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Thread: Where to get wiring help?

  1. #1

    Question Where to get wiring help?

    Does anyone know a someone/someplace that is really good with wiring electronics for skiffs. I did my very best job, spending most of Thanksgiving rewiring my skiff. Really sealed up the connections, installed fused breaker box from West Marine. First trip out, two weeks ago it all was working fine and then fried at the end and I don't know why.

    Electricity is NOT my thing, probably something was done wrong but not to get into details and bore you here are my thoughts. I'd like to do it again myself because I am on a budget and once I get it going have a professional or someone who really knows what they are doing look over my work. Alternatively I could just pay to have it done but I'd have to know it was going to be done very well and don't want to spend the big bucks to simply wire in a couple of bilge pumps, VHF and GPS's in a skiff .

    Anyone know a good person?

    thanks!

    Brett R

  2. #2
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Where are you located?
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  3. #3

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    Anchorage.........Girdwood to be specific, does that help explain the "do it yourself even if you don't know how" attitude :-) ???

    Probably going to take the boat into town tomorrow because I have a friend there who generously allows me to work in his garage.

    Skiff is an 18' Bayrunner.....just running one battery at the moment.

  4. #4

    Default In the same boat

    I did a rewiring job last year on my 18ft habercraft and i am now having some issues with the motor lift, also blew a fuse or two. i would also like to learn to do a better job myself because you can not always get help at sea. So if you know any one out there or when you find some one to help with your boat "bayrunner" i would love to learn and i can fetch tools and beer (which i would bring) real good. Or if any one has the know how and tools i would trade a dipnetting trip on the kenai or some sort of boat time for the help.
    Boat= 18 ft habercraft 50horse honda, vhf, f/f, motor lift, running lights.
    (in anchorage)
    pm me or e-mail @ lasthillbilly@hotmail.com
    thanks and if i can help or we can get group together and knock your boat out bayrunner i am game for that

  5. #5
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    I don't want to step into a pit full of "help me's", but I did used to wire custom boats and trailers when I worked at a boat fabrication shop. I'm in a completely different line of work these days, but I still know how to do electrical work. It's just more of a hobby now. Of course, I'm down in Soldotna, but I drive through Anchortown every couple weeks. If you don't find anyone local to help, I might be persuaded to stop by and have a look see.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  6. #6

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    Awesome idea on getting together.

    I too would be willing to trade a little boat time for help. 18' bayrunner, 50 HP Yamaha 4 stroke, VHF, GPS/Chartplotter (when working

    Working together sounds fun, wish I was more confident in my electrical skills but I can drink the beer and provide some as well. My new favorite boat work beer is the Snow Goose's Urban Lager- the first craft brew I've seen in a can- pretty tasty. Course, any beer will keep the spirits up.

    -Brett

  7. #7
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    Default Possible issue to check

    No physical help offered here, but here's some technical help that might illuminate on the topic:

    Most common mistake on "amateur " wiring jobs with DC circuits is a failure to calculate for voltage drop due to distance of wires and the specific amp load for those individual circuits. One of the basic rules of Ohms law is that as Voltage drops Amps go up. Too thin of wire creates excessive resistance under higher current draw requirements. You may be simply using too thin of a guage wire for your wiring runs. As the line loss takes effect, your voltage drops, the amps go up, overload the circuit, burn the fuse, and in cases of too thin a wire guage-- may even overheat enough to burn the outer jacket.

    There are free-ware programs at some boat supply websites that let you type in your perameters ( distance of run, total power consumption of attached appliances, etc ) and it will then tell you the recommended wire guage.

    Also- while fused wiring blocks are very handy and recommended, I go a step further and also fuse every one of my "hot" ( positive ) feeds from the batteries with a properly sized "blade" type fuse approx 4"-12" within the first foot of the battery connection. Some people go a step further and use a reset breaker instead. If a wire curcuit gets overloaded and you have a fused wiring block up at the steering console, the wire will overheat from the fused block all the way back to the battery connection. If you have an additional fuse right off the battery connection ( just a bit higher than all total loads combined on that circuit ) any overload issue will pop the breaker right near the battery, and protect all the wiring from there forward--- i.e. - no wiring jacket to catch fire.

    This is both a good wiring practice as well as a fire safety protection issue.

    Not all boat shops will wire this way-- it costs extra $$ , takes extra time, and really isn't necessary if everything is sized right.

    Some of us tho'- get a bit nerdy about these things, and add-in little cute stuff that helps -- reset breakers, multiple switches, etc.

    If your wires are thinner than 10 guage, you may want to hunt down one of those wire-sizing programs. Typically- I never use anything less than 8 ga. or 10 ga. for my wiring loops.

  8. #8

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    Here's a calculator for marine wire installations, http://genuinedealz.com/voltage-drop.html.

    Know too that marine wire is different than building wire. Do some research on that before you buy wire.

    If you need wire in short lengths, check out "Greg's Marine Wire" on e-bay. Good prices, fast cheap shipping, nice guy.

  9. #9
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    The first step would be to draw up a wiring diagram of exactly how you wired the boat, then you can start trouble shooting it. Use a voltmeter to find out where your not getting the 12V's you expected.

    Wiring is about the most problematic area on a boat if you dont' do it correctly, and failures can be tought to locate, especially those lovely intermittent problems.

    I'd suggest blue sea components, tinned marine wire, and ideally solder the terminations to the connectors then heat shrink them.

  10. #10

    Default

    Many thanks. I wonder if the wire is the issue. I tought about this ahead of time though I didn't do any calculations. The best wire I could find was a Polar Wire, it wasn't cheap and I believe I got 10ga though i'd have to check. Still, not marine wire, I coudln't find any of that in town when I looked last year. Not to say it isn't here, I just didn't find it.

    So, can anyone recommend a professional.......or if there is someone here who is confident and willing to back up their work I'm willing to pay. I just have more $$ than time, but don't really have too much of either if you can relate. Best scenario would be I could help the person and then cut down on the time needed and be there to explain what I'd done thus far.

    email if interested- alaskabrett@yahoo.com

    thanks

    Brett

  11. #11
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I don't know of any professionals. I will warn you that it is a labor intensive job, so get an estimate beforehand. If you find a guy that knows his stuff, it'll be worth whatever it costs, and it won't be cheap. Even a relatively simply boat is going to take a solid days labor. Even a guy doing a job on the side for cash would be charging say $25/hr, and I wouldn't wince at paying double that.

    Done properly it should be as good in 20 years as it was the day it was wired. A shoddy job might not even hold up to a single trip, and will likely start going out within a season.

  12. #12

    Default yup

    I hear you Paul. I literally spent most of my 3 day Thanksgiving break on it, rewired everything and it fried first trip out. Hopefully my work won't all have to be completely redone but it's still quite a task. I don't know if I did shoddy work, I think it was amatuer for sure but okay considering that but for sure i must have done something wrong. I guess most of all I need someone who can figuire out what that was. Not as easy as it sounds, I know.

    Brett

  13. #13
    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    I don't know of any professionals. I will warn you that it is a labor intensive job, so get an estimate beforehand. If you find a guy that knows his stuff, it'll be worth whatever it costs, and it won't be cheap. Even a relatively simply boat is going to take a solid days labor. Even a guy doing a job on the side for cash would be charging say $25/hr, and I wouldn't wince at paying double that.

    Done properly it should be as good in 20 years as it was the day it was wired. A shoddy job might not even hold up to a single trip, and will likely start going out within a season.
    Brett bring it to me....it maybe an easy fix if not completely fried. Either way the wire just installed will expedite a new install.

    I do marine electric work and electronic installs on the side. Prefer to do them over the winter but will take on the work anytime. I normally only do work on a refferal basis through other marine repair shops.

    Regular marine shop time is averaging $115 an hour, at my shop I get $50 an hour if all runs are open and I don't need to do any cutting or acrobatic manuvers to do the install. If their is bulkhead cutting or multiple compartments to work through that work runs at $75 an hour. If I come to you(your house/harbor) I get $125 an hour from the time I leave the shop but that is also job based. All labor rates are cheaper over the winter.

    All work is guaranteed.

    My creds....industrial electrician, residential electrician, motor control/robotic controls technician, and last but not least almost 30 years of good old fashion shade tree mechanics with my own equipment....(thanks DAD) I hate dealers.


    I also do trailers.

  14. #14
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    I've done a number of complete Kenai River boats and a couple airboat rewiring jobs where the original wiring was in terrible shape. Pulling out all old wiring and starting over with brand-new marine grade wire, it would take anywhere from 20 to 60 hours of labor to complete the job. That's all soldered connections covered with dual-wall waterproof heat shrink.

    Fixing a system that has new wire already run should be considerably less. However, that depends on troubleshooting time and the discovered cause of your problems.

    Initial wiring of a brand new boat, to include all design, layout, and routing, can run well over 80 hours. The shop rate back when I did this work regularly (about 8-12 years ago) was $65/hr, but it's certainly gone up since then. I've yet to have a boat develop an electrical problem after doing a complete and proper wiring job.

    Brings up a good point, never use the cheap single-wall heat shrink from the grocery store. Only use the adhesive lined dual-wall varieties. You can get bonafide marine grade dual-wall from Radio Shack and NAPA locally. We used to order it in bulk from an electronic vendor outside, just because it was so difficult to find locally and they only carried small quantities.

    One question... did you use ground wiring loops on everything or did you ground to the boat hull? Using the hull for a ground path is a common cause of electrical problems with older boats. Aluminum hull + copper connectors + brass, steel, and/or stainless mounting screws + water (esp salt variety) = electrolysis = loss of ground connections = hard to troubleshoot intermittent problems progressing to electrical system failures.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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    Default Abyc

    I'll also add that it's a good idea to follow the ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) standards for electrical systems when wirring. I attended one of their combination electrical classes and certification courses a few years back. They provide good guidlines and ideas for designing and building systems. You can download the ABYC electrical standards from their website.

  16. #16
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    I helped a friend that had a problem with his wiring on his boat yesterday. We spent 2 hours fixing bad connections and hr fixing his problem. It will take several more hours to clean up the mess.

    The boat was put together by a local boat shop in Anchorage. I can understand a person not knowing what he is doing, but not a boat shop that sells hundred of boats especially when someone could lose thier life.

    If you want to know the correct way to put connectors on here is a web site. http://www.screamandfly.com/home/hul...4/wiring_1.htm

  17. #17

    Default Getting Somewhere

    Once again, thank you for all the help and offers to help, it really is great. I think that I may have found the problem and hopefully after this repair things will work for a while, otherwise I'll be back with more questions

    When I rewired the boat over thanksgiving I wired in a breaker panel from West Marine, obviously this puppy was far from saltwater ready- made for use in the cabin of some boat with more amenities than my skiff. It took all of a 1 day overnight trip in the sound for ever single one these switches to corrode away. (see photo)

    I'm going to buy a new one that is "waterproof" (HA HA). My only complaint is that nowhere in the directions, which sucked in the first place, did it mention that the panel was for indoor use. Sure I probably could (should) have figured it out, but when in a hurry you buy what looks good. Lesson learned- I'm sure there will be many more. A little warning would have been nice.

    the new panel I'm looking at is at the bottom of the catalog page linked here- don't think it was on the shelf when I bought mine but I just called at it is in stock at the moment.
    http://ecatalog.westmarine.com/full....kProdId=223076

    The little 500 GPH bilge pump, wire not to aformentioned panel but to a seperate rule 3 setting (auto, off, manual) switch was also band new and burnt up. Strange. Not sure about that one, may have been defective. I am going to ask West Marine to replace it (so long as I can find the receipt). It worked great for all of 1 day. It has a little hole in the top of the plastic where it burned up. I've seen burnt up bilge pumps before but never seen it burn through the top plastic. BTW this bilge does not have a float switch, instead it turns on every 2min and pumps till the resistance stops so it shouldn't have stuck on in a dry situation (right?).

    I am hoping the wire I re-wired the boat with is tinned, it does have a silver color to it. See final picture.

    So tonight I'll put in a new bilge pump and new switch panel. Fingers crossed that will go without hitches.

    thanks!

    Brett R
    Attached Images Attached Images

  18. #18
    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    If you purchased some Polar wire you will be fine....SEAL YOUR CONNECTIONS!!!!!

  19. #19
    Member Music Man's Avatar
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    "never use the cheap single-wall heat shrink from the grocery store. Only use the adhesive lined dual-wall varieties." Try Frigid North 3309 Spenard Rd 907-561-4633 They have the adhesive lined shrink, wire, relays, fuse blocks and everything electrical you will need.
    When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
    '08 24' HCM Granite HD "River Dog"

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    Member Maast's Avatar
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    I second soldering and then sealing the connections:

    Wiring nuts like you see in a house will fail very quickly in a boat between the corrosive environment and the physical pounding wiring will take in a boat.

    Personally I solder the connection, slather on marine sealant, and then heat shrink the connection, if the connection doesnt allow for a heat shrink (screw-type connections to bilge pumps, etc) then at least use the marine sealant, I think Marita sea and ski sells it (my favorite store)

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