Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Electrical Panel for a Catalina 27

The robot project has been on hold for many months. The main reason is because we bought a sail boat! I should point out it is a 1976 Catalina 27 (hull # 2833). I've done a lot of work on the boat, from refinishing/fairing the bottom, to refinishing the teak and now, replacing the electrical panel. The toggle switches are all crusty and sometimes intermittent. The fuses are out dated and I'd like to add more circuits.
There is a perfectly good panel available from Catalina Direct. For over $170 after shipping is factored in, I decided I'd try to do one myself. In my youth, I made all kinds of projects, and sometime even the boxes that contained them.

To start with, I measured the old switch panel and screw locations. I got that put into Adobe Illustrator. I searched on the Surplus Center web site and found these switches and circuit breakers which look remarkably like the Catalina Direct ones (and I've seen one those in person, because a fellow Catalina 27 owner I know bought one). I used the dimensions from these parts to layout the panel. I actually chose to lay it out like the Catalina Direct panel. It is a sensible layout, and adds 3 more circuits. I also was free to label it exactly the way I like. In final construction, I ended up swapping out the circuit breakers I had ordered with some nicer ones from a local electronics supplier. They were slightly smaller and had nice hardware with the. Switch order: $30 New breakers: $13

I did a search with google maps and found Recognition Experts who were able to laser engrave the panel based on my drawing. Panel: $35

The new panel material was a little on the thin side. I decided that I need to add some thing on back to stiffen it. So, I used some aluminum angle to make a piece that is bolted in with the circuit breakers. Also, once soldering the bus wires to the switches (one for grounding for the indicator lamps, and the other for the breaker protected power feed), the section with the switches was stabilized.

Total project cost was just over $80.