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Author Topic:   Navigation Lighting: Diagnosing Electrical Problems
djreichenbach posted 06-04-2007 11:48 PM ET (US)   Profile for djreichenbach   Send Email to djreichenbach  
I have a 1975 Montauk and the navigation lighting has not worked since I bought it five years. I read up on the reference site and thought I had it all set. Unfortunately, when I pulled the switch, no lights. The switch appears to be functioning. I changed the fuse, the connections from the control panel to the battery look good. The wiring from the panel to the bus in the stern looks good I re-did all the connections, and I replaced the bulb in the bow light.

Any suggestions on how to diagnose the problem?

Also, if I need to run new wire to the bow light, what's that about removing the rubrail? I figured I could just attach new wire and pull it through. Will that not work? How does removing the rubrail grant access to the wiring? I thought it ran inside the gunwale. I would really like to get the lights working, so any help would be great. Thanks. Dan

jimh posted 06-05-2007 12:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Do you have a voltmeter?
djreichenbach posted 06-05-2007 05:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for djreichenbach  Send Email to djreichenbach     
I have a little device with two electodes and a light that is supposed to light up when there is current present. The thing is, I tried connecting it to the positive and negative terminals of my 12 volt battery to test it, and nothing happened. It works when I use it in a light socket. It's supposed to work for both AC and DC. I am wondering if for some reason there isn't enough voltage to light it up. I would think that it should work though on a 12 volt battery.
jimh posted 06-05-2007 07:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you want to diagnose a problem, there is a fairly broad assumption that you will have to invest in some diagnostic equipment. If you have diagnostic equipment that is malfunctioning, you really cannot trust the information you get from it.
HAPPYJIM posted 06-05-2007 07:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
Go to an auto parts store and buy a 12 volt test lamp.
take the bulb out of the socket of the nav light and put one probe on the center contact and the other on the side of the socket, make sure the switch is on. If the light on the test lamp is bright you have a bad bulb. If it doesn't light go back and test the rest of the circuit until you find the problem. It might be a good idea to buy a book on low voltage circuits if you plan on doing any more electrical troubleshooting. You can also take it to a good mechanic to do the work.

As a last resort, run two wires directly from the battery to the bow light. This bypasses everything and if it works it has to be a problem in the circuit.

djreichenbach posted 06-05-2007 08:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for djreichenbach  Send Email to djreichenbach     
Thanks. All are good suggestions. I don't know why my current tester doesn't work, but I'm going to keep tinkering. I'd like to do it myself if possible. After this much time and effort, I don't want to cave and pay a mechanic unless I have to.

Has anyone run new wire to the bow light of their Montauk? If so, can you post a short synopsis of how to do it? I hate to start tearing apart the rubrail, etc... if I can't repair it. Why can't I just pull new wire through with the existing wire?


jimh posted 06-05-2007 09:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
For specific information on how to repair the wiring to the bow navigation lights on Boston Whaler boats, see


You cannot pull in a new wire by using the old wire due to friction. There is also a great risk of abrasion of the insulation of the new wire if it is pulled through to be put in place. However, feel free to give it a try, and please report your findings.

djreichenbach posted 06-07-2007 11:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for djreichenbach  Send Email to djreichenbach     

Sorry I missed that in the FAQ's. I think that reference pretty much answers my questions.


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