Christmas in April
Part 2: Once my On-the-Go inverter was completely installed, it worked superbly from the first flick of the switch.
By Capt. Bill Pike — April 2004
All this was just a tad more complicated than it sounds. Because the optional cables Charles had sent me were not equipped with ring terminals, I had to buy two and put them on myself. Of course, affixing ring terminals to the ends of thick, #2-gauge wire requires the use of a large, two-handled crimping tool of the sort few do-it-yourselfers have. A phone call to a local marine dealer solved my problem, though. The guy loaned me a crimping tool from his rigging shop and even gave me some heat-shrink tubing to cover the terminal-wire junctures that resulted from my efforts.
The next steps were easier than the first. Once I’d secured the terminal-equipped output end of one battery cable to the battery switch and the terminal-equipped output end of the other cable (along with the ground wire) to the ground terminal of the boat, I ran all three forward. I secured them out of sight under the port-side covering board with Anchor nylon cable clamps, bolts, washers, and locknuts—none of which came with the On-the-Go unit, by the way. Then, with the inverter positioned and leveled up in the wheelhouse, I secured it using the hardware I’d received with the inverter as well as some finish washers and locknuts I had to buy. Then finally, after using a pocketknife to strip the insulation from the input ends of the battery cables as well as the ground wire, and after making sure the Perko battery switch was off, I fastened the cables and ground wire to the appropriate lugs on the inverter.
One final chore remained. While I noted that the three-foot cord for my inverter’s remote GFCI receptacle as well as the ten-foot cord for its Remote Panel Display both plugged into their respective sockets with as much ease as the owner’s manual predicted, I soon discovered that actually installing both the receptacle and the panel took some time and expertise.
Let’s start with the receptacle. Because I couldn’t find detailed instructions for mounting the weather-resistant box housing the receptacle, I had to figure things out for myself by studying what remained of the hardware that had come with the inverter. Once I’d done this, securing the box entailed simply affixing two metal tabs to the back with machine screws, drilling a few mounting holes in a bulkhead with a cordless drill, and tightening up bolts and locknuts with a Phillips screwdriver and a set of socket wrenches.
Mounting the Remote Display Panel was just a tad more intense. To make sure the panel was easy to see and switch on or off, I wanted it to fit smoothly into the side of the helm seat under which I’d installed the inverter. This meant I had to cut out a small rectangle of fiberglass to accept a protrusion on the back of the panel, and then fasten the panel to the surrounding fiberglass with four sheet-metal-type screws. While the task was far from tough, I offer two caveats. One, when cutting fiberglass with a reciprocating saw, always use a fine-toothed blade designed for the purpose—rough teeth produce ragged effects. Two, drill the holes for the screws just slightly smaller than the screws themselves—forcing screws into overly small holes will cause gelcoat to crack.
Once my On-the-Go inverter was completely installed, it worked superbly from the first flick of the switch, energizing for test purposes my laptop computer, a boombox, and a handheld VHF battery charger, all at the same time.
But what about Christmas lights? Well, being an impatient sort of guy, I was determined to give the Scrump’s yuletide decorations a test drive even though it was April and the holiday season was long gone.
And guess what? The lights performed stunningly, although the sight of a boat tooling across Ochlockonee Bay at night, arrayed in Christmas lights in the midst of springtime, most certainly lifted some eyebrows around town and knocked off a sock or two, too.
Charles Industries Phone: (847) 806-6300. www.charlesindustries.com.
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This article originally appeared in the March 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.