I recently got a very good deal on 16-foot center console skiff – sound, solid hull; no rot that I could find; no major cosmetic issues; engine runs well, etc.
But, while all the electrics work on the thing (except the little Rule bilge pump that needs replacing) the wiring is just a terrifying mare’s nest. Most of the space under the small center console is spaghetti, and lots of stuff is connected with black tape. Bits have been added or had “field expedient repairs” over the years. I’m just waiting for the massive short out and failure.
The total system is:
- A single battery (12V)
- 48 hp engine with electric start, alternator & powerlift (’96 Johnson 48 hp 2-stroke)
- Running lights
- Bilge pump
- Temp and tach gauges
- Depth finder
- A 12 volt outlet.
I would like to add a kill switch, as I will run this boat alone at times. (While I’m at it I MIGHT want to make the system two-battery.)
I’d like everything to be properly connected on a proper breaker board (or whatever the right term is – my ignorance is revealed) and get everything bundled up and out of the way.
Here’s the question: Is rewiring this thing something I can do myself with zero experience?
It seems straightforward. Follow what’s there and replace with good wire and good connections. I’m a generally handy guy, but have never tackled a project like this.
Or, am I simply better off taking the thing to a shop and letting them do it? If so, do you have any guess on the amount of labor involved? Shops here get about $80 per hour.
For a few hundred dollars, you can do this project yourself and have everything new.
I would divide your boat into two electrical systems. Engine and boat accessories.
Engine Side Boat Wiring
The engine side is probably salvageable.
Johnson/Evinrude have used the same wire colors for decades.
- Blue/White (or Blue) Trim up – only connected to your trim switch
- Red/White (or Red) Trim power – only connected to your trim switch
- Green/White (or Green) Trim down – only connected to your trim switch
- Red/purple – Ignition power in – Wire runs from the engine to your ignition switch (may run through a fuse or breaker on the way)
- Purple – switched ignition power – Wire runs from your ignition switch to your tachometer and temp gauge (b+ or I post on gauge)
- Black – engine ground – Wire runs from the engine to your ignition switch (may have an additional wire from the ignition switch to the tachometer and temp gauge for ground.
- Black/yellow – magneto ground – Wire runs from the engine to your ignition switch
- Yellow/red – start – wire runs from your ignition switch to your shifter (start in gear protection) and then continues to the engine
- Purple/white – choke or prime – wire runs from your ignition switch to your engine
I would remove all extra wires that have been added to this system over the years.
Adding a kill switch:
You will need to connect two wires from the kill switch to your ignition switch. These two wires will run from the M and MG posts on the back of your switch (your black and black/yellow wires are connected to these posts) to the posts on the new kill switch marked NC or outboard.
Keep the black and black/yellow wires on your key switch so you now have two wires on the M post and two wires on the MG post.
Boat Accessory Wiring
The simplest way to deal with your spaghetti mess is to replace the wiring. You have two options, One wire at a time or replace it all at once.
My partners at EzAcDc have all the parts to make this a simple DIY boat wiring project. Besides OEM quality components, all of their parts are engineered to simply snap together so even you are assured of correct and solid connections.
Boat Wiring Harness
The EzAcD Standard Boat Wiring Harness would provide every wire you need to rewire all of the accessories on your boat including navigation lights and bilge pump.
Boat Switch Panel
Their Deluxe Fishing Panel would provide the 12 volt receptacle and the switches you are looking for. Another option would be the Standard Fishing Panel combined with the 12 volt Receptacle Panel. As I said, all of these parts plug directly together.
EzAcDc has bilge pumps and bilge pump kits that are designed to plug directly into your new harness.
While you are rebuilding, you may want to consider replacing the navigation lights on your boat as well. Just like the pumps, the EzAcDc navigation lights also plug right into their boat wiring harness. This combo kit would be a great replacement for your existing light systems.
All of the harnesses, panels, and components come with adaptors to connect to existing components. If you decide not to replace your navigation lights, boat horn, bilge pump, etc, don’t worry. Adaptors are also provided to connect to your legacy components.
There are download-able schematics on the site and every harness comes with every breakout labeled. For example, the standard boat accessory harness schematic shows a breakout of 24″ for the navigation light. It has the colors gray/blue and black on the schematic. The harness will have a gray/blue and black breakout that is 24″ long and it will have a tag that says “Navigation light”. This really makes the job much easier.
Dual Battery Switch
EzAcDc also has dual battery switches and battery switch systems that are configured to be manual kits or completely automatic. The kits all include cables, battery boxes, and a ground buss.
Let me know if you have any questions,