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Author Topic:   Two-conductor Flat Cable for Navigation Lamps
wally910 posted 05-27-2014 10:01 AM ET (US)   Profile for wally910   Send Email to wally910  
Since I am replacing [the] rub rail [of a 1986 Boston Whaler MONTAUK] right now, I figured I would go ahead and replace the old navigation lamp wiring as well. The 16-AWG two-conductor flat cable by Ancor is the closest thing I have found to the original, . Has anyone found a source for this type of wire in lengths less than 100-feet? I think I need about 25-feet to complete the project, which would leave me with a lot of unused wire.
Tom W Clark posted 05-27-2014 11:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
You need 22-feet of wire [for a 1986 Montauk 17 or for a Montauk 16 or Sport 17 or Super Sport 17 or Sport 17 GLS or Bass Boat 16 or Striper 17 or Nauset or Eastport or Sakonnet or Minot or Katama or Menemsha or Cohasset or Tashmoo]. I bought a 100-foot spool of this very product. I still have about half the spool. I'd be happy to sell you what you need. Shoot me an email.
jimh posted 05-27-2014 01:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Keep in mind this corollary of Murphy's Law:

Any cable cut to length will be too short.

padrefigure posted 05-30-2014 01:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for padrefigure  Send Email to padrefigure     
You could just run two single conductors under the rub rail as well. Just wrap them together with electrical tape every couple of feet to make them easy to manage. I think single conductors are easy to locate and perhaps less expensive. Be sure to use tinned conductors--I don't think the original conductors were tinned and that is probably why you are replacing them now.
wally910 posted 05-30-2014 02:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for wally910  Send Email to wally910     
Padre--Thanks for the suggestion. I've arranged to purchase the ribbon cable from Tom. I thought about your method, but I think the installation of the rub rail will go more smoothly using the ribbon cable. Mine was working, but it was thirty years old, as was the rub rail, and I figured now was the time to replace if I was ever going to do so.
Tom W Clark posted 06-01-2014 03:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
You need 22 feet of wire to do a classic Montauk or other 16'-7" model. It is more than enough for a Montauk or Currituck, 1961 to 2002.

For the record, it can be done with 20 feet, but you barely have any extra, so 21 feet is safer. Taking Jim's corollary of Murphy's Law (which is so true) I recommended 22 feet.

jimh posted 06-02-2014 01:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The flat two-conductor cable can be workable in some cases for passing through a confined space, but I recommend you take care to not introduce any twists in the lay of the cable. If the flat two-conductor flat cable becomes twisted, it will take up more space and become harder to pull through.
jimh posted 06-02-2014 04:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Since it seems like there is only one source found (so far) of the desired flat two-conductor marine cable for wiring navigation lamps in less than 100-foot spools, and that source is somewhat limited in its stock, I think it is appropriate to mention that using two individual conductors for this circuit might be a reasonable option. As I see it, two single conductors have advantages over a flat two-conductor cable:

--single conductor wire can be bought in more colors

--single conductor wire may be easier to install into a limited space or conduit

--single conductor wire can be bought in more lengths

--single conductor wire left over and not used in the project can have more utility in future projects

--single conductor wire eliminates concern about twists in the wire lay on installation.

The two-conductor flat cable is generally only available in limited colors, with RED and BLACK being the most common. Using this for the navigation lamp wiring would be contrary to the general plan for wire color codes on boats. The navigation lamps are to be wired with a GRAY conductor for the positive circuit. BLACK can be used for the negative circuit, although there is some trend to use YELLOW for the DC negative circuit now. This suggests that the most appropriate color codes for the wire ought to be GRAY and YELLOW.

Is there any source for a 16-AWG flat two-conductor marine grade cable with one conductor GRAY and the other YELLOW?

By the way, when you remove the existing navigation lamp wiring from your Boston Whaler MONTAUK (or other models) I believe you will find the wire was a two-conductor flat cable with one conductor GRAY and the other BLACK.

(I now anticipate Tom giving us a homily on how to spell GRAY or GREY, which is preferred, and the historical use of it by Boston Whaler.)

dfmcintyre posted 06-02-2014 05:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Would he need 16AWG if he decided to use LED lighting now available?

Regards - Don SSM

wally910 posted 06-02-2014 07:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for wally910  Send Email to wally910     
I have fruitlessly searched for both gray and black and gray and yellow flat two-conductor cable. I have found two-conductor flat cable under the names "bonded wire", "bonded cable", and "zip cord". Almost all that I have found has been red/black. Perhaps whaler specially ordered the black/grey.
jimh posted 06-02-2014 07:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
It is very prudent to always have more wire on hand than you think you need, even when given advice by experts, because of the well-known behavior of any wire or cable that has been cut to length to end up being too short. If you think you need 22-feet of wire, you better have at least 25-feet or perhaps even more on hand when you get to the actual installation

Wally--There are wire makers (whose names you and I have never heard of) who cater to industrial customers-- not to retail consumers--and they'll make wire in all kinds of colors and combinations. One of those firms probably supplied Boston Whaler (and other boat builders who like to follow the standards) with the GRAY and BLACK zip-cord. But for a retail consumer, it will be hard to find any GRAY and BLACK or GRAY and YELLOW zip-cord.

jimh posted 06-02-2014 07:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Re the 16-AWG wire: that is a specification from the Coast Guard, I believe, but I don't think it applies to individual boat owners. You can probably use a smaller diameter wire with an LED lamp due to the much reduced current being carried.

Re the GRAY-BLACK zip cord use by Boston Whaler, I seem to recall that it was not tinned copper wire. That is just a vague recollection. I might be, as often happens, completely mixed up about this.

Re individual conductors of GRAY and YELLOW for navigation lamp circuits: that is exactly how I re-wired the white all-round lamp on my boat. I discarded the original GRAY-BLACK zip cord, which, by the way, was spliced about three or four times in the 15-foot run from the helm to the lamp. In the case of the all-round lamp, located near the transom, I did not run the negative circuit all the way back to the helm dashboard. I ran the negative circuit about five feet over to the battery negative bus for auxiliary circuits at the stern. This is another advantage of not using zip-cord; the two wires in a circuit may not always be the same length.

skred posted 06-02-2014 09:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     
I've just installed 16 AWG black and red wiring in my new bow light setup, and it fits easily under the rub rail, and would easily accommodate 2 more similar wires... So much for my contribution to the real subject of this thread. [Offered some great advice, which I have taken up and followed--jimh]
Chuck Tribolet posted 06-02-2014 10:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
The "don't use anything smaller than 16ga" rule is an ABYC
thing and has to do with not breaking when exposed to years
of vibration on a boat.

The rules about wire size as a function of current capacity
are common sense and may have some legal roots also.

I've seen what an unfused short to ground from a 12V battery
can do, and just how fast it happens. The wire concerned
carried all of the non-starter loads in my Datsun 240-Z. In
getting it running after an accident, we discovered that
the accident had caused an intermittent short to ground.
About a 10 ga wire fried INSTANTLY. ZAP!!! GONE!!!. It also
melted the solder that held the field coil inside the ammeter,
which took a long time to debug. This gave me healthy respect
for 12V.


jimh posted 06-03-2014 12:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
For a guide to cutting cables to length, I suggest relying on this old carpenter's bromide:

--Measure once; cut twice

--Measure twice; cut once.

Even if measuring twice, I would still throw in a little extra before cutting a cable to length prior to actually installing it. And in electrical installations, it is probably better to "cut twice," that is, to make the first cut to be too long so the wire can be trimmed to length on site. Also, in any wiring, it is very desirable to leave some excess wire, what is called a service loop, so that there is some slack in the wiring that will allow a bit of movement of the connected device if it is necessary to unmount or unfasten the device from its mounting while maintaining the electrical connections.

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