Don’t cross the wires.

A friend of ours is rebuilding his boat.
Half way through the first internal fix, he’s coming up to the interesting part for me, the electrics.

Err, well sort of.
Little questions here and there, advice sought and given, and little instructional tips but now it all comes together and the grand wiring of the electrical panel is upon him.


Which is what I’m dreading will happen after today.

I sat him down and explained (very gently) that if he didn’t actually grasp what was meant by batteries in series of parallel, let alone that stripy red was a completely different colour and standard wiring use from a whole red, wasn’t it a sensible thing to attend a short course on marine wiring?

He actually saw the sense in that (phew, I pitched it just right) only courses were booked up solid for months. Someone telling him that here was only one training centre. (I must remember to thank his ‘friend’ for that gem of wisdom)

Then I picked up a brown wire marked as a negative / return wire.
So I stopped and asked him what colour wire it was. ‘Brown’ says he,’ like in the house wiring brown is the neutral wire’. (UK wiring, brown is mains live).

I flinched. “Got your book?”, said I and he hands me the electrical book with all the wiring colours in it. “Whoops”, and he blushed.

    Main battery feed Positive Supply.
  • Brown/Blue
    Control box to ignition and lighting switch (feed)
  • Brown/Red
    Compression ignition starting aid to switch.
    Main battery feed to double pole ignition switch.
  • Brown/Purple
    Alternator regulator feed
  • Brown/Green
    Dynamo ‘F’ to control box ‘F’
  • Brown/White
    Ammeter to control box
  • Brown/Yellow
    Alternator to ‘no charge’ warning light
  • Brown/Black
    Alternator battery sensing lead
  • Brown/Slate
    Starter relay contact to starter solenoid
  • Brown/Orange
    Fuel shut-off (diesel stop)

Tomorrow we’re going though the 30 odd wires he’s marked as positive (and negative) to work out what goes where.

And I just hope I can sort out the mess!

The moral of the story is simply if you don’t know something ASK.
If there is no one around to ask, DON’T ASSUME or GUESS.
Don’t forget the only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask for fear of embarrassment!
And get trained BEFORE THE EVENT not after everything goes:-


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20 Responses to Don’t cross the wires.

  1. shtfprepper says:

    Better keep a burn kit handy until he’s done.

    • Sod that, First aid will be basic.
      I’m borrowing 2 x 5 kg CO2 extinguishers, sat alongside them will be the cable shears (Good for 50mm copper), and a large bucket of water to plunge hands into.

      After that it’s wrap up the burns in soaking wet elephants bog roll, pallet wrap over the top, and a ‘sedate’ drive to A&E.

  2. Brittius says:

    Reblogged this on Brittius and commented:
    What color goes to the blower motor to scavenge fuel vapors?

    • Bilge Blowers?
      Brown with yellow stripe for fused power,
      Black (occasionally Yellow) for negative return

      • Brittius says:

        Marinas would be a gold mine for you.

      • Know what, they probably could be except for one ‘tiny’ little problem.
        UK’s today’s workplace is all about qualifications. That and insurance.

        So when you are going for a job, you get “The application form”.
        That will probably be read by the company secretary (wife, sweetheart, nerd, or a HR department) who has been told to look for a list of “qualities”(which they can’t say they want as a lot of them are illegal to discriminate against) and definitely qualifications.

        Why qualifications?
        This is where it gets silly.
        It’s rare to find a boss who will turn away experience (unless he is a complete idiot) BUT with 100’s of applications coming in, someone had to do the drudge work that is the preliminary sort out. So experience without paper meets the waste paper bin (WPB) by hand of someone who probably knows nothing about the job or the value of experience.

        I did just say rarely and that brings in the second aspect, Insurance.
        You can’t employ a person who your insurers won’t insure. Their guide stick to that? Qualifications.

        So, I work by word of mouth BUT, because I have no insurance (no qualifications), I never take cash because then I’d be ’employed’, only barter.

        Hourly rate?
        Equivalent to a shopping bag of food and household bits and pieces or 5 litres of diesel, per hour. Or whatever else I need ‘gifted’ to me.

        I’ll never be rich but the fridge and cupboards are always full as are our tanks!

        As for those qualifications?
        80’s, I left the forces.
        My service qualifications were adequate for all sorts of jobs. Then everything changed and the world according to UK employers went paper mad. Even worse they kept dreaming up new ‘essential’ qualifications. Old ones, redundant.
        New ones needed time and money to get and (quite frankly) I was always too busy to update. Add a bit of age, you’re out!

        So I use what I know, do what I can, stay away from commercial, sticking with people who value experience.

        Now all this may sound a bit ‘downhearted’. It’s not. I’m happy enough BUT one thing is certain, a desk job now wouldn’t suit me at all. Why? Because I look ridiculous in a shirt and tie!

    • US Standard Marine Wiring Colors.

      DC Pos

      Black or Yellow
      DC Neg

      Green (occasionally yellow stripe) DC Grounding

      Light Blue Oil Pressure
      Dark Blue Cabin and Instrument lights

      Except in the UK you usually find Red and Black for all lights and pretty dials.

      Brown Alternator Pos out and Charge Light.
      Pumps power via Fuse

      Nav Lights Pos
      Tacho Sender to gauge

      Accessory Feed
      Ampmeter on Alternator
      All fuses and switches

      Fuel Gauge sender to gauge

      Ignition Switch to everything
      Distribution panel to instruments

      Brown / Yellow stripe
      Bilge blowers, fuse and switch.

      Yellow / Red stripe
      Starter solenoid

      Water temp sender and gauge

      Green/stripe (Anything) Tilt down, up
      Blue/stripe (anything) Same (usually Pos feed.

  3. equippedcat says:

    What are the odds that the other ends of those wires are attached to the correct points?

  4. gamegetterII says:

    I’ve been trying to sort out a household wiring issue for a good customer of mine for 3 full days- almost there, not quite. Nothing whoever cobbled stuff together did makes sense.
    Down to the last junction box one switch and one light.
    At least it’s done right now.
    There were various receptactles and lights in 3 different rooms-plus garage and attic part of garage all coming from one junction box withh switch for attic light attached and all on one 15 amp breaker.
    On what planet is that the correct way to wire a house?

    • LOL. You aren’t alone.
      Only here most so called electricians simply give up and rewire the place lying to the customers by telling them their wiring isn’t ‘up to code’ therefore illegal even though such codes are not retrospective.
      That is what passes for customer care here, replace with new or we shut you down. Even worse the electricity companies do the same. All part of rip off Britain.

      Oh, as for the cost?
      Belfast N.Ireland £2,000
      Londonstan £4000-£4750
      South, SW and Midlands £3750-£4000
      Outer Region and North £2750-£3250
      All Plus VAT at 20%

      • gamegetterII says:

        Insane costs- since this lady is a good customer and has been for almost 10 years and gets me lots of other small jobs – I only charged her $300.00 U.S. plus she found a deal on a new pair of the hiking boots I wear for work and bought those for me. So figure she got the boots 1/2 price that adds another $100.00.
        Plus her wiring is now up to code- or will be Mon. afternoon.

      • Good business I’d say.

        Still here’s a thought to ponder on.
        Sadiq Khan (our VERY special Lord Mayor Of London) wants all your discontented , Trump hating citizens to move to multicultural London.

        Boy are they in for a shock because prices for everything are INSANE and ‘some’ of the population in London ‘a wee bit hostile’.

      • gamegetterII says:

        Even Canada doesn’t want ’em-they aren’t going anywhere,how come none of ’em said they were going to Mexico,or Iraq,Iran,Afghanistan? They’re scared to go anywhere unless there’s several hundred of them and they move in a group.

      • equippedcat says:

        There is Value Added Tax on labor?

      • Yep, Goods and Services (aka labor).
        But only if you are VAT registered which most registered firms are.

      • equippedcat says:

        I don’t really understand VAT. What is it supposed to be for (besides enriching the government)? Can we go through an example?

        Let us say that a electrician does a job.

        He buys 500 (retail) worth of parts for 350 (wholesale)
        He charges 450 for parts and 550 for labor

        Did he pay any VAT on the parts?
        How much VAT does he add to the bill he presents and how is that amount figured?

        “Value Added Tax” seems to imply it is not just a “sales tax” which is a straight percentage of the “sale”. That’s what we have here, running about 8%, plus or minus depending on where you are (state, city and sometimes county all demand a cut).

      • The simplest way to explain it is for you to read about it yourself. so here is a link to one site about it.

        When a contractor registered for VAT prepares and issues an invoice, they must add VAT at the prevailing rate, which at the time of writing is 20%, to their invoice. So, for example, if invoicing their agency for five days work at £300 per day, the invoice would show:

        5 days @ £300 per day = £1,500

        VAT at 20% [the calculation is 1,500/100*20 =] £300

        Total including VAT [the calculation is 1,500 + 300] = £1,800

        Now you don’t get that VAT it has to be paid to the government. In short you are an unpaid tax collector.

      • equippedcat says:

        Reading the link, it appears that if, say, you buy something for 100, you have to pay 20 VAT. If you sell the item for 200, you have to charge 40 VAT. But you only have to give 20 to the government, since the site implies you get the VAT you pay back.

        I would claim that any VAT you paid for your training and on your tools should be deducted from any VAT you get paid for labor 🙂

      • But you can’t do that every time.
        Once you have claimed for a specific training once, that’s it.
        Besides tools, work wear, even transport and training have tax allowances.

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