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Author Topic:   Conventional Gauge Rigging
jimh posted 06-11-2006 11:22 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
[This thread originally contained most of the information which is has now been moved to the REFERENCE section and presented in a separate article. Please us this thread for any comments or questions.]
Bulldog posted 06-12-2006 03:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bulldog  Send Email to Bulldog     
JimH, I'm about to clean up my wiring, I finally settled on a Blue Seas 12 circuit fuse panel. I had thought about using circuit breakers, but the cost and the less reliable nature kept me with fuses. The 12 circuit panel will allow all fuses to be at one spot, other then the battery charger. The panel is going to move to a better location which will be easy to reach quickly and easily. Probably will be mounted behind a teak door in companion way or cabin. Other then going to the Lowrance system with fuel meters on the GPS/Fishfinder, I'm sticking to the Yamaha gauges I have now........Jack

PS I have Pat talked into the Bimini trip next year!

Casco Bay Outrage posted 06-12-2006 07:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for Casco Bay Outrage  Send Email to Casco Bay Outrage     
Jim -

Having done a 50% rewire job on my Montauk and contemplating it for my Outrage 17, I (as I am sure may others) want to see before and after photos.

Give us the juicy (no pun intended details) on the whole ordeal.


jimh posted 06-12-2006 11:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
This project was just the instrument wiring. The 12-volt electrical distribution is still in stock (and somewhat ragged) condition.
swist posted 06-16-2006 01:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
I have done a lot of this kind of work too, and it's frustrating because they are almost daring you to do a good job. I do commercial low voltage DC wiring as part of my real job and no one in my business would get away with what happens at most boat instrument panels.

Point 1 (which you have already encountered) is that it is very difficult to do neat work from inside the console (on a small boat where you barely fit in). But then they get you by running wires such that you can only pull the instrument panel off by a few inches, making it impossible to flip it over to work on the back from the outside. If I rewired my console I would bundle all the wires going to the instrument panel into a single big cable, and then leave a 12-18" loop in that cable so the whole thing could be pulled out easily.

Point 2 is that I object to the all-too-common point to point wiring on the back of most instrument panels. It creates an ugly rat's nest and makes accessibility and visibility of the back of each gauge difficult. Well done commercial electronic systems use some sort of auxiliary rail, or cable chase, or panduit, or *something* such that each gauge lead can be squared off, run AWAY from the gauge bank, run horizontally to the next point where it is needed, and then run up to that point at a right angle. It takes a only few bucks worth of hardware to set something like this up. Again - I intend to intall such a system on my next instrument panel rewire.

Good luck

bsmotril posted 06-16-2006 03:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
Rewiring my gauges and panels is a project I am going to do this winter. I'm going to use One Large and two Small Lowrance Smart Gauges on the left. The right will be a six switch panel using the modern rocker switches and breakers used on current Whalers. The gauge side should be pretty simple with smart gauges. For the switch panel, I plan on dressing the wires to the back of the panel, bundling them into a 3 foot long or so pigtail along the starboard edge, run it down the starboard rear corner inside the console, and then make the connections to the main harness via some kind of plug in connector (TBD) near the bottom of the console. This shold be fairly accessible by the main door on the aft side of the console. I'll leave enough of a service loop to pull the panel out a foot or so to access the back side. BillS
Raging14 posted 06-16-2006 04:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Raging14  Send Email to Raging14     
I agree with your assessments of the factory console wiring in these boats. With the almost amazing attention to detail in every other aspect of a Whaler's construction, I was surprised at the factory rats-nest I found hanging off the back of my Rage's ignition switch and the cheesy point-to-point wiring of the instruments. I work in the nuclear industry and have been involved in control panel wiring, distributed I/O systems and electronics design and maintenance for the last 18 years. I found it hard to believe that whoever wired that console wouldn't have at least left a "maintenance loop" in the instrument wiring harness so that one could actually work on the stuff without being a contortionist!
Since I was installing Lenco trim tabs, a VHF radio, and 12V (lighter plug) outlet, I spent most of the last stuffed into my console. I decided to add a power and ground bus bar (Blue Sea Dual-bus plus, very nice) to avoid stacking any more wires onto the battery terminals, and installed a weatherproof, switched, 4-circuit fuse panel (Blue Sea Weather-deck, also very nice) right next to the factory switches on the front of the console to switch all my new gadgets. I did a lot of rewiring and ended up with a fairly decent looking and maintainable setup. Now I just have to work the kinks out of my back and shoulders!


Riptide23WA posted 06-16-2006 10:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Riptide23WA  Send Email to Riptide23WA     
jimh, as an aside, go to Home Depot. In the tool section, they sell a basic project calculator that understands fractions. You punch in the numbers just like you read 'em. Best 20 bucks you'll spend...

I know my woodworking projects took a turn for the better when I started using this thing.


Backlash posted 06-17-2006 03:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Backlash  Send Email to Backlash     
Most good hardware stores I have been in DO have ring terminals available with different post sizings. They are usually found in the little drawers and are priced individually. Lowe's and Home Depot may also offer these.
kingfish posted 06-17-2006 04:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Of course, the really trick ring terminals are Ancor (or similar) heat-shrink type. Those *are* hard to find!


Casco Bay Outrage posted 06-28-2006 12:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Casco Bay Outrage  Send Email to Casco Bay Outrage     
Jim -

Thanks for the photos and narrative. There are several techniques you show that I will try to incorporate into my project.

After seeing new whaler wiring (observations post) and your photos, I have a bit more confidence that I can bring some order to the rats nest in the Outrage 17.

I appreciate the article.

jimh posted 03-02-2008 12:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Please review the new article in the reference section as it contains all of the material originally presented here along with a slight expansion.

Conventional Gauge Rigging

Jerry Townsend posted 03-02-2008 02:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Jim - nice job - and discussion. One thing I added to my panel are two cigarette lighter plug-ins for power for "things", as needed such as (cell-phone, GPS, light, et al.).

You mention spending a lot of time with the lay-out. For those that don't have a drawing program on their computer can ease that pain by cutting stiff paper templates of the panel and each gauge and then rearranging as desired. Tracing the gauge onto the panel completes that task.

One of the first steps should be covering the face of the new panel with masking tape so that you can write and draw on it. After all holes are cut and drilled in the new panel, remove the tape.

The problem of drilling the mounting holes can be alleviated by using the old panel as the template and simply clamping the old and new panels together and then drilling the holes.

Another thing that is nice is to use enough wire as needed to allow the panel to be removed and placed on the console or your lap to work on as needed. ---- Jerry/Idaho

jimh posted 03-02-2008 04:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Jerry--You bring up two good points which I actually used but didn't mention in my narrative:

--I covered panel with masking tape to protect it during the layout and drilling

--I made a full-size template of the panel and the gauges to use as a mock-up during the design.

The only things I would change from my current design is to move the two larger gauges on the right slightly upward so that their upper edges were in a line with the group of smaller gauges on the left. This would have created a small amount of room under those right side gauges where I could perhaps mount a small toggle switch or an indicator light in the future.

Another aspect of the layout which is important to consider is to allow for the overlap of the laminate console onto the aluminum panel. You have to be sure everything will clear the overlap. Give yourself plenty of room as the cut out on the laminate may not be perfectly uniform.

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