Let me say I am not a genius with electricity. One of my big 3-way breaker switches that controls the a/c, battery charger, etc., has gone out. In looking for replacements, I am quickly becoming confused. Do I need a single pole double-throw, double-pole double-throw, or which of the all these configurations that all look the same but do different things do I need?

I thought I needed a DPDT but I ordered a Hubbell DPDT switch (looks identical to the original) and wired it up the same as the old one but it doesn't work. I have tested that I have power going to the switch on both circuits but none coming out in either of the on positions. Also just to make sure I wasn't crazy I jumper the wires together and turned shore power on, and the ac in question came on fine, so I know it's some dumb thing I'm doing with this switch.

Here are some pictures to help:

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Chris,  Did you verify that the switch is throwing completely and not getting caught on the plate? Don't assume just because it clicks over when you throw it that the contacts have been made, they don't make until the switch is in the fully on position. If you didn't take a picture of the switch before you rewired it there are a few things that could be wrong with it. You cannot just connect the wires as they are in the switch beside it because you have two separate circuits to deal with here, shore 1 and shore 2. Each acts independently of the other and as a matched pair. the hot from shore power 1 has to be attached on the same end of the switch  so they are both in the on position at the same time, the same goes for shore power 2. as Steve's drawing shows, otherwise you are sending a hot current to your load without a neutral to return it back to the shore power cord. I'd kill the power, and ring for continuity from each of those wires on the new switch back to the shore power outlets on your boat. You need to make certain you don't have the wires either neutral or hot crossed. If you are not sure get a qualified electrician to ring and identify the wires and make sure the thing is wired correctly, you are dealing with the biggest loads on the boat and therefore the most potential for heat, an overload or worse.  I am confused with your first picture as there is a black wire on the same center terminal as a white wire. In a 115 volt ac circuit black is hot and white is neutral and never the two should meet. You also need a ring connector crimped onto that black wire as it looks like you are only utilizing about half the conductors which will  cause a heat related failure before long. You probably don't have a big problem but without someone who knows their way around with an electrical meter it can be very confusing. wish I were close we'd have it figured out in 15 minutes.

The switch makes contact, the new one has a slightly smaller toggle than the old switch, so there is open space above it and below it in either of the on positions. It's not getting hung up on the electrical panel.The pics were of the old switch, that's how it was when I opened it up. I took the pictures in case I forgot where something went. The prior owner has obviously made some "improvements" here. Given everything you're saying, I think I am going to throw in the towel on this one and call an electrician. If the new switch potentially has a different wiring pattern than the old switch, then it would take me a week to figure this out vs. 10 minutes for someone who knows what they're doing. I have obviously crossed into worth-paying-for territory.

Just because it's tempting, I'm assuming bypassing the switch and breaker and just turning the ac on and off at the control panel until this gets fixed is a no-no? 

Chris,
Steve is giving you good advise on this DPDT switch wiring , with one possible exception. I think the Line 1 hot & neutral go on the bottom of the switches and Line 2 hot & neutral go on the top of the switches with the AC and refrigerator load leads going on the middle contacts. This is a pretty special switch that I think will be difficult to duplicate. BTW, it is not a breaker switch, just a plain Jane DPDT (middle off) selector switch. I had to do some switch & wiring work on our 47 and I know it would be very difficult to wire a smaller switch due to the size of the supply wires (and their age, which makes them pretty stiff). I'm attaching a picture of the back of my panel. I thought I had 4 bad switches as only the one toward the stern would actually work in both 1 & 2 positions. The other 4 switches would only work in the up (or Line 1 position), leading me to mistakenly believe I had 4 bad switches. Good friend Dave DiSesa had some in stock he had removed from a 47 and he sent them to me. Just about the time I got them, I discovered that the first "daisy chain" jumper from the functioning switch to the next one downstream was a lovely factory crimped connection that had slipped out of it's crimp fitting and deprived the 3 downstream switches of their Line 2 power source.  :-(    I hate anything that is not soldered, so out comes the soldering iron and a new ring connector and voila !! 15 minutes later I had Line 2 power feed to the top of all the switches and everything worked as it should. The yellow arrow in one of the pictures points to the problem jumper which was still inside it's sheath so you could not directly observe the fault. The only way I found the problem was my voltmeter which showed no power to the top of the 4 downstream daisy chained switches. This is just like the old Christmas tree lights that were wired in series. A single fault affects everything downstream. From what I see of your pictures your faulty switch is the furthest downstream, BTW, I might be able to procure one of these original switches for you if you are interested. Let me know.
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Dick I am going to have to take you up on your offer of an original switch, the new DPDT switch is wired differently than the old ones and frankly I can’t figure it out. Let me know what you want for it, I’d love ya forever, this no a/c thing is really getting old. It’s already in the 90s here.

Hey Chris:

I am not going to take a stab at this since it is not my forte.  However, I can say with absolute certainty that 50amp 240 volt was offered as an option with an additional cost of $175.00 on the option sheet for the 47’.  My dad was asked if he wanted to upgrade but he rejected the suggestion.  We later found out that it was a mistake in not ordering the boat that way.   Byron’s suggestion to get Wards Marine Electric input is excellent in that they enjoy a fabulous reputation as to marine electric.  I am sure that they will insist in putting in an isolation transformer in the system to keep things safe. 

Best regards,

Jim Rivas

From what I remember from  the one I replaced from Wards that it was not of the quality  of the original. Ill check it out tomorrow and report back.

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