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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
Rewiring 1984 Outrage 18
|Author||Topic: Rewiring 1984 Outrage 18|
posted 10-21-2008 07:04 PM ET (US)
I'm about to start rewiring my Outrage from top to bottom. This won't be the first Whaler I've completely rewired, so I'm not totally in the dark, but I thought I'd just see if anyone had any input. Any special products you think I should consider? Any tips?
I'm not going to get too complicated here, just an 8 switch Blue Sea Weatherdeck panel on the console, some distribution blocks and a whole lot of Ancor wire. I plan to try to re-use the existing Perko battery switch.
The one "aha" moment that I did have the other day was that I plan to run only one ground wire through the rigging tunnel and run the negative side of each circuit back to the distribution blocks on either end. My batteries are already in the console, but I've got several things located aft (stern light, engine, downriggers, bilge pump, livewell pump) and I figured it made more sense to do this than run a bunch of independent ground wires through the tunnel to the console. I haven't figured out where to mount the block aft, but I assume somewhere under the gunn'l.
posted 10-21-2008 07:55 PM ET (US)
Run an 8GA through your tunnel to feed the aft ground buss, then wire your individual grounds to that. Piece of cake.
posted 10-21-2008 08:27 PM ET (US)
Since 1984 there have been a lot of upgrades to marine electrical hardware. Twenty-four years of development has improved the electrical fittings available for a small boat electrical system. Your new installation should be substantially better than the old one, besides just being 24-years newer.
Let us know what products you use in your re-fit.
posted 10-22-2008 02:15 PM ET (US)
Actually, the biggest problem on this boat is not the age or vintage of the original wiring. Heck, I'm not sure any of the original wiring still exists. The problem is the numerous half-assed "improvements" and modifications that have been done over the last 24 years. Admittedly, even some of them done by myself, in an attempt to squeeze one season out of the boat before tackling this project.
One question, is anyone aware of a 6 to 8 position waterproof switch panel that might be a modern Boston Whaler part? Like, something that I might be able to get from Whaler directly that would have their logo on it or something like that? It's no big deal, I'm happy to use a generic one, but if anyone knows of a specific part that I might be able to call up Whaler and request, that might provide an extra-special detail to the job that would put it over the top.
|Casco Bay Outrage||
posted 10-22-2008 05:07 PM ET (US)
Check with Flounder Pounder... www.fpmarine.com
While they might not have exactly what you want, you may find something that you can modify. New 4-6 gang Blue Sea Contura switch panels are pretty expense, in my opinion.
posted 10-22-2008 08:16 PM ET (US)
Have you checked with Ivo at Ultra Panel in Miami? They are the suppliers to Whaler, I've worked with him on some projects before, and the results have been excellent. He might have a stock 6-8 switch panel in the size you need that he can do the silk screening to get you the "original" look.
posted 10-22-2008 09:27 PM ET (US)
Your engine already has a nice fat ground cable (bigger than
8 ga) in the tunnel. Pick up the aft ground where it
attaches to the engine with something like 8 ga to your aft
ground distribution panel.
MMM, what gauge do downriggers require? Go at least one
Label everything. A Brother lablemaker will make nice
Make a drawing and note the color codes. Google can find
posted 10-23-2008 11:07 AM ET (US)
When I re-wired, I used colored, neon zip ties to group common wires in the center console, for various electronics on the boat. ie: GPS was pink, Stereo was orange, VHF was yellow, etc. It made for quick and easy identification underway.
I used a small piece of PVC cut into rings, rough edges sanded, to use a labeler like Chuck describes, to remind me what the color coded zip ties served.
I wanted to eliminate guessing, which equals time, while at sea.
posted 10-23-2008 06:52 PM ET (US)
On my Outrage, I ran the house load ground cable under the starboard gunwale, behind the little plastic cover panel, into the rigging tunnel and then up into the console. Since I have aft mounted batteries, this came directly off the battery. This was the OEM routing as well. On your application, a distribution block mounted under the gunwale can serve as a ground point for your aft mounted electrical loads.
For the engine starter, I'd run a single, dedicated cable from battery to outboard, with no terminal blocks in-line. To me, this is a critical path, and with no splices you know that at least half your starting circuit is intact at all times. This one is probably best sent through the rigging tunnel. Note that much lighter wire can be run for the house ground, so cost for additional cable is not that bad.
posted 10-24-2008 01:15 PM ET (US)
One thing I've discovered is that, between what was already in the boat, and some stuff that was pulled out of our sailboat years ago, I have a whole bunch of 4 gauge marine wire laying around. So, I'm using that for a lot of stuff.
Here's something that I discovered yesterday as I was pulling everything apart. The boat has two engines, the main engine, and a Yamaha kicker, both electric start, both with alternators. The previous owner had routed the main battery leads from from the kicker over to the main engine, and connected them to that engine on the same posts that it's battery leads connect to (starter solenoid and starter chassis).
Although it does conflict with andy's advice to avoid terminal blocks in-line, my plan was to run both power leads back to two heavy duty terminal blocks just forward of the splash dam. The positive block would be there just to connect all three wires together (one going forward to the rotary switch, and one to each engine). The negative block would serve the same purpose, but would additionally provide a place to run the ground for all aft-mounted loads (bilge pump, downriggers, baitwell pump, stern light). Blue Sea offers two versions of their heavy duty power posts, one with just the post, and one with the post plus a bunch of little #8 screws encircling it for connecting smaller loads. I've already ordered one of each for this application. Since this will be somewhat exposed, I plan to cover the the posts with rubber boots (included) and use heat-shrink connectors for all terminals. Then, I'd like to seal up the entire thing with something that will provide insulation and corrosion protection. On some of the older wiring on the boat, the terminals are covered in some sort of black paint like substance. I've never seen it before, but it seems to work, there's no corrosion and it prevents contact from stray wires. Would I be better to use something like this, or to seal up the whole thing in silicone?
The posts are stainless steel, but the lugs will all be tinned copper, which can still corrode (though very slowly). My bigger concern is that it all be insulated to protect against accidental shorting or submergence.
Oh, and the downriggers are currently wired with 10 AWG wire. The previous owner had run both independently back to a fuse block in the console. I am going to join them at the aft end of the rigging tunnel and run just one wire forward. I have two plugs, but currently only own one downrigger. But even if I had two, a single 10 AWG wire should be more than sufficient to run both simultaneously. The manual says they only draw 5amps each. Technically, I could run both downriggers simultaneously on just one 16 AWG wire. But allowing for degradation of the wire over time, and just a reasonable amount of leeway, I'm going to go with the 10.
I haven't decided the best way to label. I'm not sure I want to go to the expense of using striped or different color wire. It's a lot cheaper to just buy a big roll of red 16 AWG wire and use it for just about everything. Ancor sells heat shrink tubing that you can run through a typewriter and put on the wire. I might get some of that, but I'm kind of hoping I can just get by with a thoughful organization system that makes it clear what each wire is for.
|Casco Bay Outrage||
posted 10-24-2008 02:47 PM ET (US)
I would suggest that is liquid electrical tape. It comes in black or red and works very well when heat shrink tubing is not appropriate. Dries very quickly.
posted 10-24-2008 04:07 PM ET (US)
If there's room, you might consider mounting your terminal blocks under the gunwale, forward of the hawse pipe. Although it's a bit harder working on things upside down, it provides the best splash protection, and keeps things out of sight for a neater job. If you pre-drill the mounting screw holes for the blocks, and carefully make up your cables, you can make all the connections to the terminal blocks with them sitting on the deck, then mount the whole shebang under the gunwale after all the electrical connections are done.
For corrosion protection of screw-type terminals, I like Boeshield T-9. It lasts, and does a great job preventing corrosion, but doesn't gum things up so badly that you can't get the screws out when you need to.
It sounds like you are doing a first class job on the wiring. Take some photos along the way so we can see the results.
posted 10-24-2008 05:15 PM ET (US)
Thanks. I've seen what happens when people cut corners on wiring (mainly by learning through my own mistakes). You end up with what I have right now; a boat with such a rat's nest of wiring that you can't figure out what's wrong when there's a problem, and can't figure out how to add or change anything.
Hey, here's a question. Where does everyone have their battery switches located in the console? Mine is currently....well, currently it's laying on the cockpit floor... but prior to that, it was located (inside) just to the right of the door facing the RPS. My batteries are against the front of the console, to the port side. I was thinking I would mount the switch (inside) on the front wall of the console, right by the door on the port side. That way, reaching in and turning the switch would be relatively easy and painless, plus, it's right there by the batteries. Any good reason not to do this?
|Casco Bay Outrage||
posted 10-24-2008 07:48 PM ET (US)
Got a big laugh at your photo. Man, I have been exactly where you are, twice.
I plan to move my battery to the console and am considering putting the switch inside on of these (2nd + down) on the console. http://www.ssicustomplastics.com/switches.htm
posted 10-24-2008 11:19 PM ET (US)
Here's a tip for reducing the pain involved in working inside the console: Remove the big console door, and put a section of split foam pipe insulation over the edge of the door molding. It makes a world of difference when you are reaching inside or have your head stuck inside the opening. Moving the RPS was a good idea.
It's a shame that their are so many really bad amateur marine electricians out there. It seems one of them always owned the boat before I did. It's always nice to see somebody putting thought into it and doing the job right. One of these days, I'll buy a boat from somebody like that!
posted 10-26-2008 10:20 PM ET (US)
Man is this up my alley! I have been putting off doing a complete rewire for...well, forever. Over the years I have avoided it, I've actually added insult-to-injury by adding/changing components. Now I've got the proverbial "rat's nest" of 24 years of bad wiring design.
My biggest problem is getting my skinny 6'3" frame into some contorted position to actually perform the work at hand. I have even considered removing the blasted console altogether and tackle it from there. In furtherence of my procrastination, I do have to replace the substructure (marine plywood) under my center decking due to rotting. At this point, I'll have to remove the console anyway, so I'll have better access to the underside of the console. Problem here is that the rot is not so bad that I can't put it off for another season.
Nonetheless, I am very interested in your progress, so that I may get some real life experiences, ideas and "what not to do's." Take lots of photos!
posted 10-26-2008 11:30 PM ET (US)
Jim--When I toured the Boston Whaler factory I noticed that they had built work fixtures so they could position things like the center console at a height where the assembly technician could more easily work on it as he built it up. Yes, once you get that thing on a boat, working on it through a small opening while lying on the deck can get to be rough.
posted 10-27-2008 11:30 AM ET (US)
Originally, I intended to unbolt the console and lean it forward to do the wiring. However, once I saw that it still had most of the "subfloor" in it, I realized this would do me no good. I left it in place. However, removing the RPS took only seconds and drastically improved access.
posted 11-05-2008 10:21 AM ET (US)
This is still very much a work in progress, but I do have some pictures of my work so far.
This is how all the wire terminations were prepared prior to starting my work. Plain copper lugs wrapped in electrician's tape and slathered with Vaseline.
In order to mount the terminals at the aft end of the rigging tunnel, I had to utilize existing bolts going through the splash dam (for the Racor Fuel filter) to mount a strip of mahogany (salvaged from my 13' restoration) to which I then screwed the terminals. I wanted to mount the terminals under the gunnel, but there wasn't room. Since I have a stern seat, this will be relatively protected.
An example of how all the new wire terminations are prepared. Above is my new wire that goes from the solenoid to the starter. Below is the old one. This is the only piece where I used the smaller, lighter duty Ancor lugs, due to space restrictions.
The starter and solenoid. All the 4 ga. wire is salvaged from either this boat, or an upgrade made to my parents sailboat back in about 1999, so there are some scuffs and marks on it, but I cut out any sections that were stiff or had damaged insulation and discarded them.
Inside the console, both batteries are located against the forward wall, to the port side. I installed this negative battery post above them on the forward wall of the console. This wasn't technically necessary, as I could have simply ran the negative lead to one battery, and then run a link to the next one, but I decided that this would be worth the extra effort, and the extra termination in the system. Shown here are the heavier duty FTZ lugs. These were very strong, and required a lot of force to crimp. I had to go buy a cheap crimper at Harbor Freight Tools that was only barely up to the task. It required that I put all my weight on the arms to effect a proper crimp.
The Perko switch wired up, but not yet mounted.
The terminals in the stern with the wires for the main engine attached. The wires for the kicker are dangling in the picture. They are in good shape, but are considerably longer than they need to be, which adds to the clutter, so I'm going to replace them as well.
Anyway, there's still a lot of work to with with the lower gauge wire both on the engine and in the console. But I've got most of the heavy-duty stuff done.
|Over the LINE||
posted 11-05-2008 01:44 PM ET (US)
I have been off line for a little while but here is a discussion of the 18' outrage re-wire I did, with some photos.
The biggest thing I did was to build my distribution panel on my workbench and then install it in the console.
hauptjm, if you want to see the job first hand, my outrage os sitting in the swamp at SYC. Climb in and llok under the console cover.
posted 11-07-2008 12:41 PM ET (US)
Still picking away at it.
The batteries are in, and the switch is temporarily mounted.
I routed a 4AWG wire up, over the door, around around to the grouding block for the panel. I used the 4AWG only becuase I already had it laying around and it was cheaper to buy connectors for it than to buy smaller gauge wire (I was going to use 6AWG).
The grounding block below the steering gear.
posted 01-26-2009 01:26 PM ET (US)
This project is still in-process. Due to cold weather, and the recent purchase of home needing significant work, I haven't gotten much farther. I did, however, replace the trim switches in the Teleflex-Morse control, as well as the control cables for the Yamaha kicker.
The trim switches were a real pain. The old ones would stick in the up or down position, causing the engines to continue to tilt, even when not wanted. When I disassembled, I discovered that the switches, designed for push-on blade type connectors were instead with soldered wire connections. I vowed to do differently when I installed the new ones. After paying $50 for replacement switches that should have only cost $2-3 a piece, I discovered that the new switches had smaller terminals that were suitable only for soldering. Go figure. So, I practiced up on my soldering and tackled it the other night. One set of wires was easy to do. But the original OMC trim wires were different. They were overly pliable, and wouldn't hold a compact round shape to thread through the hole on the terminal. I finally got it soldered, but it was [difficult]. I suspect the more pliable wires may have been used to better accomodate the motions of the wire inside the throttle control arm. In the future, I would consider joining the flexible wires to normal wires in the handle head with a soldered connection wrapped in heat shrink. These are low voltage, low amp wires, and the extra connection shouldn't affect performance.
Just a tip for anyone who ever faces replacing these troublesome little switches.
posted 01-26-2009 11:51 PM ET (US)
For electrical cables which are intended to be very flexible, the conductors are often wound with a non-conductive thread to decrease resistance to bending and improve flexibility. The thread is often called "silk" although I doubt that it actually is. The conductors are sometimes very thin wrapping around the silk, called "tinsel" for the resemblance to the Christmas tree decoration.
Conductors of silk and tinsel can be very difficult to solder. You generally have to crimp them into a special crimp fitting, usually made of very thin brass. Once you have them crimped you often can then solder them in place. Excessive heat can damage this sort of conductor.
I haven't seen any marine applications where silk and tinsel conductors were used. Usually for higher flexibility the number of strands of the conductor are increased while the size of each strand is reduced. These high-strand-count conductors can be a little more difficult to handle. If you solder them, try to not let the solder wick too far up the conductor. If you create a long soldered portion you have a long solid conductor, and you will loose the benefit of all the added flexibility.
Soldering is really chemistry, and having everything clean will help the chemical reaction go more smoothly. A clean soldering iron, the right temperature, good 60/40 rosin core solder of the right diameter, and two clean copper conductors will produce a solder joint that is a thing of beauty. Pre-tinning the two conductors can help, but be careful. Solder tends to be a bit eutectic, and as you keep re-heating it, it seems to need a higher temperature to flow well. You also get more dirt and debris into the joint each time you re-heat it.
posted 01-27-2009 02:19 PM ET (US)
Thanks jimh! That's really good info. My experience with soldering is very minimal. I mostly do marine, automotive, and residential electrical work, none of which usually calls for soldering.
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