• Mobile App For Android Now Online!

    Download it here. The app is searchable in the Google Play Store under Sailboat Owners.

    Sorry iPhone/iPad users, we are still waiting on Apple. :(

    Click the X in the upper right corner to make this go away

Excessive wiring

MitchM

.
Jan 20, 2005
854
Nauticat 321 pilothouse 32 Erie PA
my favorite example of a boat not 'wired to engineered standards' was the guy next to me who thought he could run his 12v coffee maker out of a '12v' socket he rigged off his dashboard. when his dashboard started smoking that was the end of his wiring experiment. (as for me, i prefer ABYC.)
 
Jan 4, 2006
2,929
Hunter 310 West Vancouver, B.C.
So, tell me, is anal-retentive hyphenated?
Aw gawd, called to task :angry:

Seriously, though, no one said unknown wires, of unknown quality, with unknown splices, in unknown locations.
@Brian D was the first to say it:
I have too many wires that have been added over the years by PO and I have no idea where they go or what they do.
I assure you, from what I have seen on other boats, if they were added by PO's and you don't know what they do, neither did they. If they are hidden within walls, anything goes and all bets are off.


But even so, you have failed to articulate any harm that may come from these. What is it?
Wires of unknown quality speak for themselves as far as hazards go i.e. household solid wire . Sloppy housekeeping is the last thing you want with electrical wiring 12V or 120V. I've seen too much SH!T on other boats over the last 22 years in my marina that scares the hell out of me: wires with a pigtail connection which is then taped over (very common), wires laying in the bilge, undersized wires, unfused wires, open ended wires which may become hot from a switch and short. If you haven't seen what some other people do to their boats, you need to get out more often. You'll regret it.



You mean like you? And me, and everyone else on here?
Many PO's are in a class of their own. They are nothing like what you'll find in the serious members of this site who read and are willing to learn. The electrical horror stories I've seen on some boats are right out of a Stephen King novel. Electrical fires in my marina are an annual source of entertainment. MaineSail's articles in "Hall of Fail" attests to some of the the crap I've seen on other boats over the years:


If it's electrical, respect it. The unknown from some PO's wiring attempts is just not acceptable if you've got a wife and kids sleeping on board.
FIRE ON ANCHORED BOAT WHILE FAMILY SLEEPS. Even the words are pretty scary.


No proof of it, but I would suspect most boat damage to boats in marinas is due to electrical fires. I've only seen one boat sinking in our marina but nary a summer month goes by in the Vancouver area without a good boat fire. Most fires seem to be at fuelling docks with powerboats. They hit the starter after re-fuelling and instantly it goes up like a sky rocket. No bilge blower but you know only an electrical spark will light up a boat that fast.

As someone here once said "your boat, your choice". Did I get that right @Stu Jackson ?
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,515
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
my favorite example of a boat not 'wired to engineered standards' was the guy next to me who thought he could run his 12v coffee maker out of a '12v' socket he rigged off his dashboard. when his dashboard started smoking that was the end of his wiring experiment. (as for me, i prefer ABYC.)
Dashboard on his car? Not sure what you mean here.

One big disappointment to me, and a shame for the standards organizations, is that we have never had, to my knowledge, a good standard for low voltage DC power. Maybe there is and I don't know it? But all I see on 12V "appliances" is cigarette light plugs. That system sucks.

I'd like to see something like a scale-down NMEA 120V plug and socket arrangement.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,515
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
@Ralph Johnstone , good reply, thanks, you're a good sport. Note I did't say I'd use crappy wiring, or even leave dangerous or stupid stuff in place. I'm only saying if there are extra wires running from place to place, there's no harm in leaving them, and you might be glad you did some day.
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,134
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
FIRE ON ANCHORED BOAT WHILE FAMILY SLEEPS. Even the words are pretty scary.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

As someone here once said "your boat, your choice". Did I get that right @Stu Jackson ?
Yes, Ralph, you did! :)

Just a another reminder, check and remove trailer plugs (or Gummy Bears as Ken Kloeber call 'em] from your engine wiring harnesses between the engine and the cockpit panel.
These are often built-in OEM FIRES waiting to happen.
Don't say we didn't warn ya - for like the zagillionth time. :beer:
 
  • Like
Likes: FastOlson
Apr 8, 2010
1,350
Ericson Yachts Olson 34 Portland OR
I disagree. He didn't even define what "XX" years means.

This statement is so vague as to be meaningless. What does "to an engineered standard" even mean? (I'm an electrical engineer and that's the first time I've heard that expression.) And how does something "not needed' make it a liability? Logically nonsense.

Here's an example. My boat is 24 years old. (Is that "XX years old?") There are some wires abandoned and taped off behind the panel that go to the area behind the engine controls and outside VHF station where they are also taped off. Those wires came with the boat, from the factory. You're saying they should be ripped out because they are some kind of liability?

I never heard such poppycock from non-experts in my life.
Given that higher end boat builders were using Ancor wire by the late 80's, three decades is probably a good sign post for checking old stock wire runs. The often larger problem is poor mods by prior owners.

As for poppycock, well, consider that we are all just stating opinions. If this is your highest level of poppycock perception in your entire lifetime, you have perhaps led a sheltered ('net) life... :)

Your boat, your rules; but also keep your extinguishers charged and inspected. :(
 
Oct 6, 2007
741
Hunter H30c 1982 Chicago IL
I traced wires in Dalliance at one point. Some were labeled. Some not. Pulled out a number of old abandoned wires and tried to neaten up behind the electrical panel a bit. It still looks like a rats nest, but it’s a smaller and slightly more organized rat’s nest now. I imagine a complete re-wiring project at some point, but it’s low on the priority list because to date there haven’t really been any problems that need to be addressed.
 

leo310

.
Dec 15, 2006
283
Catalina Catlina 310 Campbell River BC
Old abandoned wires are ok only if they are a size that you would want to reuse, remember open ends will corrode over time.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,515
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Your boat, your rules; but also keep your extinguishers charged and inspected. :(
Yea, I'll be on guard for when those unused wires spontaneously burst into flames.

That's such an intellectual cop-out, and a logical fallacy, in case you aren't aware, to argue that if you don't heed one's advice your boat could burn; " argumentum in terrorem," i.e., appeal to fear. You haven't stated anything to substantiate that the idea of leaving existing, unused wire in place is likely to burst in to flames, or that such wire, judged sound and serviceable, is likely to do so; any more than brand new wire.
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,611
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
Fire, of course. I've had two start over the years, both caught in the incipient stage (just smoke in one case, flames confined to the hardware in the other).
  • Fan. Old age, started shooting small flames. Hard to localize the smell, because it was still blowing! But not old enough to be considered decrepit (they still make the same model).
  • PO stuck a 3rd wire into an existing, already occupied spade conector--just strip and stuff--and then stuffed the hole mess under a carpet (Front Runner) and glued it down. It was in my daughter's cabin, she smelled it, and I knew where the wire runs might be and saw the smoke before it burned the carpet.
Both were off shore and got out blood pumping. NEITHER would have been spotted by the sort of wire inventory suggested here.

The moral of the story. I don't know. The first was random and probably would not have progressed. The second was practically sabotage!
 
Apr 5, 2009
1,189
Catalina '88 C30 tr/bs Oak Harbor, WA
I recently reconnected all of the wires on my panel because I found this.
arcing.jpg
I also found that the cable from the shore power socket to the panel was only 12-3. In addition to that, the wires all looked like very poor origami with knots and twists and turns. I ended up labeling everything, disconnecting every wire, adding all new connectors with the crimp tool from Maine Sail's store and reattaching all wires with smooth paths and wire ties to keep it all organized. I also upsized the AC cable to the panel with tinned Anchor 10-3 cable. Many of the old crimps were loose.
I also found that the charger was directly connected to the AC with no breaker. Back in the 80's and before, wiring was not one of the strong points of Catalina construction.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,515
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
The wiring on my 1984 Catalina 36 was pretty crappy. Not tined wired, some loose crimp connectors, and there were several burns on the original fuse panel.
 

DArcy

.
Feb 11, 2017
767
Islander Freeport 36 Ottawa
And "XX" is how many years? Without a number that statement is meaningless, and more often false than true.
Well, I'd say around 40, maybe 45 years. There really were no standards back then, now at least we have ABYC. I had an insurance inspection done about 10 years ago and the inspector called out my AC wiring. The factory installed AC wiring on my 1974 C&C 27 was 2 conductor household Romex solid core, the kind with the paper insulation. I never used the AC shore power system because I knew it was not safe, unused so perfectly safe. The insurance company wanted it removed or replace so I decided to replace it since that was about half the work of replacing. I used proper tinned, stranded marine wire, replaced the breakers, receptacles and installed a new panel.
My "new" boat has an incredible mess or wires that does need to be cleaned up. @jviss you may just need to experience truly bad wiring to appreciate how unsafe it can be.
Wiring Rats Nest.jpg
 
Oct 10, 2009
957
Catalina 27 Lake Monroe
I'm in a similar position. Right now everything works but it's quite messy and there are also some wires no longer active that were part of some earlier project. My plan is to first diagram everything there, then remove what is not hooked up, address any potential dangers and label/organize the lot of it. One thing that really bothers me is that I don't know at this point whether the solar array is charging one or both batteries, whether there is any isolator, etc. It will take a whole weekend to sort it out.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,515
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
@DArcy Fortunately I've had the good fortune of not ever having owned such a mess of a boat. I feel for you. I think you should stay off of it until you sort that out. I hope you don't have an insurance claim until then, now that you've documented its condition online.
 

DArcy

.
Feb 11, 2017
767
Islander Freeport 36 Ottawa
The fuel line needs to be replaced, but just so it can be re-routed; it is in good shape. The black loop underneath is the insulation on the line from compressor to fridge.
The rats nest of wires is mostly the autopilot wires. It looks like whoever installed it didn't want to cut the wires so left them full length. The PO said the autopilot was flakey, I haven't used it yet. I'm wondering if this mess of wires could have something to do with it.
 
Oct 24, 2010
2,233
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
I had a boat once that I knew needed some help when I bought her. I opened the engine cover and noticed wire nuts. When I pointed them out to the owner he said "Don't worry about wiring. My brother is an electrician and he does stuff right." So I knew I was in for some wiring corrections. I removed all the AC (the brother had added shore power including rusting steel outlet boxes and romax.) For the DC I didn't find a single power wire over 18 inches without multiple splices. When I say splices, that was insulation scraped away and wires twisted together and taped (or in some cases not taped). It amazed me there had been no fire. It took considerable time, but when I was finished everything worked and I could sleep soundly on her.

If you know what you have, you should also sleep better. And when you sell her, you should continue to be able to sleep.
Ken
 
  • Like
Likes: FastOlson