The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

A Crash Jibe Looking For A Place

I’m in the throes of replacing the autopilot computer on our J/109 (more on that in a full article).

First off, when I opened this box to connect up the drive and clutch I was distressed to see this terminal type.

These things have no place on a boat, at least if they rely on the screws alone rather than contact plates that the screw compresses onto the wire, but, even then, for critical systems I far prefer ring terminal blocks.

That’s bad enough, but my distress turned to horror when I disconnected the clutch wires and found that whoever had set this up—given the history of the boat almost certainly a boatyard “professional”—had jammed the wires so far in that the screws were on the insulation, not the wire—look closely at the photo.

This could have caused a nasty, and likely intermittent, failure at any time over the last 18 years since the autopilot was installed.

Bottom line: you gotta check everything and “boatyard maintained” is often more of a warning than a reassurance.

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