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Author Topic:   Wiring Nightmare on 1983 SPORT 17
biggums1 posted 03-15-2006 08:11 PM ET (US)   Profile for biggums1   Send Email to biggums1  
I'm having fun rehabilitating my newly acquired 1983 SPORT 17.

There's wire going every place and splices with twist connectors by the dozen. Electrical stuff is foriegn to me. What is the best way to clean up the wiring mess? Do new harnesses exist? Should I perform a do-it-yourself wire by wire replacement? I see twist connectors, soldered connections, crimpt connections and every other U-Haul looking devices. Looks amateur!

Thanks for the advise


carl lazar posted 03-15-2006 08:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for carl lazar  Send Email to carl lazar     
You can obtain a wiring diagram from CONTINUOUSWAVE. Post an article with the TOPIC: "Wiring Diagram For Boston Whaler" [Actually, look in the REFERENCE section and you will find all the drawings that are available on CONTINUOUSWAVE and other web hosts--jimh.]

I used buss bars when I rewired my 1982 Boston Whaler boat and [they] worked well.

dfmcintyre posted 03-15-2006 08:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Dave -

The best thing I'd advise, is go to your local marine supply store, West, US Boat, etc., and look for a book on small boat wiring and information in the wiring section of the store.

Use marine grade wiring, and I'd lean towards using a small circuit breaker panel rather then the factory standard push/pull switch with fuse. It's a cleaner install.


Tom W Clark posted 03-15-2006 09:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

Your question is really too big and broad to answer in a single thread, but let me offer you some advice and encouragement:

- I suggest you rewire everything. Period. You will then know everything is new and you will also understand what everything is because you will have done it yourself.

- I suggest you do some studying first and look at how other boats have been wired. This is not really a difficult job, but there is a learning curve.

- For a first book I suggest: The 12-Volt Bible for Boats by Miner K. Brotherton and Edwin R. Sherman

Chuck Tribolet posted 03-15-2006 09:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
First thing to do is to poke around a bit and figure out
what goes where. Then draw a wiring diagram of what you
have NOW. And tell us what the boat has. Presumably
running/anchor lights. But VHF? Fishfinder? GPS? other

The whaler wiring diagram will tell you what the boat came
with and will be a good starting point.

A good rule on boats is to never use any electical parts that
came from the hardware store or the autoparts store. They
just aren't very good even in a non-marine enviroment. Marine
grade stuff is expensive, but holds up.

The 12V Bible has a good rep, so does Nigel Caldwells book,
and Chapman has some good stuff to.


biggums1 posted 03-15-2006 09:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for biggums1  Send Email to biggums1     
Thanks for the suggestions from all of you!

Tom, I just ordered the book from Amazon ($11.02). I'm learning a lot from this little boat (gel coating, 2-stroke engines, bait tanks, wheel bearings, on and on. Fun to do while newly retired!

I'm preparing this boat for action on Ft. Peck Reservoir in Montana this summer.

jimh posted 03-16-2006 12:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As far as I know there are no pre-made wiring harnesses which are designed to be retrofitted into a 1983 Boston Whaler 17 SPORT. If your outboard motor needs a new wiring harness, contact the manufacturer of the motor. They may have a replacement part available, However, it would be unusual that you would need to replace the engine engine wiring harness.

When the boat was delivered to the dealer it had a very simple but workable electrical power distribution system. The haywire you see now was probably added by dealers, installers, and previous owners.

Providing a comprehensive course of instruction in marine electronics is beyond the scope of our discussion, and I think you are wise to purchase a good book on this topic. There is nothing like a well written, nicely illustrated technical book to provide information and an organized presentation of information and learning.

Good luck with your renovation. When you have a specific question about the electrical system, please post it in the SMALL BOAT ELECTRICAL discussion area.

biggums1 posted 03-16-2006 12:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for biggums1  Send Email to biggums1     
Thanks for the great advise!


sosmerc posted 03-25-2006 09:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for sosmerc  Send Email to sosmerc     
I agree with Tom. Rip out all the old wiring and start from scratch. It's actually much easier and faster this way...and you will know what you have when you get done. Take your time, do one component at a time and use only marine grade materials. I would also advise keeping everything related to the engine (keyswitch and harness, engine guages, etc) seperate from any wiring for boat related items such as compass, fuel guage, sounder, gps, etc. Run a seperate positive and negative cable to a terminal block as your source of power and ground for all non-engine related items. Keep it simple, and keep it neat!

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