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Re: DC Electric wiring

Category: Maintenance
Date: 18 Feb 2004
Time: 11:20:19
Remote Name:
Remote User: jfh


I rewired about 90% of Sarah (1970 sloop) a few years back. I lucked out by having a friend who worked at a company that had a spool of mil-spec tinned 16-2 wire that they weren't ever gonna use, so my main costs were in terminals and a few "terminal strips". I used fuse-panels-with-lighted-switches rather than circuit breaker panels. If I were doing it over, I might go with a breaker panel ... but frankly, it's not been much of a problem. The best investment I made was in buying a good crimping tool. The other good investment was in buying connectors in the 50pack rather than the 5-pack :-). (Except for the heat-shrink ones... those are too expensive to buy more than you need!) No...actually, that was the third-best investment. The first was the time I spent making drawings at home -- a huge pain, but amply rewarded. The second was getting an energetic and lithe and bright buddy to help me with the job. There's nothing like being wedged in the seat-locker, reaching out over the fuel-tank (mine's under the cockpit), only to discover that you need a philips rather than a slotted screwdriver, and a ring-terminal that's for a #10 instead of a #8 screw. That's when having that other guy around really pays off... I used the heat-shrink connectors (the ones you crimp and then heat so that the plastic cover makes a nice seal with the plastic insulation, etc.) in a few critical places that are prone to wetness (like the bilge pump, the fresh-water circulating pump, the thermostat sensor on the engine) and in a few places where I really didn't ever want to even possible have to deal with them again (up under the back end of the lazarette, ...) For the mast wiring, I got some many-conductor cable and brought it out the bottom of the mast (through a slot cut in the mast base, so that it can be tucked away when the mast is coming in/out!) and to a molex connector. Definitely the right thing to do; it's been there 7 or 8 years with no signs of problems. If I were clever, I'd make up a SECOND connector for the battery side which had the negative side going to one alligator clip, and ALL the positive sides going to another, so I could hook it to the car battery when the mast is on the rack and I want to test everything at the start fo the season. One more thing: if you can do some planning about the wire-routing to your panel it's worth a lot. Otherwise you get a rat's nest. Last but not least: Whitby used a bunch of "cable clamps" to hold bundles of wire together. On Sarah, these were all thin sheet metal with a single screw into the nearest bit of wood/fglas/whatever. The newer kinds are far better. My favorites are the ones with an adhesive pad (so they stay put while you're attaching them to whatever weird location you've chosen), but which take a screw through the center to really hold them in place, and through which you thread a wire-tie. Hint: go ahead and buy the expensive wire-ties that you can release. Someday, when you want to thread a new wire, you'll be glad you did. And don't snug 'em up too much -- they're only there to keep the wires in place, not to restrict the flow of electrons! Best of luck.

Last changed: July 25, 2016