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Author Topic:   Boston Whaler 13-foot Boat Navigation Lamps, Wiring
skred posted 09-21-2013 03:59 PM ET (US)   Profile for skred   Send Email to skred  
On my newly acquired [1987 Boston Whaler SPORT 13], the [combined sidelight lamp] is missing, or was never present. The small hole had some red plastic that was broken up and cracked around the inside of some sort of "cup", about 1-1/2 inches deep. I've never had to mess with this situation, so I'm looking for information on whether I break out this cup to access the wires. Also, at the stern starboard side the wiring hole is about 1/4-inch in diameter, with no wires protruding. I assume I can fish around with a small metal rod and try to hook the wires. I assume they are in the foam, and not under the rub rail. Any observations would be welcome.
Tom W Clark posted 09-21-2013 04:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
No, the wire is not in the foam, it is in the rub rail insert.

Lights were optional on most 13-footers back then, but the wire to the bow light location was always included at the factory. They may have laid the ends doubled over so they did not stick out the holes in the hull where they would lead to the bow light or terminal block in the stern.

Just release the aft end of the rub rail insert and peel it out until you reach the hole though the hull. I suspect you will find the wire.

The red cup you found was placed there when the hull was originally molded. It reserves space for making the connections for a bow light. On boats without a factory installed bow light, the cup would have had a snap-on plastic cap to seal it off.

To run wire to this red cup location, first open out the rub rail insert all the way to the bow. If there is not already a hole there, drill a 1/4" to 3/8" hole through the middle of the rub rail receiver track into the red plastic cup. You can then feed the duplex wire in.

Even if you find the original, unused wire, I recommend it be replaced with fully tinned duplex wire. [The wire] Whaler used was nothing special and prone to corrosion. You want 16-AWG duplex wire.

jimh posted 09-21-2013 09:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The FAQ has a good answer to the question of how the wires were run for the navigation lamps on Boston Whaler boats. See
See the paragraph that begins "After about 1972...."

skred posted 09-22-2013 08:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     
Thanks for the help, Tom & Jum. Great reference article, too!
skred posted 09-22-2013 10:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     
Interestingly, there's a small semi-elliptical hole in the rub rail track, which is offset slightly forward from the small hole in the gunwale. running a wire through it to try and connect with the gunwale hole proved problematic: I kept hitting some sort of obstacle. Running a thin probe from the gunwale up and forward to try and reach the hole in the track resulted in the probe hitting what appears to be wood. Unless there's some secret to this procedure, I may have to drill upward and forward to align a passage for the wires. BTW, apparently Whaler doesn't put the wires in if the boat is delivered without nav lights, because there's none in my rubrail...
jimh posted 09-24-2013 07:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have not tried myself to drill a hole through the gunwale of a classic 13-footer at the bow toward the area where the navigation lamp will be installed, but I would not be surprised if you might hit something other than fiberglass and foam. You might hit a piece of metallic flexible electrical conduit. It is okay to drill through that conduit if it is there. The conduit is not performing any electrical purpose.
Tom W Clark posted 09-24-2013 10:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Are we talking about the hole at the bow light location or the junction block location in the stern?

Either way, there's not much to it.

skred posted 09-24-2013 07:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     
Tom, it's the hole at the stern.
Tom W Clark posted 09-24-2013 08:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
HUA. You mentioned a 1/4" hole in the stern. Has the hole ever been used for anything, or is it perfectly clean? It may have anything to do with the wiring.

It is usually a straight shot from rub rail to junction box/terminal strip. There shouldn't be anything in the way unless the hole is near a wooden backing pad for the side rails. Have you looked at the wood locating diagram for the 13' hulls of your vintage?

skred posted 09-25-2013 08:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     
Tom, the hole is exactly where Whaler describes the wiring should exit to the the inside of the boat. As I described, the factory hole in the rub rail is about three inches forward of the the factory hole in the gunwale (where there was usually a small "box" if lighting was factory installed). There is wood indicated in the wood locator drawings that would be between the two holes. Sue Lodel said that if the hull was ordered without lighting, that no wiring was usually installed under the rub rail. As for the alignment of the the wiring holes, she had no idea how they should be. It's not a big deal, since I can simply drill an opening between the inside hole and the rub rail track hole...
BTW, the drawing referenced is dated 1971, and apparently there were changes made after that, and mine is a 1987....
Tom W Clark posted 09-26-2013 12:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Dennis -- The drawing is dated 1971 but explicitly shows information for 1977 and later hull. The drawing itself was updated to show the new bow locker and bow step pads first seen in 1979 and used in 1987 as well.

My first Whaler was a 1976 Sport 13 and it had a manual start motor, no battery at all and no lights. The wire was under the rub rail insert. It doesn't matter of course, because you would want to replace the wire anyway.

I have an old Sport 13 in my driveway right now. No battery, no lights. I just replaced the rub rail insert on it last weekend and the receiver track has a number of 1/4" to 3/8" holes in it that have nothing to do with its fastening. Who knows?

If I were you, I'd just drill the hull in the receiver track where you want it.

skred posted 09-29-2013 10:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     
Tom, you're a wealth of information. I really appreciate it. Hard to believe I've had 9 Whalers in my life - 4 of them were Sport 13's. With all that - I've never had to replace the rub rail and/or run the light wiring on one. So, this is a first. My previous 13's either had a small plastic "box" at the starboard stern corner with the light wiring, or a small terminal block. Because the hole in the rub rail is about 4-5 inches higher than the hole on the inside of the hull, I'm going to try to drill downward from the rub rail and try and meet the existing hole in the inside of the hull. There's definitely some wood in the way, but that's no problem.
I didn't know the '71 drawing had the updates on it - that's a great help to me. Thanks.

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