Successes on steering pedestal

by Glen

Sun 30 May, HHN day 47: More electrical work on the steering pedestal: dimmer switch conquered thanks to Giorgio, and USB socket installed. In the evening taken to dinner by Gerret and Katrin.

Damned chilly night aboard the good ship Cloudy Bay. Back to sleeping with double duvet and a wooly hat! In the morning it’s only 12 degC outside. It will definitely be an indoor day only. And by indoors I mean in the cockpit, still playing with the electrics of the steering pedestal. All day in fact.

First, I fire off an email to Hallberg-Rassy asking for directions on how to install the dimmer switch and connector block that they have send me. I also put a similar message out on the Hallberg-Rassy technical chat group, to see if anyone has a wiring diagram for their dimming set up, should they happen to have this feature.

Frankly, I’m resigned this dimmer not working on my setup. So I ty-wrap the wires in place and start on the next task.
The long awaited installation of the BlueSea USB socket. I have 2 redundant 4-core cables coming into the steering pedestal. I plan to use one of these for this new USB. But down in the engine room I start to realise the challenge of finding where the other ends of these 2 cables go to. They enter a large wiring loom which is heavily ty-wrapped.

With my usual go-for-it attitude, I go on a mass ty-wrap cutting escapade, and eventually trace the 2 cables into the very crammed DC cupboard, a space where you couldn’t even swing a mouse, let alone a cat. Whenever I look into this DC cupboard void I’m always in awe of how any technician managed to fit so much into such a small and awkward space.
Try as I might, I just could not see where the cables go to. It’s an absolute cable jungle in there. This is the point where I realise my task is pointless. I should just re-run another 2-core line and forget trying to chase cables with no end in sight. So that is what I did. I hate adding cable when we already have excess, but I also cannot start dismantling the whole DC cupboard to find just one cable. Not this time around, at least. That’s a job for another time.

With the hole drilled and the USB socket finally in place and wired, I then tackle the Lewmar anchor count control. Yesterday I had noticed the inside of the socket is corroded, and a wire had fallen out of one pin. These are the sort of things I find with every job and I cannot just let them go. They have to be attended to. “Do it now or don’t do it at all” I tell myself. It takes an hour or so to clean up, reinstall and spray with T9 anticorrosion spray.

Over a cup of coffee, I find an email reply from Giorgio on the Hallberg-Rassy technical chat group. He has kindly sent me a wiring diagram of his own steering pedestal LED dimmer. It is exactly what I needed. After a quick study I can now see how it works.
The little connection block converts the 24vdc to 12vdc, and the dimmer then reduces that voltage from 8-12vdc. But it’s a far cry from how my LEDs are wired today.
I currently have 6 pairs of LEDs wired in series, and this dimmer needs a setup of 3 sets of 4 LEDs wired in parallel. In short, it means a complete rewiring of all 12 LEDs. Pffff, can I really be bothered to do that, only to find it doesn’t work? A big NO is my firm answer to myself.

But during my afternoon call to Oana, I decide I’m not happy with that answer. It may take a few hours to re-wire, but what have I got to lose? If I keep the current wiring intact and make a complete new set for the new setup, then I can always revert back to how it was.
So I set to the painful re-wire task, and 3 hours later I’m ready to flip on the nav lights and test it. And to my utter surprise, it works! We now have dimmable LEDs on the steering pedestal! The day is not a total write-off after all 😊

This triumph happens just as my working day is finishing. Because today I have a hard deadline. A couple, Gerret and Katrin, who recently bought a Hallberg-Rassy 53 in Annapolis, are coming to see me and taking me to dinner. True to German efficiency, they arrive spot on time and I quickly show them around Cloudy before heading to the Dockside restaurant.
They are a very interesting couple. Originally from East Germany, now living in Australia. They purchased their HR53 2 years ago, but due to Covid have not yet sailed it. But she was launched last week and they are ready to sail to Europe after a shakedown up the East Coast USA.
We have a lovely meal, chatting nonstop about all things, including their cycling trip to the Romanian mountains in the days before the Iron Curtain fell. A really lovely couple. I hope we bump into them on the high seas again sometime.

After dinner, I decide no more work for the day. Blog writing then bed for me. I usually always tidy up my tools at the end of the day, but right now, after a few beers, I simply cannot be bothered. As an Italian might say… Domani, Domani!

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Andrew May 31, 2021 - 8:03 am

Glen, thanks for taking the time to write and add photos to these blogs. Something interesting to read when it’s cold and wet outside and a blazing log burner to ward off the winter chills. When will Cloudy Bay be floating again?

Glen June 9, 2021 - 8:31 am

Thanks Andrew, hard to imagine you having your winter over there in NZ. We plan to return and launch in October and head south again. Ideally we go to Panama and start across the Pacific. But we wont make that move unless we are sure ALL the Pacific islands are availble for cruising again – especially the Kiwi island at the end! If not open then we just do another winter in the Caribbean and try for Pacific again next year.


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