Close call with the boat this labor day weekend

I sure had my heart racing earlier! Yesterday I took the boat out with my son to try to do a little fishing (with little luck since I don’t know what I’m doing). After we were parked a few miles from the ramp for a while we finally decided to call it quits, I go to start the motor and the battery is COMPLETELY dead! No ability to trim it down into the water, or easily start it (though it can be pull started). Fortunately, I just grabbed one of the trolling motor batteries and hooked it up to get going again. After I got started, I noticed my tachometer stopped working. That isn’t completely abnormal, my first time out it stopped working, then it started working again (not sure why, not sure if it was bound up from age or what), but I did think it a bit odd since it happened after the battery died and it had been working the last couple of trips no problem.

So, today I was going to trouble shoot the tach (possibly using an arduino to have a digital tach) and see if I could find a load that would kill the battery in only a couple hours (and unclog my tell-tale). So I started the engine with the cowling and the electrical cover off and immediately noticed a glow coming from some of the wires! I rushed to unhook the negative battery terminal to stop the issue (it didn’t occur to me to turn the engine off, but if the wires were shorted it wouldn’t have helped). I checked out the damage, I had a couple wires that burned through the insulation and couple wires burned completely through coming from the voltage regulator, as well as melted goo all over and some blackened wires from the smoke / melted goo.

I took things apart and determined I’ll need to replace one wiring series, replace two bullet connectors from the stator, and of course the burnt / melted voltage regulator. I can only imagine if I had taken the boat out again and ran it like normal, who knows what would have happened?!? I could have easily set the motor on fire I would think. Fortunately, I did not. Factory voltage regulators are $180, I fortunately found some aftermarket ones on amazon for $25-30. I had a bear of a time finding the sealed / waterproof bullet connectors, I finally found some that ship from Japan ( for not too terrible a price. I am not sure HOW important they are, I am not sure if the more rigid insulated bullet connectors would have sufficed or not, but for $15 or so and a couple weeks I figured I’d try to get as close to the factory setup as possible if it didn’t cost me a fortune.

I thought this would put me down for quite a while at first, but fortunately problem solving went pretty decently today so it will only be for a few days (though it doesn’t even really need to be for that long). I found in the service manual you can run the engine without a battery, you just need to disconnect the yellow wires from the stator so the voltage regulator isn’t running with no load). You could probably still use the electric start even so long as you manually charged the battery each time.

Soon I’ll need to be spending my time not fishing or working on the boat, rather, I will need to be working on installing my wood stove chimney. In fact, now is probably that time, as soon as I get the building / mechanical permit anyway. While not working on the furnace, I did get a half cord or so of firewood cut this weekend. I am starting to work on next year’s firewood. I may not split it all yet, I may wait until next year for that so I can try to find a splitter, but it should get a pretty good start on seasoning between now and then. Plus, I wanted to clear out this oak (and 3 or 4 more fairly small ones) so the biggest maple on my property can canopy out nicely (its the only maple I’ve found on my property so far over about 5″ in diameter).

Leave a Reply