has many offshoot relays, can I just cut
and splice the cable using butt-splice kits?
The harness is $350 and the splice kits are
a dollar. Mike Palecek
JOHN ADEY: Certainly you can splice
them, but not with the part you mentioned,
which is for solid cable; you’re dealing with
stranded. ABYC standards don’t allow for
a screw-down connection to bear directly
down onto the conductors; it will break
the strands, causing resistance and eventu-
ally failure and/or a fire. Instead, you need
a stranded-cable butt splice and should rent
a crimp tool for larger-gauge cable. Ancor
makes a large-gauge butt splice. The problem
with it is that it needs a crimp tool similar
in design to a set of bolt cutters. Our local
auto-parts store rents one for battery terminal
ends. You’ll want some heat-shrink tubing
with waterproof goo in it to finish the job.
I have a Sea Ray with a Mercruiser I/O. When
I started the boat this year, I noticed water
dripping from my lower shift cable. What’s
causing this? Robert Ruggiero
JOHN ADEY: Likely it’s the shift cable
bellows, the black rubber accordion-looking
piece that seals the entry of the shift cable
into the boat. Depending on age, it may be
time to replace all three bellows – exhaust,
U-Joint/driveshaft, and shift. To check, run
the drive all the way up into trailer mode
and use a flashlight to inspect the bellows.
If they’re cracked, it’s time to replace! It isn’t
uncommon to replace only the shift bellows,
but have an expert tell you the condition of
the others; these can fail and sink boats.
A RIBBON RUNS THROUGH IT
In the bilge of my 1989 Monk 36 trawler is
a 3-inch-wide, paper-thin copper strip that
is separated in places and attached in other
places to thru-hull fittings. This strip ran
from the rudder to the bow when the vessel
was new. Now there are remnants here and
there, some partially connected. Is this strip
of copper necessary? Should I try to replace
it or just remove it? If I need to replace it,
should it be attached to the thru-hull fittings
and to what else? Is this a ground for the
entire boat? Joe Levesque
DON CASEY: Copper ribbon has typi-
cally been used in boats to connect a high-
frequency (SSB) or ham-radio transmitter
to onboard metal components, and/or to a
submerged ground plate on the outside of
the hull to serve as a counterpoise. Ribbon
is used because the current it’s intended to
carry is RF (radio frequency), which travels
on the surface of the conductor. If you have a
high-frequency transmitter that doesn’t seem
to have the range it should, the problem may
be the deterioration of this ribbon conductor.
It’s possible that the ribbon was also
intended originally to connect the various
metal components in the boat for lightning
protection or to put underwater metals at
When a beaver
thinks your cables
are a snack.
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