It’s always tempting to add new electrics and electronics to your boat, and Lucy has had quite a share of that. With each new addition comes wiring, and maybe a panel or switch, and there’s never really the time to work out how to fit it all in sequence and make it pretty. I’ve added new kit already, and will add a Raymarine ST2000+ steerer next month, but what is more than clear to me is that all of this wiring needs to be tidied up. It’s become a bit of a ‘rats nest’, and the location of this wiring is damned near impossible to get at in the marina, so to sort our an issue ‘as sea’ would be impossible.
I’ve had this job in mind since I first stepped aboard Lucy when she was in the shed at Crabbers three years ago. The switch panel, engine control and battery switch were randomly misaligned, and there was a voltmeter and push button too. And screw holes for something which no longer existed. The randomness has driven me to distraction ever since.
To gain access to the wires involved removing each item, and then fishing, or groping in the dark. What was clearly needed was something which pays homage to what I’ve seen in newer boats – a drop down panel to easy access, to allow me to tidy it all up, and make it easy to test and repair under-way.
Firstly, I needed a panel, and the now redundant chart table was the ideal candidate. I cut out a section 600mm wide which included the 600mm teak fiddle. It was perfect. I took it to my local joiners shop to have it ‘squared’ on their machines, and have a 35mm strip cut from the bottom. This would be the part which screwed fast to what remained of the original surface and would carry the new 600mm long 25mm stainless steel ‘piano’ hinge. I will need to fit some toggle switches later, but they will look balanced.
I carefully worked out how it would look using my QCAD software, and the various holes were cut out in readiness. The teak face was lightly sanded and two coats of Ronseal Exterior Varnish applied. The hinge was then refitted and it was back down to Cornwall this weekend to get it all fitted. I’ve put the remainder of the pictures into a gallery, as I did take quite a few. You can see the extent of the opening and the new found access. The existing -ve busbar was removed and the back wall lined with 12mm marine ply to allow me to screw things to. I now have almost a blank canvass to set out the wiring as I want it, but that’s going to be covered in Phase 2. The panel is held closed with a 90deg sprung cam lock by Lowe and Fletcher.
For now, I’ve tidied up the wiring a bit just so that I can see the wood from the trees, and I now have about a square foot surface to which I will move all of the electronics comms (NMEA 0183) wiring. That’s going to be fun!