I'm looking at the wiring on a 120V outlet in my 1980 Commander 410.

The AC wiring looks a lot like house wiring, minus the wire nuts...  

I'm seeing what looks like romex wire - with solid black, white, and bare copper ground wire within the sheath.  The wires are wrapped around the terminal screws on the 120V outlets.  There are a couple of other unrelated atrocities that I've come across, but won't go there in this post...

Was solid conductor wire typical for 120V circuits in that time period?  Or did I just happen to hit a bad example?

Referring to Nigel Calder's "Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual" - it appears that the current thought is that I should be using STRANDED wire for AC circuits (as well as for DC) - and should be using full loop terminals on each wire, not wrapping them around the screw on the outlet.

Am I reading that correctly?

What about existing wiring?  I would certainly hope a current surveyor would not expect me to go back and re-wire the entire boat?  Right??   If I should be using stranded wire with terminals, I can do that on any new circuits I add, or any circuits I go in to work on.  Though that will result in a mix of existing old solid wire terminating in the breaker box, and a few new stranded wires with terminals also coming in.



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I'm not an expert, but my 27 has solid wire also. I believe that if you did use stranded wire, you'd have to use a larger gauge wire. It seems to me that solid wire looped around the screw terminal is as secure, if not moreso, as crimping on a loop terminal and attaching that to the screw.

Yes, larger gauge is required for stranded vs. solid wire.

Thanks Jim - it's good to know that I'm not the only boat that has solid wire in it.  Though now I have to check and see if ALL of the AC wiring is solid wire...  UGH.  I'm guessing a surveyor might not like that.  But I sure as heck don't want to have to re-wire the entire boat!!!

Solid wire is explicitly NOT to be used on boats.  Should you ever have a claim, you might have difficulty.  For your own peace of mind, you might want to consider replacing all solid wires and eliminating any wire nuts.  By the way, Chris-Craft never used solid wire.  You might want to acquaint your self with ABYC E-11.

Solid wire on a boat is subject to vibration not found in residential application. This can result in the connections loosening over time which can create a fire hazard.

Marine grade stranded wire is "Tinned" to help prevent corrosion. Thus like everything else on our boats is more expensive. I have said this before, if it doesn't say marine on the product, it doesn't go in my boat.

Wire gauge should match the breaker it runs to. 15 amp-14 gauge, 20 amp-12 gauge, etc. The breaker is there to protect the wire when the appliance shorts out.

I should have mentioned this in my earlier post, but... I don't use the 120VAC in my boat. The only things connected to it are a couple of outlets and the electric stove. The wires are so old, I'd never trust them.  We have a 120V lamp in the cabin, but we only use it with an extension cord plugged into a dock pedestal. 


Home  and  boat, and  when  I  was  in  charge  of  plants  an annual  exercise  is/was inspecting  and  tightening  all electrical  connections.  Any new  installation  is done  per current   (no charge  for  a  pun) regs. I haven't  found  a  problem  but  I  have  seen  problems  on neighbors  boats so due diligence  will  continue .  The  little  amount  of original wiring   on my  35 has never  been  a  problem.

Our experience with boat inspectors, is they base their inspections of original rules in place on the era, and any upgrades on current rules in effect.  

I doubt solid wire was the original factory install, my '79 has stranded wire for both AC and DC and it is original wiring (in black/white for ac and dc, though ac is jacketed with ground) A good surveyor will note the non-compiant solid wire in their report and likely you would be required to correct for insurance.

I had a chance to look at more of the wiring this weekend.  Looks like at least a good portion of the AC wiring may be stranded.  Additions may be romex...  

At least I now have stranded marine grade wire and proper terminals for anything I need to work on, and anything else I find messed up that I can fix.

Also be careful with what wire goes where. The 12VDC ground and the 120VAC line (hot) both are black in color. Can make for a very exciting situation.

John Meyer said:

I had a chance to look at more of the wiring this weekend.  Looks like at least a good portion of the AC wiring may be stranded.  Additions may be romex...  

At least I now have stranded marine grade wire and proper terminals for anything I need to work on, and anything else I find messed up that I can fix.

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