Bilge pump switched power gone

Noworries530

Junior Member
Switched my bilge pump out, Ericson 32-2 and now my instrument panel (bilge, cabin lights, master switch, blower etc) no longer works. What the heck happened? It was two wires, snip snip, splice splice, now nothing works...help?
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
"Instrument Panel" usually seems to refer to the engine panel in the cockpit. If you mean the DC distribution panel inside the boat, that's a mystery for sure.
The main panel is fed from (usually) a large red primary wire from the master 1-2-all switch and has a large black ground wire leading from a buss bar back to the neg. side of the battery bank(s) and probably to a lug on the engine bell housing.

Does your boat have a modern main fuse/breaker within 7 inches or a foot of each battery positive terminal. If so, check to see if it's tripped or blown.
Is the whole panel dead?
Just a few more facts will help with troubleshooting.
 

Noworries530

Junior Member
Yes the DC distribution panel, sorry I’m a newbie. No breaker or fuse that I can see, but yes the whole panel is dead.
 

1911tex

Sustaining Member
One battery or two? Mentioned newbie...checked distilled water level in battery(s)? Corrosion on terminals? Loren is correct...start with the battery(s). Tight terminals including the ground at the engine. Grounds are veeerrrryyy important!
 
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Tin Kicker

Sustaining Member
Moderator
Start by disconnecting the new bilge pump and leave the wires isolated.
If power to the panel is not restored, trace wires between it and the battery to look for a circuit breaker or fuse.
 

supersailor

Contributing Partner
Be sure to check and clean your grounds. More problems with disappearing electricity happen with the grounds than anywhere else. Clean the ground at the engine block. Also check any wiring laying in the bilge. These are sure candidates for failures. Don't allow wires to get under water. Guaranteed to cause problems

When I got Terra Nova, she had thirteen separate grounds to the engine and they all were bad. There should be one ground to the engine. I had to rewire her as I kept getting electrical failures. No failures since then.
 

Noworries530

Junior Member
Grounds are good, one battery was fine 12.6v and the other was at 2.6v so I refilled the one, waiting to test it. Could it possibly be the battery isolation switch? I checked all fuses on DC panel except for the master. The master switch is something like a relay? I can’t tell but I’ve never seen one before.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
The master switch is just a switch, no relay. On our boat it directs positive DC from either of two battery banks, outputting voltage to the main distributing panel.
I have a diagram of our major wiring in this thread, reply 33.
I should note that the shunt in this schematic has gone away when a different battery measuring device was later installed.
 
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Tin Kicker

Sustaining Member
Moderator
Step 1.
Are you getting voltage to the back of the battery isolation rotator switch? You don't even need a multimeter for this, just flip the TEST to each battery.

Step 2.
Are you getting voltage to the outlet side of the battery iso switch?

Step 3.
Check for resistance in the house ground wire between the back of the panel and engine.

If you haven't or can't get this far and follow the wire to the input side of the breaker panel, ask somebody to help. We all have things that we can do and things we have no experience with. I can kill any plant and can't carry a tune in a wheel barrow.
 

mbp

Ericson 34
Did you cut both bilge pump wires at the same time? That will short out the circuit and blow a fuse. How do I know this? I have a pair of wire cutters with a big notch in them from the time I cut some household romex cable that was still live. Zzzztttt!

I had a boat 12v circuit that had been intermittent for months. Could not find the problem. I finally took the wires completely out of its wiring loom and found an in-line fuse inside the wiring loom! Of course I couldn’t see it because it was so well hidden. Grrrr! The fuse connection was sketchy and causing the problem.
 

markvone

Sustaining Member
This sounds like the perfect time for the main battery switch in the DC panel to randomly fail due to age. Do you have the original switch in the DC panel? It's usually a Seadog glued to the back of the DC panel with just the shaft coming through to the front. Lever slides on the shaft. Custom Ericson graphics on the panel front. Lots of main switches have failed.

Also, if batteries are combined 'Both' or '1+2' position on main switch with one 2.x volt battery and one good it may very well act dead.

Mark
 

Keith Parcells

Sustaining Member
Grounds are good, one battery was fine 12.6v and the other was at 2.6v so I refilled the one, waiting to test it. Could it possibly be the battery isolation switch? I checked all fuses on DC panel except for the master. The master switch is something like a relay? I can’t tell but I’ve never seen one before.

12.6 is not fine and 2.6 is just dead, doa. Charged batteries should show 13.2V or higher. Let’s see if you can get those batteries (full of water/battery acid) to take a full charge.
 

Noworries530

Junior Member
This sounds like the perfect time for the main battery switch in the DC panel to randomly fail due to age. Do you have the original switch in the DC panel? It's usually a Seadog glued to the back of the DC panel with just the shaft coming through to the front. Lever slides on the shaft. Custom Ericson graphics on the panel front. Lots of main switches have failed.

Also, if batteries are combined 'Both' or '1+2' position on main switch with one 2.x volt battery and one good it may very well act dead.

Mark
Yeah I’ve got the original switch on the DC panel, how can I tell if it’s bad?
 

Tin Kicker

Sustaining Member
Moderator
Markvone was writing about the rotating 1-2-Both-Off. Easy to test by disconnecting all the wires on the back, clean the copper at each terminal, attach an ohmmeter/multimeter, and check each position for continuity, open circuit, or amount of resistance. I'm sure there is a spec for allowable resistance when a position is selected, but on a typical hand held meter where you are already dealing with resistance of the probes, anything more than probably .2 ohms would be suspect. Clean each of the wire terminals and connections before re-assembling.



Observations on your photo:
1. I haven't seen soldered copper rod like that in a long time. It actually is in pretty good condition, it is just one OLD fuse panel.
2. The master switch should be the one above the terminal with the red wires. Turn off the battery switch, pull ALL the fuses and use the ohm/multimeter to make sure that old switch still works. It's your most used switch, OLD, and a single point for the type of failure you described if the actual battery switch tested OK.
3. LIGHTLY press each solder connection at each of the fuse casings to look for a cracked one. Same at the master switch.
4. The master switch has what appears to be one connection to it, which is the solid buss bar with the blue insulation. If the other wire really is not attached (probably from opening the panel), then there's the answer to your original question about why the panel has no juice.
5. Misc: The terminal with the red wires - take it apart and clean everything, then snug it all back up solid.
6. Misc: The brown switch in the top row, second from the left, has what appears to be a bit of frayed wire which is corroded enough to be dark. If really so, it ought to be addressed.
7. Misc: The insides of those fuse casings probably need the copper cleaned at each end. Twirling a fresh #2 pencil eraser can usually do the job.
8. If you want to replace the old fuses, the BlueSeas "Push Button Reset Only" breakers were made for those holes.

 
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