Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hanging out

So there I was, lying butt deep in an anchor locker with only my legs below the knee out on the v-berth. Scattered around were the various tools of the spark chaser's trade; side cutters, wire strippers, crimping tool, drills, screwdrivers, splices and connectors. Hanging from under the foredeck was the freshly installed windlass motor, a task that took days longer than anticipated. Unanticipated was the need to hack away part of the under-deck to make the motor drive fit, the need to fill multiple holes left over from the old windless, and the need to repair other holes just left over from who knows when for who knows why. That work required suiting up in the full tyvek rig, hood, gloves, mask, glasses; then grinding fiberglass, laying new glass, filling, smoothing, rough sanding (it is the inside of an anchor locker after all) and painting. Stuff normally found in the glass slinging manual, not the spark chaser's guide to happiness.

With the windlass motor finally hanging in place, the tyvek suit could be laid aside. Making sense of the typically amateurish wiring diagram that is the marine industry's idea of information, and getting the wiring straight became the next task. Required in that wiring mass was a 5 amp fuse to protect the control circuit. (The motor / windlass itself runs on a 150 amp circuit carried by #2 wire; stuff that is about ½ inch in diameter. Fun to work with lying in a tiny anchor locker and working over your head.)

And, right then, the strangest thought crosses my mind, “Why is the fuse holder and its wiring black?”

Every fuse I have ever installed goes in the hot side of a DC circuit. The hot side is red, red wire, red rubber boots on the connection Black is ground. (Or yellow if one is working on a boat.) Fuse holders and the wiring should be red.

Stupid thing to think about stuffed in an anchor locker wiring up a windlass. Then I thought, “Well, if one doesn't know that a fuse is in the hot side of the circuit, regardless of what color it is, one probably shouldn't be in an anchor locker wiring up a windlass in the first place.”

Two stupid thoughts in less than a minute. Not even close to a record for me, but I'm going to claim that the heat may play a part in sparking such fruitless musing. By 0900 temps in the areas we are working hover in the mid 90s. Stuffed in small holes or working on a boat in the sun will see triple digits for most of the working day. It is enough to fuzz up anyone's thinking.

I puzzled over such silliness for a few more moments, then got back to chasing sparks. There are a lot of things needing wired in this boat. There are 1200 amp hours of house batteries, two start batteries, dual shore power plugs, a 4000 watt inverter / charging system, bow thruster, water heater, five pumps, two entertainment systems (one audio, one TV), two engine harnesses, lights (salon, v-berth, cockpit, helm, navigation, head, spot, and underwater), trim tabs, autopilot, and navigation systems. (I still call them “avionics”, which amuses Boss New.) There is a big cooling fan in the locker holding the inverter so said inverter doesn't cook itself to death turning DC into AC, a few connections to make the stove work, and the head uses electricity to flush.

There is no real good idea how long this is going to take. Wiring up a new boat with new stuff is one thing, and I am sure it chews up months of the build time. Wiring up an old boat with new stuff is another thing. For various reasons, wiring runs for the old stuff will not work for the new stuff, assuming they exist at all. Bow thruster, inverter / charger, and underwater lights are new systems never before seen on this boat. Getting all of this wire to where it needs to go often means installing new conduit runs, some of which need to be glassed in place. Don't dump the tyvek suit just yet. (For the initiated...bow thruster and inverter will require roughly 140 feet of 4/0 wire be run somewhere. Yee Haw!) All things considered, my guess is wiring up an old boat like this takes about half again as long as it would take in a new boat.

All listed out like that it gets a bit overwhelming. (One of the reasons I don't like lists.) But each day is just another day's work. It is the kind of work that (usually) makes a day go by at a good pace. I rarely find myself wondering if the day is ever going to end though, sometimes, looking back on a day that is just ending it feels like it went on forever. The heat again.

It would be a lot more fun to write about anchoring in the Islands or exploring parts of the Keys we haven't seen yet. But that isn't what we are doing right now, Deb is turning Kintala into a very well-founded boat.

And I hang out in anchor lockers.


hypathia hunter said...

OK... so don't leave us hanging... on our boat the brown can also be a ground which makes little sense since it looks black after a while and you didn't say anything about the switch wire. Also the wires marked on our boat allow for a switch in the cockpit and one at the anchor cubbie... so how did it wire? Inquiring minds and weekend wiring experts need to know.

TJ said...

Well Hyp...the original spec for the windlass did not include a remote switch at the helm. That got added well into the process of trying to make the new windlass fit and work with the bow pulpit on the boat. Fortunately the wiring wasn't started yet, so adding the remote switch was just another job tagged onto the list. The windlass runs on 2 gauge wire and it seemed a bit much to run it up to the flying bridge (the only helm on the boat) back down into the bilge, then forward to the anchor locker. Also, the foot switches for the windlass had already been put in place. Turning them from high amp to low amp seemed the thing to do, so I located the control relay in the locker near the motor. A 14/3 cable to hook in the helm starts in the locker, getting its power (through the 5 amp fuse) and ground from the relay / motor. The 14/3 cable has white, black and brown wires. I chose the white as B+, black as "down" and brown as "up" for no particular reason. Since the whole boat project includes all new equipment and wiring, we have been installing new conduit / wire runs anyway. A length of 1 1/2 inch PVC was fixed in the starboard upper corner of the v-berth (to be hidden behind the headliner) as the conduit into the anchor locker. It feeds back into the galley, the wires are then run alongside the fridge, down through the floor, into the bilge (with a length of 3 inch fiberglass tube glassed in as the main harness conduit fore / aft) and to the DC distribution panel. The panel is directly under the wire chase that leads to the helm station, so all of the windlass wiring runs together to that panel.

The old wiring run for the windlass was unusable. It appears that the geniuses who built the boat ran the wires in split conduit in the hull. Then they put the galley insert in place. Then they put on the deck. Then they filled the whole joint with expanding foam, which oozed into the split conduit behind the galley and essentially made the wiring a permanent part of the boat. Coming up with alternate wiring runs has all been part of the fun.

hypathia hunter said...

Thanks... FYI I still have not unpacked or installed the SSB so if you know anyone interested hollar...