Bare Aluminum Boat- Need Help Starting Electric Layout

Discussion in 'Electrical Systems' started by wfcperrine, Sep 22, 2006.

  1. wfcperrine
    Joined: Sep 2006
    Posts: 1
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    Location: Northern Michigan

    wfcperrine New Member


    I have a 12' aluminum boat (cir. 1950 Sea King). I got it for $100 at a garage sale then Bondo'ed all the seams inside and out to prevent leaks. Then I put a new transom wood beam in to hold the motor (made of treated 2x6 from Home Depot). Then I installed a new floor in the front half and made a new bench seat in the back with shelves underneath. The front half floor has two access hatches -one on the front floor and one vertical opening on the side (where my feet touch when sitting on the back bench). I then have put a pedestal seat on the front floor and a swivel seat on the back bench.

    As a side note- the very front of the wooden floor does not come completely to the front - there is a "V" shaped triangle open space about 6" per side that is open to bow space below.

    I found a decent trailer for $100. Also I have a new Nissan 5HP motor that a guy sold me for $500.

    Now it's time to do some electrical stuff and this is where I need help and advice.


    My intent now is to add the following:

    • Front navigation light (two color)
    • Rear light (removable pole with plug-in)
    • Light switch
    • Fish Finder (probably the Lowrance X126)
    • Battery (probably the Optima Blue Top dual purpose)
    • Voltage Meter
    • Trolling motor (transom mount, 50lb. thrust, 12V)
    • Power inverter to plug miscellaneous stuff into (like a radio)
    • Wires, fuse box, and whatever else


    I am thinking of putting the battery under the wooden floor in the middle (center) of the boat with accessibility to home charger wires. The voltmeter display would be put into the backside of the wooden floor where I can easily see it.


    I plan on starting this project now and working through the winter.


    My first aspect of planning is to determine where the battery is to go for easy access to my home charger.

    Here is the first question I have. How do I ground the battery?

    Thanks for your help:!:
  2. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    Location: Ontario

    marshmat Senior Member

    Hi wfcperrine, welcome aboard!
    First- the hull. Keep a really close eye on the Bondo. This stuff is not usually recommended for aluminum-boat patching as it hates water and vibration. You should check the seams frequently for leaks, as with any metal boat.
    Electrics- that's quite a lot of stuff for such a small boat. Does your outboard have some degree of battery-charging capability?
    In terms of battery placement, on a boat this small weight distribution is critical. I'd mount the motor and take it out to the lake; bring a sandbag or a few cinder blocks to simulate the battery weight. Move them around the boat until it balances nicely. If you often run solo, you'll probably need that weight farther forward than if you run with crew a lot. You can always add longer cables to the charger, but if the boat is too bow- or stern-heavy, that's harder to change. Put the battery in a proper plastic battery box, you'll be glad you did. (If it ever leaks, the battery acid would seriously damage the thin hull if it's not in a proper battery box.) If you have a trolling motor, it should draw from a deep cycle battery (it could fry a conventional starting battery after a few weeks of heavy use).
    Make sure you use marine-grade wire and try to stick to standard marine colour codes. Landlubber-grade wire tends to corrode on a boat, and colour coding makes troubleshooting a lot easier.
    Most of my boat-wiring experience is with fibreglass hulls; in my boat I err on the side of caution and use fairly heavy gauge wires, along with an individual negative wire for each component, that runs back to a common bus bar near the battery. (As opposed to a car's setup where the body itself is the negative ground.) All circuits should be fused appropriately, and in my case I also have a master fuse for all circuits except the cable to the outboard motor. There's always question as to how the metal hull should be tied in to the electrics; someone else here will know more about that than I do.
  3. aj_fry
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: perth

    aj_fry New Member

    hi i have a 18 foot aluminium dinghy i was wondering how one would put a floor down with carpet and storage
  4. aj_fry
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: perth

    aj_fry New Member

  5. thudpucker
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    Location: Al.

    thudpucker Senior Member

    I have an old Sea king 12'

    I put the lights in, ran wires, used plastic loops to hold the wires. I used poprivets to hold the wire loops.
    Screws to hold the lights.

    I made little consoles out of the plastic inner liner of an old Automatic Dish washer. That kind of plastic can be welded with a Soldering iron so you can make some really creative Consols with it.

    Up in the V of the Bow, I put a small deck and put the Battery in a small fenced in area, with the fuel tank right behind that, and all of that held down with one strategically placed Bungee cord.
    There is a Deck on top of the Battery and tank which is a good safety feature as well as pretty handy for moving stuff and people in and out of the boat.

    I have taken the middle seat out of mine and am in the process of making a sliding rowing seat for the mddle, with a 35" slide.
    The console switches for the lights etc are reachable from the back seat (motor seat) or the rowing seat.

    I put in a Cigar lighter to plug some aux things, like a GPS power supply, but everthing else is hard wired in with a fuse and a switch in each circuit.

    I did the unpardonable sin of using the boat for a ground up at the Bow lights.

    Someone had glued some Carpet of some kind down in the bottom of the boat. Its not house carpet and not Astro-turf, but it works well, is not slippery when wet, and is quiet with the feet.
  6. dimitarp
    Joined: Feb 2006
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    Location: Bulgaria

    dimitarp Junior Member

  7. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Sorry, which sort of rubbish is that? And where is it related to this topic?
    Which by the way hasĀ“nt seen a reply from thread starter since 09. 2006
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