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.


Unknown said...

I also have a old catalina 27.
Do you know the size of the light bulb that used to be in at the master switch? And forgive me for a question that might be obvious: if the light at the master switch is burned out... does the whole panel not get electricity?

I discovered that all curcuits run from my switchboard seem to not work. The Bilge pump work and my instruments, but I don't think they are connected to the old switchboard. How ever all the lights are connected to the board. What would be the most obvious errors to look for? The fuses seem to be good.

David Kavanagh said...

Sorry I didn't see this sooner!
The light on mine, seemed to not work either. The way mine was wired, the light didn't affect the rest of the system. It was simply wired to ground. If it shorted, that could be a problem, but that's not the normal failure mode.
That's the problem with old boats. Over the years, it's hard to keep track of all of the system modifications. I know mine needs attention, but since it basically works, I'm putting off sorting out the wiring. My switches were very "crusty". They would work sometimes, and not others. If you know what you're looking at on the back of the panel, you could simply short out one of the switches with a screwdriver, to see if that circuit turns on. Pick something that is low power, maybe the cabin lights.

Jeff Maas said...

I have a 1971 and my forward cabin lights and anchor light went out. After checking everything I isolated a grounding problem. Since the wires are buried in the fiberglass, does anyone know if I can just split the ground from the one working light above the dinette to the forward lights or do I have t have a dedicated ground to each light?

David P said...

Hello, David

I too have this problem with my panel and the bulb is out then panel goes out Im haveing a hard time finding a replacement. Any chance you still have the old panel light bulb, I was told it a breaker/fuse type bulb also do you by chance have a diagram of the electrical system 27Cat 1975 and maybe a pic of the other side of the old panel... sorry to ask to much but need the help.. I pay you for the bulb please e mail me at davidp180 at yahoo.com Thank you David P