Sunday, January 4, 2009

Spicing it up

I spent what time I had on the spice rack this weekend.
Silly title for this post I know.

The spice rack on the original boat also doubled as the electrical panel. Here is picture showing the spice rack/electrical panel right after I bought the boat and cleaned it up. (sometimes I wonder if I could have learned to live with the formica and dirty overhead and just left it all alone...)

Most people that redesign a Triton dump the spice rack but I kinda liked it where it was. I am not a great cook but a spice rack full of spices makes it all a bit more homey I think. The original boat wiring was a mess so I ripped it out everywhere I saw it. I spent some time thinking about making the old electrical panel location into some sort of storage cubby but in the end I decided to install a switch panel for the engine and other items I wanted to get to from the cockpit.

While I was varnishing this past year, I cleaned up the rack (made of teak no less) and gave it three coats of varnish- a coat of regular spar varnish and two coats of rubbed effect varnish. It shined up nicely.

Originally, I had planned on making a back panel out of stainless steel and had a piece cut for me. Painting it proved tricky and I wasn't happy with the results so a friend of mine pulled some black shiny acrylic out of the 'scrap bin' and passed it along. It helps to have friends in the industry...

The acrylic was thicker than the original formica so I had to pull out the original fiddles and reposition them.

Then I had to cut out the acrylic panel to accept the electrical switch panel and extras I wanted to install.

Cutting the acrylic was not at all like cutting the Lexan I had done earlier for the cabin windows. The acrylic would quickly heat up and weld itself back together right behind the jigsaw cutting blade. Even going very slowly didn't seem to help. In the end I just kept making the same cut over and over until the kerf became wide enough so that the edges didn't touch and melt back together. I am sure there is a better way but I didn't take the time to find out how it should have been done. Drilling went easily enough. I used regular wood drill bits and went slowly. I am sure I ran the risk of cracking the acrylic doing it this way but I got away with it this time.

I didn't get the job finished today as I had to help out a friend on his car and run some other errands. That's probably better since I should let the glue dry behind the fiddles before I mount the acrylic permanently. Just to show how it will look I set it up with the protective paper still on. The panel, as I mentioned, is a gloss black and looks much better than my painted version.

Wire and lables are on order so that I can continue wiring the engine in the near future.

The switch panel will have the following functions (from top to bottom)

1.) Blower motor. Always the first thing that should go on so right on top.

2.) Ignition. I am not using a key switch so this turns on the ignition. It also will turn on the fuel pump (oil pressure safety switch downstream too) and the engine instruments.

3.) Alternator. A throwback to my aviation background. Probably not necessary in this case but I like the ability to shut off the alternator and disconnect it electrically from the system.

4.) Navigation lights. For the moment the red/green/white lights at deck level. Eventually this will probably become the masthead light switch.

5.) The steaming light. For the moment just the steaming light. Eventually, when I add a masthead light I think this switch will control the steaming light and the deck mounted nav lights. I don't forsee a reason to run deck mounted lights without the steaming light once I have a masthead light. The steaming light switch will also control the engine instrument lights. If I can't read the guages then it must be time to turn on the lights...

6.) LPG solenoid. Just because it is a very convenient to the stove.

I should add that this Blue Sea switch panel is 'weather proof' and has lighted LED's in the switches to indicate when they are on.

Right below the switch panel is a push button starter switch. Push the button and the starter turns. No key necessary. I will install a secret kill switch somewhere else in the system to prevent unwanted guests from borrowing my boat and motoring away. No, I am not going to discuss it in the blog. To anyone with a little mechanical knowledge it isn't very hard to bypass any secure switch. Keys don't help much and I would probably drop them overboard or lose them anyway.

Below the starter switch is a 12 volt accessory plug like what we all have in our cars. There is always something you want to run in the cockpit that needs to be plugged in to one of these. This seemed like a good place to put it.

Everything always takes longer than you expect and this is all I got done this weekend.

Except of course I went out to the boat and spent some quality time on board. The heater made the cabin quite comfortable in about five minutes. (it is 20 degrees outside) and I had a chance to figure out the rest of my engine wiring. I spent a few hours yesterday at home figuring out exactly how I wanted the wiring to go and drew out a schematic. I don't have time now but if I can draw out a schematic with Microsoft paint or something I will post it.

Moyer Marine ( has a nice picture of the engine wiring. Here is the link address,

The problem for me is that I can see how the system works much better with a schematic. I get confused looking at real pictures. If you just want to wire up an Atomic Four without needing to understand how it works then I would recomend the picture. Just follow the example and it will work fine.

That's it for this weekend.


brushfiremedia said...

Is there another panel going elsewhere for other things? Cabin lights? VHF? GPS? Sounder? Blender? Plasma TV?

Or did I miss something?

Anonymous said...

So that's where the acrylic is going - I couldn't really visualize it before. Looks nice. I like the rejuvenated spice rack, too.

Maybe it's just my display, but that Moyer link kind of drifts off at the end. Could you re-insert it when you get a chance? I'd like to take a look at the diagram.

Anonymous said...

yes, there is a main electrical panel going somewhere in the middle of the saloon behind the port settee. This panel is just for the engine and other 'stuff' I can get to from the cockpit.

I will check that Moyer link later. Its easily located at the Moyer public forum, accessible from the Moyer home page. Look under the electrical section. Its a PDF file or I would have just posted it.

Britton said...

I just added the picture from Moyer Marine on the next thread.

Anonymous said...

I like you idea of getting rid of engine key, a real week point in any electrical system. Keep posting. Regards from real frozen Montreal QC Canada