June 1, 2012.
The biggest benefit of my new job is that I get to see what everyone else at the shop is dealing with. And because you're all my friends I'll be periodically passing those “dealings” along to you.
One of our mechanics, Angus, had an interesting boat to deal with. The Babbler is a 4 year old boat built along the classic lines of the fishing boats run by waterman here on the bay. Instead of reeking of fish guts and blood the boat boasts pleather seating for several people to take a pleasant, slow bell, couple o' cocktail, river cruise. Its quite nice in an old school kinda way. And then there was the fire....
Some of the electrical harness caught fire so the owners decided someone should take a look at it. Angus attended college to become an electrical engineer and after the completion of his schooling he decided that it wasn't really what he wanted to do. If I were his Dad I might have thrown myself off the roof. But anyway.....
He has an affinity for the sea and decided to further his education by attending one of the preeminent boat building schools in the country. Fortunately for me, he now works for us in the glamorous, exotic, fast paced world of fixing peoples broken boat shit. (picture wrench toting supermodels covered in bilge funk driving Ferrari’s)
When the inverter was called upon to do its thing, bad things (fire) started to happen. The fuse block in the cable between the inverter and the battery bank completely melted. The wire itself burned as well. My first thought was WTH? The fuse block melted to the point of physical failure. The clear plastic snap on cover melted like candle wax and the fuse itself distorted and twisted.
Angus had a hunch and used his meter to check the fuse and found that in spite of its condition it was still electrically sound. The fuse had never blown. It was the wrong type of fuse but it still should have blown. Like most of this newer generation, Angus went right to the internet.
Based on the length of the wire run the inverter/ charger manufacturer called for either a 2/0 or 3/0 wire. We were at the maximum length for a 2/0 while we were at the shortest length for the larger 3/0. While the 2/0 wire was acceptable the 3/0 was slightly overkill. Obviously the installer had chosen the 2/0 EXCEPT he had grabbed #2 wire rather than 2/0. So instead of being at the lower end of the suggested sizes he was 4 sizes undersized. So undersized wire + a possible crappy connection at the fuse block = excessive heat which manifested itself as FIRE!
So the Babbler's issue has been fixed by a length of 3/0 wire and a pair of proper fuses. Fortunately for the owners wallet the inverter/ charger suffered no damage and now that its properly wired continues to plug away. All hail Angus.