Wiring question

Discussion in 'Boating' started by fordman49450, Jul 18, 2007.

  1. fordman49450

    fordman49450 New Member

    Messages:
    30
    State:
    Michigan
    Hello, I have an aluminum 14ft V-bottom boat. I am going to be adding a few more depth finder mounts and some interior lighting for night fishing as well as some circuits for a crappie light and other things. I was wondering if there would be any ill effects to the water or fish if i use the boat itself as ground? this would mean half the wiring and an easier installation, but I will not do it if it will hurt the environment or fish because of the current running through the boat.
     
  2. metalman

    metalman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,447
    State:
    IN
    Name:
    Winston
    Dustin,
    ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!
    Run ground wires for everything, either directly to the battery or preferably to a ground buss. It will be a bit more (OK, double) work but is far more reliable and much safer...W
     

  3. fordman49450

    fordman49450 New Member

    Messages:
    30
    State:
    Michigan
    Thanks, thats what I wanted to know, I dont mind doing the work if it will be safer and more friendly to our fish and their habitats.
     
  4. fordman49450

    fordman49450 New Member

    Messages:
    30
    State:
    Michigan
    I am a former auto repair tech, worked for GM and Ford for 10 years combined. cars use the chassis as a ground, but I knew that the boat would be carrying a current, so I was not sure about this in water. I was always told their was no stupid questions, and if your not sure. ASK
     
  5. jason454ci

    jason454ci Active Member

    Messages:
    1,307
    State:
    Zanesville, Ohi
    What Metalman said. Do not use aluminum for a ground or you will have problems with it down the road.
     
  6. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    The problem with using the boat as a ground is that you have started the eloctrolosis process. Your boat will consume itself rather quickly.

    For instance. I would be very leary of leaving my aluminum boat or pontoon boat tied to a dock in a marina when I wasnt using it.
    These docks have power. An improperly installed system, corroded connections, or a broken conduit can "leak" current into the water.
    It dont take much. We arent talking about enough to shock you.

    Salt water does the same thing to aluminum the same way without a dock or improper wiring.
     
  7. olefin

    olefin New Member

    Messages:
    3,908
    State:
    Texas
    Mark is correct, never use the boat for ground.

    I must have wired my dock correctly, my pontoon was in the water continuously for 10 years with no damage. Although I notice the other day while swimming that the sacrificial anode is gone... that probably would be normal from that long in the water.

    When wiring my dock I used PVC conduit with everything feeding from a GFI.
     
  8. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    Water is going to have some electrical current naturally particularly water with current and saltwater.

    I got a pontoon boat that sat in saltwater tied to a dock.
    It looks like the wood borers turned into aluminum borers. Alot of repair effort and repair have gone into those pontoons. 100+ hours and counting, Plus around 500 dollars in materials and tooling up.:eek:oooh: The only damage was below the waterline.
    When you use the boat itself as a ground you essentially are turning the boat into a battery.

    Hey Olefin, get them zincs changed out. Have you checked the motor zincs?
     
  9. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    The difference between a marina and a private boat dock.

    The marina is like any company, bring money in the door and hold it hostage.
    To them everything is ok as long as everyone has shore power and all the lights work. You;ll find very little preventative maintenance to an electrical system.

    Olefins dock I imagine is kept in tip top shape and that sagging conduit fixed asap.
    You ought to see pictures of his place:big_smile:
     
  10. Swampy

    Swampy New Member

    Messages:
    818
    State:
    Fl.
    LMAO You took the words right out of my mouth.
     
  11. Swampy

    Swampy New Member

    Messages:
    818
    State:
    Fl.
    That's right! it's always better to ask. I knew this guy that once hooked up a drier to a 110 outlet then after it fried the wires he ask a friend of ours - how should I have hooked it up. LOL
     
  12. duxsrus

    duxsrus New Member

    Messages:
    1,014
    State:
    SW Ohio
    All this is good sound advice but if you take an aluminum boat and a motor with electric start and mount it to your boat, you just grounded the motor to the hull. Every aluminum boat with electric start I've checked has continuity from ground to the hull. Even the new boat I bought came right from the factory that way.
     
  13. olefin

    olefin New Member

    Messages:
    3,908
    State:
    Texas
    I've got a 1994 Kayot pontoon with a 85 HP motor and a 2003 Tracker fishing boat with a 60 HP. Both bought new and have no continuity from battery negative to hull.


    I only have one or did have on the Kayot. The one on the Tracker is like new but of course it hasn't been in the water except when I use it. Neither boat is now stored in the water for I put in lifts 3 years ago.
     
  14. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    Dont depend on a factory or a dealer to get something like rigging totally right.
    I wouldnt rig a boat for my best friend at the low price they pass on to the customer and you can believe they aren't losing money rigging boats.
    I've torn into too many boats and seen the rigging shortcuts. Boats I've owned and boats other folks owned.
    I've had the 25 foot of motor wiring harness on a 16 boat crammed up under the inner hull and laying in the bilge water from a dealer and I've had the undersized SOLID trolling motor wiring installed at the factory.What should have been a #6 wleding cable style wire was a #10 solid TW wire.

    My aluminum pontoon will only show continuity from the motor well to the motor. I've seen to that. Yes, its going above and beyond but there is a difference in just continuity and using the hull of a boat as a load carrying conductor.
    If you use the hull of your boat as a conductor you are asking for trouble and possibly tossing in in the danger factor where metal fuel tanks are involved.
    Wire is expensive but considering what folks pay for these aluminum boats the cost of wire should be irrelevent.
    There is a right way and a wrong way. I've never seen a factory produced boat that also passed through a dealer with everything done the right way. It just aint going to happen. Folks wouldnt buy it. It would be cost prohibitive.
    You would be paying custom built prices for something mass produced.
    Custom builds are expensive with reason. Its man hours and higher grade componets.

    A good example of this was when Ranger supplied the 50 boats every year for the Classic.
    There was a team of people that built all 50 of these boats. Thats all they did was work on Classic boats.
    They were flawless. Alot of time and money was spent on rigging. They were in every sense of the word , custom boats. These 50 boats werent cranked out in 3 weeks and hustled through a chop shop that calls itself a dealer.
    There are some good dealers out there. I know a few myself, but even they'll cut a corner and their level of installation is not the norm.

    If I ever bought a new boat again I would buy it on the terms that they would place the outboard in the back of the pickup and all the rigging items thrown in the hull of the boat. Thats how much garbage I've seen that I refuse to pay for ever again.
     
  15. olefin

    olefin New Member

    Messages:
    3,908
    State:
    Texas
    So correct. Especially dealers!
     
  16. duxsrus

    duxsrus New Member

    Messages:
    1,014
    State:
    SW Ohio
    That's what I'm talking about. You got a metal motor fastened to a metal boat with metal bolts and a metal control box fastened the same way, it's just innevetable. I spent several days when I brought my new boat home just fixing the wiring. Upgrading the trolling motor wiring, running individual grounds to the fuse block for each accessory instead of the factory tieng them alltogether into one 14 gauge and it running back to the battery, replacing almost all of the factory wires with larger ones. But there's still continuity from the negative battery post to the hull. Not load carrying, but definately has continuity. Likewise with all the other boats that I've checked. When I brought my new boat home I didn't honestly didn't expect it to be wired correctly. But I definately was amazed at how many corners the factory will take though. :wink:
     
  17. cubedweller

    cubedweller New Member

    Messages:
    454
    State:
    MO
    I'm once again amazed at the variety and depth of expertise of the BOC...
     
  18. olefin

    olefin New Member

    Messages:
    3,908
    State:
    Texas
    I wonder why there is continuity between the negative battery post and hull on some boats and none on others? Just to be sure, I checked mine with both my volt/ohm meters, one is digital and the other analog, none on either meter.