Smart Plug Installation

KZW

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May 17, 2014
827
Catalina 310 #307 Bluewater Bay, FL
Anyone replaced the OEM three prong plug with a Smart Plug?
It looks difficult to access the mounting for the plug in the boat.

My issue is one of the prongs on my shore power plug has clearly been arcing. There is a lot of black soot and the mating plug on the boat shows signs of melting. I'm lucky there wasn't a fire. So, I don't have shore power and the only way to charge the batteries is to run the engine. Since the male plug on the boat must be replaced, it seems a reasonable time to install a Smart Plug
 
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leo310

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Dec 15, 2006
451
Catalina Catlina 310 Campbell River BC
I rep.laced mine 4 years ago, no problem fits in same hole just make sure wires a good before you install if not replace the wires
 

KZW

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May 17, 2014
827
Catalina 310 #307 Bluewater Bay, FL
Thanks. I very much appreciate the fast reply. I will order the retrofit and get it installed.
 
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Mar 20, 2004
1,662
Hunter 356 and 216 Portland, ME
Ditto! I had to trim about 1" off the wires to get to unburned copper....
 

Ward H

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Nov 7, 2011
3,123
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
What is wrong with the retrofit kit for the cord?
I'm assuming you bought new smart plug cords.
I'm curious also.
I already had a new cord and when I saw the smart plug at the Annapolis boat show a few years back. I was walking the show with @jssailem when we stopped at the SP booth. He explained the advantages of it and I bought the set with the male boat side socket and retrofit cord plug.

A little bit ago another member mentioned the rubber boot on their retrofit plug showed cracks after a few years. Pretty sure it wasn't Jesse.
Mine spends the summer on the slip and winter in the cockpit. Still good after 3 years but I keep an eye on it.
 
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Tom J

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Sep 30, 2008
1,990
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
I'm curious also.
I already had a new cord and when I saw the smart plug at the Annapolis boat show a few years back. I was walking the show with @jssailem when we stopped at the SP booth. He explained the advantages of it and I bought the set with the male boat side socket and retrofit cord plug.

A little bit ago another member mentioned the rubber boot on their retrofit plug showed cracks after a few years. Pretty sure it wasn't Jesse.
Mine spends the summer on the slip and winter in the cockpit. Still good after 3 years but I keep an eye on it.
:plus:I also replaced mine with the smart plug. As Cape Martin said in "Captain Ron", HUGE difference. The Smart Plug gives a secure connection, locking into place when the cord is attached, and providing a much better electrical conductor. Installation was straight forward, no issues.
 

Tom J

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Sep 30, 2008
1,990
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
It looks difficult to access the mounting for the plug in the boat.
Access isn't too bad. You just have to crawl all the way to the back of the boat. I mean, aft.
 

KZW

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May 17, 2014
827
Catalina 310 #307 Bluewater Bay, FL
Thanks for the pictures. My existing receptacle doesn't look near that good. Did you need to crawl into the space where the fuel tank and water heater are located or was it all done from outside on the stern?
I note you have a pre-made cable and did not use the adaptor kit for your existing cable.
I need to get it done by the end of this weekend. I get a new right knee next week and won't be walking about the dock for a while.
 
May 7, 2012
969
Hunter e33 Maple Bay, BC
Did you need to crawl into the space where the fuel tank and water heater are located or was it all done from outside on the stern?
I think a quick and easy visual inspection will be helpful.
Hopefully the boat manufacturer (and all previous owners) have left sufficient AC wire length to allow you to complete the job from the outside. Regardless, ensure the shore cable is disconnected, remove the 4 fasteners from the existing Marinco inlet and have a look. Disconnect the old inlet, if necessary cut back the wire until it is clean, connect the new SmartPlug inlet and mount it in the existing hole.
As far as using the pre-made cable or adapter kit, it is your choice. I have done both. I wanted to have a spare at the ready. If for whatever reason you damage or someone walks off with your SmartPlug cable a spare will come in handy. Many marinas (or fellow sailors) have extra Marinco shore cables to loan out. But few if any have the SmartPlug. I have on occasion loaned out my spare and in returned received thank you's and beer in return:).
 
Aug 29, 2016
110
Catalina 2004 310 (Hull #250) BC
Thanks for the pictures. My existing receptacle doesn't look near that good. Did you need to crawl into the space where the fuel tank and water heater are located or was it all done from outside on the stern?
I note you have a pre-made cable and did not use the adaptor kit for your existing cable.
I need to get it done by the end of this weekend. I get a new right knee next week and won't be walking about the dock for a while.
All done from the outside. I replaced the shore cable as the Marinco was probably original gear and those worn out prongs looked suspect. Many boat fires start with arcing from poor fit....just not worth it not to replace the AC cord periodically.
 
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Nov 16, 2012
1,001
Catalina 310, 2000, #31 31 Santa Cruz
Replaced ours and bought new cable. Also made an adapter (male L5-30 to Smart female) so I could use a standard twist lock cord if I forgot my cord, or needed more length. Pretty easy job.
 
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KZW

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May 17, 2014
827
Catalina 310 #307 Bluewater Bay, FL
Smart Plug installed and it works! There was no smoke released on the power-on check. As an engineer I can tell you that electrical and electronic circuits work because of the magic smoke pushed through the wires/circuits with the internal lightning. If you let the magic smoke out or let the lightning out, the system won't work and you cannot put either back into the wires!

Installation was straight forward. I'm not real handy but it took less than an hour on the boat. I did the shore power cable adaptor the evening before. I recommend reading the instructions and viewing on-line videos before proceeding. There is no access to the back of the male plug on the boat, but none is needed. The Smart Plug mounting holes line up with the existing fixture holes. You must save and re-use the existing fixture mounting screws. There was plenty of slack wire. However, the wire wanted to slide back into the hole. I ended up taping it until I was ready to put things back. If the wire slides into the hole, fetching out again will be problematic. Four of the six crimper fittings on the Smart Plugs were a bit crimped. I assume the assembly person at the factory was over zealous with the set screws. They must be fully open to accept the wires. It took some time with a small screw driver, and progressively larger drill bit shanks, to open them back up. The weather strip on the shore power cable adaptor didn't quite seat correctly. The adhesive is aggressive and access is an issue. It will serve, but I will contact the Smart Plug folks for another.

Pictures:
1. Your shore power female plug should not look like this
2. Your boat male plug fixture should not look like this. One of the blades had melted a bit
3. Back of the existing male plug on the boat
4. Crimp screw on existing boat male plug
5. Wires as they were uncrimped. Rather sketchy!
6. Wires cut back an inch and insulation cut off. Note nice shiny wires
7. Installed Smart Plug
1 Shore Power Female Plug.jpg2 Boat Male Plug.jpg3 Back of Boat Male Plug.jpg4 Boat Plug Wire Crimp Screw.jpg5 Wires from Boat Plug.jpg6 Cut Back Wires.jpg7 Smart Plug.jpg
 
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Jun 21, 2004
1,883
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
Good job! You will love it!! One of the best upgrades that I have done; much appreciated every time I connect/disconnect power cord, not to mention much better electrical connection.
 
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May 7, 2012
969
Hunter e33 Maple Bay, BC
Smart Plug installed and it works!
Out of curiosity, have you touched base with your insurance broker to see if there is a discount or refund with your new SmartPlug? If yes what was the result? More for others than myself as I did receive a $75 refund and a $50/year discount on my policy thereafter.
 
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