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A Perth Riveria #7 – to August 2013

On January 21, 2014, in Glen-L Styles, by Andrew

I should say at the outset that: a) others have written very helpful guides on boat electrics in the Glen-L forum; b) there are also some excellent books on the subject; and (c) that the notes below fall into neither category!


CAD software pressed into service and a wiring diagram created to keep track.

The first decision to be made was the inventory of things to be powered:  two bilge pumps (one forward and one aft to deal with different water gathering tendencies while at rest and underway), a blower, docking lights (that Riva look), a stereo (to service the iPhones, iPads, and similar), navigation lights, a horn, etc.  Then the instrumentation to be catered for:  fuel sender, bilge fume detector, water temp, oil pressure, and so on.  The PCM engines somewhat simplify the wiring situation by providing a single umbilical plug with all engine related wiring (water temp, oil pressure, ignition, start, etc.) in addition to a 12V and ground.  However the umbilical 12V is limited to 30A so it was decided to use that feed for switched power (on/off with the ignition key) and a separate 50A circuit would be used direct from the battery for “always on” devices (bilge pump, blower, fume detector, stereo, etc.).

The final decision that was made was to use two batteries in response to a morbid fear that overuse of the stereo and the like while moored would make for engine start difficulties and subsequent calamities.  A simple A/B battery switch was obtained (which is a much cheaper option than the very clever but very expensive automatic dual battery charging devices) and included in design.

With all this rattling around in my head, a circuit diagram was drawn up to allow me to keep track of all that needed to be in the wiring harness for the boat and a start was made stringing wires.  Foolishly, I did not follow the approach of others and obtain a second hand wiring harness to scavenge for colour coded wires.  Instead, much wire was purchased which, given the lack of available colours, was both expensive and limiting.  Instead of colour coding, each wire was tagged with a number to keep a track of what was connecting to what.  The wiring harness is terminated at the dashboard end by a series of connectors to allow the dashboard to be easily installed.


Test fitting of embryonic dash and new steering wheel. Wiring is visible on both sides of the hull

eBay was then mined for a set of suitable gauges – a Faria set turned up at a good price that would do the job.

A few mock-ups of the dashboard were made out of 1/2” MDF to allow aspects such as the steering wheel height, gauge locations and clearances to be determined.  Once I was happy, the MDF version was traced onto 1” mahogany and jigsaw and hole-saws used to create the final version.  The dash uses aluminium brackets to fasten the dash to mounting blocks on the frame.

A 1959 Chevrolet steering wheel was acquired from eBay and an adapter created to connect it to the Teleflex helm.  The embryonic dashboard, with steering wheel and helm was test fitted to the hull one final time to make sure it all fit.





Wiring the dash took quite some time as a veritable rats’ nest of wiring, switches, gauges, fuse-blocks and relays had to be accommodated.  Once it was all done, the engine was again test run using the full dashboard to ensure no nasty sparks and that all the dials worked.


Wired up dashboard with instruments tested with the engine to ensure all wiring is ok.

The excuses for not fitting the deck were now reducing to zero and this is clearly to be the next step.


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