Thursday, 15 October 2009

De-fuse-ing the situation

Wednesday was, for me, a day off due to it being a training day at work. Apparently, I require no training, and so resolved to work on the boat instead.

So I decided to sort out the coolie hat- no, sorry, the "Chinese Rain Hat" (to use the PC term)- and mount it on brackets on top of the chimney, to keep the rain out.

The coolie hat itself was a gift from Big John, who had in turn been given it by John III on Monty. Confused as to all the Johns? Me too.

Either way, it is brass and shiny, and will polish up a treat. The first task was to make the three supports, which will attach onto the bolts holding the outer and inner skins of the chimney together, so I used a piece of flat steel bar I had bought from Mackays yesterday, and cut each support to length before drilling the holes for the bolts in the chimney, and the bolts in the hat itself, and then finally bending them to shape in Big John's Workmate.

The final mounting looks OK, but I think I'm going to drill another set of holes further up the supports so the cover will sit lower; the gap is a little big at the moment, and it hasn't completely passed the aesthetic review by Amy, so it will need fettling at some point in the future.

The next job was to replace the fuseboard for the 12v supply, which powers all the lights, pumps, and the domestic electrics. This job took all afternoon, interrupted for a spectacular lunch with John.

The old fuseboard took "Continental" fuses, and was extremely corroded. Getting the old one out was simple- snip the "busbar", which was in reality a tiny little wire soldered to all the contacts, and unscrew it from the plastic box housing.

The corrosion and the age of the fitting meant that it was becoming unreliable. Having lost power to the lights four times on Tuesday night- once when Amy was in the shower!- this job was bumped up the list of things to do.

I had bought two fuseholders (each holds four fuses, and I needed six) from a local motor factor, for something like 15% of the price of a "proper" Vetus unit! Yes, these ones might not be as neat looking, or as splashproof, but they will do adequately, I think.

Mouning the fuseholders was easy, but supplying the six positive terminals from one power feed was going to be interesting! I was tempted to use a chocolate block and many wires, going one to the next, but came up with a far neater- and probably quicker- solution.

I took a thick copper cable, that had previously joined two batteries together, and stripped off all the insulation leaving a core of copper wires. I twisted them and made branches off by each terminal for the fuses, and then bound the whole thing in insulation tape for safety and to hold it together, and crimped on the terminals with my new ratchetting crimper tool, bought from Mackays yesterday.

I connected up the power feed, and then spent nearly an hour fiddling about trying to reconnect the feeds to the 12v supplies. It was frustrating, but I managed it in the end.

I attatched the lid, tidied away all the cables, and finally sat down for dinner and an (I think) well deserved cuppa.

Long-term plans include changing the short piece of cable between the master switch and the fuseboard for something a little heftier, as the exisiting cable (the brown one entering the white fusebox on the right hand side in the photos above) is a little small, and so the lights tend to flicker whenever a high-current demand, like the water pump or the inverter, is used- which is annoying when showering, as the lights dim and brighten in time with the cycles of the water pump! But it is still slightly better with the improvements I made, there's just a little more to go.