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Author Topic:   Small Boat Electrical Systems
gwoodson posted 06-28-2006 01:18 PM ET (US)   Profile for gwoodson   Send Email to gwoodson  
I have a 1959 Yellow Jacket runabout with a 1959 Johnson Super Sea Horse. I need to wire the [stern navigation lamp], a bow light, and a horn. I purchased a fuse block to mount under the dash.

The run from the battery to the fuse block is about 12-feet. Should I use AWG-10 stranded cable from the battery to the block?

What size wire should I use for the three accessories? Should I used stranded wire?

The fuse block came with 10-ampere fuses. [Is this an appropriate current rating for a fuse for these lighting applications]?

Give me a schematic to wire small boat electrical accessories.

Whaler_bob posted 06-29-2006 12:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Whaler_bob    
10 gague stranded would be fine for the main bus on the fuse block. Run the negative lead from the battery to the negative bus (non-fused) bar on the fuse block too. Run all your loads from there.

16 gague stranded would be good for the lights and horn.

10 amp fuses are good for those circuits. One horn lead runs to the negative bus bar on the fuse block, and the other runs to one side of the horn switch, the other side of the switch runs to one of the fuse terminals on the fuse block. [I removed a link to a schematic diagram for a complicated five lamp navigation lighting system used on certain Boston Whaler boats which I feel has no application whatsoever in this discussion--jimh.]

jimh posted 06-29-2006 09:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
To become familiar with small boat electrical systems you ought to purchase a good book on the topic. Another good source of information is from the websites of the electrical manufacturers who sell products for the small boat recreational electrical market. They have a lot of good information for you.

The ABYC has recommended practices for electrical systems on small boats. I am sorry, but I do not have a copy of those recommendations, and they are quite expensive to purchase.

The size of a conductor in any circuit is chosen with consideration for the maximum current the circuit branch will carry and also for the maximum voltage drop that can be tolerated. For a branch circuit in a small boat, a 10-AWG conductor can carry 30-amperes. The voltage drop will be negligible in a small runabout boat.

Stranded conductors are always used in boats due to the vibration and motion of the boat.

Small boat electrical systems use current protection and circuit control switches in the positive leg of the circuit.

Here is a very generic diagram showing how a small boat might be wired, but it is not indicative of any particular boat or of compliance with recommended practices: The drawing is not provided by CONTINUOUSWAVE and, again, represents a very generic guide:

gwoodson posted 07-06-2006 02:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for gwoodson  Send Email to gwoodson     
Whaler_Bob and jimh, Thank you both for your response. They both helped a lot.

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