Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Wayward Wanker that Once was a Wire...

The past few days have been spent getting the Pearson ready for our big trip to NY along with some wiring projects on our own boat.  We are prepping the Pearson for an upcoming delivery from here to NY and a lot is going into helping to get it ready.  We are planning to be 100-150 miles offshore for 6-10 days, so I'm stoked to be a part of all of it as it will be a trip that Frank and I will be taking with our boat sometime in the future.  

On Moitessier Frank has, from the beginning, put me in charge of all things electrical.  He wanted me to be self sufficient and learn to troubleshoot on my own.  I admit, it has been a challenge for me to understand DC electrical systems, and having read Nigel Calder's chapter on electrical systems and alternators probably about 50 times, I think I finally have a hold on it. Well, somewhat at least.  The biggest project as of late has been wiring up the engine.  I had procrastinated this job for about a year now because 1) I was highly intimidated 2) I didn't know what the heck I was doing.  But after months of intermittently reading the Nigel Calder book along with the Yanmar installation manual, I was able to figure out how to wire it all up.  I think this was important as in the process, I learned about all the different components of our brand new engine, i.e.  where the starter is, the alternator, grounding, and so on.  It's got me up close and personal with something that was once so foreign and overwhelming to me.  Although I'm not a diesel mechanic, I have come a long way from a fashion designer.

Part of wiring up the alternator involved installing a Balmar max charge MC-614 voltage regulator.  This is used to regulate the amount of output the alternator provides to the house battery bank as well as the cranking battery. Part of this wiring also included installing a double throw switch so that in case the external regulator fails, we can just switch it from external regulation to internal.  Frank mounted the switch for me because I wanted to make sure it looked straight under our galley sink.  Knowing me, I would've mounted it crooked and it would've bothered me for as long as we own the boat.

Getting up close and personal
Regulator installed with double throw switch
Look at the pretty zip-ties...

After the wiring was taken care of, I had to remove all the old wires, and zip tie them neatly into place.  This was, by far, the most grueling part of this endeavor.  It took me 6 hours to remove one really obnoxious engine wire.  Why?  Well, I guess when the original engine went in, it was wired up before the floorboards were installed.  When I went to yank this out, I found that someone had used one of those screw in zip-ties to hold it in place.  Well, this zip-tie was buried deep under the floorboards, and the only way to access it was sticking my arm down this hole about 3" wide, and feeling it out.  The challenge was to get this zip-tie off, which wouldn't have been a problem if you could see the screw.  But without being able to see it, how was I to remove the screw using the tips of my fingers as leverage?  Well, I couldn't.  I managed to strip the screw with a socket wrench that had a phillips head tip on it.  I couldn't feel if I was turning it or if there was friction, so after an hour or two of doing this and realizing that I screwed up, I proceeded to figure out a different route.  I decided that snipping the damn thing would be the next best option.  The problem was, how was I to cut the zip-tie without accidentally snipping the adjacent wires in the same bundle?  Also, how could I get enough leverage behind the wire clippers so I could actually cut into it (as the zip-tie was so tight that there was no room for anything)?  After having my face plastered to the floor for close to 3 hours, I finally got it.  This was done by putting my left hand down a 3" hole on one side of the floorboard and feeling where the edge of the clipper was, while my right hand about 2 feet away was reaching down another 3" hole, holding the clippers that were tied to a string (so that in case I drop them, they wouldn't disappear into the depths of Mordor).  By luck of the draw, I was finally able to cut away that stupid ass zip-tie without snipping any of the wires.  There were moments that I just wanted to cry out of pure frustration, but I knew if I did, Frank would never let me live it down.  I was so enraged by the wire that when it finally came out, I stepped on it, cursed at it, spat on it, and stepped on it some more.  I wanted to kill the wire, until I came to my senses and realized that the wire was an inanimate object.  So I cut it up into pieces and threw it in the dumpster.  This made me feel a little better...

I'm really not a cutter, it's those damn zip-ties...
The bastard!  

"There's a force more powerful than steam and electricity: the will. " ~Fernan Caballero


  1. Nice job! being an electrician, its always nice to see tidy cable bundles. As for the cuts on the arms, you could look for a ty-wrap gun, or cable tie tool as there officially called. you can find them on e-bay for one tenth of the price new. also if you don't already know, if your in orlando, take a look at Starcraft, its like a used/surplus/discount/electrical/electronics/free 4 all/grab bag-o-rama you can find all kinds of useful things there for almost scrap prices

  2. Hi Myron,
    Thanks for the advice. Those zip ties can really do some damage to your arms do I definitely appreciate the heads up. I'll check out eBay and see what I can find.