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the dream of dawn

New Atomic-Four Engine Panel

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So many projects to do on Arcturus. However, this summer I seem to have developed a new vice - on those windless days that are meant for boat projects, I've mostly gone stand-up paddle boarding instead. "Hmm... crawl around in the bilges or get out on the water?" Well, I've lost a couple of pounds, but not made much progress on the boat. And of course, the last month was lost to the Big Smoke. Too hazardous to even breathe deeply.

A couple of things did get done. I replaced the mostly non-functional and poorly located original Teleflex engine panel with a set of Isspro gauges and Cole-Herse switches. Actually this did turn out to be a big tedious project. The number of wire terminations was incredible. I had to send away for more ring terminals and shrink-wrap mid-way through.

The problem: I never liked the original engine control panel, down in the cockpit footwell. Aside from the fact that the gauges were mostly non-functional, additional gauges had been scabbed-on by drilling holes in the footwell, adjacent to the panel. Seated at the helm, the only way to read the gauges was to bend down and look between your ankles. Everything was exposed to the weather - two hour meters were ruined. The back of the panel was exposed in the sail locker, where it could easily be damaged by shifting cargo. And it was a gruesome rats-nest of questionable wiring with no strain relief. I did experience a couple of potentially dangerous short circuits in this mess, and it was an increasing PITA to crawl into the sail locker to work on it. Oh, it also featured one of those infamous "trailer connectors."
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So, long story short, the new panel is just inside the companionway, on the side of the "kitchen cupboard." Since the back of that cupboard contains the cockpit instruments, and the outboard side has the shore-power connector, that is one densely-wired little cabinet. But at least it's not down in the sail locker. Would you believe there's still room for a spice rack in there? I, um, had a little accident with the hole saw, so this will probably go through one more iteration. (Had to drill the holes from inside the cabinet, following pre-drilled pilot holes. Accidentally followed the wrong "pilot.") All new wiring harness, correctly terminated. Or at least terminated on terminal strips instead of a spaghetti wad of splices.

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Yes, it's a little awkward to lean around the corner to see the gauges, but not much more awkward than looking down between my ankles. I can reach in from the tiller and start the engine by feel. (Had to put the choke knob lower down, next to the drawers shown in the pic.) And I added the "Engine Warning and Diagnostic System" idiot-light buzzer system from Moyer Marine, so there is an audible warning if anything is approaching trouble levels. Also, it's much easier when working on the engine itself.

Coincidentally, if anybody is in need of an original Ericson 29 engine control panel and Atomic-Four wiring harness, along with a functional temperature gauge & sensor and a NAPA oil pressure gauge, I have a deal for you.

Another little project was necessitated when the bilge pump float switch failed. The old mercury switch still makes a contact, but the resistance is high and it doesn't run the pump. But I couldn't bring myself to just splice the new switch into the old nasty snarl of damp wires down in the bilge. With the magic of Weld-Mount supports, I straightened up the hoses and wires down there, and properly (?) connected them on a new terminal strip, high and dry, in the engine compartment. Now that I think more about it, I'm probably going to regret that placement next time I have to fool around with the carburetor... Anyway, I managed to turn a ten-minute project into a two hour project, plus an extra trip to the shop for more parts.
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Updated 09-25-2017 at 05:39 PM by toddster

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  1. adam's Avatar
    Looks great.

    But I want to see a pic of that spice rack (seriously). :-)
  2. Gary Holford's Avatar
    Great job, do you have an inside pix of the panel?
  3. CPeregord's Avatar
    How much did this project cost you in materials?
  4. toddster's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by CPeregord
    How much did this project cost you in materials?
    You can get an idea of the total cost by looking through the Moyer Marine web catalog. However, I actually accumulated this stuff over the course of three or four years, not all at once. Though there was one big final shopping basket to complete the project. On average, the gauges cost around $60 and external sensors, for those gauges that require them, cost about that much more. Note that the Engine Warning and Diagnostic system requires a whole separate set of sensors.
    Now that this is done, some discussion over on the Moyer forums has piqued my interest in an air/fuel ratio gauge that works with an oxygen sensor. Probably not something that a casual user needs, but if long periods of motoring were contemplated, it might help to maintain optimal fuel economy. Or maybe just another toy for a nerdy boy.

    BTW: One reason to go with all Isspro gauges was an assumption that they would all have the same kind of connecting terminals on the back, for ease of wiring. But they don't. And there are actually small differences between the face styles too. Maybe a consequence of buying them in different years, but that seems odd to me. By coincidence, the factory where these gauges are made is right around the corner from Columbia Marine Exchange, where I buy (and sell) a lot of my second-hand boating gear. Sadly, there is no discount factory outlet store on site.