Warning for boaters regarding battery connections

     This blog entry is a little different than most of what I post. I wanted to put the word out to any boaters who haven’t been informed of the latest safety warnings from the ABYC to replace  the wing nuts on your battery terminals with hex nuts.

     I was one of those people who didn’t know about this recomendation. I was lucky that a fire wasn’t started on my boat, all that happened to me was I couldn’t get my diesel engine started.

     At the beginning of August, Janet and I, sailed to Martha’s Vineyard. That trip was delayed because we were unable to get our engine started. I wrote about our adventure in Woods Hole due to this delay. Well, I spent all morning trying to get the diesel started. I checked  the batteries, all the voltages throughout the electrical system, I checked the engine switch. I checked everything. I couldn’t find the problem.

    It was a beautiful weekend, Janet and I were disapointed we couldn’t make the trip. So, we headed into shore on our dinghy thinking that was it for the day. Though, as luck would have it, we ran into Jay who owns and runs Ned’s Point Marine Service. We told him of our situation and Jay volunteered to take me out to Galatea to see what the problem was.

    We went through the electrical system and Jay soon discovered the problem. The wing nuts on the batteries weren’t tight enough. They had loosened during the season. As Jay explained to me, the voltage was fine, the problem was that with the loose connections there was not enough amperage to start the diesel engine.

   I’d like to say thanks again to Jay for helping us. We managed to to sail to the Vineyard that weekend after all.

 Of course, later on I further investigated volts and amps in my marine repair books. Because, if I don’t know something related to sailing I make damn sure to look it up and learn it. Not that I know everything about sailing or ever think I will. But my goal is to learn as much as I can.

 I digress. Anyways, in the West Marine catalog I noticed a warning posted in their section for new batteries. The title of the warning was “Wing Nut Battery Terminals”. What it says is that in 2006 the ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) published new recomendations for marine batteries:

 E-10:8.3:  Battery cables and other conductors size 6 AWG and larger shall not be connected to the battery with wing nuts.

 To quote the West Marine advisory, “They made this change because wing nuts have the possibility of working loose …… while the boat is in operation. Loose cables create resistance and heat, with potential for overheated wires and possible fire.”

  West Marine recomends Nylock hex nuts. I don’t know what they are. But over the winter I plan on replacing the wings nuts after my experience.

One Response to “Warning for boaters regarding battery connections”

  1. Scott says:

    Nylocks are the metal nuts with a white nylon insert. When you tighten them, this insert compresses and acts like a lock-washer. Great thing is that it’s nylon, non-reactive and non-conductive so no corrosion issues. I’ve switched to these nuts for most of my hardware mounting….

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