Saturday, December 30, 2006


Electrical Wiring, 12/2006

In general, the electrical wiring on this boat was done pretty well (well supported, chafe protected, etc), but in a few areas it was suffering from 20+ years of vibration and exposure to salt air. This was most obvious in the cockpit courtesy lighting, where exposure was the worst and the wire had become so brittle that the lights weren't even working consistently. In a few other areas, repairs were made with household wire and wire nuts, which (to me) are unacceptable on a boat, just begging for further deterioration. One such place was the bilge pump wiring. Wire nuts on bilge pump wiring? Yikes -- if there were ever a place for waterproof connections, it's the bilge!

I tore out the wires to the courtesy lights and ran new Ancor 16 GA duplex safety wire to the cockpit and wired in both cockpit lights in parallel. (At the same time, I ran a wire for the stern light that I plan to install in the spring, to complete the navigation lights.)

I also replaced the various wire nuts with waterproof heat-shrink butt connectors. While tackling that, I changed the bilge pump wiring a bit. It was set up so that the pump could be turned on manually or set to "automatic" with a switch at the helm. That setup required the main battery switch to be on all the time to provide power to the pump. I changed it so that the battery float switch is now wired directly to the deep-cycle battery (with its own inline fuse). Now I can turn off the main battery switch, and the pump will still have power if the float switch is activated. This is a much safer setup: the main battery switch is off, so nothing else is accidentally left on, possibly draining the battery, or possibly even starting a fire. The only downside is that you can't turn the bilge pump completely off; the float switch is always supplied with power unless disconnected from the battery.

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