Electrical troubles with Penny

November 15, 2014

Penny was manufactured in 1977 so naturally she is bound to have her own unique creaks and groans with age. Today a new one surfaced with nearly dangerous consequences…

I awoke this morning to a burning smell in the cabin. This is never a good sign! I quickly started moving around the salon (living room for landlubbers) trying to locate the source of the burning smell. It seemed to be coming from the corner where the freestanding oil heater had been running full blast all night. I quickly turned off the header and put it outside on the deck.

The smell lingered for a while but I was not too concerned as the salon does not have a good draft through it to remove smells.

Later in the day I noticed the smell come back strongly again. I was in the middle of a conference call at work and before the call got over all my 110v power went out. The 12v system kept functioning though. After the call I popped open the breaker box and noticed the main breaker was really hot! Far too hot to touch. Instead of tripping as a breaker should it simply melted down the components inside.

Just to make certain I ripped apart the entire electrical panel, which included the 110v systems, 12v fuses, battery toggles, and 12v fuse panel. All seemed well other than the main breaker. Luckily there was an unused breaker of the same size that I was able to swap out. Everything is running fine now and there have been no repeats of the overheating breaker.

The shore power is 110v 30amp. The breaker that did not blow is 110v 40amp. Somehow the system managed to pull in excess of 40amps through the system, which did cause some damage to other parts of the system, of which will be covered in additional log entries.