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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.

2016-07-26

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Mooring committee work. Not seen is Brian, the diver, who is measuring mooring chain wastage in the frigid depths of 12 feet or so.
I had thought that my next blog post would complete the saga of my charger/inverter installation. I was considering something flashy, like a shot of me unhooking the shore power and starting the rarely invoked air conditioning via just the strength of my battery bank alone. But fate had a different plan this day.
Charge account.
In order to finish the job, or at least to move on to the next phase of "getting the lead in", I needed access. As I was committed to my Mooring Committee duties of diver spotting and "find the sunken mooring", my wife was kind enough on her day off from a supervisory gig at the Toronto Wildlife Centre to come aboard to empty the head of various painting supplies and to generally stow away the saloon so I could route conduit in obscure places aboard, like from the inverter to a newly purchased 30 amp sub-panel bought for the purpose on the advice of Capt. Matt, whose experience in these matters exceeds my own, mainly because his dad's an electrician and he tends to install the same gear faster than me.

Little did I know as I was tootling around a mooring field in the club's workboat that the day, which had started stormy, would continue with shit and growling.

I'd say "you little bastard", save that this bugger weighed at least 10 kilos.
Mrs. Alchemy called to say our boat had been invaded by a raccoon, the fecal evidence of which she was, thanks to her years of work at TWC, all too familiar. Throughly stale corn nuts and almonds from some previous season were scattered. This was not good news, especially as I was trying to avoid running down a volunteer diver. Later, as I approached the boat, she warned me off in person, saying "he's still aboard!". Apparently, he had been sleeping under the saloon table in a food coma, only to rouse himself sufficiently to bite her sandal. Mrs. Alchemy has been bitten by a large variety of birds and beasts and has the rabies titres to prove it. She determined to flush out Rocky by means according to her training, i.e. non-lethally. The raccoon got lucky today.
The NYC's water taxi has had some beastly passengers, but rarely ones this bitey.
I borrowed one of the club's live traps (this is not an uncommon outcome) and after tempting the hot and evidently bothered (but neither rabid nor distemper-afflicted ) vermin into the trap, we ditched the idea of letting it loose beyond the gate and took it instead for a boat ride. The club's water taxi, used to and from the same mooring field in which I'd worked in the morning, was driven to the farthest reaches of our basin, adjoining the former amusement park Ontario Place.
The big reveal
In a flash, Rocky made for the trees and is now separated from our docks by a large dog park, a major bike path and a big stretch of water, although given that he got into the boat via a recessed aft cabin portlight left open for ventilation, he may one day return. But it won't be as easy. Not impossible, mind you; raccoons are extremely resourceful. I recall getting one of the first city-supplied conic composting bins in the early '90s when I lived overlooking a raccoon-filled valley. The lid was screwed on and was large, about 45 cm. across. One evening I went out to my workshop overlooking the backyard where the composter was. A single raccoon was spread-eagled on the lid, gripping it at four points. Two other raccoons were slowly turning the first. I was reminded of a World War II prisoner-of-war escape movie. Vigilance will be required aboard, stuffy boat or not.

Look closely and you can see his big furry arse making for the lumber.
Now, that day having been shot, if in an unexpected fashion, I'll resume modifications shortly.