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Batainte

Electric cables via engine bay accepted by BSS?

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Hello all,

been working on bringing back to life a 41ft narrowboat to its former glory. It was sold "as is" and ofcourse the safety certificate has expired which needs to be renewed at some point once the refurb has been completed. Currently have reached the stage of wiring throughout and decided to drill a hole into the engine bay (where the steps would be situated)  in order to organise all the cables and "hide them" so it all looks much cleaner once the lining is up and walls painted.

Although didnt really think it through at the time, as this could be on the wrong side once the BSS examiner would come and pay a visit.

Would anyone in the know have any ideas whether this was a clever move or the engine bay has acquired a spare ventilation hole which will never be used?

Perhaps anyone can suggest some BSS inspectors in London (or point into the right direction of sourcing one)?

Many thanks

 

 

 

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Edited by Batainte

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The hole in the bulkhead needs to be lined with grommet strip or as in my boat a short piece of large diameter hose to prevent the cables chafing. The Bss is not really about will your boat stay afloat, but mainly about the risk your boat presents to other boats nearby, so you won't explode or catch fire.

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9 minutes ago, Batainte said:

Although didnt really think it through at the time, as this could be on the wrong side once the BSS examiner would come and pay a visit.

I'd suggest that you very carefully read section 3 of the BSS guidelines.

 

Yes cables passing thru a bulkhead need special treatment - and - don't forget that all wiring must pass thru the master switch

 

To get you started :

 

Cables passing through bulkheads or structural members must
be protected against chafing damage by the use of grommets,
sleeves or sealant used effectively.

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4 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

What cable are you using to rewire it?

Was also wondering about that. 

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14 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

What cable are you using to rewire it?

Me too, wondering about being all the same colour and none there big enough to take more than a few amps without severe volts drop. Looks to be unusual cable for boat wiring.

 

Where are the heavy cables for pumps, fridge, freezer, horn, head lamp?

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18 hours ago, Batainte said:

Although didnt really think it through at the time, as this could be on the wrong side once the BSS examiner would come and pay a visit.

 

I'm not clear what you mean by this. Wrong side of what? The engine bay?

 

If yes, it doesn't matter. Engine bays always have cabling in them as that is where the starter motor, alternator and often the batteries are, along with a load of other essential electricals. 

 

 

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I'd suggest getting hold of some of this: spiral cable wrap to keep your cables tidy.  However, beware running too many cables next to one another if they are carrying heavy loads - they can overheat (look at the loadings on an extension lead coiler - coiled is often less than half uncoiled).

 

Grommets are essential as already said. Some tighten down on the cable, sealing the hole. This prevents smells from the engine bay permeating through the cabin.

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Depends on the examiner, I have a good chunk of wires through the bulkhead, a few are not protected apart from being taped to the protection of the protected ones... if you get me.

 

Passed no problem.

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6 hours ago, Alastair said:

beware running too many cables next to one another if they are carrying heavy loads - they can overheat

Not if they’re correctly sized for voltage drop they can’t. Aiming for a max of 3% voltage drop will invariably result in cables carrying less than a third of their current rating. 

  • Greenie 1

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15 hours ago, WotEver said:

Not if they’re correctly sized for voltage drop they can’t. Aiming for a max of 3% voltage drop will invariably result in cables carrying less than a third of their current rating. 

240ac can certainly overheat. 

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1 hour ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Any cable can overheat if it incorrectly specified, or used incorrectly.

Absolutely :)


And as you won’t be routing bundles of high current 230V AC anywhere on a boat the reference to it is irrelevant. 

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On 12/03/2020 at 18:29, ditchcrawler said:

What cable are you using to rewire it?

These are all 2 core with 1mm thickness (or perhaps 0.75mm can't recall now).

 

On 12/03/2020 at 18:37, Detling said:

The hole in the bulkhead needs to be lined with grommet strip or as in my boat a short piece of large diameter hose to prevent the cables chafing. The Bss is not really about will your boat stay afloat, but mainly about the risk your boat presents to other boats nearby, so you won't explode or catch fire.

Thanks for that, it makes sense as the boat vibrates throughout once the engine is running (as a result cables rubbing on the sharp edges of the hole) so definitely this requires extra protection.

 

On 12/03/2020 at 18:39, Alan de Enfield said:

I'd suggest that you very carefully read section 3 of the BSS guidelines.

 

Yes cables passing thru a bulkhead need special treatment - and - don't forget that all wiring must pass thru the master switch

 

To get you started :

 

Cables passing through bulkheads or structural members must
be protected against chafing damage by the use of grommets,
sleeves or sealant used effectively.

The cables have been laid out, however not connected to switches etc. was mainly concerned about them passing through engine bay really. This definitely requires extra attention in order to protect them.

 

On 12/03/2020 at 22:23, WotEver said:

Thanks for this information- its great to have all of this as a reference. Despite the sizeof information, its really helpful.

 

On 13/03/2020 at 09:32, Tracy D'arth said:

Me too, wondering about being all the same colour and none there big enough to take more than a few amps without severe volts drop. Looks to be unusual cable for boat wiring.

 

Where are the heavy cables for pumps, fridge, freezer, horn, head lamp?

There are plenty of old cables mixing around, but the new ones are in white. So far just managed to lay out 12V cables with the heavy load yet to be laid out. The fusebox and switches are from the previous owner, so this is also getting changed as the job itself looks very diy'ey.

 

On 13/03/2020 at 13:16, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

 

I'm not clear what you mean by this. Wrong side of what? The engine bay?

 

If yes, it doesn't matter. Engine bays always have cabling in them as that is where the starter motor, alternator and often the batteries are, along with a load of other essential electricals. 

 

 

The question was whether it is acceptable to wire through engine bay in order to keep everything organised and without having any visible cables on the interior of boat. Main concern was whether the BSS examiner be happy to accept this?

 

 

On 13/03/2020 at 13:31, Alastair said:

I'd suggest getting hold of some of this: spiral cable wrap to keep your cables tidy.  However, beware running too many cables next to one another if they are carrying heavy loads - they can overheat (look at the loadings on an extension lead coiler - coiled is often less than half uncoiled).

 

Grommets are essential as already said. Some tighten down on the cable, sealing the hole. This prevents smells from the engine bay permeating through the cabin.

Thanks for the link- was considering to use low profile corrugated pipe to keep everything together and protect the cables from chafing against the sharp edges of the hole, but this looks like a neater way of doing it. Oil and petrol smells coming from engine bay was definitely a concern, and grommets seem to offer a good solution to avoid letting them through.

 

On 13/03/2020 at 14:18, Dave Payne said:

Depends on the examiner, I have a good chunk of wires through the bulkhead, a few are not protected apart from being taped to the protection of the protected ones... if you get me.

 

Passed no problem.

This is a relief as there is no need to rewire anything and its possible to leave it as it is.

Haven't had a BSS examiner visit yet (this would be the first time), but understand that these type of things are not really looked at in great detail. Must be all about carbon monoxide and gas safety etc...?

On 13/03/2020 at 20:12, WotEver said:

Not if they’re correctly sized for voltage drop they can’t. Aiming for a max of 3% voltage drop will invariably result in cables carrying less than a third of their current rating. 

Spoke to a canalboat sparkie a couple of days ago and apparently there is at least 1-1.5V drop from engine before the current reaches the internal electrics. Supposedly its all the electrical system which has been installed on the boat already (the way the dead man switch has been laid out etc.). Its also the electrical system design which impacts the voltage drop along with the cable thickens etc..

 

On 14/03/2020 at 11:39, Alan de Enfield said:

Any cable can overheat if it incorrectly specified, or used incorrectly.

And in order to avoid this, the best idea would be to lay out a thicker cable perhaps? 

 

On 14/03/2020 at 12:40, WotEver said:

Absolutely :)


And as you won’t be routing bundles of high current 230V AC anywhere on a boat the reference to it is irrelevant. 

Had to educate own self by watching plenty of youtube tutorials about electrical basics in order to grasp the slightest concepts about its "mechanics". 

Really regret not paying attention during physics classes (and many other subjects) as this information would be quite helpful nowadays.

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19 minutes ago, Batainte said:

The question was whether it is acceptable to wire through engine bay in order to keep everything organised and without having any visible cables on the interior of boat. Main concern was whether the BSS examiner be happy to accept this?

 

 

Ah I see. Yes the BSS person will have no problem with it. He may be concerned with the inadequate size of the cables though. 0.75mm is too small for pretty much anything on a boat. 

 

 

21 minutes ago, Batainte said:

Oil and petrol smells coming from engine bay

 

As an aside, with a petrol engine specifically, no gas pipes may run through the engine bay IIRC. Not that you asked about this but thought I should mention it. 

 

 

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24 minutes ago, Batainte said:

These are all 2 core with 1mm thickness (or perhaps 0.75mm can't recall now).

Almost certainly too small to power anything on a 12V boat. Aiming for <3% voltage drop will more usually dictate 3mm2 or larger for most feeds. 
 

Read this and use the calculator at the bottom of the page:

https://www.12voltplanet.co.uk/cable-sizing-selection.html

28 minutes ago, Batainte said:

Spoke to a canalboat sparkie a couple of days ago and apparently there is at least 1-1.5V drop from engine before the current reaches the internal electrics.

If that’s the case then the cabling is seriously undersized - that’s a 10% voltage drop before you’ve even started. 

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It looks to me that the op has ordinary domestic twin/3 core PVC  sheathed flex. This would be totally unsuitable in an engine compartment as it will become very soft in this hot environment.  Proper high temperature vehicle/marine cable should be used and protected by spiral wrap ducting or similar.

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35 minutes ago, Flyboy said:

It looks to me that the op has ordinary domestic twin/3 core PVC  sheathed flex. This would be totally unsuitable in an engine compartment as it will become very soft in this hot environment.  Proper high temperature vehicle/marine cable should be used and protected by spiral wrap ducting or similar.

Agreed. Of equal importance it’s much too small. 

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Regarding feeding cables and pipes through bulkheads, I recommend using cable glands like these:

RS-online cable gland

 

They are good for gas pipes as well as cables - when the gland is tightened up, it is waterproof to IP68. That prevents fumes from passing through the bulkhead. 

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12 minutes ago, Alastair said:

Regarding feeding cables and pipes through bulkheads, I recommend using cable glands like these:

RS-online cable gland

They’re available right up to M40 for larger bunches of cables. At the other extreme for single cables there are these:

https://uk.rs-online.com/mobile/p/cable-glands/2797087/

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45 minutes ago, Alastair said:

They are good for gas pipes as well as cables - when the gland is tightened up, it is waterproof to IP68. That prevents fumes from passing through the bulkhead. 

 

Not in a petrol-engined boat like the OP's. 

 

No gas pipes in the engine bay allowed.

 

 

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Mike is correct and I wasn't clear. I wasn't suggesting you could run your gas through the engine bay.

 

Gas pipes passing through bulkheads is a fitting issue - there are compression fittings you can use, but these count as joints in the pipework. Using the cable glands means you can have a longer run of pipe without joints.

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There is one way gas can be run through an engine bay, by enclosing the pipe within a larger pipe that is welded in a gas-tight way to the bulkhead at each end through which the gas pipe passes, thus effectively creating it's own non-bay space within the bay.

  • Greenie 1

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You can use tank fittings for running cable through bulkheads, available up to 50mm or more.

 That flex is almost certainly 0.75 sq mm.  you need to use 4 sq mm as a minimum, just for lighting.  10 or 12 minimum for a fridge or power outlet.

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