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"Thelonious" Ericson 32-3

M25 Engine Wiring Upgrade Part 1--Cockpit Gauges

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Why bother?

Well, twice last year my M25 diesel wouldn't start up again after being turned off. I could jump the solenoid with a screwdriver--if there was someone in the cockpit to hold down the paired glow plug and starter buttons. When it happened singlehanded I had to sail into the slip, picking my way through maniacal 10-year-old Optimist pram racers all yelling "Starboard!" at me like Transpac lawyers. So, there was that.

And then there were the gauges. The tachometer jumped like a kangaroo. The ammeter didn't function at all, which was good, since maybe it was disconnected and that wiring upgrade had already been done. The faded water temperature dial never got above 160. But was it measuring anything? The switch to test the oil light was quite mysterious, and eventually understood only after abandoning Aristotelian deductive logic, which, although it sustained Christianity for a Millennium, is quite susceptible to the false premise eventually identified for me by Tom Metzger. Under the back cover of the panel gauges was the usual tangle of wiring. It looked OK from a bar stool at midnight, but upon sober inspection in the morning had a rode-hard-and-put-away-wet appearance. So I determined to fix the old girl up with two bucks and a pat on the head. This was, as usual, an underestimation.
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Aging marine electrical systems wear down but not out. Renewing them is mostly just a matter of performing well-known safety upgrades, re-terminating wires, improving grounds and changing instruments and switches that are worn out. The necessary procedures are all explained in the links below. A few quick scans will make it all clear for anyone of average intelligence who has worked on the Space Shuttle or dug a root cellar in permafrost. I personally did it all without really understanding any of it, which remains a source of great personal satisfaction.

http://www.ericsonyachts.org/infoexc...3793#post83793
http://forums.catalina.sailboatowner...d.php?t=135558
http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5078.0.html
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It was some time since attention had been paid to the back side of my cockpit instruments. Several ring terminals were hanging by a thread. The ammeter lamp had corroded right off. The push-pull ignition switch and the buttons for glow and start were suspect, and with no lock washers the terminal screws were perpetually loose. An in-line fuse holder, when opened, crumbled to rusty dust. Most panel wires arrived through an 8-pin connector hidden out of sight under the cockpit floor. There are two of these famous "trailer connectors", the other one being in the engine compartment. They allowed the installation crew in Irvine back in 1985 to just snap the electrical system together. But over the years corrosion may have introduced unwanted resistance, so time to cut them out. In fact, I concluded that I might as well replace everything. Here's what I ordered from Defender:

#300511 TEL HDS DIESEL TACH
#303996 TEL WATER TEMP AMEGA
# 03943 TEL VOLTMETER 8-18 VDC AMEGA
COLE OFF-ON PUSH PULL SWITCH
COLE PUSH BUTTON SWITCH (Off/Momentary On) (2)

The Teleflex Amega line of tachometer, voltmeter and water temperature gauge matched exactly my originals, so they went right in. None of the senders needed to be replaced, and the original wiring was fine. In the photo below you can see the cut-off trailer connectors. I just joined the ends with heat-seal butt connectors, being sure to leave enough wire so that the panel could be removed from the bulkhead. I re-terminated all the wires with new ring connectors, polished up the contacts, and disposed of many old wires that went nowhere.
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The voltmeter was introduced as part of Ammeter Replacement .
The new start and glow-plug buttons and push-pull ignition switch were mostly for bright and shiny peace of mind. I even bought a new oil light test switch, since the old one didn't seem to do anything. Sometimes it lit up the oil light and sometimes it didn't. I tried it with the engine on and the engine off. When faced with a puzzle like this, what I do is logically think it through. I envision the purpose of an electrical component, trace its circuitry in the mind's eye, and apply logic. That way you avoid the dumb mistakes of inexperienced boobs. For example, the salesman at West Marine, who when I explained the oil light test circuitry to him didn't seem to really grasp it. He did sell me an expensive switch. However, when I removed the old one, its wires were not connected to anything. I effortlessly deduced that this could well be the cause of its intermittent function. But without a wiring pattern to copy, I didn't know how to wire it. Furthermore, the oil light test switch was not on any Ericson wiring diagram I could find. So, taking advantage of the Ericson Forum, I asked Tom Metzger for help.

"Oil light test switch?" he said. "What is that? No such thing."

"Yes, there is. Look at the picture I sent. It's the switch right under the damned oil light."

"That's the blower switch. It's not on the schematic because the blower was optional. Do you have a blower?"

"Of course not. I threw it away last year. Who needs a blower with a diesel?"

"Well, you still have the switch." I could hear Metzger laughing while typing a thousand miles away. "Since it has nothing to do with the oil light, you can throw it away too."

But look how nice it all came out. On the left, the battered old unreliable instrument panel with oil light test switch. On the right, the shiny new one. A tach that doesn't bounce, buttons that that feel secure, wires with guaranteed connections, all good for thirty more years. And I did it all with my pretty little hands.
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However, when I pulled the new ignition switch for the first time the engine started. This surprise threw me back three feet. When you pull that switch the lift pump starts, the oil light comes on, the gauges activate. The engine is not supposed to roar to life like carnival in Brazil..

Panic email to Metzger: Now what have I done?

He got back in an hour. Those shiny new buttons you bought for glow plug and starter--does the box say Normal Off, Mom on? Mom is for "momentary". Because if they say Normal On, Momentary off, you bought the wrong ones. Just change them. There being no emoticon for "What an Idiot", he closed with a Smiley Face.

So I changed the buttons and now I have a new cockpit panel which looks really, really good and an engine that starts right up.

Next: Engine Wiring Upgrade Part 2--Alternator Jump and Ground Bus

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Updated 04-12-2014 at 06:18 PM by Christian Williams

Categories
Maintenance and Mechanical , Ericson Ownership

Comments

  1. Tom Metzger's Avatar
    OMG!!!! I created a monster.

    I had heard there was nothing worse than a reformed drunk , but they didn't know about a sailor with a solved engine problem.

  2. fidji's Avatar
    Since voltmeter give good information I prefer to put a oil pressure gauge that give a more critical information . The small red light should tell you that something goes wrong with your engine but it is already too late. If you can read lower oil pressure than normal reading , you are warned that your engine have'nt the right oil grade , the water temp gauge is not working properly and your engine is running to hot, the oil filter is too dirty or clogged your oil pump is worn out, your engine need a rebuild job etc.....

    Instead of a voltmeter I placed a link 10 close to the breakers panel and than have, volts, amps, power consumption, batteries state, % of batterie charge, alternator output, time left before full charge etc...

    Thanks Tom I rewired my panel and my alternator too. That saved me from many problemo

    Eric Meunier





    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Metzger
    OMG!!!! I created a monster.

    I had heard there was nothing worse than a reformed drunk , but they didn't know about a sailor with a solved engine problem.

    Updated 02-19-2014 at 12:11 PM by fidji
  3. Charlie B.'s Avatar
    Thanks for the excellent blog entry describing how to replace the old gauges!

    I have finally gotten around to doing it on my boat and have a question regarding the voltage meter wiring. Your picture appears to show the hot wires coming into the Sender position. According to the instructions I got with the gauge they indicate not to connect to the S, just connect the Ground and the Ignition positive. Is there some reason to connect to the S?

    Charlie B.
  4. Christian Williams's Avatar
    Hi Charlie,
    You may be referring to the "before" picture, which shows the old (inoperative) ammeter. I'm sure I wired the voltmeter as the diagram that came with it said.
    Cheers,
    CW
  5. Charlie B.'s Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Williams
    Hi Charlie,
    You may be referring to the "before" picture, which shows the old (inoperative) ammeter. I'm sure I wired the voltmeter as the diagram that came with it said.
    Cheers,
    CW
    Now when I look at the picture more closely, it does look like the ammeter! Sorry for any alarm my question may have raised.

    I finished my install yesterday and the gauges look great and even have lights that work. Today I will tackle the replacement of the "trailer connector" on the wiring harness. Hopefully this will end the balky starter problems.
    Charlie
  6. Christian Williams's Avatar
    Anyone working on the starter circuits should also consider the starter motor itself--especially if it is original, and especially if you experience "lazy" turnover of the diesel which seems to be the result of weak batteries or bad wiring.

    Read this thread (click for link).
  7. Charlie B.'s Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Williams
    Anyone working on the starter circuits should also consider the starter motor itself--especially if it is original, and especially if you experience "lazy" turnover of the diesel which seems to be the result of weak batteries or bad wiring.

    Read this thread (click for link).
    Thanks for the link! I will add this to my list of probable causes or to do's.

    My main problem appears to be electrical. The engine will start quickly with a full battery, but at the end of the day it takes 4-5 button pushes before it will turnover. I suspect that there may be a poor connection in the starter switch or ignition switch or somewhere else in the starting wiring. I will keep upgrading connections and switches until it is solved.
  8. GrandpaSteve's Avatar
    Hi Christian - did you have to calibrate the tach or are you looking for a reliable "relative" reading?

    Is it possible that the old tach would have worked fine after you got rid of the old harness connections?
  9. Christian Williams's Avatar
    Steve,
    I "calibrated" by turning the selector on the back on the new tachometer until it showed an idle of about 800 rpms (M25). At max throttle I think it reads about 3400. Close enough for jazz.

    The old one worked well enough - when it started jumping I just kicked it or changed the throttle. Truth is, was just faded and tired looking. Who wants to look in that mirror every day?
  10. GrandpaSteve's Avatar
    Are either of these switches right for glow and start?

    Cole Hersee COL-M492 (defender) http://www.defender.com/product3.jsp...0054&id=617110
    Cole Hersee COL-M626 (defender) http://www.defender.com/product3.jsp...0054&id=618206

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Metzger
    OMG!!!! I created a monster.

    I had heard there was nothing worse than a reformed drunk , but they didn't know about a sailor with a solved engine problem.

  11. GrandpaSteve's Avatar
    This is the right one:
    Cole Hersee COL-M626 (defender) http://www.defender.com/product3.jsp?path=-1|328|2290051|2290054&id=618206

    Quote Originally Posted by GrandpaSteve
    Are either of these switches right for glow and start?

    Cole Hersee COL-M492 (defender) http://www.defender.com/product3.jsp...0054&id=617110
    Cole Hersee COL-M626 (defender) http://www.defender.com/product3.jsp...0054&id=618206