Uh Oh, Something is Burning!

Did the title grab you? Well, the smell of burning plastic grabbed us this morning. As it turns out the electrical that I have been wanting to get to for some time now, was the culprit. To put a finer point on it, the buss on the power transfer switch that switches between shore power and the inverter had heated up and was partially melting the plastic supports. I guess they could have used better more heat-resistant plastic, but nothing is made as good as it should be these days. Time to replace the entire assembly, but unfortunately West Marine is not open today and they may not have what we need in stock anyway. Onward to Plan B.

BAD wire
Back side of the switch

Plan B includes a temporary fix by disconnecting the output side from the buss that heated up and connecting it directly to the breaker. Not a huge deal because there is only one wire connected to the buss for the out side. After connecting the wire from the buss directly to the breaker and turning the power back on, all is well. However, I have ordered a new Blue Sea transfer switch from Amazon and will install it when it comes in next week. This will never be a problem while sailing because we always turn off the space heaters and the hot water heater while away from the dock, but still we have to be careful just how much power we are using while plugged in.

In conclusion the problem is that the breakers should have popped long before the wiring became hot enough to melt the plastic supports for the small buss. Either the buss bar on the tranfer switch was too small or the wiring on the switch was too small, and I believe that the wiring was the problem. In the future we will not run two space heaters and the hot water heater while at the dock. Those things contributed to the heat that melted things. I have to decide if I need to replace some of the wiring, too. The only place that the wiring was a real problem was connecting to the buss bar of the transfer switch, so that may well be the only place where I have to replace wire. We will keep a sharp eye on things, though, and when I get to the electrical on the boat this will be where I start.

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About Captain Tom

Over 10 years sailing and over 3500 miles under our keel. Was an engineer (EE) for over 30 years, then after moving into management, decided that the corporate world was no longer for me. Ran my wife's law office for 15 years and recently retired. Now we live aboard and sail the California coast, soon to leave for the Sea of Cortez.
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