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Old battery cable.

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Jun 2, 2004
5,802
Hunter 37-cutter, '79 41 23' 30"N 82 33' 20"W--------Huron, OH
I have several short sections of battery cable as seen in the photo. Purchased these from West Marine around 1999. Now I am in the process of rewiring with new golf cart batteries, battery fuses, and bus bars. So do I need to improve on the crimps? CAN I improve on the crimps? Or do I cut these off and start over?

Maine Sail and others recommend heat shrink. I have a set of #4 cables, about 15', that I purchased from GenuineDealz about 2006. They have ends just like those in the photo. What is the advantage of heat shrinking those?
 

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Jul 31, 2010
5,370
AquaCat 12.5 17342 Wateree Lake, SC
I have several short sections of battery cable as seen in the photo. Purchased these from West Marine around 1999. Now I am in the process of rewiring with new golf cart batteries, battery fuses, and bus bars. So do I need to improve on the crimps? CAN I improve on the crimps? Or do I cut these off and start over?

Maine Sail and others recommend heat shrink. I have a set of #4 cables, about 15', that I purchased from GenuineDealz about 2006. They have ends just like those in the photo. What is the advantage of heat shrinking those?
Depends. Where do you play golf and what is your handicap?
 
May 27, 2004
3,626
Caliber 40 Long Range Cruiser Portland, Maine
On crimped type connections the insulation usually leaves a gap against the lug thus allowing moisture to get in which leads to corrosion. Apply a piece of shrink wrap around that and you have prolonged its life.
 
Jan 22, 2008
1,483
Hunter 37 C sloop Punta Gorda FL
Get some old batteries to connect.

Seriously, I'd whack them a couple or three times with a hammer powered crimper before heat shrinking.
 
Jan 22, 2008
423
Catalina 30 Mandeville, La.
If you heatshrink, get the kind with the adhesive inside. It will make a water resistant seal whereas regular heatshrink will not and could trap water. There's also clear heatshrink that will allow you to see the connection and any corrosion that could be developing there.
 
Jun 17, 2007
402
MacGregor Mac26S Victoria Tx
Might use some "Liquid Tape" before the heatshrink. Pretty good stuff, really seals well.
 
Sep 15, 2011
45
Catalina 22 Savannah, GA
The way I see it, heat shrink is too cheap and too easy to do with the cables off the boat. When (not if) the connections fail you will wish that you applied the extra layer of protection.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"
 
Sep 28, 2008
922
Canadian Sailcraft CS27 Victoria B.C.
I would add adhesive heat shrink. 4 awg cables are in my opinion much too small for main cables with golf cart batteries though. I would use 1/0 or 2/0.
 

Maine Sail

Moderator
Feb 6, 1998
11,034
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
I would add adhesive heat shrink. 4 awg cables are in my opinion much too small for main cables with golf cart batteries though. I would use 1/0 or 2/0.
I won't even use anything less that 1/0 for battery wiring... The difference in how the engine start is dramatic.. Anything smaller than 1/0 makes fusing to the wires ampacity rating more difficult for starting loads...
 
Jun 2, 2004
5,802
Hunter 37-cutter, '79 41 23' 30"N 82 33' 20"W--------Huron, OH
What kinds of loads do you have that you need such large(re. expensive) cable? I have used #4 cable since I bought the boat in 1998. It came that way and I saw no reason to change. It has always started immediately, the new engine that is. I have nothing else that draws more than a few amps. I'm just asking, not being argumentative. I want it to be right.

Part of the problem are all the very short pieces, less than 12 inches. Can 1/0 bend? The only long run, about 15 feet, is from the golf cart batteries in the bilge to the bus(see pic). A real short piece in the bilge from battery to fuse. Then several short pieces on the panel in the picture.
 

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Maine Sail

Moderator
Feb 6, 1998
11,034
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
What kinds of loads do you have that you need such large(re. expensive) cable? I have used #4 cable since I bought the boat in 1998. It came that way and I saw no reason to change. It has always started immediately, the new engine that is. I have nothing else that draws more than a few amps. I'm just asking, not being argumentative. I want it to be right.

Part of the problem are all the very short pieces, less than 12 inches. Can 1/0 bend? The only long run, about 15 feet, is from the golf cart batteries in the bilge to the bus(see pic). A real short piece in the bilge from battery to fuse. Then several short pieces on the panel in the picture.

I had the opportunity to be at the Landing School, one of the finest boat building schools in the country, on the day the systems instructor was having the students swap out different sized battery cables for starting engines. Hearing the difference in the way the engines started was simply amazing.

Good connections are a must, and can very often be a cause of voltage drop, but with #4 you really should have everything else at 150%. Before the ABYC existed as it does today boat builders did what they wanted with battery cable and "shot from the hip". Today those same builders, namely Catalina and Hunter use HUGE cable in comparison. Catalina today uses 1/0 battery cable on the M-25 Universal.

We also can't forget that there are many, many boaters who regularly start off the house bank and this bank. Others only do it in an emergency, to start the engine off the house bank but the fuse still needs to be sized to protect the wire and so it does not blow. #4 will start the motor but 1/0 or 1GA will start it much more efficiently. When the engines "jump to life" the starter see's less load for a shorter period of time.

House banks now need to be fused within 7" of the battery post under current safety standards. #4 wire is too small to fuse adequately and then connect to a situation where the motor might need to be started off this bank. The biggest fuse you could safely put on it for starting loads, with the wire in an engine space, is 135A and it would likely nuisance blow. Wire current carrying amapcity is de-rated in engine spaces and thus a fuse for #4 could very likely blow trying to start many small diesels. The same fuse on 1/0 could be 240A which is more than enough to start most any small diesel. You can go to 150% of this rating if absolutely needed but I generally try not to. Also many boats today have windlasses and other high draw devices like inverters so the large cable helps with this too.

Catalina finally saw the light on battery cable and our 2005 C-310 shipped from the factory with 1/0 battery wire on a Universal M-25 XPB. The 80's Catalina's shipped with #4 on the same basic engine. 1/0 wire is the spec for it on Catalina's electrical schematic for the C-310 W/ Universal M-25....

If starting new, and replacing the battery cables, I'd spend the money to go to 1/0 or at least 1GA. The difference between it and 4GA noticeable, your starter will be happy, and you'll be able to safely fuse the bank.

Universals requirement for the M-25 is:

4 Ft. Wire = 2GA
5 Ft. Wire = 1GA
7 Ft. Wire = 1/0
9 Ft. Wire = 2/0
11 Ft. Wire = 3/0
14 Ft. Wire = 4/0

Note that under no distance do they allow for #4. This is the wire length along the conductor not the "as the crow flies" distance.

I have seen engine compartment batteries with the switch right next to it that still had more than 6 feet of wire length to the switch and back to the starter & ground. You also can't forget the ground wire length as your starter circuit is a circular circuit from the battery to the starter and back to the battery.

Yanmars requirements are similar to Universal/Westerbeke in that the minimum wire size for short distances is 2GA, except they suggest a max voltage drop of less than 2% to the starter circuit...

If we take an older Yanmar 2QM with about 10 feet of battery cable and a 316A in-rush for the starter motor and 200A nominal starting load the math shows; 10 feet @ 2% or less VD would require 1/0 wire.

Sizing the wire bigger also allows for some degradation of connections or dirty terminals, which happens.
 
Jun 21, 2007
2,090
Hunter Cherubini 36_80-82 San Francisco Bay's "Hurricane Glitch"
Maine Sail:

Viewing that Ed's #4 cables at only a few years old most likely are still in great condition, instead of swapping them out entirely with a brand new 1/0, is it possible to parallel the existing plus and minus cables with say another set of #4? Looking at a chart, 2 X's #4 isn't exactly the same current capacity as one 1/0, but still this idea would allow a lot more current flow than only one run of #4 -- and for Ed would be a lot cheaper than buying 30 or so feet of 1/0? Is this ever done?
 
Jan 22, 2008
7,074
Beneteau 323 Annapolis MD
Maine Sail:

Viewing that Ed's #4 cables at only a few years old most likely are still in great condition, instead of swapping them out entirely with a brand new 1/0, is it possible to parallel the existing plus and minus cables with say another set of #4? Looking at a chart, 2 X's #4 isn't exactly the same current capacity as one 1/0, but still this idea would allow a lot more current flow than only one run of #4 -- and for Ed would be a lot cheaper than buying 30 or so feet of 1/0? Is this ever done?
Could do it, but he'd still have to fuse the circuit as #4 wire. though.
 
Sep 28, 2008
922
Canadian Sailcraft CS27 Victoria B.C.
As Ed's cables are 15' long for each of the positive and negative cables I would just buy the correct length of 1/0 or ideally 2/0 and do it right.
 
Jul 1, 2004
567
Hunter 40 St. Petersburg
Maine, what

do you suppose was the reason for Universal disallowing #4 at, say, 6 inches? I mean, I believe you when you say you witnessed the slow starting, but how come?
 
Jun 2, 2004
5,802
Hunter 37-cutter, '79 41 23' 30"N 82 33' 20"W--------Huron, OH
I'm still here, following this attentively. And this means also replacing the three battery switch wires. Can I get 2/0 wire into that Guest switch? So if I total things up considering use of fuses and the bus bar:
Three battery switch wires - 5+2+2 = 9
Engine ground, start bat ground - 5+2 = 7
Four short fuse/combiner jumpers - 1+1+6"+6" = 3
Alternator to bus - 5
Two cables to bilge batteries - 15+15 = 30
Total is 54 times $6.33(2/0) or $5.24(1/0). And I still have to make them with lugs, heat shrink, and a $300 tool?! :( I just spent $100. on the fuses and bus bar.
 
Feb 26, 2004
20,728
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Ed, B4 your wallet blacks out, consider that many, if not most, Catalinas with M25 series diesel engines were built with #4 wiring from the batteries to the switch to the starter. I upped my alternator output from the alternator to the house bank to #2 wire.

I agree that MS's wiring sizing would truly improve any slow starting issues, but I have trouble justifying the upgraded sizing for the instantaneous start load and the "normal" house bank load rarely exceeds 10 to 20 A anyway. I don't know where that Universal table came from.

I have #4 on my boat and it's been working just fine since 1986, and 1998 for me.
 
Jan 22, 2008
7,074
Beneteau 323 Annapolis MD
So if I total things up :
Three battery switch wires - 5+2+2 = 9
Engine ground, start bat ground - 5+2 = 7
Four short fuse/combiner jumpers - 1+1+6"+6" = 3
Alternator to bus - 5
Two cables to bilge batteries - 15+15 = 30
Total is 54 times $6.33(2/0) or $5.24(1/0).
Instead of spending at least $282.96 right away, why not reuse what cables you can, but make the new ones 1/0? Then as you can, nose around and find some scraps/freebies to replace the cables you have, then make new ones.

I have some 2/0 here, and it can bend into a "U" to the width of my hand, so 1/0 should not be a problem. A friend here says the The Battery Warehouse will press those crimps on for a buck a piece. Even if you use the same size (for #4) fuses, just putting in larger cable will help avoid voltage drop.
 
Jul 1, 1998
2,996
Hunter Legend 35 Poulsbo/Semiahmoo WA
I like Ed - to live through this he's gota have thick skin.

I also like his picture of the wiring circuit on the plywood and his cost analysis in a couple posts up. That's the same thing I do when starting a project.

Ed - you gota 37 footer. If you ever want to add more *stuff* on - what, like microwave, windlass, whatever, you'll start using the capability of those golf carts then you'll be glad you upsized everything.

There were a lot of good comments earlier - about using tinned cables,at least 1/0, with tinned terminals and adhesive heat shrink. Yes, it'll cost a few bucks like you found out to put everything together but it'll really be worth it. Done right you won't ever have to worry about things (in that area) not working properly.

The system will be robust, all your motor loads (starter, water pump, auto pilot, refrigeration, etc.) will love you. Motors have a huge inrush current requirement and the large conductors help give them that. Otherwise they're starved and will wear out and die an earlier death.

Hey, it's winter, you need something to do like a good project.

Keep up the good work and if any of us start giving you a bad time just consider the source.

P.S. Personally, I like 2/0. Basically all my studs are within one bolt size of being the same and I sized all the terminals to fit the largest bolt (I think 3/8" but I'm not sure). This way if something does happen I might be able to shift a cable around to keep things working.

Shop around for cable. West Marine or any other marine store will usually have "remnants" at a good discount and these can be good for the jumpers between the batteries.

And yes, 2/0 does not bend that easy. Maybe make the bend before crimping the last lug on.
 
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