Electrical Refit of "Lazy Ka"

Lazy Ka came to me well equipped with with several electrical upgrades by former owners. She had running lights, an anchor light, and an electric bilge pump with through-the-hull discharge. For batteries she had two 17.2 AH Yuasa (NP-18-12B) gel cell batteries which by their nature are not subject to the hazard of spill, nor do they require periodic service of the electrolyte. But for all these good things, her service panel was was an old automotive buss fuse block that was mounted just inside the companionway in an exposed location. The panel was just waiting to be damaged by gear moving about the cabin, or stepped on by Skipper or crew passing in and out. The exposed nature of these components also had questionable long-term durability; evidence of corrosion was present, and one of the toggle switches had failed for moisture exposure.

With several months of sailing under my belt, I had developed a rather short wish-list:

  • A marine distribution panel to replace the jury-rigged automotive components.

  • External battery charging terminals wired through an isolation switch to allow quick connection of a charger without crawling inside the cabin.

  • extra 12-volt power receptacles for other, yet to be determined accessory expansion in the future.

  • Additional cabin lights suitable for reading, while stretched out in the berths.

  • Upgrade to a marine stereo system with a wired remote to the cockpit (the unit must be MP3 capable.)CLICK HERE for a full-screen image

This was without a doubt going to be my biggest upgrade to date.

The first obstacle, where to put it all and still have easy access of use and for future service. I toyed briefly with the idea of mounting the components on the inside of the cabin bulkheads to the port and starboard of the companionway, but quickly discarded this location as difficult to access.

I finally settled on a thin, low profile, accessory panel, or console, mounted aft of the compression post (picture right, CLICK HERE for a larger image.) The panel would hold all electrical components at a single location, be easily accessible through the companionway, and would be of little inconvenience when the berths are occupied. Infact, I've found that all elements are easily accessible from the berth . . . another plus for this plan.

The console components break down, from left to right, as follows:
1. DPDT (center off) isolation switch ($8.00 @ local Ace Hardware). This switches the batteries between onboard circuitry and the external charger terminals (see picture left below), thereby isolating the circuits from the unlikely potential of damaging surges during charging.

West Marine Distribution/Service panel (Illuminated 12V Switch Panel - 6 Circuit (WM#1954916 / Mfg #55342WM)

2. A Marine Distribution/Service panel (West Marine Illuminated 12V Switch Panel - 6 Circuit (WM#1954916 / Mfg #55342WM) @ $40.00.) The panel switches are assigned circuits as listed below:
ANCHOR LT = Anchor Light
RUNNING LT = Running Lights
CABIN LT = Cabin Lights
BILGE PUMP = Bilge Pump
ACC 1 = Compass Light
ACC 2 = 12-volt accessories (Stereo, 12-volt receptacles, etc.)
3. Immediately above the distribution panel is a label panel for easy identification of switch funtion from the cockpit (Plastic stock & Dymo labels @ $7.00.)
CLICK HERE for more detail on my head-unit of choice . . . 4. After considerable online shoping for a stereo head-unit, I settled on the Pyle Model PLCD18MRMP In-Dash Marine AM/FM/Weather Band Radio/CD/CD-R/CD-RW/MP3 (from disc.) This player also features a Full Face Detachable Panel & wired remote as well. Typical best online delivered price is in the $150-$160.00 range. If you shop this unit, be aware that Pyle makes several lesser priced units that do NOT include the MP3 feature. For more details on this head unit CLICK HERE.

West Marine Triple 12-V Receptacle (Model #6867907 / WMELE#SC-30283P-B)

5. Gang of three 12-volt power receptacles for future 12-volt needs (West Marine Triple 12-V Receptacle (Model #6867907 / WMELE#SC-30283P-B) @ $13.00.)
6. DPDT (center off) switch - currently unassigned. This switch was originally destined to be an on/off switch for the cockpit speakers, but when the stereo head unit arrived, I found that the integrated fader feature accomplished the same thing . . . a switch would be redundant.
7. Two 3.5" speakers are mounted into the bottom of the console for bed-time music in the cabin (Marinavox MV-6003 3" Full Range Dual Cone Speakers; Look for a $20.00 per pair price online for these MSRP $40.00 speakers. Check Ebay for slightly better pricing.) These great little speakers are available in White as well as the Black and Gray pictured here.
Other incidental components not referenced above:
  • AM/FM antenna for stereo head-unit (West Marine Interior AM/FM Antenna (Model# 222184 / WMHVF# ANT-SOFT) $9.00.)
  • One "I-plug" Aux input so that daughter Jen can plug in her personal MP3 player to give us an even bigger music library on the water. This little gem adapts a 3.5 mm phone plug from a portable MP3 player to the RCA input jacks of the head-unit Aux circuit. (West Marine Model #7805600, $15.00) By the way, don't bother to shop this one. You can expect to pay $15.00 for "I-plug", or a similar hardware virtually anywhere. This may well be the best value to be found in the West Marine catalog.
The total time for this project, including meticulous design, fabrication, wiring, and installation on Lazy Ka exceed 40 hours spread over three weeks. But now that it's all finished and working as planed, I can honestly say that this mod was well worth the time and expense.


Pictured above: Wired remote to the stereo (top,) the Auxiliary input (i.e. MP3 player plug in,) and external battery charging terminals (bottom.)

LED cabin lights were purchased from SuperBrightLEDs.com and installed into fixtures mounted inside the port and starboard bulkheads. Note that the switches are oriented toward the companionway for easy access from the cockpit.



Lazy Ka's Mod's:

Mods list updated: 03/26/2007


Page updated:  Monday March 26, 2007