Making a good electrical repair or correctly installing electronics on your boat can make a huge
difference in the longevity of the project. The correct tools and proper materials will make for a quick
and long lasting repair or install. With a good test light tracking an electrical problem is quite easy
whether its in the bilge, under the helm or within the gunnels. When installing a new depth sounder,
marine radio, bilge pump, horn, radar, ect with all the right stuff the job will be easy.
Tools and materials needed for most repairs and installations include, basic hand tools, a 1/2 inch drill,
3/8 cordless drill, a set of drill bits, assorted hole saws, crimper/wire stripping tool, double stranded
wire, assorted connectors, electrical tape, fuses, fuse holders, silicone caulk, test light, soldering
gun, solder paste, tie straps, misc. stainless screws, side cutters and shrink tube. Depending on the
project one or more of these will be needed.
All electrical and electronics require that they be fused or go through a breaker, also the proper
gauge wire will be needed. A good battery ground is a must to ensure good current flow and help reduce
static noise on the radio equipment. The best setup to run electronics from the cockpit area is to have
a fuse or breaker panel to tap off from. If there is no panel one should be installed. A red(pos) and
black(neg) in a 8-10 gauge wire should handle most boats, and should be fused at the battery with a 30
amp fuse. Then each individual electronic item can be wired seperately from the fuse box with the
appropriate fuse/breaker. Running a new wire back to the battery for each electronic item will lead to
a messy install as well as being more prone to electrical problems. Most electronics and electrical items
will use a 16-18 gauge wire.
Stripping the wire and twisting it together and a little black tape is "not" a good repair. For most cases
using connectors and a good crimping tool is all that is needed. In a wet enviroment such as the bilge
area or at the battery, soldered connections are best and will last a long time. Making soldered
connections through-out the boat will ensure that there will be no electrical problems. Using shrink
tubing over the soldered connections will give a nice appearance and protect from shorting. Electrical
tape should be used as little as possible and used only when needed. Tie-straps will keep your electrical
wiring looking tidy and out of the way.
Petroleum jelly is a product that can help keep electrical components working and free from corrosion.
Boat running lights and the stern light socket are very prone to corrosion and it is the corrosion that
is the main problem with lighting failures. A small amount of petroleum jelly on the contacts and the
gounding portion of the light bulb will keep the light socket from corrosion. Trailers lights and the
trailer harness plug will benefit also. The vehicle trailer plug is a good idea too as it corrodes as
well. Fuse holders and fuse blocks could also use a little protectant..
When installing new electronics or replacing an old one, take your time and read the instruction
completely.A mock setup is always a good idea as to make sure it does not interfere with anything else.
Also it is a good idea to check the other side if you will be drilling to make sure there is nothing in
the way or if there is enough room for access if needed. Think twice and drill once is a good rule to
follow. A good silicone caulk should be used where needed such as drilling through the transom, and always
use a philip head syle stainless screw for installations. The philips head holds a screwdriver much better
without sliding out.
Take your time and you can do a professional job!
Blue Water Marine 8690 S. Oceana Drive, Montague Mi. 49437