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Batteries, cables, chargers and misc other stuff on Valkyr

Updated 9/2018 with comments on how this has worked out in the last 8 years since I wrote this article.

Re-doing the power systems on Valkyr

When we got the boat it had two optima batteries one in the starter bank and one in the house bank. There were two other group 31 Sea Volt AGM batteries sitting on the boat not hooked up. My plan is to use the two group 31 Sea Volt AGM’s along with 2 identical Group 31’s that I have on my old boat to make a house bank of 440 AH. The two optima AGM batteries will go in the second engine starting bank. These are controlled from the stock DC switch panel that has a 1/2/All/Off switch integrated into it.

To charge the batteries Valkyr had a 3 stage computer controlled portable automotive 1/10/25 amp charger just clipped to one of the batteries. Though it is a very nice charger we would rather that the bank be charged independent of each other. We purchased a Xantrex XC 50 amp 12v 3 bank multi chemistry battery charger to rectify this. http://xantrex.com/power-products/battery-chargers/xc-series.aspx

We got a pretty good deal by price matching at west marine $499 plus another 49 for a two year warranty that will replace it even if we drop it in the water. I normally don’t do extended warranties as they mostly are a rip off but Xantrex doesn’t have the greatest reputation with their support so we thought that a little extra caution would be good. Also it extends the warranty by a year which I liked also. We could have gone with a cheaper charger by several hundred dollars but this one can charge different chemistry banks separately as well as use input power from 240 volts down to about 90 volts.. basically no matter what the shore power is this charger can handle it. No having to go buy a new charger when in Europe etc.. Right now we only have two battery banks but if we ever get a powered winch there will be a battery up in the forward part of the boat that the third bank can handle.  Update 9/2018  ( this charge controller worked well for many years. I haven’t used it in years due to the solar system we put int but it should still be working.)

Part of the battery equation is complicated by the inverter we are installing. A Xantrex Xpower 3000 watt inverter. http://xantrex.com/power-products/power-inverters/xpower-inverters-high-power.aspx

It has a remote on off switch as well as a direct wire connection on the 120 side. The complication is that if we actually put much of a load on it the amp draw goes through the roof. As much as 350 amps at full capacity. I doubt we ever push it much over 200 amps but the system needs to be designed to handle that heavy of a draw or we could end up with smoking hot battery cables. Right now there are what look like 2 awg cables running from the battery switch to the batteries. Some of the cables connecting the existing batteries to each other look as if they are 4 awg.

2 awg sized cables have a max current capacity of 210 amps and 4 awg of 160 amps (those numbers are under ideal conditions, in a hot engine compartment knock off 25% at least). Both of these cable sizes are much to small to handle the potential current draw of the new inverter if all the current is trying to run through one set of cables.

Potential solutions are to move up to bigger cable such as 4/0 that is rated to 445 amps or to use a buss bar system where each individual battery is connected by its own positive and negative cable to the buss. You can use much smaller cable in this situation. 4 batteries connected to a buss by 4 awg cable can theoretically safely pull 640 amps as each set of cables can handle a part of the load in parallel. So 4x 160 amps per cable = 640 amps. If you add more batteries your capacity goes up from there. Another complication is that in an engine compartment that is hot you can’t even draw the rated capacity through the cables. You need to de-rate them by as much ¼ their capacity. The longer, hotter and smaller the cables the more voltage drop you will get also. With bigger cables the voltage drop is much less. I purchased some of the cable from this vendor on the internet that I have delt with before and had good success with. http://shop.genuinedealz.com/M…..de%20Wire/ they sell cable and connectors at about 20% of what the same item at west marine would cost. I did purchase about 2/3 of my cable this time at west marine by price matching to get the cheaper price. I would rather over all buy localy than over the internet when I can just to support local vendors. I ended up paying a little more because of taxes than if I had bought it online. I wasn’t able to price match the lug ends for the cable as west marine sells them in two lug boxes. I ordered the lugs from http://www.delcity.net/store/Heavy!duty-Copper-Lugs/p_1012.a_1 for .89 cents vs 3 dollars apiece at west marine.

The ones from Delcity are about twice the quality of the cheap anchor version sold at west marine. Genuinedealz.com also sells good lugs at fairly inexpensive rates. I would have bought there is I had not been buying so many at the time that it saved me a lot of money to get them at Delcity.

Finding a decent buss bar for this system was difficult. I needed something that I could afford and that had a large enough size that I could attach upwards of 8 5/16 heavy duty zinc coated copper lugs to and that it could handle at least the 350 amps of the inverter that would be hooked up to it also. Most marine buses that are sold by marine supply houses such as west marine are 150 amp buss bars with 4 posts on them. You could just stack the lugs one on top of the there on the posts but it really is not recommended as they can under a heavy load get hot. Also that still isn’t enough amp capacity. These cheaper small buses cost from $19 to around $30. There is a 600 amp buss that still only has 4 posts but it runs around $199 from most vendors and I needed two of them. One for the positive buss and one for the negative buss.

I finally tracked down a commercial company that sells buss systems. I was able to get a 10 inch long ¼ inch thick by 2 inch wide zinc covered solid copper bus with supports for about 40 dollars apiece. http://store.electrical-insula…..b1bar.html

This size buss should be able to handle in excess of 1000 amps so it is way over kill but the price was right. The next nearest thing I could find was well over 100 dollars each. I will have to build a shield that goes over the buses once they are installed to protect them and other stuff from accidentally shorting across them. Another nice thing is that I can use a tap and die to thread the holes and use 5/16 stainless bolts that exactly match the lug sizes to attach the lugs to the buss. All ends and attachments points will also be covered in vaseline or a special electrical grease to inhibit corrosion.

From the buss I will then use a very short length of 4/0 cable to go to the inverter that will be on the other side of a bulkhead from the buss. The 4/0 cable will be protected by a heavy duty 250 amp fuse in a mega fuse holder as close to the buss as I can place it. (Update 9/2018  Buss bars were one of our best ideas yet. with the dielectric grease on them they still look new we have had zero corrosion in any part of the systems described here, buss bars, cables etc..)

The inverter setup had some gotchas in it also. Valkyr has an existing shore power setup and about 9 110 outlets throughout the boat. There is no existing inverter or generator so there was no systems setup to switch from on type of 110 to another. You can’t run your inverter and shore power at the same time. It will cause unspecified bad things to happen to your expensive inverter.

The solution to this is to install a Automatic Transfer Switch. There are readily available commercial solutions for this but most of them start at about $200 and go up. After some digging I found a Iota product called the Iota Engineering ITS-30R 30 Amp AC Transfer Switch.

I found these to be a cheap solution at about $57 each. I only need one as I will for now just have shore power and inverter. You lead the power into the ITS-30R from both and if the shore power is on it disconnects the inverter. If the shore power is off and the inverter is on it will connect the inverter. If I ever decide to add a generator then I will add a second ITS-30R and series and it will chose the power source in this order. 1. shore power 2. generator 3. inverter.

Once the installation is finished I will update this with photos of the installation.

Well, we got a call day before yesterday telling us that our batteries on the boat were dead. We had only left the boat a couple days before that and they were doing fine. When I got there yesterday, they were at 5.5 volts.. two Optima deep cycle batteries.. I guess they are about,100AH each.,I know what killed them.. The fridge…. it runs 100% of the time and is 12v only. Why it killed them, I don’t know. The charger that was keeping them topped off has been doing a pretty good job for months,even though it is not a marine charger. It is a 3 stage 25 amp charger that we just clipped to the posts on one of the batteries. The boat charger that was on the boat died a year or so ago and the prior owner just put this charger on as a quick fix. When I bought the boat I knew that I needed to put a real charger in. So three or four months ago I ordered and got the Xantrex charger in the post above. Well I figure this has moved the install the charger project to the top of the list.

So yesterday I took up a couple few other chargers to see if i could bring the optimas back to life. I used a manual 6 amp 12v charger to bring them back up from 5.5 volts. The computer controlled 3 stage chargers that I use most of the time won’t even attempt to charge a battery that is that deeply discharged. After about 4 hours on the manual charger I was able to put one of the 25 amp 3 stage chargers on each of the batterys in the battery bank and charge them seperately to a state of full charge. It took about 10 hours total. Both of them seem to be up and running and now that they are fully charged on of the chargers is keeping them topped off and driving the house loads. This is back to what we were doing before. 🙁 So I decided it’s time to start putting the new bus bars in and finding a place to mount the new 50 amp 3 bank charger permanently.

I didn’t get as much done today as I had hoped. Just a place to mount the charger, holes for the cables to go through the bulkhead and into the engine compartment to the bus bars and the bus bars installed. The bus bars ended up taking the longest to install as I had to tap them for the 5/16th bolts I will be using to attach the 4AWG wire and 5/16th inch lugs that will go on the wire.

Here are the pictures and a little commentary.

This picture is of the bulkhead between the storage under the pilot berth and the engine compartment. You can see the hole with all the wires going through it at the bottom. This is where the factory routed all the wires between the chart table and the AC and DC panels to the engine compartment.The little hole above that is the 1st of two holes that I drilled to day to run the #4 AWG battery cable that I will run from the battery charger to the positive and negative bus bars that the batteries will attach to. The battery charger will mount just to the left of that hole. I think the 3000 watt inverter will mount to the left of the battery charger and the #04 AWG cable that will connect it to the bus bars will most likely get its own holes..

Dead above of where the battery charger will be mounted in the pilot berth itself you can see the bolt heads in the 4 holes that I drilled in the bulkhead between the engine compartment and the pilot berth. I had to crawl into the pilot berth and shut the door to get at the bulkhead here to install the bolts. It’s a bit tight in there for a 6’2″ guy but not as bad as some places I have had to crawl. The two holes on the left were about a half inch higher than the holes on the right. I drilled the holes from the engine compartment side so as to not hit any of the insane wiring running up the bulkhead there. I ended up just hitting the trim strip at the top of the bulkhead. I went to NAPA and bought a bolt a little bit longer so that I could go ahead and use that hole.. No need to put another hole in the wood.

Before inserting the bolts I put a drop of locktite on them so that when I screwed on the isolation mounts in the engine compartment they would not later vibrate off.

In the engine compartment I start to screw the mounts to the protruding bolts.

Now that the mounts for the bus bars are in place I need to tap the 5/16 inch threads into the bus bars. There are 16 holes that need to be tapped in each bus bar. I thought it would be a lot easier than it ended up being. I guess 1/4 inch zinc plated copper material is a bit harder than I thought.. harder and more prone to grabbing the tap and making it seize in the hole it is cutting. I got a full upper body workout doing this as you can see. The wrench that came with the tap and die set that I used was useless to hold and turn the tap with. I ended up using a large set of vise grips and they worked very well. I put the tap in a drill and started threading the holes in the bars. However the drill didn’t have the HP needed to tap the full thickness. It would get the holes started and then I would do them by hand as seen below. If I had known how difficult this was going to be I would have used a vise and the drill press in my shop to do it. However the shop is 60 miles away in this picture.

side view

Finished holes. As you can see it didn’t cut them perfectly smooth. I think this is due to the cheap tap and die set. If you notice in the picture above.. The tap is starting to deform. The lower part is slightly twisted out of alignment with the upper. That I was able to deform it by hand like this doesn’t say much for the quality. However it lasted through this job and I got threads good enough that I could thread a 5/16th bolt into all of them. I will most likely put a locknut on the back of each bolt anyway once they are on the bus bar. between the top of the bolt holding the lugs in and the threads and bottom bolt I will have a connection that can carry hundreds of amps if needed. I have an anti corrosion grease to put on all connections also.

The installed bus bars. They are located just under the cockpit floor on the starboard bulkhead in the engine compartment just behind the frame that the companionway stairs locks to. You can see the engine wiring harness and misc wires running between them here. I was going to locate them about 18 inches below where I ended up putting them. However that location was so open to accidentally having something touch them or short across them. I plan on having a cover over them but this location gets them up and out of the way of everything.

This is all I got done today… later this week I will mount the charger and connect the AC and DC leads and run the remote panel for it, as well as bring two more batteries to the boat so that I can install four batteries for a 440 amp hour house bank and move the two optimas in to a second 200 amp hour engine start bank. I’m not sure yet where I will mount the two optimas. maybe I will find a place under the pilot berth

Well it has been about 7 months since I started ordering parts and I have finally gotten the batteries, buss bars, cables and xantrex charger installed. The inverter is not installed yet.

Here is a picture of the Batteries (you can see 3 of the 4 group 31 agm batteries that are in the house bank here) below them you will see the 140 amp DC circuit breakers and AWG 4 cabling that goes to the buss bars.

I found the circuit breakers on ebay for between 5 and 10 dollars apiece. Much cheaper than the 30 to 60 dollars apiece that is normal retail. This link will take you to a similar breaker on ebay that is 100 amp for $5.28 http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/100-AMP-12V-CIRCUIT-BREAKER-PS82-100-_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQhashZitem5d27a3c84eQQitemZ400097003598QQptZCarQ5fAudioQ5fVideo How long the link will be good I don’t know. However just searching for DC circuit breakers will usually pull some up. (update 9/2018 The circuit breakers are now 8 years old and look and work as good as they did when installed. I would use these again. I did bust one the other day replacing batteries by having a battery drop on it. It’s a cheap and quick replacement though. )

Here are the buss bars installed and hooked up. I still have to create a cover for them so that no accidents happen. They are up high and recessed behind the portside opening into the engine compartment so it is unlikely that anyone would accidentally set a tool across them but I want a cover for them anyways. The entire bus bar is coated with a di-electric grease as well as all lugs and bolts. All connections to breakers and batteries are also all greased. I am hoping this will help retard any corrosion. All cables were made by me and glue lined heat shrink wrap was applied to every joint between cable and lug. If I was unable to get heat shrink on it then I used self sealing/amalgamating silicone tape to seal the lugs/cable.

I installed the xantrex 5012 in the compartment under the pilot berth on starboard. It is on the other side of the bulkhead you can see behind the buss bars above and about 30 inches below it. This makes for a very short cable run from it to the buss bars to charge the batteries. I used some of the left over 4AWG cable to connect it. A bit overkill but the whole system is very much over spec to keep voltage drop to a minimum. Here is a pic of the xantrex installed. (update 9/2018  about 2 or 3 years after installing this I installed 500 watts of solar and the 60 amp mppt charge controller was installed just to the left of this charger. I used a morningstar unit that has give great service.)

You can see the AC power line on the left and the positive and negative DC lines coming out on the right bottom. The other two lines are the remote panel data line and the grey temperature sensor that is installed on one of the batteries negative terminals. The temperature sensor allows the charger to reduce charging levels if the batteries are hot or get hot during charging to protect them from damage. The remote control panel is mounted with the other instruments at the chart table. See images below for the remote control panel.

let it not be said that I did this all on my own. I was closely supervised during this whole process by

Sailor

Sailor up in the galley cupboard behind the stove. He has learned how to open this himself when he wants to get back in there.

Scott

September 26th 2010 onboard s/v Valkyr Southport NC.

Major hardware upgrade to server hosting website

Ok, I finally got to move the virtual server from the older hardware it was on to newer older hardware. Basically went from a dual quad core zeon to a quad processor 10 core per processor system. I was able to give the system more ram and cpus to help increase performance. I think it has worked. It’s only been up on the new hardware for a few minutes and seems to be much much faster. You should notice not differences at all other than speed.

 

Also and sorry about this but if you made any posts since about 4pm yesterday till the time of this post they did not get moved over to the new server. Please post again. I did not notice that anyone had posted in that timespans so didn’t think it would be an issue. Due to the old hardware it took many hours to convert from the old virtual format to a raw format and the move the image to the new hardware. Then had to be converted again to the new virtual platform. however that all being said it is a much more powerfull system and run on a 10 disk raid 10 array of ssd’s that should allow it to run … well just a lot faster 🙂

If you notice any weirdness that is new let me know.

Scott Carle

Jack of all IT trades and Webmaster.

 

Server Issues

So I am sure some of you have noticed the website missing for intermittent periods over the last day or so. Our server is a virtual server running on a larger hardware server. The physical server underwent maintenance and a major OS upgrade. This for some still unknown negatively impacted the virtual servers running on top of it, one of which runs our website as well as several other websites. I have been working trying to figure out the issue and get the site back up. As of the time of this post it is running but the performance is really bad. Expect it to be slow until we figure out what is wrong. If we can not figure it out in the next week I will have to start looking at moving the website to a new VS server, which will be a lot of work and more disruption. Hopefully though even if slow the virtual server will stay stable.

I just wanted everyone to have a little heads up on what is going on.

Scott Carle

DE 38 Fuel Tank Replacement

When we bought our Downeast Cutter 38’ in March 2014 we knew were in for a project. The boat had actually taken on a considerable amount of water partially submerging the engine, flooding the transmission, and fully flooding the aluminum fuel tank in seawater. The seawater had risen to about 18” into the salon between the two sofas. The owners agreed to get the engine running, pump out the water, and clean up the boat. I spent a few months doing various repairs, including a complete transmission removal/rebuild, as the salt water had gotten into some critical parts of the engine room. In the end, the damage seemed worse than it really was. However, after one particular day out, it became evident to us that the fuel tanks were in need of replacement.

The Downeaster 38 has a large Y-shaped fuel tank directly beneath the floor in the galley. The original tank appears to have been made from aluminum and was installed before the furniture was built in an effort to maximize the capacity. Beam-to-beam, the wings on the top of the tank extend as far as underneath the stove and part of the navigation station. Fore to aft, the tank is between the galley sink and the engine room. What’s particularly interesting is that the keel for the boat drops off abruptly into the deep sump under the engine, so the center of the tank is not flat on the bottom. Rather it follows a stair-stepped shape on the bottom to accommodate the keel which protrudes partially into the space below the galley.

Previous Owner's Sketch of Tank...

Previous Owner’s Sketch of Tank…

 

The first step was to get all of the fuel out of the tank. This was important not only to make it possible to work on the tank, but to prevent any potential fuel from leaking into the bilge as it would present quite an environmental hazard if the bilge pump were to kick on. To do this, I obtained a 55 gal. fuel storage drum and used a hand crank pump to extract all the fuel. We had about half a tank of fuel in there. The easiest way to do this was to pull out the fuel sensor in the tank, stick the tube from the extraction pump into the hole and pump it all into the drum. We just left the drum on the salon floor while we did the rest of the job, with our plan being to replace the fuel as soon as we finished.  I don’t know that I would do it this way again, as I’m not sure if the weight of the drum had done some damage to the salon floor.

One we were able to get all the fuel removed, and I was able to see what we were dealing with I decided that the project was bigger than me and it was time to get the help of a pro.  I found a mechanic who came highly recommended by some friends, and I gave him a call…

The perfect addition to any salon...

The perfect addition to any salon…

With the fuel out of the tank, we could sleep a little easier knowing that we weren’t keeping fuel in an aging tank.  We enlisted the help of a mechanic and boatwright to get us through the rest of the process.

The challenge we faced was removing the tank without having to cut apart the furniture or the cabinet beneath the galley sink, but we didn’t exactly know what we were dealing with until we were able to actually get a good look at the tanks. For those of you who haven’t had to do this yet, the floor of the galley is constructed from what appears to be a piece of ¾” marine plywood wrapped in fiberglass on both sides. The decorative finished floor is a piece of ¾” marine plywood with a teak and holly veneer screwed to the top of the solid fiberglass sole. Luckily this can be removed in almost one piece which gives you access to the fiberglass below. From there it was a matter of simply cutting a large rectangular hole so we could get a good look at the tank.

Upon closer inspection, we were able to see exactly large the tank is. We could also finally view the inspection sticker showing that the tank was built in 1979 (two years before the boat was built) and had a max capacity of 81 gallons. The decision was made to actually cut and remove the tank from the boat.  The tricky part was to keep the tank pieces in shape so the fabricator could make a new tank using the pieces as a reference. Cutting a tank in the boat can be very dangerous. In spite of the fact that diesel fuel is far safer than gasoline, it is still very possible to ignite the vapors while cutting. Because of this, it is necessary to purge the tank of any fumes as well as fill the tank with some inert or non-flammable gas in the tank while cutting. This is no joke, as many metalworkers have been killed accidentally igniting vapors in tanks they thought were safe to cut or weld. It was also important to make sure the fuel sludge did not spill into the bilge, as it would have created an oil spill hazard if it got into the bilge. This is without a doubt, the dirtiest part of the job.

Is that a

Is that a “7” or a “9”?

With the tank out in pieces, the it was off to the metal shop for the fabricators to assemble a new set of tanks. After review, the mechanic recommended building the new fuel system as three tanks that would be plumbed together as one.

In order to avoid doing demolition and fiberglass repair work on the various furniture pieces in the galley and navigation station. The three tanks would be inserted in the boat in pieces, then plumbed together using large diameter fuel hose such that they behave as a single tank. This design may seem counterintuitive at first, but keep in mind that tanks are built with baffles to avoid sloshing of fuel while underway. In effect the separate tanks with fuel hoses acted as additional baffling; though each of the three tanks did have internal baffling on their own.  I do believe baffles are required per ABYC, but I could be wrong. In total, we sacrificed 10 – 15 gallons of fuel capacity to save some money and headache during installation. The original tank sticker showed 81 gallons of capacity, and the new tanks showed 75. Unfortunately, the new tanks tanks did not fit properly, so we had to have them cut and re-welded for extra wiggle room. We estimate perhaps a total 5 – 12 gallons of capacity was lost from the original 81 on the tank sticker, but it really is anybody’s guess.

Staring down in the abyss...

Staring down in the abyss…

 

The final installation of the tanks was to replace the fiberglass sole and the flooring on top. Once installed, it took the mechanic a day or so to fit the newly modified tanks, plumb them together, prime the fuel pump, and get the engine running. We were almost ready to go!

However, at this time we had a bit of a problem. We had terminated our lease at the marina because the waiting list for a better location had popped up.  For those of you who know San Diego, the South Bay is nice but it is far from the ocean. We like to do most of our sailing on the open ocean, and it would take and hour or two of motoring, sailing through dirty wind, and dodging other boats to get to blue water. So we actually had to sail the boat out of San Diego Bay, around Point Loma, and back into Mission Bay while the floor had a huge hole in it. To do this, we quickly dropped the floor back in with nothing attached and set out.

The final steps were completed in the new marina. The boatwright attached large plastic tabs to the hole in the fiberglass sole rather than to re-glass, or use the aluminum repair studs. I requested this just in case I needed to get to the tanks for maintenance later. It’s nice that the galley floor simply pops out in one large singular piece and is only held in by some screws. I opted to leave the teak plugs out of the floor, again, just in case. I have thought about drilling the holes wider and putting some sort of bronze plug or something in there to allow for easy access to the fasteners but so far nobody has really noticed the holes in the floor.

A job well done.

A job well done.

Well…that’s it. This brings this saga to a close. I’ve included pictures along the way, in case anybody is curious or wants to see the process.  Having been caught up in it so much, all the pictures you see are the ones we have.  Next time (which I hope isn’t for a while) I ‘ll try to get a better shot on how the three-tank plumbing system works.  It was rather quite clever on behalf of the fabricator.

Have fun out there, and be safe!

Valkyr’s Hard Dodger

So I thought I had posted pictures of Valkyr’s hard dodger long ago but it seems that I didn’t. These are not the best formated pictures but should help to give an idea of what I did.

 

aft starboard view boat and dodger

Starboard view of whole dodger frame

dodger aft view handrail and boom protector mounts

We had 1/4 inch aluminum plates welded into frame to bolt the top rails onto. In finished dodger this is what actually holds it to dodger. There are 6 of them.

dodger aft view 1

Aft partial view of dodger frame

Drilling coring filling mount holes 7

We drilled the holes to mount frame to boat and then filled with epoxy and drilled again to make sure we would never have an issue with water penetration into the core.

deck mount and backing plates for under the deck

This is picture of the above deck mount and two of the backing plates for under the deck. As you can see the deck mount has a pivoting base. The reason we went with this is that once mounted we could unbolt the entire dodger with four bolts, and have no risk of water ingress while it is off the boat. also 4 bolts vs 16 bolts is a lot quicker and easier.

portside aft handrail and boom protector mounting plate underside

Underside of one of backing plates for top rails.

aft port side view of whole dodger

aft portside view of entire dodger frame

aft starboard view down dodger

starboard view down top of frame. You can see the next attachment point at the center of the handrail and then forward attachment point. Dodger has 3 rails, hand rails on either side that are full length of dodger and atached with 12 1/4 inch stainless bolts. I’m almost 200 lbs and can yank on a rail as hard as I can and it barely shivers the dodger. More rocks the boat the the dodger. The third rail is what you can see in the left foreground of the picture and is simply to keep the boom from hitting the dodger if it falls and for tieing it down if you need to.

visibility sitting at helm looking under dodger

We spent a lot of time making drawings and sitting on the boat taking measurements to get the height of the dodger correct. This is the view sitting at the helm. You have clear unobstructed view under and if you stand up you can see over it. We also did a lot of different version of the side supports to finally end up with the graceful design we got. The curves added strength and elegance yet still left us with a lot of unobstructed view forward under the dodger. The top of the dodger has the same camber as the deck under it.

dodger pad mounting 7

dodger bolted down with sealant.

dodger pad mounting 1

sealant to keep water from running down the bolt.

dodger pad mounting 6

again sealant to keep water from running down bolt. All epoxy filled holes through deck were counter sunk to allow the built up sealant around bolt here to fill and compress in the holes.

dodger pad mounting 8

It took several go around over a few days to fully tighten down. The sealant we used was pretty thick and it would gradually ooze out as it sat after being tightened. After a couple go arounds it was all good and hasn’t leaked in the 4 years since it was installed.

IMAG0722

Temp attachment of forward port side handrail on dodger.

IMAG0729

temp attachment on starboard

IMAG0707

port side view of dodger frame

IMAG0725

Middle starboard side attachment for handrail.

Waterproof junction box

This is a bit out of order but has to do with dodger. This is the central junction for all the solar panels on the dodger near the startboard aft leg of the dodger that the main wires from it run below to the charge controller. We used a water proof document case that we modified into a junction box. notice all wires into have a drip loop. All exposed wire and buss bars are coated in di-electric grease. 4 years later it still looks like new. No corrosion.

Wires from solar panels penetrating dodger top

You can see the deck penetrations where the wires from the solar panels penetrate the dodger. It was a lot of work drilling and then filling all the holes with epoxy and then drilling again. We actually glued the wires to the underside of the dodger in neat runs to lead to the junction box. It has also worked well.

solar panels1

Solar panels on dodger roof. We used a adhesive sealant to attach them to roof. It has held really good. Forget what it is called, something kevlar 400? from PPG.

solar panels2

another view of solar panels. Each one of the panels is 25 watts. They are a thin flexible panel that it is safe to walk on. There are

junction box closed

junction box closed

wire runs to junction box

roof penetration for solar panel wiring and runs glued to roof as they go to junction box. I used quick set gel super glue to do the gluing. Run a line of glue and press wire into it for a few inches and hold for 15 or 20 seconds and then repeat. It took a while to do it all but in the end it was very neat and held good. when I painted it is hardly noticeable under there. Sadly I should have sanded before glueing the wiring in. Not that it was an issue with the wiring but some of the paint flaked off on the under side.

underneath of dodger

another view under dodger. If you notice the chips in the white paint on the aft upper edge of the dodger, That edge takes a beating sometimes an has to be touched up on a regular ( annual basis )

butyl mastic used to seal under the hand rail pads.

Hand rails being attached to the top of dodger once roof is installed.

Hand rails installed

Picture with 12 panels attached. For some reason I think I added a 12th panel behind the aft most two panels for a total of 275 watts on the dodger. There is another 190 watts in one big panel on the dingy davits also for a total of 465 watts on the boat. We had power hooked up at the dock when we lived on the boat to run the AC. Since then though the boat has been powered by the installed solar. We turned off the dock power to save money and never noticed the difference.

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Kaylin helping paint!!

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Zsanic in the galley and kaylin hanging out under dodger.

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forgot to mention. If you look in the lower left corner of the dodger you will notice a drain. We custom made drains in all 4 corners of the dodger with 1/2 inch hose leading down on deck from it. No matter what angle of heal rain will drain off and if we wanted we could lead it to the tanks.

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Good view of the aft rail that protects solar panels and dodger top from boom if it falls.

I will link to here from the forum where I was asked about this. Probably best to comment in the forum rather than on the post if you want to talk or ask questions on this post.