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Rebirth of a 1972 18' Sea Ray 190 I/O
Spring 2015: Upgrading the electrical system. See also 14 Steps To Wiring Your Boat http://newboatbuilders.com/pages/electricity13.html
Some items have already been replaced but the majority of the electrical work still needs doing. A look at the back of the instrument dash is daunting. The wiring is not only old but a literal rat's nest with many things that do not meet current (or even 1970's) marine electrical standards. One thing to keep in mind is that this electrical system is less than two feet away from the fuel tank. Fortunately everything is open to the atmosphere so chances of a problem are remote, but it is better to be safe.
Picture 1; old fuse block
Work already done.
New Blower Switch: I installed a new blower switch and a new blower.
Alternator: I replaced the alternator early on as one of the first major items replaced.
Battery Switch: There was no battery switch. So the electrical was always energized. I added a switch so the battery could be completely disconnected without actually removing the wires to the battery.
Ignition: Installed a new ignition switch. Also I changed the old make and break distributor to a new electronic ignition distributor. No more adjusting dwell and timing. Once the timing is set that's it. No points to adjust or replace.
Neutral Safety Switch: Replaced the Neutral Safety Switch
Navigation Lights: I put in new wiring for the bow navigation light and installed a new LED bow combination light and a new LED stern all around white light.
Fuel Gauge: New wiring for the fuel gauge.
Accessories plug: (Cigarette lighter) Replaced the plug. I did not replace the lighter. I just want to be able to plug things in such as a radio or search light.
Other Electrical: I added a protective boot over the positive lead on the starter solenoid. This is required by law and prevents any inadvertent contact with metal tools.
From Page 3. "Trying to save a few dollars here could cost you your life later. Safety standards for electrical equipment are designed to eliminate sparks, sources of ignition, and to prevent fires and explosions. The most common source of fires on boats is from electrical wiring and equipment, so doing it right is vital."
The first task is to trace out the current system, and make a diagram.
This is far harder than it sounds. You can see from the photos above that there are wires going every which way, There are many wire splices and some posts have up to three wires connected. But to straighten it out you need to know what the present situation is. So I spent several hours under the dash tracing wires, making sketches, and after I got home and looked it over some of it didn't make sense. So I have had to go back and check it several times.
From your sketches make a clean diagram. See Electrical Systems Planning http://newboatbuilders.com/pages/electrical_planning.html
I wanted to add a VHF FM Marine Radio. But with the mess under the dash I could not determine where to hook it up. So I decide to upgrade the system and straighten out much of the wiring.
I began by replacing the old fuse block with a new block that uses ATO or ATC type mini fuses, has six circuits and has a cover. It also uses ring terminals to hook up wires, preventing corrosion and the possibility of wires coming loose.
There are differences between ATO and ATC fuses. ATO fuses have a hole in the bottom and are open to the atmosphere. If the fuse is in an engine compartment or other space where fumes may accumulate, and the fuse blew, this could cause an explosion. ATC fuses are sealed. No holes. O stands for OPEN. C stands for CLOSED. Use ATC fuses in engine compartments or fuel tank compartments or anywhere gasoline fumes or hydrogen gas from the battery could accumulate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuse_%28automotive%29
I marked all the wires with labels stating what the circuit is for. I did not go buy any fancy labels. You can but it isn't necessary. I use white electrical tape and a permanent marking pen. Yes it doesn't look that professional but it does the job and I know what each wire is for and which fuse serves which circuit. A professional boat builder would use a label maker or pre-made labels for this to make it look as neat and professional as possible, but for the amateur doing their own work it is only necessary to mark the circuits.
All of the positive power leads to the fuse block and from the fuse block are new 14 ga. wire. All connections are ring type. All connections are crimped. No solder was used. I use dielectric grease on all connections. On connectors that I pre-made to be installed later I used connectors that had heat shrink plastic insulation. I did not use these on connections made up while installing the wiring because the gasoline fuel tank is so close. I have no desire to chance blowing myself up.
I also added a ground buss. The negative wires go from instrument to instrument and some have two or three negative wires coming off the back of an instrument. I would rather run one wire to a ground buss and then run a wire to each instrument from the buss.
I will continue to update this as I make more changes.
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