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Author Topic:   Navigation Lights Malfunction
Graphiterod posted 08-24-2008 08:11 PM ET (US)   Profile for Graphiterod   Send Email to Graphiterod  
My [navigation lamps] do not work.

This Saturday I needed to feed wire under the deck of my 1985 Outrage 18. Behind the starboard side removable bulkhead there are two wires. Each a combo, one black and one gray. One goes aft to the [white all-around lamp]. The other forward to [sidelights].

I disconnected all lines to the battery, and checked that all electronics did not work. I cut one of the combo wires, and used it to snake additional wires from the bulkhead to the console.

Once I finished I reconnected the [combined sidelights] with heat shrink crimps. When I finished my projected I reconnected the battery. All electronics worked -- engine, vhf, FF. The navigation lights did not.

I checked all fuses on the console, and in line fuses. I checked all bulbs in the nav lights. I checked all connectors at the navigation lamps and on the bus board. Everything checked out.

I replaced the bulkhead in-line crimps with butt-end crimps. That didn't work, so I replaced the butt-ends with male-female connectors. Neither of these worked.

Everything else on the boat works perfectly. I'll say my mea culpa, but I still need my navigation lights.

Any thoughts?


Chuck Tribolet posted 08-24-2008 08:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Since you have male-female connectors, disconnect them and
see if you are getting power when the nav lights are on.
If not, the problem is somewhere between there and the
batteries. If yes, the problem is somewhere between there
and the light.

I'm going to guess that you won't see power. I'm going to
further guess that the nav light switch isn't getting power
(it's unlikely that both circuits would die).

Really dumb question, but it's gotta be asked: did you strip
the insulation off the wires before you put the crimps on?

Not so dumb question: What did the copper look like: Nice
clean copper? Light gray (tinned copper)? Or black? That
black is a good insulator.

And next time, use an electrician's fish to pull the new wires.


Chuck Tribolet posted 08-24-2008 08:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Something just sank in: You cut one of the combo wires (it's
properly called "boat cable") and didn't cut the other, right?
Then the problem is HIGHLY likely in the console somewhere.
Graphiterod posted 08-24-2008 10:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Graphiterod  Send Email to Graphiterod     

I neglected to bring my continuity tester. I'll bring it next Saturday.

I did strip the wires before I put the crimps on. (Don't worry, nothing is a dumb question when you're diagnosing an electrical problem.)

The copper wire in one line was coated black, while the other was cooper. Unfortunately I can't remember which one was which. I won't be back to the boat until Saturday. What does the black coating indicate?

I tried an electrician's fish, but I couldn't get it to make the near 90 degree turn from the bulkhead to console. From the console the fish would follow the tunnel to the stern, and refused to make the turn.

Correct, I only cut one of the two boat cables. The other one remains intact. When I fished the wire it went through smoothly. I can't believe I nicked or opened one or both of the boat cables.

At the end of the day I unscrewed the nav light switch from the console and checked the connections. Everything was fine. In the interest of eliminating another possibility I removed and replaced the crimp/connectors to the switch. I did not have enough time follow the three lines from the switch back out. Nonetheless, those connections all appeared to be good. On Saturday I'll follow those wires as well.

As I was following the wires and replacing crimps I thought of replacing the switch. I purchased the boat in 2004. It looks like the original switch.



jimh posted 08-25-2008 09:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If the copper wire was black it has probably been severely oxidized. Generally you do not get a good electrical connection when the copper wire is blackened.
jimh posted 08-25-2008 04:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Your reporting of the wiring used for the navigation lamp circuit as having gray and black insulation concurs with my experience. You generally find a two-conductor vinyl-insulated zip-cord cable used in Boston Whaler (and other) boats. This also conforms with Boston Whaler's published color code chart. Cf.:

It is often difficult to source and purchase small quantities of the black-gray zip cord, so I recommend you just run marine grade 16-AWG conductors to replace it.

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