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2016-07-30

Getting the lead in, Part 3: Powering up

Everything's equally long and or short. This makes sense if you wish resistance to be futile.
When last we met, I was gushing over my nice crimping and cable-cutting for the six L-16 525Ah deep cycle batteries.
Ooh, yeah.
Charging had commenced, although nothing from the charger or the batteries was actually hooked into the boat.
Absorption is the second stage of three-stage charging.
Now, all this cabling in an exposed state is fine at dock, but real boats in the real ocean move nearly constantly. "Battery box tie-downs" are needed to keep the boxes from moving and they must hold the batteries just short of snugly (because batteries can swell at times) and there has to be room for the electrolyte to go if there's an accident.

White oak planks hold down the boxes tied into the floor plates with eight threaded rods.
I will make a lid for the aft-most pair of batteries when I rebuild the saloon stairs that will cover this battery bank, I have further leads to run and cabling to properly secure yet.
Mind the gap: there's room for a 3/4" "wall" to keep galley and batteries apart.
Mrs. Alchemy came down to remove painting supplies from the head, which would be a nonsensical sentence for anyone not refitting a boat. I was busy driving the club workboat for mooring inspections when she phoned to tell me her labours were interrupted by the discovery of raccoon poop aboard as well as the excavation of a galley cabinet and the scattering of some fossilized corn nuts. Such is the sailor's life. She was then bitten on her shoe by Mr. Sleeping It Off Raccoon. Stern measures were taken, as was necessary as the little bastard fled to the aft cabin.

Luckily, Mrs. Alchemy is a wildlife rehabber, meaning she is skilled at trapping recalcitrant raccoons. After a mere 90 minutes of pointless interruption, "Rocky" was boxed and on his way via the water taxi to parts unknown, or Ontario Place.
10 kilos, easy. Foul-tempered, too.
He won't grasp this, but he's very lucky my wife found him.

Headed for whatever passes for the treeline in a defunct amusement park that used to be futuristic.
Now there's a stretch of water, an active cycling path and a dog park between the boat and Mr. Rocky. Let's keep it that way, and I'll keep the portlights dogged.
Torquey Makita and orbital chuck sounds like a punk band from the future.
The next step was to put in a breaker panel that would allow the AC side to have either shore power or inverter power in a logical and fuse-protected manner. Much crimping ensued.
Heat-shrinking ring terminals are in fashion this year. And yes, if needed, we can actually sail and even motor.
I made up a set of "patch cords" for the new panel, which had to co-ordinate the 30 amp service, the inverter and the follow-on rest of the AC circuits. This was more labour than it looked: I had to, for safety reasons, undo the positive side of the charger/inverter (there's an impressive capacitor inside for what I assume are "surges" of AC the inverter can produce to start pumps, etc.) and it's quite easy to get a mild shock with a cut three-conductor wire, so I did not fool around and undid the shore power. The power tools, and there were several, were run off a 15-amp extension cord. This left, however, insufficient juice to run a fan. Did I mention it gets to the high 30s Celsius in the pilothouse? Well, it does.
Yes, there are two inlets for shore power. I can take 60 amps. I just have never bothered.
The wiring was pretty straightforward, and the running of the AC cabling less so. Everything took too long. Or too hot. And why is it called "hot and neutral" in some applications, and "line and neutral" in others? You'd think there's be some common ground.
Nice bit of kit I got at 40% off.
I had to fab up a fused line for the panel backlighting for some obscure reason. As it was 1 amp over 18 ga. wire, I just piggybacked it to the VHF breaker on the DC panel, as it's almost always left on. If it trips, I'll relocate the wires for the LED backlight nearby to something with amperage to spare.
Gray wire was on sale!
Figuring there was no point tidying up until I confirmed continuity, I carefully restored the shore power, tested the multimeter on the line and neutral wires for circa 120 VAC on both circuits, and lit up the board. Yay, no reverse polarity!
I could have cut that new hole better, but it was ridiculously tight and I had to remove the helm seat to even get in there.
After a slightly sparky reattachment of the battery leads, which involved the removal of the tie-downs...perhaps I should leave them off until I'm fully finished...rhe charger was engaged, the inverter was enabled, switches were thrown and boom, the fan was working (expensively in terms of energy efficiency as the process of inversion, which is tranformation of direct current (batteries) to alternating (house) current is quite lossy). Still, not attached to shore and...running fan. Kind of cool, literally, and no hint of magic smoke.
Of course, I could have run the air conditioning, but it currently drips into the bilge and I dislike that.
 I even lit up my worklight in honour of this new phase of pure (sine wave) power.
And you, you light up my life.
ENABLED, baby. Funny thing is after all these labours is that it'll probably just run the microwave at anchor.
So far, nothing's broken and no fuses were shorted making this production. The next step is to put in new busses for the more diversified DC draws, to hook the new batteries into the Big Switch to power the boat's DC side, to put in the swanky Pentametric battery and systems monitor and...finally...to connect up the Echo Charger so that my bereft starter battery can once again charge, rather than discharge. Think I'll water the lot, too.
Floating my boat's battery bank. Construction ahead.
There's still holes to drill and the mysterious split flanged bearings to acquire, but it's been a good bit of advancement of late. May it continue, as long as I remain hydrated.

3 comments:

Magoo said...

You might want to loctite those panel nut connections, also small baggie of spare nuts and locking washers stapled to bulkhead is my style.

Rhys said...

And it's a good one, but they are pretty heavily torqued down. Access to all panels is straightforward if there's a problem, however. I like the idea of a baggie of spares nearby, though: thanks!

On an Atlantic delivery, the overworked autopilot sheared its 1/2 inch SS bolts and the owner replaced them with 5/8", which involved him rooting around for them in heavy seas and then arms' length socket work to remount the unit to its glassed-in shelf. In that case, a baggie with four fat bolts in it wouldn't have been strong enough, but the principle is a good one.

Rhys said...

Oh, and some of the things pictured are temporary, like the two wood screws feebly holding the control panel to the bulkhead. I need long, skinny SS #8 bolts, nuts and washers to mount that properly and that means a trip to the fine folk at Pacific Fasteners, where they have everything one could want but NO NYLON BUSHINGS.