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Thread: Building a new instrument panel...

  1. #1

    Default Building a new instrument panel...

    So I`m embarking on a re-wire of an entire 70`s cuddy offshore boat. I have alot of ideas for lighting, switching, radios, guages, and other electronics. This is my first big boat project even though the boat isn`t big...but it does need everything inside revamped. I could tell it was time to do something when on the first trip I turned on the anchor light and it blew 3 other fuses, and when I wanted nav lights I`d have to reach over the side and punch the `glass beside the lamp...not too reassuring!

    What I would like to know from all of you is where do you shop the most online. I know most things are available here but I intend to order most as it`s far less expensive in some respects. So if you have a link or 2 or 3 let me see `em.

    The one thing I`m stumped on is the instrument panel bezel...the switches I want to run are square and the design calls for a total of 14 switches. I`m good but not good enough to line up 5 rows without having a couple look out of place. Anyone know anyone that could stamp a piece of aluminum for the switch bezel??

    Thanks in advance for any input.

    A couple pics just `cause it`s the law of forums.

    1st one is running past Bear Glacier
    2nd is during interior reconstruction
    3rd is the return from a 3 day trip out of Seward

  2. #2
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    First, go with blue sea for all componets, don't cheap out on electricals that go in the salt. They make multi switch assemblies, no need to get lots of single switches. The asseblies are either fused or with breakers. The switches are already pre-wired, so you just land a + lead, and then wire up whatever you are powering. Then put in a block for grounds.

    Also go with marine grade wiring and terminals. I got mine from a place off of e-bay, and saved a bundle on the 4/0 I used to run from the engine to the batteries. Even before copper prices jumped I spent $500 just for the cable from the engine to the batteries. On the up side, I just won't have to worry about the battery power going to heating up undersize wires vs. starting the engine.

    I forgot the name of the place that I ordered my stuff through, but as I recall they are in Washington, and has much better prices than local sources.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Wire and connectors

    I agree with Paul about the Blue sea products they seem to be good. Anchor brand wire is good also. Try to stick to tinned copper ,this is far more resistant to corrosion. A proper set of crimpers for the connectors is money well spent IMO. Use heat shrink instead of tape over any splices you have to make. I also like breakers over fuses they are a bit more money but they can be reset if they blow.
    I don't know if west marine has the best prices, but they do have a great selection and some good advice.
    Good luck

    PS get rid of that osb board under helm seat and replace it with good plywood

  4. #4
    Member akrstabout's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Polar Wire

    on the frontage road of the new seward highway north of dimond. That is where I bought most of my stuff. Good quality stuff and they make wire for companies all over the world. Plus I bought heat shrink connectors from them, couple hundred bucks to do a 22' boat. Never had a problem yet. All wire I used was tinned I believe, atleast on the very important stuff. Heat shrink takes good care of the wire anyway. Between Polar Wire and West Marine, I like to be able to look things before I buy. Get a wire chart also, tells you what gauge you need based on draw and lenght of run you will make for whatever gadget. Then any light you put in the get LED, well worth the money. Don't forget 12v power points!

  5. #5

    Smile That's a cool boat!!!

    About that seat; I bought a swival/slide combo from Overton's. It's Aluminum, not those little black steal things at Sportsmans, this cost's about a hundred bucks. I agree about changing the wood, maybe aluminum for saving weight. Maybe some kind of top with a dinghy rack built in, possible short swim-step on the transom to mount that cooler. When I see a cool boat I immediately start dreaming of stuff to accessorize it with. As soon as my brother-in-law got a new boat last summer I immediately began badgering him about what his next accessory would be, drives him nuts! Your boat looks awesome, looks like you can go anywhere with it, post more pics!

  6. #6


    Thanks for the comments so far guys.

    I will be using tinned wire and soldering connections as that is my schoolin background. I`ll go look at West Marine for some things...heck they have a big catalog so might as well browse there.

    As for those seat boxes...they were a first and fast attempt at getting the seating done for a test weekend...kind of foul and heavy but worked better than expected. The new seats are in storage and will be revamped as well.

    As for lighting, there will be LEDs in the seat storage, up under the rails, and a couple work lamps facing the deck and the water behind the outdrive. Some will be red to keep it easy on the eyes out back but the front storage will be blue so you can actully see stuff jammed in there.

    A top will go on this least a half top. We had planned on a radar arch but the boat is pretty heavy as is and will try my best to lighten things up.

    I appreciate all of the comments and look forward to more.

    I will post some pics along the way so stay tuned.

    Here`s a couple more pics as requested.

    1st one is during the flooring/doghouse/gunnal padding/rear deck rehab
    2nd is just a misc. running shot
    3rd is another in Seward harbor with much fuel
    4th is why we go

  7. #7

    Thumbs up Star Marine

    Never had a problem with them. Fast shipping.
    We never really grow up, we only learn
    how to act in public

  8. #8


    Excellent link...thank you.

  9. #9

    Default Free Reference Manual

    ABYC writes the standards for boatbuilders and insurance companies. USCG too.

    Publication E-11 is the standard manual to AC and DC systems on boats built in America.

    Wire colors, voltage drops, avoiding ground loops, stray current, ect

    There are also certain CG requirements, like what instruments and lights must be powered by the primary electrical system and what can be powered by a separate secondary system.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Default great post Ishmael

    Thanks for that post - good info.

  11. #11



  12. #12


    Looks like this will be the switch panel...well 2 of of them anyway.

  13. #13

    Question Where?

    Did you find it?
    We never really grow up, we only learn
    how to act in public

  14. #14


    They are available through West`s Blue Sea product and they are the AK dealer.


    The fuse box will be this one...

    This should be fairly simple when I get the engine tilt, horn, courtesy light, and a couple switches other off of the dash as they just clutter it up. Just waiting for the right time to pull it into the shop.

    BTW, I`m looking for a trailer as well...needs to be able to fit this 19'er with double axles and handle at least 4,000#s.

  15. #15
    Member Music Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006


    You might try frigid north for wire & accessories. I think I got that same fuse block from them here in town.
    When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
    '08 24' HCM Granite HD "River Dog"

  16. #16

    Default Polar Wire for Switch Panel

    I picked up that examct same switch panel (or one very similar) from Polar Wire, they actually ordered it for me but said they were going to order at least one extra (this was this past summer). Ordering was easy and quick and they were a better deal than West Marine.

  17. #17


    What is the name brand of this panel? The switch panel posted by AK2AZ.
    Last edited by Jonsboat; 01-19-2009 at 04:35. Reason: Panel identification

  18. #18


    Quote Originally Posted by Bayrunner View Post
    I picked up that examct same switch panel (or one very similar) from Polar Wire, they actually ordered it for me but said they were going to order at least one extra (this was this past summer). Ordering was easy and quick and they were a better deal than West Marine.
    bayrunner..can you tell us what you paid for that panel? 18 footer is going to get an electrical cleanup job, too, and that looks like it will fit the that i know what i want and what works!..thanks larry

    thanks AK2 for the heads up!

  19. #19


    Moderators...can this be moved to boat mods, refurbish???

    Just getting underway and will be posting to this thread regularly.


  20. #20


    So my partner and I are a couple of sad Pandas...he pulled the head off for a new head gasket and found a toasted valve and another ready to die. We`ll get it over to ADB and get it rebuilt $$$. The bottom end looks good w/no ridge or damage...super clean actually.

    Tonight we`ll strip the interior again and start sorting out the wiring that is distributed from a bracket on the back of the engine about a world-class bad idea for electronic placement.

    We`ll get some pictures of the distressed version of the boat posted tomorrow.

    Things we will need for spares if anyone has some of this stuff for a Volvo 145A 4-cylinder.


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