Onne’s New Goose: A New Breaker Panel

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Because of all the new electronics Onne van der Wal is adding to Snow Goose, the 1986 Grand Banks 32 he and his wife are fixing up, he needed a larger breaker panel. “The original panel only had three switches,” Onne says. “They were dodgy and old, and I needed eight breakers.”

To make that happen, Onne selected the DC 8 Position Circuit Breaker Panel from Blue Sea Systems. "They make the best stuff in the industry," Onne says, "and they have a huge selection."

To get the new panel installed, Onne removed the old one and used his jigsaw to enlarge the hole in the side of the steering console. That turned out to be a little tricky because the old panel was installed through some of the console’s structural wood. “In parts the plywood was thick,” Onne says, “and it was awkward to use the jigsaw.” To avoid the structural wood, Onne moved the new panel a little to the right, but that left part of the old opening and some screw holes exposed.

When it comes to plumbing and carpentry, Onne is fine on his own, but with electronics, wiring and data he’s happy to get advice. Fortunately for Onne, he’s made some good friends in the marine industry. One of them is Rufus van Gruisen, the owner of Cay Electronics in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Cay Electronics installs electrical systems on all kinds of vessels, including superyachts, and Rufus and one of his technicians, Adam Hobgood, have been advising Onne on the electronics installation.

Adam drew up a wiring schematic for Onne, and when Rufus noticed that Onne would need a little cover panel behind his new breaker panel to cover the old holes, he told Onne to make a template. Rufus then used the template and a CNC router at Cay Electronics to cut a backing plate from thin black plastic to cover the old holes.

Snow Goose also had an old-style 12-volt cigarette lighter receptacle on the side of the console, so Onne replaced that with a 12-volt USB outlet. “Everybody wants to charge their iPhone and iPad,” Onne says. 

When he was done, he sent a photo of the upgrade to Rufus. But Rufus noticed that the old switches for the windshield wipers and horn now looked completely outdated. Rufus is British. Using some good British slang, he told Onne to get rid of those two “manky little switches” and supplied him with two new ones. The new switches look sharp and light up with a little blue ring around them when they’re powered on. “Snow Goose’s got a proper air compressor horn,” Onne says. When he pushes the horn button, he says, “it sounds like a tugboat.”

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