How do we gauge our progress?

I wonder what sort of thought process was involved when the American Boat and Yacht Council convened to establish a standardized system of wire color coding.  Light blue for the oil pressure gauge?  Tan for water temperature?  Shouldn’t it be the other way around based on the “color” of the liquid we’re gauging?  Black might actually be a more suitable color in the case of our engine oil but that was already taken by DC (-), and water isn’t really blue…

engine control panel wiring

Yet another one of those nagging little half-done projects was put to bed this weekend.  When we refinished the cockpit in 2014 I never quite finished remounting the engine control panel.  All the gauges and switches still worked but they were looking pretty tired, and the back side appeared as if a large rodent might be nesting somewhere inside.  Many moons ago I ordered a new recessed gauge panel from SSi Custom Plastics.  Now there’d be no more worries of someone inadvertently stepping on the key and snapping it off in the ignition.  I also purchased a new key switch, stop button, and  tachometer, as well as volts, oil pressure, and water temperature gauges from AC DC Marine Inc.  AC DC Marine sells complete plug & play engine and breaker panels, or they’ll build a custom panel to your specifications.  But if you hadn’t noticed by now, I’m more of a do it myself kind of guy.


engine controls
engine control panel

To cut the holes for the small 2-1/8″ gauges I just used a 2″ hole saw and shaved the inside a bit with a utility knife, but I had to do some creative cutting with the Dremel for the 3-3/8″ tachometer mounting hole.  The 4-position key switch has a momentary “start” position which eliminated the need to install a “start” button, and it also has an anti-restart feature which requires you return the key to the off position before trying to start again.  Our diesel still needs a momentary pushbutton for the “kill” solenoid that cuts the fuel supply so I chose red for the waterproof cap.  I also added a low oil pressure/high water temperature alarm buzzer and a red warning light as a visual alert to any potential engine problems.

engine wiring
engine wiring

Once everything was wired up, I used clear heat shrink tubing to label the wires at the terminal block for easy i.d. later on.  Since I had to do a little substituting of color for what was available and a little stripe marking with a Sharpie, I wouldn’t want some “professional” coming in later on and getting confused on what wires go where if he were to follow ABYC guidelines.

diesel engine wiring
marine-grade wiring

So now that I’ve spent some time refining my marine electrical skills it was politely suggested to me to “hurry up now and finish moving the damn circuit breaker panel”.  That seems like a good winter project to get started on…

engine instrument panel

Ready to flush?