even though you think you did. In tight spots you can often have a hard time getting the wire in to the crimp that you already have in the crimper jaws. If you put the wire in the crimp before putting it in to the crimper, the wire has a nasty habit of falling out, or worse, you made the crimp before you noticed the wire fell out and you ruined a crimp.


There are jobs where legal or contractual or quality control standards require a ratcheting crimper. Airplanes, large boats, some industrial repairs/projects. Why? Because they have legal and safety requirements and want to force workers to produce standard crimps. Standard does not mean best necessarily.



How do I know this? Because of thousands (literally) of crimps using ratcheting crimpers. Then I went to a hand crimper and my productivity went up 100%. I would hand pull (hard) every crimp with more force than the standards require. (However, the standards require the test to be for a certain length of time with a standard pull force.)


But I was able to make almost 100% good crimps in easy places but more important in hard places where it was literally impossible to get a ratcheting crimper in to. I could also see what I was doing. I stopped wasting a lot of crimps which saved a lot of money for me or the customers. And, a ratcheting crimper will not make up for the wrong size crimp for the wire size. Not that anyone would do that of course.



I completely rewired (as in 100%) of the AC and DC wires in my previous boat using only my hand crimper with my trained hands and eyeballs. I sailed the boat 15,000 nm most all of which was offshore. The next owner, who I am still friends with, took her many times that around the world with several years doing things like circumnavigating Ireland in boisterous seas.



I do not know of any of my crimps failing from bad crimps. The wire might fail if subjected to salt water over time in an unprotected fashion. But those same failures would have occurred if a ratcheting crimper had failed.



One job I would always do with a force multiplied crimper (hydraulic or lever action) was for large gauge wires using standard crimp jaws that fit the specific crimp (which will vary by manufacturer and specification unfortunately). There is no way for a normal human to apply enough hand force but there is also no way to get a consistent crimp by hand (or hammers!).


Regarding extending new wire to old, I would always completely replace a wire from the panel to the engine room or to other parts of the boat when time, materials, and money allowed. Nothing beats a single length of insulated wire. It is a lot more work, thus time, and material to replace all the wire to every device on an engine though. If faced with a necessary choice where to put your time and money I would use a terminal strip or buss bar (for small gauge negatives depending). It is best to cover/enclose terminal strips but I found that a terminal strip would provide excellent service as well as a convenient way to trouble shoot electrical issues closer to the devices. Enclosed is best, and certainly a way to drain water is essential. It is almost impossible to completely seal junction boxes which means that water can accumulate or at least never dry out in ones that are not sealed so in most cases better to just provide a cover to avoid electrical mishaps. It is easier to inspect as well, and much, much easier to replace wires/crimps in the open.


Another important issue as to pulling completely new wire from A to B is correctly estimating and then having enough wire (by color and size) for every pull. You always end up with a ton more waste pulling 100% new wire as it is extremely difficult to estimate wires around an engine (or anyplace really). Unless you have the luxury of having multiple big spools of wire of the right colors and sizes, you will inevitably end up too short or way too long. Worst case is too short and then you need to rethread that wire the whole distance which is usually a major job anyway. If you are buying wire by the foot you will be going back to the wire shop multiple times. It is easier to estimate wire to a terminal strip for most wires from A to B. One way around that is to label and pull each wire from one place to the other and then measure it of course. (Nothing is easy about replacing wire harnesses or other wire runs of multiple wires.)



The DIN boxes shown are fine if you like the tidiness and protection. You wouldn't think that you would need a "drip loop" but you should since there are times you have to cut off a couple inches of wire for corrosion problems, otherwise you have to put in a butt or replace the whole wire. I prefer terminal strips with circular round connectors over the "European" style screw clamping to bare wires but especially for electronics they are fine so long as all wires a locked down so they can't move in any situation and thus wiggle out of the clamp. Using the little crimps to use on DIN strips or European strips is best practice.



Don't get me wrong. Ratcheting crimpers are especially good for occassional work by amateurs so long as you have the space to use them, are careful in how you put in the wires, and then give every crimp a good tug just like you would with an non-ratcheting crimp.



There are pros and cons to everything and opinions vary so try out what you think will work for you. If you use a ratcheting crimper keep a manual one on hand just in case.
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Old Yesterday, 14:12   #30
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Re: Connecting new to old wiring, best practice.

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HI All,
I am in the early process of building a new electrical panel. I do not plan on rewiring the entire boat, at least not at this time. I was thinking of running the new wiring from the new panel back to the engine compartment and there connecting to the existing wiring. My question is what is the best practice for connecting into the existing wiring system? I was thinking of 2 possible methods ;1, connecting new wiring to individual buss bar connectors with ring connectors, or, 2, simply connecting new wiring to older wiring with butt connectors. Or is there some method I am missing?


Thanks in advance for any advice.
JC
I solder ( silver solder lead free) all my electrical connections and put dual-wall heat shrink on all the joints. I never use connectors of any kind, as they all tend to corrode over time
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