Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Shore Power connection

A friends boat was saved by the F.D. the day before my visit. His shore power cord connection at the hull, overheated and ignited. Smoke damage was extensive and physical damage to hull, interior, electronics, etc. was costly and time consuming to deal with.
Another friend lost his Antiqua last year and he believes it was an electrical problem that set her ablaze. We often leave our boat with the air conditioning and other equipment running so electrical connections are extreme concerns to me.

I had replaced shore power cords a number of times over decades of boat ownership or stewardship due to appearances of the end connectors. Only Once however did I ever change the connector at the hull. Why? Hmmm. Not sure, but maybe laziness? Maybe the male Hull connector looked better than the female mate of the power cord? I can't honestly answer, but I had noted after the Antiqua was lost, that my fairly new shore power cords female end(the end that connects to the boat) was blackened somewhat at one contacts opening(the neutral/white wire).

Someone keen on perception once said;

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
............. That noted, I try harder as time goes on to attempt to lean towards the "unique", rather than the "remarkable". I also write some posts like this so others can too and hopefully it works.

The darkened contact counterclockwise from the physically different Grounding (green wire) connection, was often the overheating culprit on our boat.

I mentioned this on a post to my CSY blogspot at the time, that I was going to purchase and install new parts in June when I returned to our boat in Panama, but we have been delayed returning to Panama for pleasure or projects until now.

While in the U.S. I searched online for the proper connection to replace what CSY had originally installed on our boat. I had actually replaced it once around the mid 90's. It was made by Hubbel and not the more common Marinco brand found in stores today. Prices for the part varied widely from $73. to approx.$200. Same part, just different price.

Yesterday, I installed the new Hubbel male Stainless Steel hull connection and also the shore power female end connection(Marinco). Note the difference. Most retailers today sell only the Marinco shore power cords. Hubbel seems to have been displaced for a decade or two in the boating market. While the Marinco shore power connections FIT, the rubberized ends of the cord are somewhat different.

Just enough to not allow a watertight seal at the the Hubbel S.S. hull fitting. It's a good idea to keep rain and washdown water from intruding into your 30 amp alternating current connection-both for safety and longevity of components.

Why then NOT use a
Marinco connection at the hull as well as the shore power cord? Well, on our boat, the space allowed, inside the boat for the electrical wiring to and from the connection was really tight!

The Black Ring 'should' be able to screw onto the stainless steel threads. The Marinco Boot, does not fit the Hubbel Hull connection for a water tight seal.

The original installation using the Hubbel fitting allowed the wires AND tools necessary to install them to be inserted inline and not from the sides. The 'sides' of the fitting were too close to a bulkhead and panel to insert a screwdriver required for service on the Marinco, so that is why I opted for the Hubbel. The newer replacement Hubbel connection has the wires in the appropriate location, but to loosen or tighten them I must loosen the entire device and work on it outside of our pilothouse. Not perfect, but OK. Outside of the boat, I still do have the potential problem of wetting the connection. This has not been a problem so far and I'm accepting it as my trade off.

Either way, we now have a new hull connection and a new cord connector to attach to it, inplace and functioning. I'm sleeping better.

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