#1 2022-01-22 16:20:54

From: Guernsey
Registered: 2017-04-07
Posts: 62

Pippin's electrical refurbishment

Once again I shall start with an apology, for my photos have uploaded upside down or sideways - I hope Admin will take pity on me and turn them the right way up!

My recent sail to the Azores highlighted electrical weaknesses that had me desperately changing batteries around at sea, never a good idea.  I have little idea about such things but had worked out that one domestic battery got hammered, whilst the other was barely touched.  My first thought was that I had a U/S battery, but changing it had zero effect on the problem, so my dangerous efforts were nugatory and I continued to have to use minimum power – frustrating if not potentially dangerous.  The anchor winch also failed  by the time Pippin reached the Azores, as despite a sealed hawse pipe, sufficient sea water entered to corrupt poorly joined electric cables in the anchor locker.

Back in Guernsey I decided to resolve matters properly and met up with my marine electrician and we hatched a plan, one I hoped would see Pippin set for the next few years as it turned out to be an expensive one!

Like most Victoria 34s I’m sure, Pippin has 2 domestic (105AH) batteries, and one engine battery; underneath the starboard forward berths lurks another for the winch and bow thruster.

We decided to install three Fullriver heavy duty AGM 115AH batteries, 2 for the domestic bank and one for the engine.  Being fully sealed, leakproof, robust and long lasting if properly treated, I believe AGM batteries are a sensible option for the cruising sailor - any further comment on such matters I shall leave to those who know more than I.

Of course, AGMs are expensive and heavier than 'conventional' lead acid batteries, which will be a significant factor for many.  The 3 Fullriver AGM batteries we fitted added about an extra 25kgs, which with the new engine means Pippin carries the equivalent of one extra not so svelte human around her midriff – but she doesn’t seem to notice.  Up front we installed a Full Throttle 750-35 64 AH of 900 Cold Crank Amps, smaller and no heavier than the larger old lead acid battery.  The old split diode arrangement was replaced by two 140 Amp Merlin VSRs (Voltage Sensitive Regulators); one serves the main batteries, ensuring the engine battery is charged first before switching across to the domestic bank.  The second serves the forward battery. 



Wiring in the battery compartment was replaced and tidied, with the addition of new bus bars and battery cables.  AGMs can be installed at any angle so were installed on end, fitting perfectly underneath the top of the battery compartment – of course if Pippin was to go where she might be inverted, I would add an additional battery strap and probably screw down the locker lid, but I have no intentions of playing with Albatross in the Southern Ocean any time soon!  Battery boxes are not needed as AGMs cannot leak even if holed, though there is no reason a battery box can’t be used – I retained the one in the bow.




The 2 domestic batteries are wired in parallel and two new battery master switches were fitted, one for each bank.  The Domestic switch (top one) has two positions – 1. Domestic and 2. Engine plus Domestic, providing greater redundancy as the engine can be started even if the engine battery is flat, and the domestic bank can be assisted by the engine battery if necessary.


Battery master switches, 500W inverter and electric bilge pump switch shown above

The wiring from the Full Throttle battery to the anchor winch was replaced with tinned wired and proper waterproof joints.  I have a 120W solar panel tied on above the companionway entrance with a PWM VS2024N solar panel controller and although it does get patially shaded sometimes by the boom, it still provides useful charge.



There is also a Victron 702 BMV smart controller that monitors the 2 battery banks, below.  The little switch is for the Tiller Pilot, more of which later.


The 40 hp Yanmar has an 80A alternator and a Sterling 1230 smart charger takes care of things when connected to shore power and has been switched to the AGM setting.


One always finds things when doing work on an old boat, and my electrical engineer discovered my shore power connection was illegal as it had a male plug on the inboard end of the cable.  Luckily, I always connect to the boat before plugging in to shore power, so am still alive to tell the tale!

I also suffered autopilot failure during the Jester Challenge, which I only discovered motoring into Terceira Harbour in the Azores.   Back home I discovered an hydraulic joint had failed allowing the hydraulic fluid to escape into the bilge.  To add further redundancy, I have done what many others with a Hydrovane have done – add a simple Tiller Pilot attached when necessary to the Hydrovane via a short tiller.  It is quite capable of steering Pippin as the Hydrovane rudder is small and very easily turned - indeed, the Hydrovane was intended to be used in this way, another reason it is such a fabulous device.


Project completed, I believe satisfactorily, I have assured my very patient first mate that this is the final chapter in the refurbishment of Pippin!  But then there isn't much left to refurbish!


#2 2022-01-22 16:38:44

From: Dublin Bay
Registered: 2011-02-24
Posts: 401

Re: Pippin's electrical refurbishment

Pity taken and image rotation sorted out smile


#3 2022-01-25 15:54:08

Committee Member
Registered: 2017-08-10
Posts: 108

Re: Pippin's electrical refurbishment

Hi John.
Yet another major upgrade completed. Well done!
The installation looks complex, but also looks to have been very neatly completed.
Your piggy-bank must be getting very low.
Great job.

Kind regards,


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