This one is bittersweet. On one hand, the battery upgrade is a smashing success. Kirk completes the installation of our new battery bank, and we now we have all the juice we need. On the other, our arch project is a complete and utter disaster. We can’t tell you how glad we are to be done editing this episode. We wanted to do the experience justice by telling you the whole story, but we’re not going to miss having to relive this period of our lives!
Looking back through all this footage, I’m in awe of all the research, preparation, self-education and labor Kirk put into upgrading our house battery bank. With electrical projects, you can really only get it right, OR, you get it terribly wrong. Kirk knocked this one out of the park.
Stick with us… That whole ‘going-sailing’ thing is right around the corner!
Lauren & Kirk
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Tools and Products Used in Battery Upgrade:
[Lauren] Last time, on Sailing Soulianis. The fabrication of our arch had started off well enough, but, unfortunately, seemed only to be going downhill. After coming out twice to take measurements, the arch was still nowhere close to fitting our boat. Meanwhile, we kept plugging away at our new battery box and electrical upgrades. We are right in the middle of our battery upgrade project. We’ve got four new batteries. Two of those will go here where the old ones were, and two of them are gonna go back here.
[Kirk] I’m super pumped with how this battery box is coming together. It’s fitting like a glove. Once the new box was cut and fit, we figured out the best configuration for the batteries busbar and shunt. All right, I think that might be what we do. What do you think?
[Lauren] Game plan.
[Kirk] Think so. So we’re in week four or five into the giant electrical project, which is entwined with figuring out what type of solar panels we want, figuring out what type of battery’s we want, figuring out how big the solar panels are so they can fit on the bimini which means figuring out the bimini, figuring out the dodger, figuring out everything. It’s been a massive, massive project. I spent the first two and a half, three weeks just staring at stuff on the internet, and opening up the engine compartment and the battery compartment and just looking at it like an idiot. And about two weeks ago, I finally started ordering things. Cable lugs. Battery cable. Crimp tool. Pruning sheers. Little odds and ends, like this terminal fuse block. Some of this stuff that we’ve already installed. Victron battery monitor. Xantrex echo-charge to charge our auxiliary battery from our house battery anytime it’s being charged. We’ve got the startings of cleaning up our battery cables here. We’re getting rid of big, ugly, garbage cables like this, which are not big enough and replacing them with nice, clean, bigger gauge, zero gauge cables. These are two gauge. We’re going to zero gauge. We’ve got our, our Victron energy battery monitor shunt right here paired up with a positive and negative busbar to clean up all the connections that are running through this box and through the batteries themselves. This is our old battery that we’ve just been living off of, while we’re at the dock here while I’ve been doing this installation. We’re still getting charge from the dock, but this is now converting everything to 12 volt for us. So we can still run our refrigeration, our pressure water, our lights, everything, its all runs off 12 volt. So, we still need to have the 12 volt system, while I’m actively working on the system which has been kind of difficult and our bilge pump.
[Lauren] Speaking of.
[Kirk] So, I’ve already wired up some of this stuff, you can see a big ol’ cluttered mess that runs down the side here. The goal is to get rid of just about every one of those wires, except for about three till I have two big, one big black, one big red cable, and then one or two other cables running back and forth there instead of the 15 or 20 that we have.
[Lauren] And how are you gonna do that?
[Kirk] Previously, we only had one negative distribution bar on the boat, which was right there. Everything else ran all the way back to the panel, or directly to the battery. So, we have a ton of stuff that’s on this side of the boat, a ton of stuff that’s on this side of the boat. All of the negative black cables were criss-crossing back and forth through this companion way. Uh, and that’s unnecessary, we’re we’ve got one big black negative cable that’s going to connect to the two busbars, and, then, the other cables can just connect to whichever is closest to the termination of their circuit. So, uh, it’ll be a lot cleaner installation and will get rid of a bunch of redundant wires. So, I’ve already run the positive cable to our alternator, which is that big red cable that goes back over to our starter. I’ve run the negative cable from our starter to that busbar there, and I’ve wired up the engine cabling from the start solenoid to the starter and everything in there. So, that’s all done and nice and clean and replaced with large zero gauge wire. There’s a loop in our engine starting circuit that could potentially send the amperage from the alternator up to our amp meter in our cockpit through only a 10 gauge wire. It’s 55 amps and it would run like 15 feet through a 10 gauge wire which is way to small and could be a very dangerous circuit to overheat and cause a fire. It was dangerous before, but now that we have a larger battery bank and the alternator is potentially going to be pumping through more amperage for longer periods of time it’s much much more dangerous.
[Lauren] So, it was dangerous before and now it’s certain death?
Pretty close. Last night, I spent all night trying to map out exactly how our wiring diagram applied to our physical space that we have to work with. And, how I’m going to run all of the other cables with the switch. That’s all in place now. Now, I’m just taking the old wires out, replacing them with the new wires to prepare for the new batteries, which we’re gonna get all wired up in a temporary placement. Then, once we’re happy with how all the cabling and everything is, I’m actually gonna take the batteries back out and finish glassing in, tabbing in the battery box to the haul. That’s the big project for tonight after I get the rest of this wiring done. So, all the heavy thinking has been done already. Now, it’s just making sure everything fits and following the plan that we laid out in the wiring diagram.
[Lauren] K, let’s do it!
[Kirk] We’re using three to one marine grade adhesive lined heat shrink. For every three inches for unheated, it will shrink to one inch. It’s also lined with adhesive, so, if there are any spots where there are voids, the adhesive liquefies and fills in all the gaps so nothing’s gettin in there.
[Kirk] Before we could start the temporary wiring of the batteries, we had to get them to actually fit in the old battery box. It was time to hack into some fiberglass.
[Lauren] It fits! To finish it up, we just cut a small piece of marine ply and tabbed it in to the remaining box.
[Kirk] So, this is our battery monitor. I’ve just wired up all of our house bank just a dry fit before I glass in the battery boxes. I just wanted to make sure all of our cable runs were correct and all everything was good to go. And, I’ve been really excited to test out our battery monitor cause we’ve had no battery monitor. So, I’m just about to plug that in and test it out. Hello. Sweet! It works.
[Lauren] Yay, battery monitor.
[Kirk] So, are you ready to power the house?
[Lauren] Are you gonna flip it over?
[Lauren] I guess so. Are you ready?
For some football. Yeah, I think so. This is the big, the big to do. That’s awesome.
[Lauren] Love, what did you just do?
I just wired our batteries up, and our battery monitor. What should we turn on?
[Lauren] Hmm, let’s turn on the water pump.
[Kirk] It draws two amps.
[Lauren] Bilge pump?
[Kirk] Bilge pump, two amps.
[Lauren] All right, let’s do water pump.
[Kirk] Wait, the water pump? You gotta use the water.
[Kirk] Whoa! That draws a crap ton.
[Lauren] How much?
[Kirk] That went from 6 to 16. Let’s try navigation lights. That draws about an amp and a half. Uh, the mast headlight is our anchor light. You don’t even notice that one. Floor deck illumination? Oh, that’s like an amp and a half. Uh, radio. Radio doesn’t really use a whole lot. Broadcasting uses a little. Now I just need to fire up the start battery, wire up our echo charger, glass everything, and put it all to zip ties and I’m pretty much done. That’s freaking cool. So far everything’s worked. Wow Nothing blew up.
[Lauren] Yay! We have lights! Kirk, what just happened?
[Kirk] I just finished rewiring everything after we got all the batteries strapped in, got everything rewired up. Now, I just need to tidy everything up with cable ties and we’re golden.
[Lauren] How do you feel?
Absolutely exhausted, but pretty stoked.
[Lauren] Oh, they’re so beautiful.
[Kirk] And, now we welcome you to quite possibly our worst day of boat ownership. We were now a month and a half into this arch project. Two weeks prior, we had told the fabricator that this was our last day to get the arch on the boat. We couldn’t wait around any longer. With the dock fees racking up and no end to the project in sight, we needed to leave with or without the arch. Everything was out of alignment. Nothing was parallel or symmetrical anymore. The back stern rail I loved so much was no longer following the lines of the boat. It wasn’t level. The horizontal supports didn’t line up. And there was a big bow in the front leg. There were hunks of slag all around the wells, and they were discolored from being heated and reheated so many times.
[Lauren] Not to mention the fact that it was still nowhere near fitting our boat and the bimini hadn’t even been started yet. I then expressed my concerns about how he was bending the legs of the arch to get them lined up.
[Lauren] And we all just got into an all out brawl almost with the guys that are supposed to be building our arch.
[Kirk] It’s three o’clock on the last day before we’re supposed to leave. They’ve been here all day, hammering away at our boat, sawing stuff off the arch, bending stuff, drilling holes in our boat, and we finally told them, look guys this is not, no, this isn’t gonna work and uh, they blew up.
They kept saying, oh yeah, I’ll have it finished tonight or we’ll have it finished by Wednesday. How many times are they gonna say, yeah, we’ll have it finished and how long are we gonna be here? It would’ve been fine if the product was good.
But, it’s not.
I’m much more lenient with projects in their process than Kirk is, so I kept thinking, okay, they’re gonna make it right, they’re gonna make it straight, they’re gonna make it, so and it’s still gonna be strong right. That’s what I was thinking. And, the whole time Kirk is thinking, wow this is getting worse and worse and worse, and, so it wasn’t until today when Kirk couldn’t even watch ’em work anymore. I was out watching them, trying to remove the arch from the boat, and they had one screw that was not coming out of the deck. And, one of the guys went in our cockpit locker, and started hammering away and the deck started splintering. And, that was, that was it for me. Like, they’re just destroying our boat.
[Lauren] What you doin?
Um, I am cleaning up our stern rail mounts that go on our back teak cap rail. I think the more relevant question is why am I doing this? Today, we’re supposed to be doing our shakedown sail after getting our mast re-stepped and testing out all of the rigging. We’re supposed to be testing out the davit system and the bimini to make sure that that the bimini didn’t get in the way of the boom as we were tacking, that the canvas was on tight in all the right places, that if we ever had to make any tweaks to anything we had the next two or three days to do so. And, they waited and waited and waited to the very last second and it still didn’t work and so we fired ’em and, now, we are going to have to fight to get a very large chunk of money back from them because they did not deliver on a project that we hired them for. Uh, and destroyed our boat in the process and cost us $400 in dockage fees to stay here for an extra three weeks and generally, just making our lives difficult for the last month and a half. So, that’s why I’m sitting here cleaning up the stuff that we took off our boat a month ago. Luckily, we were smart enough to keep it because now it’s all going back on the boat. And we have $1500 worth of solar that we’re supposed to mount on the bimini that we don’t have anymore. And, yeah. We thought we had done all the right things. We asked a bunch of people around here about the quality of work they did. We went and looked at a couple of boats that they worked on. We had extensive talks with them. We sent them drawings of what we wanted. We sent them photographs of what we wanted. And, we gave them three times longer than what they said it would take and they still couldn’t deliver, so.
[Lauren] We’re not staying here any longer.
We’re not sticking around any longer. We’re getting out of here.
[Kirk] Today’s the day.
[Lauren] We’re gonna be raising our sails for the first time in almost five months.