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Tmacmi

Fix It for a Spirit 28

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At Diarmuid suggestion I am going to try and pull all my questions into one thread. We bought a Spirit 28. Its a Finch Design. Some were made by Glastron, some were made by North American. North American made mine.

It was generally well maintained, but it does need repairs, plus some nice to have modifications. I've posted several of them separately, but I'll pull them together here.

I sailed quite a bit up until about 20 years old. Most of my hours were on a Palmer Johnson Stout Fella Junior on the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay. This boat was purchased as our moving "cottage". Its kept in South Haven Michigan. We sail it on the weekends. Next season we will take long weekends and vacations up to Saugatuck, Grand Haven, etc.

I frankly don't expect to keep this boat much longer than 2 seasons. We already have a case of 2-4' itis.  Next boat needs wider deck space, more control inside the cockpit, better accommodations for another couple. etc. We knew this going in; this boat was intended to get our feet wet as it were.  I do want to keep it maintained and maybe upgrade it a bit.

 

Fall Must Do's

  • Track down blown fuse for 12v "cigarette lighter" connection that runs fridge
  • Re-rig reef out-hauls-lines are probably crossed
  • Drain water tanks and winterize (boat yard will do motor)
  • Tighten stuffing box nut-its dry at rest but dripping about one drop per second at speed

Winter Must Do's

  • Replace Blackwater Tank and Hoses
  • Replace cockpit drain lines
  • Inspect, Clean and oil helm equipment
  • Repair at least two known seacocks
  • Repack stuffing box if necessary
  • Inspect cutless bearing

General Nice to Do's over the next year

  • Replace air vent piping in engine compartment
  • Give a good cleaning to the mold under the accessible parts of the roof liner
  • Replace garden hoses used by previous owner in various drains
  • Replace fresh water hoses
  • Consider relocating halyard winch to cabin top
    • This is under consideration because my wife is new to sailing and gets scared when I'm up on deck raising the main sail and the boat is pitching around.
  • If I don't relocate the halyard, I'm considering installing a clutches on the mast for the three halyards
  • Generally reconsider the rigging. I suspect that the previous owners have done some re-rigging in a manner I don't prefer. I know they re-rigged the main sheet blocks. I suspect they re-rigged the topping lift because its done very awkwardly.
  • Upholstery? Cushions? Curtains?

There is the start.

 

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I am dealing with an electrical problem I need your assistance with. 

There are two white electric wires running to one of those "cigarette lighters" for 12v accessories. In this instance a refrigerating cooler was running off of it. At some point somebody spliced a radio into the two white lines prior to  wires ending in the cigarette lighter

The spicing of the cigarette lighter looks like it was done by some owner in the past. The radio was clearly done by an owner in the recent past.

I have followed the two white wires as far as I can back to the panel and they look like they were installed at the factory.

Last weekend we were sailing. The radio was on and the refrigerator had come loose from the cigarette lighter fixture. We plugged the refrigerator in and suddenly radio when off and the refrigerator wouldn't work. My first instinct is that a fuse in line prior to the radio and then the refrigerator blew. I checked the panel and noting has blown. I have followed the wires as far as I can and have not found some sort of fuse in line.  Near as I guess the next step would be pulling the fuse panel.  I am not really excited about doing that l at this moment, but I will do it if necessary. I thought I'd stop here before I dove into it.

Also, why are the two lines leading to the cigarette lighter both white? Shouldn't one be black and they other white?

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Sigh....old boat electrical systems have mostly suffered from the "improvements" of previous owners.  The white wires feeding the outlet are almost certainly NOT factory, but a PO "improvement" and they are the same color because that is all the PO had in hand. Your diagnosis of a blown in-line fuse is likely correct. You have two choices: (1) trace the wiring completely and figure out what is going on or (2) run a new pair to the panel and pull out the old stuff. 

If (1) get your multimeter and check continuity of both wires between the panel connection and the outlet. You can use the resistance setting on your multimeter. A resistance of a few ohms indicates that you have continuity. An infinite resistance indicates an interruption. If one wire is good and the other is bad, then that lends evidence to an inline fuse. If the bad wire is the +ve, then at least the PO put the fuse in the correct leg. You have no choice but to trace the wires till you find the fuse. 

If (2) then pull out the old crap and run  a new pair (black and red to match the convention of your existing wiring) to the panel. I would run a larger sized wire than the original, just because. Check that the amperage rating of the fuse/breaker on the panel is > than the sum of the cooler + radio nameplate amperages plus any other load on that breaker. I suggest you make sure the circuit is suitable for a minimum 15 amp, just because you might decide to plug a small inverter into the outlet. Also check that the wire size is suitable using a voltage loss table. I would use the 3% max voltage loss table to avoid low voltage at the radio (is this a vhf or just an AM/FM receiver?). When determining the voltage loss, use the amperage of the breaker and the total distance from the panel to the outlet (there and back). 

If you need more info, then I suggest that you post a pic of the panel front and back pointing out the circuit. We can all have a good time comparing your rats nest to our rats nests. That is why I pulled all my wiring out and will be rewiring this winter. My OCD gets a workout when I loom the wires and make neat 90 degree bends and parallel runs. I like wiring. I am a sick man.

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Well I tracked it down. After much disassembly, tugging and tracking I discovered that the lines go directly to the battery.  Here's the photo. Its not perfectly clear because of the spaghetti of wires, but you will see a black wire with a fuse casing coming off the positive terminal which is on your left. It is then connected to a short red wire, then to a bundle of poorly wrapped electrical tape and on to the red wire.(it looks like the red wire is also attached to the terminal there but its not) 

The other white wire just comes off the negative. The fuse says 32V, 15 amps.

I'm open to ideas, but my first reaction is to re-wire the entire line property. Take off the radio (I'll replace it with something wireless) and then just re-install the cigarette lighter connection. I may move it though.

Right now it just dangles from the open zipper of the headliner by the shelf . I thought about creating a mount, cutting a circle in the headliner and putting the cigarette lighter there. Alternatively I may cut a whole in the front of the bench seat and put it there.  One thing I noticed is that it gets pretty hot while the fridge is plugged in. For instance it feels hot enough that I would be uncomfortable leaving it unplugged while unattended.

Other ideas?

 

IMG-2046 (2).jpg

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You can get trolling motor connectors, which are somewhat like a cigarette lighter connector, but designed for higher current.  It won't get so hot.  There are a number of mounting options.

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Fridge wire gets hot because it's to small to run the load. All those should be reworked and probably replaced.

Go online check out DC boat wiring books, Blue Seas electrical website, west Marine catalog has some diagrams. You should have a battery switch then fuse block for the positive wires (red). Seperated terminal strip for the grounds (now yellow because black is also used for 110/240ac hot)

Things like running lights, bilge pumps and vhf radios work a lot better when properly wired.

 

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You seem to have other circuits connected directly to the battery rather than to the breaker panel.  The purpose of the circuit fuse or breaker is to protect the circuit wire from an overcurrent situation (either from overloading, high resistance caused by a poor connection or a short circuit) that will cause the wire to get hot and possibly cause a fire. Circuits directly connected to the battery terminals don't enjoy this protection.  You need to, as a minimum, add an aux panel for the extra circuits. Note that the bilge pump(s) and gas sniffer circuits should be on a separate breaker panel that cannot be shut off with the panel switch. You might also need to add positive and negative bus bars with high current fuses if these are missing from your installation.  A good start is to get  Charlie Wing's book, study the articles on Marine How To, buy a proper terminal crimper (see Marine How To for discussion) and wire stripper and get a bit of coaching until you have learned the essentials. You really must correct this. Good luck. 

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Phtt offers good advice on all points. Old boats were often wired minimally at the factory -- then decades of cumulative owner 'upgrades' plus corosion plus motion plus the proliferation of systems has left these older boats fire hazards. The good news is DC wiring is pretty straightforward, and the voltages won't outright kill you if you grab something hot. Tradeoff is the amperages and voltage drops are quite large and must be accounted for. No running lamp cord 20' to that power windlass!

We intend to completely strip out and rationalize the electrical on our 1972 Albin. Will probably add a circuit breaker/switch bank like this for most of our loads:

s-l500.jpg

Ours is a simple boat without refrigeration or watermakers or windlass, and we are replacing all lighting with low-draw LEDs. If you plan heavier loads, it is good to plan ahead and install a larger main panel, or leave spaces for subpanels.  This way, we can run one pair of fat cables from batteries to breaker box, then dedicate one branch to each breaker: 'Forepeak lighting and power jacks'; 'Nav station: comms and lighting'; 'Washdown pump'. Each branch supply cable then has to be large enuf to meet expected amperage draws -- and crucially, larger than its associated fuse/circuit breaker. Especially when wire runs are long or loads may be operated continuously. As someone whose (offgrid) house features both 120/240 VAC and 24VDC, it's startling how different the wire gauges are. 700# cabinet saw runs quite merrily on 10ga Romex, while the battery banks are fitted with doubled-up 2/0 welding cable on a mere 36" run to inverters.

Best advice I ever got on wiring plans is this: Fuses and circuit breakers are not there to protect your devices. They exist to keep the wires from melting. Imagine a dead short anywhere in your circuit -- will the wire burn before the breaker kicks? If so, you need bigger wire and/or a smaller fuse protecting that circuit.

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This looks like a extremely simple layout that could be completely rewired for minimal amount.  Your best bet is to get a few books and maybe find someone local who knows what they are doing to be bribed with beer etc to help you out.  Anchor and Blue sea brands have pretty good basic engineering in there product manauls and they give them away most of the time at larger chandleries.  Since things are pretty simple there is no reason you can't stick to ABYC code on the instal.

 

On something like this you need to be able to do it all on paper before you touch anything on the boat. Start with a sketch of the existing, work till you get something refined that is up to code and covers what you want on the boat.  You will probably get lots of good feedback here.  You should be able to have a one line dwg with all materials and components. Try checking out Nigel Calders book Boat owners Electrical and mechanical from the library.

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Thanks for all the feedback. It has both a DC fuse panel and a Shore Power panel and a second battery. I'll start taking more photos and digging into what I have to start with. There is a quite a lot of wires in the harness for what should be a simple boat. I'll report back on what those direct lines to the battery are.

From what I can tell the PO additions are:

  • VHF radio
  • Garmin Nav Center in -I may well get rid of this. Its not currently reading position via GPS and its not as helpful as it could be, being located in the cabin. So far, the Navionics App has worked just fine
  • Pleasure radio. Right now I'm thinking that goes
  • Aforementioned Cigarette lighter-I'll rewire something like that
  • Of course there is that random switch that I will need to figure out.

 

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