TOM NEALE: I don’t know why your boat had that setup,
but you’re right to correct it. Exposed AC terminals such as
you describe should be both contained within appropriate
marine-grade boxes and covered. Wires should be protected,
ASK THE EXPERTS
EDITED BY TOM NEALE
ASK OUR EXPERTS Our technical editor, liveaboard and DIY guru Tom Neale, creates this column from
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Arcing and sparking
I am replacing the entire shore-power installation on a Cape Dory 28. The new system
will be simple, with a few outlets and a battery charger. I have some experience with
house wiring, so it surprises me to see AC wiring on boats that involves unprotected
cable runs, as well as outlets and panels that are not contained in boxes. For example,
the old AC panel on my boat was simply placed in a cutout in the liner near the galley, with nothing to protect the exposed terminals and buss bar on the panel’s back
side. In house wiring, exposed wiring isn’t allowed, and all wiring connections must be
protected in enclosures. Should I plan on using conduit and boxes on my boat?
By the way, the scariest part of the tear-out was finding an outlet near the stove
with exposed terminals on the back side. It was in a place where one might have placed
a hand when working inside the galley cabinet.
Paul Maravelas, Minnesota
should be marine grade, and be jacketed
in marine-grade insulation. You can find
marine-grade equipment for this job at
West Marine, Jamestown Distributors,
and other marine retailers. Get only
Specific standards govern marine
wiring, and many are rather complex.
You’d probably be amazed at the number of requirements there are, but this is
because electricity can be such a problem on boats, and these problems can
manifest in so many ways – often with
little or no warning.
The dangers of poor material, protection, and installation, to mention a
few, can be great, including destruction of the boat and loss of life. Go to
abycinc.org for marine-wiring standards
information from the American Boat
& Yacht Council. See, for example,
Standard E- 11. If you go to the website
and click on the membership menu at
the top of the page, you can get a five-day trial.
I’m concerned that, given the problems you’ve already noticed, there may
be other issues. I’d suggest you hire a
well-qualified professional to do the job
or to oversee that you do it correctly.
This is no occasion for shortcuts.
Is there a special way to clean canvas/
Sunbrella boat tops that will stop mildew? I clean mine with a reputable
company’s marine cleaners and protec-tants, but after a few months, the mildew returns. I have even tried another
reputable brand’s mildew inhibitor that
is supposed to keep it from coming back,
but it still comes back! I clean it in April,
and it’s back by July.