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Project Log:  Saturday, May 17, 2014

My growing irritation at the normal frustrations of the minutiae of the final stages of the project made me want to step away for a little while, which I did.   Coupled with this was the onrush of a Maine springtime, which tends to arrive all at once just when one thinks all hope of good weather is lost forever, and, with it, the usual list of seasonal and deferred outdoor projects and other pursuits competing for my limited time.

I wasn't completely idle as far as the boat was concerned.  After a few mis-starts, I finally hooked up with a well-recommended metal fabricator to talk about the tabernacle and boarding ladder, and committed to the construction. 

But mostly I enjoyed doing other things for a change.  When you love what you do and do what you love for both income production and leisure time, there can be a knife edge between enjoyment and burn-out.  I sought a better balance lest I tumble off the wrong side.  I'd said from the beginning that my goal with this project was to keep the process fun throughout, and that mantra was just as important now as it was at the early stages--perhaps more so, to keep proper perspective despite closing in on the "end".

In the event, back at it.  I'd hoped to continue work on the masts, but the weather was too wet, so I turned to various other projects on board.

I started with new lifelines, which I'd had measured some time ago, but finally connected with the rigger to actually receive the new wires.



After much delay, I finally purchased batteries, anxious to begin testing various systems and just ready to put the final touches on the electrical system.  I chose two NAPA 8144 6-volt golf cart batteries for the house bank, and a single NAPA 8303 starting battery.  Eventually, I planned to double the house bank with another pair of 6-volts.


The batteries fit well in the box, with a bit of excess space.  I still needed to install battery restraints within the box, but for the moment just a loose fit would suffice.  Lugging the batteries up the ladder, I noted--not with surprise, but it was still highly evident--that the 6-volts were nearly twice as heavy as the basic starting battery.  A basic battery truism is that heavier means more durable, as the weight is directly related to the thickness of the plates within.

I made up the battery cable connections, installing a terminal fuse block on each bank.  This was the first time I'd used these compact fuses, and I thought they were a terrific way to provide the necessary overcurrent protection in a simple and efficient way.  I chose 150 amp fuses.


I'd straighten out the cables further, perhaps, and wanted some nonconductive boots over the exposed positive terminals, but with the batteries all hooked up I powered up the system for the first time--always a satisfying moment.


First order of business:  check all the lights.  The overhead lights in the pilothouse and main cabin featured both red and white lights, as well as two levels of brightness.  I was pleased with the overall lighting effect in the main cabin, with the combination of overhead and task/reading lamps providing good illumination and coziness factor, but the single overhead lamp in the pilothouse, while adequate for basic needs, would not stand long-term, and I'd want/need to add some task/reading lamps here as well, something I'd expected all along but wanted to wait and see.





The overhead light in the head worked in both white and red.

The port indirect lights (rope lights beneath the cabin trunk) hadn't lit for some reason.  A quick investigation revealed that the terminal had pulled out from the rope light for some reason, perhaps from jostling the wire bundle on the other side of the bulkhead during other wiring chores.

This was an easy fix, but because of access issues I was forced to remove the rope light from its clamps, which gave me the access required to reinsert the terminal and tighten the connector.  Afterwards, the light lit properly, and I reinstalled it.


On deck, I checked the running lights.  Starboard and stern lights were good, but the port sidelight didn't light.


I'd not expected to call into action so soon my "easy service" installation plan with these lights, but with the extra wire beneath the platform and the well-designed brackets securing the fixture, it was straightforward to remove the lamp and begin to troubleshoot.  Immediately, I found that the issue was a simple matter of improper contact between the bulb and the base; the little grooves in the side of the base were slightly bent, so the tabs on the bulb itself weren't engaging to hold the bulb securely against the contacts beneath.  I quickly fixed the issue and reassembled the light.


Moving on, I powered up a few other select items, including the VHF and backup GPS.  Recalling some admonition in the instructions for the main navigation system about not powering up till all connections were made (and without the radar installed yet this connection remained undone), I did not power this up for testing.


I checked the engine instrument panel for power:  OK.  Sorry for the blur.

One of the silly frustrations that had sent me teetering towards the scary side of the knife edge before was discovering that I'd failed to plan properly, wiring-wise, for the propane system control.  With improved disposition, I tackled this chore now. I started with a pair of wires that would eventually connect to the electric solenoid switch in the (rumored) propane locker.  These wires had only to run between the galley, where the control was located, and the cockpit, a few feet aft, all within the relatively-easily-accessible utility space on the starboard side outboard of the engine.  I left plenty of extra wire at the aft end for later connection when I had a propane locker in which to connect them.

Meanwhile, I led in a two-conductor cable for the positive and negative feeds to the control, leading the red wire through a 1 amp fuse as directed.

The other end of this wire needed to make its way all the way to the electrical panel in the console--a straight-line distance of only a few feet, but the real length was closer to 15 or 20 feet by the time the various convolutions of the required wiring run factored in:  through the bulkhead into the starboard utility space, then snaking along an existing wiring bundle, through an access in the after part of the space, into the engine room, along the starboard and forward sides of the engine room (following an existing wire bundle), and, finally, up into the console at the electrical panel, where I'd eventually connect it to a circuit breaker.

Taking advantage of the situation, I also led in a second wire pair to power a forgotten light fixture at the aft end of the galley, which I led first to an open pair of terminals on an existing terminal block in the space, and from there a separate wire pair to the light location high on the galley bulkhead.  I chose to use the terminal block since I was planning ahead a bit for the eventual addition of reading lamps in the pilothouse.  While wiring one on the starboard side wouldn't be too challenging later, the port side, with the lengthy wire run required, would be much easier to do if I could just tie in another fixture to the terminal block already in the space.  I didn't know when I'd add these extra lamps, but at least I was ready for them.


I got the wiring runs within the cabinet and engine room cleaned up, tightened, and secured, but left the final connections in the electrical locker for next time.  As anticipated, these essentially simple wire runs had required several hours to install.

Total Time Today:  5.5 hours

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