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Electrical Panel Issues

Discussion in 'Newport' started by MitchK, Sep 30, 2017. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. MitchK

    MitchK

    Joined Sep 22, 2017
    13 posts, 2 likes
    Capital Yachts Newport 28
    US Burbank, Wa Burbank, WA
    Continuing with the ongoing sage of our new N28-2, another issues has come to light. Fortunately, I know exactly what to do about this one. When we did the sea trial of the boat, there were a couple of relatively minor electrical issues. One, some of the panel switches were loose and did not work. Second, it was obvious a couple of the switches were actually broken. These are the original plastic toggle switches that came with the boat, as has been determined by viewing a few pictures of the electrical panel I have been able to find on the net. Anyway, yesterday, I unscrewed the panel from the bulkhead, and gently pulled it out. What I saw was quite odd. All but about two or three of the 12 switches were broken, with the back case pulled from the front mounting, and some of the front mounts were broken. There were four that had at least one wire broken off of the back of the switch. These breaks were on the load side of the switch, so at least there were not any live wires floating around behind the panel. Even before I had discovered all of the damaged switches, I had decided that I was going to replace all of the switches with metal toggle switches with rubber covers. So having to replace the broken switches were already in the plans. What alarmed me was the way the panel is fused. There is the one 20amp push button circuit breaker that feeds all twelve switches. That means that any one switch and associated wiring could carry the full 20 amps of current in the event of a short. Now pretty much all of the wiring going into the panel was 16ga at best with a number being only 18ga. Needless to say, this issue will be rectified during the panel rebuild. I am going to add panel mount fuse holders for each toggle switch, with the appropriately sized fuse for the wiring attached to each switch. That way, I do not have to worry about a small wire carrying way too much current and causing an electrical fire. The rest of the wiring in the panel besides being messy, appears to be in good condition. Anyway, I figured you guys might be interested in the panel condition and planned rebuild.
    Mitch
     


  2. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    3,148 posts, 589 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Mitch. Always good to hear a fellow boater with a boat he/she likes discovering an issue and developing a plan to attack the challenge. Your horror has been shared by many on the site from time to time as we discover how boats were built or serviced in times gone by.
    Best of luck in your refit. Since you are relatively new to this forum I want to welcome you and encourage you to add images of your discoveries and solutions.

    As an example, this is what I discovered when I opened the battery box for the first time (and it all was working when I got the boat).
    IMG_1059.JPG
     


  3. jviss

    jviss

    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    1,811 posts, 102 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westborough Westport, MA
    Hi Mitch,

    I found a similar, perhaps not quite as bad situation, when I bought my Catalina 36, 17 years ago. This one had a panel with a twist-to-remove fuse socket and a toggle switch for each circuit, and daisy-chained, push-terminal wiring on the back. Nearly all of the switches had heat damage. I still have the panel if anyone wants it!

    I replaced it all with a set of circuit-breaker panels from Blue Sea Systems. BSS is very good stuff; not perfect, but very good, albeit "pricey."

    I like would encourage you to replace your panel with a circuit breaker panel, and proper power distribution. Replacing your faulty switches may seem to be the correct, expeditious path, but in the long run, not wise.

    A bad electrical installation is a fire waiting to happen. A fire on a boat is the worst thing that can happen, even worse than flooding.

    I am happy to help, as, I am sure, are many knowledgable correspondents here.

    Regards,

    jv
     


  4. jviss

    jviss

    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    1,811 posts, 102 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westborough Westport, MA
  5. MitchK

    MitchK

    Joined Sep 22, 2017
    13 posts, 2 likes
    Capital Yachts Newport 28
    US Burbank, Wa Burbank, WA
    All,
    Thanks for the replies.

    jssailem, those batteries are down right ugly, not to mention the wiring.
    On my last sailboat, I had to do a complete rewire as it had so many issues, that it was easier to start over than to try and repair it, so I have some experience in doing this sort of repair.

    jviss, that is a nice looking panel. I would like to eventually go to something like that, but its not in the cards at the present time. I will be installing the individual fuses into the existing panel. Maybe not the best, but it will be safe. I do not use any push on connectors on my boat (or anywhere else that needs reliability). The connections to the switches and fuse holders will all be soldered, then marine (with the glue sealant) heat shrink will be put over every connection. When I do use crimp connectors, I use the ones with the heat shrink cover so that the connection is air and water tight. I will use a common header for the main power buss for the panel. Again, all soldered, crimped, sealed, and safe. Should get me back to sailing while I figure out the rest of the electrical and other systems.
    Again, thanks for the replies
    Mitch
     


    jssailem likes this.
  6. jviss

    jviss

    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    1,811 posts, 102 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westborough Westport, MA
    Excellent!
     


  7. MitchK

    MitchK

    Joined Sep 22, 2017
    13 posts, 2 likes
    Capital Yachts Newport 28
    US Burbank, Wa Burbank, WA
    Well, I am almost finished with the rebuild of the electrical panel. I drilled the existing panel and installed panel mount fuses for each of the circuits. Turned out pretty good. I had to order a replacement indicator light for the panel, but I will be able to install the panel, the install the light when it comes in. I plan on starting the re-installation today. I figure it will take a couple of days to sort out which item are powered by which wires. As soon as I get enough posts, I'll post some pictures.
     


  8. MitchK

    MitchK

    Joined Sep 22, 2017
    13 posts, 2 likes
    Capital Yachts Newport 28
    US Burbank, Wa Burbank, WA
    DSCI1230a.jpg DSCI1237a.jpg DSCI1238a.jpg Well, I have the required 10 posts now. Lets see if I can post some pictures of the electrical panel.
     


  9. jviss

    jviss

    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    1,811 posts, 102 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westborough Westport, MA
  10. MitchK

    MitchK

    Joined Sep 22, 2017
    13 posts, 2 likes
    Capital Yachts Newport 28
    US Burbank, Wa Burbank, WA
    Thanks, I appreciate the feedback. I wanted to use the rubber toggle boots that came with the switches. Unfortunately, there is not enough room between the switches to install them. I may make up a jig where I can turn down the outer rim so that I have the clearances needed. But that is a later project. First get it functional, then worry about upgrading.
     



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