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Julia1
Julia1

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:56pm

Post Subject: Bow thruster not working

Before I take my boat to a marine electrician I thought I'd ask if anyone on this message board has any suggestions... The control panel for my bow thrusters is located on a horizontal section of the cruiser stern of my boat and is exposed to lots of rain, snow etc. Recently the on/off light has been coming on/off on it's own accord and over the last few weeks the bow thrusters have been more and more unreliable. They have now packed up all together. I suspect a short circuit of some sort and wondered if there is an easy way of identifying the problem ? Does anyone know if this is a common problem or should I consider relocating the control panel ? (I have been covering it with a plastic bag since the problem began.) Thanks, Julia.

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:59pm

Post Subject: Bow thruster not working

Dear Julia, It sounds to me as if water has got behind and into the panel so the switch contacts or terminals have corroded. I think the mounting position sounds very poor. The bulb may have been a short but the failure to work certainly is not because a short would have it working all the time, the whole lot going up in smoke or a fuse blowing. I would need a wiring diagram to decide which, but mt first bet is corrosion.

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:18pm

Post Subject: Bow thruster not working

Another thought related to that lamp. If the bow thruster has a dedicated battery have you checked it for state of charge? If that bulb decided to stays on 24/7 the battery may now be flat (depending upon exactly how the system is wired).

Julia1
Julia1

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:33pm

Post Subject: Bow thruster not working

Hi Tony, Thanks for this info. I've checked and the battery for the bow thrusters is fully charged. The marine electrician has had a quick look at the problem and says that the control panel to the bow thrusters is sealed and therefore inaccessible. He said he thought the prioblem would lie with the actual thrusters themselves but that he would have to take the boat out of the water to get at them. This seems a bit drastic to me as my hunch is that the fault lies with the control panel (due to the light going on and off, particualrly when starting and stopping the engine, plus the fact that the thrusters have been working on and off until recently.) Could you recommend a way to look at the control panel ? (The make is Vetus.)

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:17pm

Post Subject: Bow thruster not working

Dear Julia. Most bow-thrusters have what is known as a contactor fitted to them or very close to them. This is a bit like a pair of starter motor solenoids in that it receives a small current, down thinnish cables from the control switch which make an electromagnet that actually throws the switch (contacts) that allow current to the motor. It uses twin contactors, one at a time, to control the direction of motor rotation. If yours is like this it is not difficult to use a length of suitable cable to energise each contactor to see if the motor spins/ If it does then the supply to the control switch and the cables between control and bow-thruster need checking to ensure the control is receiving electricity and the cables have not broken. It is even easier to use a voltmeter on the small contactor terminals to see if the switch is supplying current. It is also possible (without seeing the circuit diagram) that the switching is being done on the negative side of the circuit, but I rather doubt that and there are similar tests that any competent electrician should employ. I am 99% certain that that bulb coming on does NOT indicate a problem with the bow thruster. Again, if I was the person you consulted I would have laid on the ground/jetty at the front of the boat and used a cane to probe the thruster propeller through the grills on the tube. This would normally show any obstruction stopping the propeller and motor spinning. Although there are some large conductors that will make very large sparks and may even weld if metal joins them to the negative case inside the contactor cover you could try disconnecting the bow-thruster battery, removing the contactor cover, reconnecting the battery and then pushing the contactor contacts together with(say)the handle of a wooden spoon. Do each set independently. If the motor runs both ways the thruster is fine. This does not diagnose the cables or supply to the control box through. Without knowing exactly what the electrician did or the tests he carried out I can not pass comment on his competence but if he has not done any tests similar to those I describe think about your decision to employ him. Where is the boat? I am travelling to Napton area tomorrow and gain early next week.

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