— The website of the Sailing Vessel Beatrix, Kelly-Peterson 44 #276 (1980).

Beatrix has a lot of new gear on her, much of it electric and electronic.  This means accommodating generator, inverter, refrigerator/freezer and cabin heater control panels plus new radios, Multi data display.  The new ICOM VHF and SSB radios are designed to be flush mounted, which we have chosen to do.  We are also planning an alarm panel, an auxiliary switch panel,  a context navigation light switch, and some other stuff.  The real estate for all this just didn't exist, so wedecided to get rid of the stupid little bookshelf on the side of the Nav Station and replace it with equipment panels.

Replacing the ugly, old. outmoded, and dangerous AC and DC main electrical panel is a job I've been wanting to do for a long time.  I first identified the various components and functional requirements for the replacement Main Panel and the Radio and Auxiliary Panel.   Then I could start planning the location of each component and what off-the-shelf items could be bought and what needed to be custom-built.

Design  Before Reconstruction  During Construction  Completed

Blue Sea System panels were selected because they 1) fit the space, 2) were cheaper than custom panels, 3) easier than home made, and 4) looked great.  

A difference on Beatrix's main switchboard is inclusion of an AC panel dedicated to international power (230VAC/50Hz).  When in use overseas the 230V AC Panel sits between the shore power and the isolation/step-down transformer and has two Australian-style power outlets.

Beatrix had an isolation transformer with windings designed to step down 230V/50hz power to 110V/50hz power which was designed power the Trace "modified sine wave" inverter/charger and all regular 110V AC loads.  With the demise of Trace we sold that unit and acquired an FX2012T 110v sealed inverter charger from Outpack Power Systems. Later on I would add a second unit, an FX2012ME to handle producing 230 to 240 vac. I removed the isolation transformer which was only designed as a step-down and would not isolate 230v to 230v. After some consultation with an electrical engineer in Australia I removed the "green wire" connection to shore power altogether and installed a RCD or GFI device for safety. Both 110v and 240v systems are covered by Residual Current Devices. There are other ways to do this which are just as good or better, e.g. having a dedicated "International" charger plus a pure sine wave inverter only [no charger] to power the AC loads. Everything is then DC driven and all the shore power is for is to charge the batteries.

Visio 2010 is what I have been using to create the drawings on this website.  The drawings below give me an idea of what the rebuilt Nav Station might look like when finished, and also helps me place the components.  Part way through the project I drove over to M&I Systems to see what it cost to make the custom panel for the Nav Lights (second picture from left, below).  Much to my surprise, custom engraving of the entire panel wasn't as much as I had thought, so I scrapped my plans for using an off-the-shelf switch panel and because of the space-saving that ensued I was able to produce a much nicer, tighter, more efficient design (third picture from left, below).  It will take about a month to make it, so this project will be on hold until mid-May. (Note, it took a lot longer than a month and a bit more than quoted, but I'm still happy with it).

The custom panel takes a few weeks to manufacture.  I  drew the design using Visio but  a CAD program like TurboCad or AutoCad would work even better.  Done right, the design loads directly into the control program for the auto-engraver which does the job.  The engraver is essentially a computer driven router which can cut the aluminum backplate and the plastic faceplate.  The lettering is cut from the back of the plate which allow backlit illumination of the switch labels. 

The wiring diagrams below show the modifications made to the Blue Seas AC panels to accommodate international power.

Design  Before Reconstruction  During Construction  Completed [top]

The contents of this page are an example of a refitting job performed on a single vessel by its owner.  Just because I put it here for your interest and information does not guarantee it will work on your boat, or work at all. Fair winds & smooth sailing. -- Jeff Stander


Last modified: November 23 2015 04:29